50 Strangest Facts About The Great Depression

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1The Great Depression

The Great Depression was an international event. Between 1929 and 1932, worldwide GDP fell by an estimated 15%. By comparison, worldwide GDP fell by less than 1% from 2008 to 2009 during the Great Recession. Unemployment in the U.S. rose to 25%, while in some countries it rose as high as 33%.


2. Kraft Foods introduced its boxed macaroni and cheese in 1937 when America was in the throes of the Great Depression with the promise that buyers could feed a family of four for 19 cents. Kraft sold 8 million boxes of its quick-and-easy macaroni and cheese in the first year.


3. ‘Popeye the Sailor Man’ became so popular during the Great Depression that consumption of spinach increased by 33%. His popularity also led to American children listing spinach as their third favorite food, after turkey and ice cream.


4. Milton Hershey kept his employees working during the Great Depression by having them construct buildings in Hershey, Pennsylvania including a school, arena, and hotel. When a steam shovel was brought in for construction, Hershey told his foreman to get rid of the shovel and hire 40 men instead.


5. During the Great Depression, there was a fleet of "book women" who delivered books, regardless of weather, to rural communities in Appalachia. These women would ride 100-120 miles every week on horseback, traversing dangerous terrain, to ensure that their readers received their books on time.


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6Mr. Goodbar

Mr. Goodbar was created in response to the Great Depression. It was marketed as a "meal replacement bar" for lunch and allowed the Hershey company to be one of the only major companies to not lay off a single employee.


7. During the Great Depression of the 1930s, flour manufacturers saw women turning their flour sacks into clothing, diapers, dish cloths, and more, so they started packing their flour in pretty patterns.


8. Due to a 1700% increase in bank robberies during the Great Depression, the Texas Bankers Association created the Dead Bank Robbers Reward Program, paying $5000 to anyone who killed a robber during the crime, no questions asked.


9. During the Great Depression, W.K. Kellogg structured his cereal plant to work 4 six-hour shifts instead of 3 eight-hour shifts to employ more people.


10. During The Great Depression, crop prices dropped so much that instead of burning coal in their stove, some farm families burnt corn because corn was cheaper. Sometimes the countryside smelled like popcorn from all the corn burning in the kitchen stoves.


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11Popcorn's Popularity & Great Depression

Popcorn, being relatively inexpensive, became popular during the Great Depression. It became a source of income for many struggling farmers, including the Redenbacher family. When sugar was rationed during World War 2, Americans ate about three times as much popcorn as they had before.


12. In the middle of the Great Depression, a man placed an offer in an Ohio newspaper, saying: “If you're in trouble, write me.” Many people sent him desperate letters, needing things like shoes, a coat, mercy, food, and to save their families from despair and back came checks, under a pseudonym.


13. During the Great Depression, the state of Arkansas was in such bad financial shape that the treasurer at one point reported a balance of just $4.62 for the entire general revenue fund of the state.


14. Many things were named after President Hoover during the Great Depression. Shanty towns were named 'Hoovervilles', an empty out-turned pocket was a "Hoover flag," worn-out shoes patched with cardboard were known as "Hoover leather," and a horse-drawn automobile was called a 'Hoover wagon.'


15. Ritz crackers were first released during the Great Depression. They chose the name 'Ritz' (as in the Ritz hotels) so that people would perceive the crackers as high class and fancy. They were in fact very affordable.


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16Dine Free Unless Delighted

During the Great Depression, Clifton's Cafeteria eateries boasted the slogan "Dine free unless delighted." In the original restaurant's first three months of business, 10,000 customers took him up on the offer. Enough customers paid their bills to make them a success.


17. The 1993’s New Deal Legislation, especially the Agricultural Adjustment Act, set production quotas on food during the Great Depression. It led to 6 million pigs being slaughtered and not made into bacon. This caused a public outcry from starving Americans.


18. During the Great Depression, there were 'Dance Marathons' in which desperate couples danced for days on end just to have a roof over their head and food to eat. Dance partners took turns sleeping while the other one held them up and continued dancing.


19. Twin popsicles were created during the Great Depression so that two children could share a treat for just a nickel.


20. Soap operas get their name from radio series sponsored by soap manufacturers during the Great Depression, which were aimed primarily at housewives working alone at home.


21Engagement Ring

Until the Great Depression, a man could be sued for monetary damages if he broke off an engagement. If he'd already had sex with his fiancé, damages were "greatly increased."


22. During the Great Depression Al Capone started one of the first soup kitchens, called "Free Soup Coffee & Doughnuts for the Unemployed." Capone's soup kitchen served breakfast, lunch, and dinner to an average of 2,200 Chicagoans every day.


23. The Great Depression was not caused solely by the Stock Market Crash. It was caused by people panic-pulling all of their money out of the bank, defaulting on their loans, and crashing the bank's infrastructure. In turn, people lost jobs and went broke.


24. During the Great Depression, banker Mark Welch Munroe convinced struggling families in Quincy, Florida to buy Coca-Cola shares that traded at 19 dollars. Later, the town became the single richest town per capita in the US with at least 67 millionaires.


25. Peanut butter and mayonnaise sandwiches were a thing and at one point as popular as PB&J. They were created during the Great Depression as a cheap protein-rich alternative to meat which became too expensive at the time for most people.

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