The world is a crazy, sometimes hilarious place. Sometimes the most everyday things have surprisingly funny backstories, or the most bizarre things are more common than we realize. From quirky places in the U.S. to facts that you would not believe could be true if you didn’t see them yourself, there is much to find funny about the world—and that makes for great fodder at your next cocktail party. Here are 40 such facts. And for some actually useful tidbits, check out these 30 Crazy Useful Facts You’ve Never Heard Before.
Vegetables Can Make You Tan
Eating veggies has plenty of health benefits, but it also has cosmetic ones, according to researchers at Leeds University and the University at St. Andrews. They found that those who consumed vegetables with high levels of red and yellow pigments had a healthy yellow glow compared to those who did not. This is due to a process called “carotenoid colorization.” To find out more crazy celebrity facts like this one, check out these 50 Crazy Celebrity Facts You Won’t Believe Are True.
The Inventor of Frisbee Golf Was Turned Into a Frisbee
Edward “Steady Ed” Headrick, who invented the game of Frisbee golf, made as one of his dying wishes that his family would cremate him and mold his remains into a Frisbee. “When we die, we don’t go to purgatory,” Headrick reportedly said shortly before his passing. “We just land up on the roof and lay there.” And for more fit facts, check out The 30 Biggest Exercise Myths—Debunked.
Pringles Innovator Was Buried in a Pringles Can
Similarly, Fred Bauer, the Procter & Gamble employee who devised the idea of stacking Pringles into cans, eschewed an urn upon his death and instead asked that his family bury him in one his signature cans. And for more random trivia, learn these 15 Fascinating Facts About the Royal Corgis.
Coffee Pioneer Was Buried in a Coffee Pot
One more: Renato Bialetti, the guy who popularized the stove-top, octagonal espresso maker that still bears his name, also asked that his remains be buried in the receptacle that was most important to him in life. When he died in 2016 at the age of 93, his ashes were placed in one of his pots and buried next to his late wife. Next, familiarize yourself with the 20 Long-Predicted Technologies That Will Never Come True.
PEZ Comes From the German Word for Peppermint
Eduard Haas III, the Austrian inventor of the flat, sort of chalky candy PEZ, came up with the name by riffing on the German word for peppermint—Pfefferminz. And to truly dominate trivia night, memorize these 100 Awesome Facts About Everything.
No Country Is Allowed to Own the Moon
The Outer Space Treaty (formally known as the Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, Including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies), ratified in 1967, prohibits any country from claiming sovereignty over the Moon or any other celestial bodies (and from placing nuclear weapons or other WMDs on them). While this fact is entirely true, these are the 30 Facts You Always Believed That Aren’t True.
Bananas Can’t Reproduce
Your favorite yellow fruit may have a, let’s say, suggestive shape. But as it happens, the Cavendish banana—the most popular variety of banana that fills supermarkets and sits at the Starbucks counter, is actually impotent. It’s a seedless hybrid of two (not as delicious) plant species. To create new bananas, the Cavendish don’t naturally reproduce, but require farmers to remove and transplant part of the plant’s stem. And for more wild info, check out The Craziest Fact About Every U.S. State.
Bananas Make Great Water Filters
Speaking of bananas, their peels could actually replace your Brita in a pinch. A chemist studying the environment in Brazil found the peels’ contents of nitrogen, sulfur, and carboxylic acids effectively attached to copper and lead deposits found in polluted waters near industrial plants in the country. When he placed a lot of dried peels into Brazil’s Paraná River, they worked better at reducing the levels of heavy metal than all other filtering materials more typically used. And for some history-steeped trivia, learn the 25 Best One-Liners From Politicians.
Powered Lawnmowers Kill Almost 200 People a Year
According to the Centers for Disease Control, over the period of 1999 and 2014, 951 people were killed due to “Contact with powered lawnmower.” And for more wacky facts, give it a go with these 40 Facts You Learned in the 20th Century That Are Totally Bogus Today.
Constipation Kills Thousands
The same data from the CDC reported that 2,167 people died between 1999 and 2014 due, simply, to “Constipation.”
Tree Climbing Is Dangerous
One more: “Fall from tree” killed 1,413 people over the same period. So think twice before trying to grab that coconut! And for more safety related facts, learn the 20 Ways Your Cell Phone Is Dangerous to Your Health.
