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Tuesday Turnip

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It's time for another whimsical Tuesday Turnip Google search wherein I type a random phrase and we see what kind of interesting factoids "turn-up."

Today I typed in "100 years ago" unearthing a whole pantload of fun factoids. The most interesting ones come from a list that was circulated between 2002 and 2004, so, technically, we're now talking 100+, but you'll still love these. The list was copied and recopied all over the web, but most come from these two sites:
"100 years ago..."
The population of Las Vegas, Nevada was 30

The average life expectancy in the US was 47

Only 14% of the homes in the US had a bathtub

Only 8% of the homes had a telephone

A three-minute call from Denver to New York City cost $11

There were only 8,000 cars in the US and only 144 miles of paved roads

The maximum speed limit in most cities was 10 mph

One in ten US adults couldn't read or write

Only 6% of all Americans had graduated from high school

Coca Cola contained cocaine

Marijuana, heroin and morphine were all available over the counter at corner drugstores

And lastly, because it's that time of year (from a completely different site): Saint Louis University football coach Eddie Cochems called the first forward pass in football 100 years ago, on Sept. 5, 1906

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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

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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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