Before the Trend: 50 Peculiar Facts ‘Prior To’ Our Time

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1Cemetery Picnics Were Popular

Cemetery Picnics Were Popular

Prior to the advent of city parks, it was quite common for people to picnic in cemeteries.


2. In 1956, France banned the serving of alcohol to children under the age of 14 in school canteens. Before that, school children had the right to drink half a liter of wine, cider, or beer with their meals. In 1981, France implemented a total alcohol ban in the country's schools.


3. The Irish monks invented the Catholic practice of confessing to a priest and performing penance in private. Before this, confessions and penance were done publicly.


4. Before Jaws (1975) and Star Wars (1977), summers were considered the "graveyard season" for movie releases.


5. Before the advent of electricity, theater spotlights produced light by directing a flame at calcium oxide (quicklime). These lights were referred to as limelights, and this is the origin of the phrase "in the limelight," which now means being "at the center of attention."


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69/11 Changes Knife Policies

9/11 Changes Knife Policies

Before 9/11, knives up to 4 inches long were allowed in aircraft cabins.


7. Before the 1950s, Los Angeles was sometimes pronounced with a "hard G."


8. Before 2012, beer could not be sold in Texas if it was over 4% alcohol. This led to many brewers putting fine print on their labels: "In Texas, malt liquor," to get around the law.


9. In 1700, King Louis XIV was the first king to tax the upper classes in French history; before this, the rich would receive tax exemptions from previous kings.


10. In 2011, a Florida senator tried to bring back dwarf tossing, which was made illegal decades prior, arguing that "In this economy, why would we want to prevent people from getting gainful employment?" In 1989, dwarf tossing was made illegal after one dwarf died of alcohol poisoning.


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11Celsius Scale Reversal

Celsius Scale Reversal

Prior to 1743, the Celsius scale was reversed, with the boiling point of water marked as 0° and the freezing point as 100°. Jean-Pierre Christin suggested this reversal.


12. Theodore Roosevelt was the first sitting U.S. president to take an international trip (to Panama). Prior to this, it was considered taboo, as citizens did not want the president mingling with royalty. Changes in America's foreign policy and barriers to travel have made international trips a valuable part of the modern presidency.


13. Across the US, large concrete arrows from the Transcontinental Airway System still exist. These arrows, funded by the federal government in 1924, were constructed approximately every 10 miles along established airmail routes. Their purpose was to assist pilots in navigating across America, especially in adverse weather conditions and during nighttime flights, which were more efficient.


14. Until the 1970s, movies were only copyrighted for 56 years. This means all movies released in 1966 (and earlier) should be in the public domain by now. Instead, copyright was extended to 95 years, and one must now wait until 2062.


15. Before the enactment of the Clean Water Act in 1972, rivers in the US were prone to catching fire. The most notable instance is the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland, which caught fire 13 times between 1868 and 1969. The hulls of tugboats disintegrated due to the river's severe pollution by refinery waste.


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16Japan's Red Meat Ban

Japan's Red Meat Ban

Before Westerners came to Japan, there was a ban on red meat. The emperor repealed the ban because he believed it was responsible for Westerners' greater size.


17. Prior to 1999, the mythical American Express Black Card was just that: a myth. The myth became so pervasive that AmEx decided to capitalize on it and actually create a black, ultra-exclusive credit card.


18. Before the 1920s, up to 70% of children in parts of the United States had goiters due to iodine deficiency.


19. Before 1963, it was not uncommon for students in the US to be required to read from the Bible as part of their elementary education. A lawsuit that went all the way to the Supreme Court ended the practice that year.


20. Knighthood in Normandy had little social status before the Crusades. Knights were poor and "land-hungry." The title only represented professional warriors who were able to own a war horse.


21Pre-Photography Horse Art

Pre-Photography Horse Art

Before the invention of photography, artists struggled to depict how horses' legs moved in a gallop, resulting in inaccurate portrayals of horses in paintings.


22. Ed Lowe, the inventor of modern cat litter in 1947, amassed a fortune approaching 1 billion in today's dollars. Before that, people used ashes and sand. He also collaborated with Jane Goodall to develop chimpanzee litter, but the effort was unsuccessful.


23. The first can opener was patented on January 5, 1858, fifty years after the can was invented. Before its invention, people used hammers and chisels to open cans.


24. In the 1880s, the Old Faithful Geyser in Yellowstone National Park was utilized for laundry. Clothes were placed in the geyser before an eruption, and the force of the water would thoroughly clean them.


25. The term "grandfathered in" originated from Jim Crow laws, allowing men to be exempt from literacy tests and poll taxes if their grandfather was eligible to vote before 1866. This ensured many illiterate white men could still vote while black men couldn't.

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