Hewlett-Packard Was Decided by a Coin Toss
If things had been just slightly different, the company might have been called Packard-Hewlett. When they decided to go into business together, founders William Hewlett and David Packard knew their company name would just be a combination of their last names, but were unsure of the order. So in Packard’s Palo Alto garage, they simply flipped a coin, and Hewlett won.
The Inventor of M&Ms Was Allergic to Peanuts
Forrest Mars, founder of Mars, Inc. and inventor of beloved confections (particularly Peanut M&Ms), couldn’t actually eat his invention since he was allergic to peanuts.
The Dot Over the Lower Case “i” is Called a Tittle
Silly, but true!
Spicy Food Can Cut Down on Fat Intake
Consuming spices has been found to help cut down on how much fat you take in. A study by researchers at Pennsylvania State University concluded that adding significant amounts of turmeric, black pepper, or cinnamon to a fatty meal impedes the amount of triglyceride (the bad fat that increases risk of heart disease) taken into the blood by as much as 30 percent.
Women’s Tears Reduce Men’s Testosterone Levels
It turns out, tears are a big turnoff. A study had men sniff drops of women’s “emotional tears” and a neutral saline solution. Those who sniffed the tears became less aroused. As one of the researchers told the New York Times: “Basically what we’ve found is the chemo-signaling word for ‘no’ — or at least ‘not now.’”
Orgasms Were Once Thought to “Cure Hysteria”
In the mid-1800s, women who could not reach orgasm through vaginal intercourse were considered “hysterical.” So, the cure, popularized by French physician Pierre Briquet, was, logically, the la titillation du clitoris.
George Washington Invented Instant Coffee
It’s true! Though it was sadly a different George Washington than the man who led the American Revolution. The man behind instant coffee was George Constant Louis Washington, a Belgium immigrant to New York who held over two dozen patents for everything from early cameras to food processors. But his biggest hit was “Red E Coffee” (get it?) which required no brewing (but reportedly tasted gross).
Women’s Breasts Are Getting Bigger As Time Goes On
The average bra size in America in 2013 was 34DD—up from a 34B size just 20 years before. The biggest reasons? Weight gain and breast implants. For more on the human body, check out these 20 Amazing Facts You Never Knew About Your Body.
You Can Grow Extra Nipples
Extra nipples, formally known as “supernumerary nipples,” are not all that uncommon. Studies have estimated that they occur in amounts ranging from 0.6% in Americans to 5% for Japanese women and celebrities including Mark Wahlberg and Tilda Swinton have them.
George Washington Was a Major Whiskey Distiller
Our nation’s first president did try his hand at whiskey making—in a major way. After leaving the presidency in 1797, the founding father spent some of his retirement planting rye around his Mount Vernon estate and soon had a full-blown distillery underway, producing 11,000 gallons of un-aged whiskey in 1799, the year he died. Speaking of all things presidential, here are 20 Amazing Facts You Never Knew About the White House.
Cookie Monster Is Named Sid
We know the googly-eyed blue cookie fan simply as “cookie monster” but that’s not actually his real name. His creators actually named him Sid but that name just proved less catchy than the easier-to-remember Cookie Monster.
Mr. Clean Has a First Name
Like Cookie Monster, that icon for bald earring-wearing men everywhere, Mr. Clean, actually has a first name, too: Veritably. It was selected from (arguably better) options like “Sorta” and Mean Jean” in a 1962 “Give Mr. Clean a First Name” campaign.
The Monopoly Man has a Proper Name, Too
Alright, one more: That monocled top-hatted fellow on the board game Monopoly is not just named “The Monopoly Man” or “Rich Uncle Pennybags” as you probably thought. In fact, his birth certificate (if one existed) reads “Milburn Pennybags.” Also interesting: the policeman who tosses Milburn into jail has a name too: Officer Edgar Mallory. When it comes to real money, these are the 20 Crazy Facts You Never Knew About One Dollar Bills.
Cap’n Crunch’s Isn’t a Captain
The favorite sugary cereal character has been exaggerating his Navy service for decades. The character (who’s actual name is Horatio Magellan Crunch—had to squeeze one more real name in there) wears just three stripes on his uniform cuffs, indicative of a commander, not a captain.
The First Hot Air Balloon Ride Contained a Sheep, Duck, and Rooster
The pioneers of hot-air balloon travel were not brave men but a rooster, sheep, and a duck that were sent up in the innovative contraption invented by brothers Joseph-Michel and Jacques-Étienne Montgolfier at the end of the 1700s. They were placed in a cage suspended beneath the balloon and after eight minutes ended up landing about two miles from where they took off—but all were alive and well.
