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The year of the inoshishi

You may think it's 2007, but in Japan, it's now officially the year of the boar. And as it turns out, there's no better place to celebrate it than on the Izu Peninsula -- specifically, at Inoshishi-Mura, which translates roughly to "Boar Village." Yes, it's an entire theme park devoted to wild boars! You can visit a rather comprehensive museum that covers the life of the boar from cradle to stewpot, watch the boar races, eat Boar Jerky (inoshishi is actually pretty tasty), or -- my favorite -- take in some of the antics of the boars-in-residence. For those of you not planning to travel to Izu ever anytime soon, here are six videos I took of what amounted to an inoshishi circus:

They play soccer!

They jump through hoops!

They outsmart people who want them to jump through hoops!

They walk the plank!

They climb stairs and go down slides!

They refuse to do anything of the sort!

And have I mentioned how cute the babies are? (Needless to say, this is not my video -- but it may just be the best game show ever.)

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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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