Historical Insights: Peculiar Facts From ‘Prior To’ Our Time – Part 2

To read the part 1 of this series, click here.

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1Pedestrianism Spectator Sport Drama

Pedestrianism Spectator Sport Drama

Pedestrianism was once a major spectator sport, with a common challenge being to walk 1000 miles in 1000 hours, often involving gambling. Emma Sharp, a famous participant, completed this challenge. After each 2-mile interval, she would rest at a nearby pub. It is reported that her food was drugged, and people attempted to trip her to prevent her from finishing. In the last two days, she carried a pistol to protect herself.

2. Cough drops used to be made with morphine and heroin.

3. Treadmills were used as punishment for prisoners in the 1800s. They powered grain mills (hence the name treadmill) and pumped water.

4. Artificial vanilla flavoring used to be made with castoreum, a sac located under a beaver's anus.

5. Once regarded as the "cockroaches of the sea," lobsters were fed to prisoners and apprentices. Whole boiled lobsters were ground up, forcing prisoners to painstakingly pick through the resulting mixture of shell and meat. This practice, deemed cruel, faced opposition from various groups advocating for its discontinuation. Additionally, lobsters found their way into the realm of fish bait during this period.

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6Cinnamon: Once More Valuable Than Gold

Cinnamon: Once More Valuable Than Gold

Cinnamon is made from the inner bark of laurel trees and used to be more valuable than gold.

7. Syphilis used to be treated by infecting people with malaria to induce a fever. While about 15% of patients died from malaria, this was preferable to the almost-certain death from syphilis.

8. In the 1600s, pineapples used to be valued at $5000, were rarely eaten, and were used as a status symbol at parties.

9. Breast cancer used to be known as "Nun's disease" due to the higher prevalence among nuns, who were at increased risk due to their celibate lifestyle. An association between reproductive history and cancer risk wasn't proven for about 250 years after it was associated with nuns.

10. The FICO credit score started in 1989, and people used to be able to get approved for a mortgage with a letter of recommendation from their priest.

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11White House Public Days

White House Public Days

The White House used to be open to the public, and in 1829, a rowdy crowd of 20,000 people celebrating Andrew Jackson's inauguration had to be lured out with washtubs filled with orange juice and whiskey.

12. It used to be common for politicians in the USA to bribe voters with booze, a practice known as "swilling the planters with bumbo."

13. Human zoos used to once be a popular attraction in the western world, and Belgium closed their last one in 1958.

14. MRIs were initially named NMRI (nuclear magnetic resonance imaging), but the word 'nuclear' was later dropped due to negative associations.

15. Chickens used to be fitted with tiny glasses, especially rose-colored ones, to prevent eye-pecking and cannibalism, as they were thought to prevent chickens from seeing blood and becoming enraged.

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16Illegal Military Uniform Portrayal

Illegal Military Uniform Portrayal

It used to be illegal in the United States for actors to wear military uniforms in a production portraying the military negatively, until the Supreme Court ruled in 1970 that this was a violation of the First Amendment.

17. Previews used to be shown at the end of a movie, which is why they are referred to as "trailers."

18. Antarctica used to be called Australia until modern-day Australia appropriated its name in 1824, leaving the continent nameless until its current name was adopted in the 1890s.

19. Tug-of-war used to be an Olympic sport. In the 1912 Olympics in Sweden, the host nation took gold, Great Britain took silver, and no one won bronze because only two teams showed up.

20. The car trunk literally used to be a trunk strapped to the back of the car.

21Ampersand's Alphabet Legacy

Ampersand's Alphabet Legacy

The ampersand used to be the 27th letter of the alphabet.

22. Colored toilet paper used to be popular in the U.S. until the 1980s. It was colored to better match different bathroom decors, and it is still widely used in France today.

23. Chicken wings used to be discarded as waste, but a creative restaurant owner who was out of food, barbecued and served them in 1964, creating buffalo wings. He named it after the city, not the animal.

24. During the early 1900s, women in the USA and Britain used to wear foot-long pins in their hats, which could be used in self-defense to stab men who groped or assaulted them.

25. The ancient Romans used to eat hallucinogenic fish at parties to get high.

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  1. Dunking doughnuts offered the doughnut with the handle right up until most of their locations no longer made doughnuts because they came from central locations. They stopped because it was the only doughnuts that couldn’t be made completely by machine because someone had to put the handle on.



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