Random #306 – 50 Random Facts Very Few People Know

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1Nathan’s Famous Hot Dogs

When Nathan’s Famous Hot Dogs first opened in 1916, Nathan Handwerker, the owner hired people to dress as doctors and eat hot dogs outside his shop, to convince people his hot dogs were healthy.


2. Caffeine is the coffee plant's natural defense mechanism. It leaches into the surrounding soil as leaves from the plant drop and is decomposed into the soil. Since caffeine is toxic to other plants, it prevents other plants from growing around the coffee plant and competing for sunlight.


3. In 1802, Napoleon Bonaparte added a Polish legion to fight off the slave rebellion in Haiti. However, the Polish army joined the Haitian slaves in the fight for independence. Haiti's first head of state called the Polish people "the White Negroes of Europe", which was then regarded as a great honor.


4. Certain oak tree populations will synchronize to produce almost no acorns, only to rain them down excessively the following year, known as a "mast" year. The year preceding the mast year is thought to starve off the mammal populations feeding on the acorns.


5. A man named Harold Burgess built the world's largest treehouse after claiming God told him to do so. It was 97 feet tall. It took 12 years to build and it all burned down in just 15 minutes in 2019.


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6Dogs

Anatomically dogs have two arms and two legs - not four legs; the front legs (arms) have wrist joints and are connected to the skeleton by muscle and the back legs have hip joints and knee caps.


7. A park bench in Bristol was given an official postal address so doctors could register the homeless as patients.


8. Shortly after the Korean War, there were few refrigerators or protein-dense foods in South Korea. Koreans would barter with American troops for Spam (canned pork). As South Korea continued to develop, Spam turned into a staple food and it is often a common gift given during Korean Thanksgiving.


9. The insulin pumps used by at least 350,000 Americans with diabetes were invented as a direct result of some of the earliest NASA technology from the Apollo program.


10. Martin Luther King had used the phrase “I have a dream” in his speeches a year before the March on Washington, but his advisers disagreed with him using the same theme again. As he spoke that day, Mahalia Jackson prompted him to "tell them about the dream," and he improvised the rest of the speech.


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11Wool Dogs

A breed of wool dogs used to exist on the Pacific Northwest coast. Indigenous people would keep the dogs isolated on small islands to prevent interbreeding with hunting dogs. The wool dogs were cared for and were fed a rich diet of seafood to produce a strong yarn to make blankets from.


12. Dr. John Snow discovered that cholera spread through water and not air. He discovered this during an outbreak in London in 1854 during which time hundreds of people became infected and died. The only ones not infected were those who only drank beer, not water.


13. The Red Delicious Apple wasn’t always terrible. The 1880s original was apparently delicious, but slowly was selected for color and looks over taste.


14. Christopher Columbus’ efforts to obtain support for his voyages were hampered not by belief in a flat Earth but by valid worries that the East Indies were farther than he realized. In fact, Columbus grossly underestimated the Earth's circumference, which drew him and his crews to near starvation.


15. Mesopotamians figured out that the Earth orbited the sun about 1,700 years before Copernicus and Newton. They also figured out that the moon causes the tides and that the Earth rotates around its axis.


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16Maude Adams

Early-20th-century actress, Maude Adams, wanted to do a film version of Peter Pan but was against doing it in black-and-white. She began working with experts on those obstacles, i.e. lack of color film and inadequate lighting. She earned several electric-light patents in the 1930s.


17. When he was a young boy, Yuri Gagarin’s (first man in space) village was occupied by Nazis. They forced his family to work while living in a 3x3 meter mud hut for 21 months. He saw his little brother being hanged (but saved by his parents) and his two older siblings deported for slave labor (who escaped).


18. Chocolate was classified as “candy” under the Revenue Acts of 1918 and 1921, and so it was taxed as such. Hershey’s sued to recover about $8 million in taxes by arguing it was “food”, and so had been wrongly taxed. The Supreme Court ruled it was “candy.”


19. Despite not being involved with the company for decades, Steve Wozniak remains an employee at Apple and still gets a salary because nobody will fire him.


20. “Golden Girl” Bea Arthur enlisted in the Marines in 1943 where she was one of the first members of the Women’s Reserve and spent time as a typist and a truck driver.


21Free Train Pass

The European Union offers free train passes to 18-year-olds so that they can explore Europe.


22. Walt Disney negotiated the rights to build a nuclear reactor in 1967, after hiring a German physicist, Heinz Haber, to lay the groundwork for research into nuclear energy, which would be used to power Disneyland.


23. The actors in 'Scott Pilgrim vs. The World' were taught to play and are actually the musicians featured in the soundtrack for their band.


24. In 1911, inmates on death row played baseball for their lives. If they won, execution was delayed. If they lost, their execution went ahead as scheduled.


25. There is a house in New Orleans that they call ‘the Rising Sun,’ but it’s not a brothel as singer Eric Burdon once described it. It's a bed and breakfast run by a Louisianan couple who love the legend and have collected over 40 versions of the Animals’ song.

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