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Toniiiiiight, I celebrate my looooove for yoooooou

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Today is Tim's and my second wedding anniversary (cue the oohs and aahs), so over the weekend I was scrambling to come up with a gift made of cotton. For those of you who haven't yet experienced wedded bliss, on each anniversary there's a traditional category of gift you're supposed to give: first anniversary is paper, fifth is wood (heh), fifteenth is crystal, and so on. I kind of enjoy the forced creativity of it all, but I've always thought it seemed a little Hallmark-holidayish. Turns out, it mostly is, except in place of Hallmark we have the spendier American National Retail Jeweler Association:

Parts of the traditional list have existed since medieval times. Historians can trace the origins of silver and golden anniversaries to medieval Germany, where garlands made of these metals were presented as gifts for the 25th and 50th years of marriage. The rest of the list may not be as traditional as you think. I was surprised to learn that the traditional list, as we know it today, did not exist until 1937. In that year, the American National Retail Jeweler Association published a list, which associated a material for each Anniversary up to the 15th year and then each fifth year after that up to the 60th Anniversary.   

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Big Questions
What's the Difference Between Vanilla and French Vanilla Ice Cream?
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While you’re browsing the ice cream aisle, you may find yourself wondering, “What’s so French about French vanilla?” The name may sound a little fancier than just plain ol’ “vanilla,” but it has nothing to do with the origin of the vanilla itself. (Vanilla is a tropical plant that grows near the equator.)

The difference comes down to eggs, as The Kitchn explains. You may have already noticed that French vanilla ice cream tends to have a slightly yellow coloring, while plain vanilla ice cream is more white. That’s because the base of French vanilla ice cream has egg yolks added to it.

The eggs give French vanilla ice cream both a smoother consistency and that subtle yellow color. The taste is a little richer and a little more complex than a regular vanilla, which is made with just milk and cream and is sometimes called “Philadelphia-style vanilla” ice cream.

In an interview with NPR’s All Things Considered in 2010—when Baskin-Robbins decided to eliminate French Vanilla from its ice cream lineup—ice cream industry consultant Bruce Tharp noted that French vanilla ice cream may date back to at least colonial times, when Thomas Jefferson and George Washington both used ice cream recipes that included egg yolks.

Jefferson likely acquired his taste for ice cream during the time he spent in France, and served it to his White House guests several times. His family’s ice cream recipe—which calls for six egg yolks per quart of cream—seems to have originated with his French butler.

But everyone already knew to trust the French with their dairy products, right?

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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science
Belly Flop Physics 101: The Science Behind the Sting
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Belly flops are the least-dignified—yet most painful—way of making a serious splash at the pool. Rarely do they result in serious physical injury, but if you’re wondering why an elegant swan dive feels better for your body than falling stomach-first into the water, you can learn the laws of physics that turn your soft torso a tender pink by watching the SciShow’s video below.

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