In 2009, a 14-year-old boy showed up at a Chicago police station in uniform and worked 5 hours of a shift. He allegedly got a police radio, ticket book and rode with an officer for several hours before his identity was realized. He knew police procedures due to a “police explorer” program he’d gone to.
2. Paris holds an annual contest to find the city’s best baguette. Around 200 bakers each submit two baguettes (must be eligible) to be graded on quality, look, smell, taste, and crunch. The winner wins €4000 and a contract to supply the French president fresh baguettes every day for 1 year.
3. Bayard Rustin was an openly gay black man who advised Martin Luther King Jr. on the principles of nonviolence, was a major civil rights leader, and was the main organizer of the ‘March On Washington.’ He has been largely forgotten (especially relative to other activists) due to his sexuality.
4. According to Matt Groening, FOX was never supportive of Futurama, as they moved the show around from time slot to time slot unpredictably for four years, which resulted in poor ratings and its cancellation in 2003. This move left many Futurama fans and production crew shocked and angry.
5. Hedwig Porschütz who rescued Jews during the Holocaust, was jailed in a concentration camp but was not honored as an “unsung heroine” in West Berlin because she had been a prostitute and at the time they did not consider helping Jews an act of resistance. She died poor and no known photos of her exist.
A Canadian woodworking tool company named ‘Lee Valley’ pays its employees on a “slope”. This means the top paid CEO cannot make more than 10 times the lowest-paid employee. It also means the same CEO gets the same cut of their profit-sharing as the lowest-paid employee.
7. In the film Candyman, Tony Todd negotiated a fee of $1000 for each time he was stung during the bee scene. He walked away with $23000.
8. A man named Paul Brown invented the upside-down squeeze bottle in 1991. He then sold his product to everyone from shampoo companies to ketchup companies to NASA, and then four years later he sold his company for $13 million.
9. Skyscrapers shrink over time due to building materials compressing. This shrinkage is large enough that elevator guide rails in the highest skyscrapers need to be mounted to sliding clips, instead of attached solidly, so they can move when the building shrinks instead of warping.
10. “Accuracy” is the ability to hit a target, while “Precision” is the ability to achieve the same results over and over. You can be accurate without being precise and precise without being accurate.
When Japanese pole vaulters Shuhei Nishida and Sueo Oe tied for silver at the 1936 Olympics they refused a tie-breaker. The silver was arbitrarily awarded to Nishida. They had their medals cut in half and then welded together so they each had one “friendship medal” of half silver, half bronze.
12. Before 1954, stop signs used to be yellow with black lettering. This was because there was no red dye that would not fade over time. However, by 1954, sign makers began using a fade-resistant porcelain enamel, and it was then declared that stop signs should be red with white lettering.
13. Aldous Huxley’s descriptions of the effects of alcohol on fetuses in Brave New World predate the scientific recognition of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome by more than four decades.
14. Actor Clark Gable fought in World War 2 and almost got killed once. When word of this reached MGM, studio executives began to badger the Army Air Forces to reassign him to noncombat duty. Also, Hitler was a fan and offered a sizable reward to anyone who could capture and bring Gable to him unscathed.
15. A K-9 Cadet named Gavel was fired from the Police Academy for being too friendly after months of training. He then got a new job as Vice-Regal Dog for the Office of the Governor in Queensland where he greets visitors, attends official functions and sits in on Governor’s briefings.
In the Antebellum South, slaves dreaded January 1 a.k.a. “Heartbreak Day” because New Year’s Day was traditionally when debts were settled. This resulted in black families being torn apart as slave owners sold or rented slaves out long-term to pay back those they owed money to.
17. In 2013, there was a train crash in Australia caused by millipedes. There were so many of them on the tracks that a train pulling into a station ended up losing friction from squishing so many of them and crashed into another train.
18. Curly, from the Three Stooges, would often take in stray dogs while traveling for work and care for them until he found them a home. His love for dogs purportedly contributed to his financial difficulties throughout his lifetime, as he spent so much money caring for the dogs he encountered.
19. Essentially all penicillin produced after 1943 originated with a mold sample found on a cantaloupe in Peoria, Illinois. The moldy part was cut off and cultured and the lab technicians ate the rest of the fruit.
20. Most successful startup companies aren’t started by people in their 20s. The average age of founders who started a high-growth company is 45.
In August 1966, a few months after John Lennon claimed that the Beatles were “more popular than Jesus,” a radio station in Texas, USA had a “Beatles bonfire” and burned thousands of Beatles records in front of a crowd. The next day, the station’s transmitter tower was struck by lightning.
22. Every sweater Mr. Rogers wore on his show had been hand-knitted by his mother, Nancy Rogers. She made him a new one every Christmas. She died in 1981. When they started wearing thin in the 1990s, replacements were found, but the source has been forgotten.
23. Victoria’s Secret was originally marketed to men to buy for their partners. Leslie Wexner bought it for $1 million and changed the marketing to women. To create the illusion of luxury, the company listed its headquarters on catalogs at a fake London address, with the real one in Columbus, Ohio.
24. Ted Bundy returned to a crime scene the morning after he had abducted and killed a student named Georgann Hawkins, in order to retrieve some evidence. There, in the midst of a major investigation, he took her earrings and one of her shoes from an adjoining parking lot and left, unobserved.
25. Von Steuben was a central figure in forming the US army. His career in Prussia was cut short due to being openly gay. He moved to America and joined the revolution with Benjamin Franklin’s aid who knew of but ignored his sexual tastes. He lived with 2 lovers who inherited his estate after his death.