Yoda’s Look Was Inspired by Albert Einstein
When Star Wars’ special effects artists Stuart Freeborn considered what kind of appearance he wanted to give his sage Jedi mentor, he got inspiration from a guy generally associated with smarts: Albert Einstein. A photo of the theoretical physicist hung on his office wall, and his eyes and wrinkles gave Freeborn just the finishing touches he was looking for.
In 1930, BBC Reported “There Is No News”
On April 18, 1930—Good Friday—BBC skipped the usual news bulletin and instead, simply stating “There is no news,” broadcast a Wagner opera from Langham Place, London. For more ways to conquer trivia night, here are 20 Crazy Facts That Will Blow Your Mind.
Brown Bottles Are Better for Beer
Say that three times fast. While it may be a tongue twister, it’s also a fact—if exposed to sunlight, beer can become “lightstruck” which affects its taste and quality (aka makes it taste skunky). It’s not heat or oxygen causing the issue, but light, and one of the best ways to protect beers from this is to put it in a darker bottle, which keeps the flavor-killing wavelengths from ruining your brew.
Lobster Bladders Are in Their Heads
When Mating, Lobsters Pee on Each Other
That bladder location comes in handy during foreplay. When lobsters flirt, they squirt urine on each other. The female’s urine is loaded with pheromones which calm the male, so he doesn’t get aggressive, and puts him in mating mood. For more hilarious facts like this one, check out these 40 Facts So Funny They’re Hard to Believe.
Garlic Attracts Bloodsuckers
If you’re ever caught in a vampiric apocalypse, don’t reach for the garlic. In an experiment conducted by Norwegian scientists, it was found that leeches attached to a hand smeared in garlic in just 14.9 seconds, while it took them 44.9 seconds to attach to a hand that had not.
Cold Cuts Are Safest When Hot
Deli meat may be delicious, but it has been linked to cancer, botulism, as well as the food-borne bug, Listeria monocytogenes. To help reduce the danger of this bacteria (which kills 260 Americans annually), scientists urge that processed meats be heated to at least 165 degrees before eating them.
Americans are Mustard Wimps
Mustard was popular in Europe for decades in the 19th century, but Americans resisted it until Francis French, and his R.T. French Company created a mild, bright yellow version of the stuff. “It must be mild,” wrote French, who developed the recipe with his older brother George, “for I believe that these hot mustards are used sparingly not because they are hot, but because people don’t like them.”
The First Potato Chip Flavor Was Cheese and Onion
Before there was Cool Ranch, Barbecue, or Sour Cream and Onion, there was Cheese and Onion. Invented in 1954 by a fellow named Joe “Spud” Murphy, the flavored potato chip was a novelty at the time, when you could pretty much get your chips salted and that was it. His seasoning of the chips would pave the way for all that we love about the junk food from that day forward. And for more culinary quirks, learn the 20 Food Myths That Still Persist to This Day.
Beauty Sleep Is a Real Thing
A Swedish study found that when subjects were shown two photos of men and women, one taken after a restful sleep and another after having been up for 31 hours (with all other conditions and expressions identical and no makeup on), the ones who’d slept well were selected as looking more healthy and attractive.
Chinese Checkers Was Invented in Germany
Just like French fries have little to do with France, this board game did not originate where its name might make you think it did. A popular 19th century English game called Hoppity, which allowed for four players to take part in a Checkers-like game. In Germany, the game was adapted into a star-shaped board and called “Stern-Halma” meaning “Hoppity star,” before American toy company Pressman Co. rebranded it “Chinese Checkers.”
The German Version of “Average Joe” is “Otto Normalverbraucher”
Speaking of Germans, when they want to casually refer to a typical guy, they don’t call him an Average Joe, but “Otto Normalverbraucher,” meaning “Otto normal consumer.”
Speed Dating Was Invented by a Rabbi
While we might think of it as an innovative way to get laid, it was a very traditional person who invented speed dating. Rabbi Yaacov Deyo, based in Beverly Hills, CA, created the concept in 1998, bringing together a handful of single men and women for some matchmaking in a Peet’s Coffee & Tea. Romance and efficiency proved to be a perfect match. For more facts that are hard to believe, check out these 20 Present-Day Facts No One Could Have Predicted Five Years Ago.
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