12 Perfectly Aged Bits of Trivia That Have Notes of Tennis Ball, Barnyard and Pencil Lead
Yeah, wow, we’re getting strong earthy notes too. Plus some iron nails. Definitely some musty blanket in there. Hoo boy. It’s kind of settling into a charcoal-y gasoline now. This is… this is really something.
Okay, on closer inspection, this is a witch bottle. Yup, 100 percent witch bottle right here. People put toenails, hair, urine, all kinds of stuff into glass bottles, and chuck ‘em into the ocean. It’s supposed to ward off evil spirits and bad vibes and stuff. This is definitely one of those.
Sorry for the inconvenience. Please, enjoy a bottle of our second cheapest wine, on the house.
Mariya Oktyabrskaya and the Fighting Girlfriend
Oktyabrskaya was a Ukrainian tank mechanic in World War II. After her husband was killed in combat, she sold all her possessions, bought a tank from the Russian army and was given special permission and training to operate it herself. She spent the rest of the war personally running over Nazis with her own tank, which she’d named The Fighting Girlfriend, until she was ultimately killed in combat herself.
China’s Emperor Had a Fake City Built in His Palace So He Could Do Poor People Stuff
The Zhengde Emperor, who ruled in the early 16th century, had a street full of fake shops and businesses built inside of his palace, and had his staff and servants pretend to be shopkeepers and patrons, so he could have the experience of running errands like a civilian.
King Charles II Banned Coffee Houses
He said the sale of coffee, tea and chocolate “produced very evil and dangerous effects,” and banned the businesses, fearing that’s where his subjects would plan a revolution. In his defense, modern coffee houses are often where people plan something even more evil and dangerous: podcasts.
In One Version of the King James Bible, Adultery Is Mandatory
In 1631, a printing error caused the 6th (or 7th) commandment to read, “Thou shalt commit adultery.” King Charles I was pretty peeved about it, and ordered them all burnt, but 11 copies of the “Wicked Bible” survived.
The FTC Dogwalked Listerine in the 1970s
Listerine had claimed for decades that it could cure the common cold. In 1976, the FTC finally declared that no, it abso-fucking-lutely can’t. They forced Listerine’s parent company to run $10 million worth of ads stating, “Contrary to prior advertising, Listerine will not help prevent colds or sore throats or lessen their severity.”
Mini-Golf Was Born Out of a Moral Panic
When women started using a new Scottish golf course in 1867, men found the sight of them hitting a long drive scandalously vulgar. Putting, however, was modest enough for a lady, so they started playing a smaller version that didn’t require them to tee off. This “mini-golf” eventually gave way to “Golfstacle” courses, with the obstacles and decorations we’re familiar with today.
PepsiCo’s Poorly Planned Mass Gambling Event
PepsiCo's “Rainy Days” promotional contest ended up being an expensive disaster. The idea was to have customers guess which days it would rain, giving them a $10 payout when they guessed correctly. The American company didn’t realize what an easy gamble that would be in the U.K., however, and quickly found themselves $600,000 in the hole before they could cancel it.
Free Chili... When Hell Freezes Over
In 2013, Red Robin ran a promotion where, if temperatures in Hell, Michigan stayed below freezing for 24 hours, stores across the country would give away 100 cups of chili each.
Scientists Proposed Brightening the Moon to Fight Climate Change
The idea is that a brighter moon would mean people would use less electricity at night, lowering overall carbon emissions. Its opponents argue that it would actually cause the Earth to heat up faster, disrupt sleep patterns everywhere, and it’s also extremely impossible.
Oxford University Has a Tradition of Throwing Pennies at Children
Lincoln College at Oxford University celebrates the Christian holiday of Ascension Day by chucking pennies from a tower down into the quad below, where children collect the offerings. In days gone by, they used to throw hot pennies at the kids, to teach them some kind of lesson about the sin of greed.
Russia’s 19th-Century Plague Prison
Fort Alexander, also known as Plague Fort, is a tiny artificial island that was used to research cholera, tetanus, typhus, scarlet fever and various other plagues. “Research” meant infecting horses, trying to cure them, then incinerating their corpses. At least three humans were infected with bubonic plague there, too.
Toyota Recalled Millions of Cars Because People Hit the Wrong Pedals
What was originally thought to be an electrical defect causing rapid acceleration was eventually declared “pedal misapplication,” or a bad case of “oops, hit the wrong pedal.”