CLOSE

Baby Jessica and other kids I'd forgotten about...

Sure, you remember their stories. You might even be able to remember their names. But here's the real question: it's 7am, do you know where these kids are right now?

That Kid: Who Got Stuck Down a Well

The Story: Back in 1987, an 18-month old "Baby Jessica" McClure captured the nation's attention when she tumbled into an old well in her aunt's backyard. Emergency workers piped fresh air and heat into the well, and expert miners spent 58 straight hours digging a parallel shaft 22 feet into the ground to rescue her. While healthy at the moment, The Today Show reported that Jessica has undergone 15 surgeries and 9 blood transfusions since reemerging.
Picture 22.png The Post-Puberty Report: Adult Jessica seems to be, pardon the phrase, well-adjusted. Now 21, she's married, has a child, and according to all reports, remains thoroughly down-to-earth. In fact, she's refused to get plastic surgery to cover up her scars because it reminds her to be thankful for her life. Of course, she'll probably be even more thankful for her life in 4 years. That's when a trust fund, set up in her name with public donations, should kick a few million dollars her way.

That Kid: Who Was Too Old to Play Little League

Picture 7.pngThe Story: Back in 2001, Danny Almonte didn't just pitch his Bronx, NY team to a third-place finish in the Little League World Series; the 12-year old phenom also pitched a perfect game along the way. Of course, there was just one problem: turns out little Danny wasn't so little. After a rival Staten Island team hired a private investigator to look into the case, Sports Illustrated followed-up with their own investigation. Unbeknownst to Danny, his father had falsified his birth certificate by two years to hand his son an arm up on the competition.
The Post-Puberty Report: Well, to be accurate, the story actually started post-puberty. That said, while the team was stripped of their Little League title, all the players including Danny Almonte were cleared of any wrong-doing (since he didn't know his own age at the time). As for where Danny is today: after helping his high school team win 2 public school athletic league championships (and garnering MVP honors), ESPN is reporting that he's now pitching professionally, throwing "90s plus fast-balls" for the Southern Illinois Miners.

PLUS: We catch up with rock 'n' roll's favorite baby, a 13-year old cover model and the kid who outspelled Dan Quayle after the break.

That Kid: from Nirvana's Nevermind album

nevermind.jpg The Story: According to CommonGate, when Nirvana initially brainstormed on CD artwork, they started by looking at stock photography of babies swimming. But when the costs proved too stiff for their slim wallets, the band hired a photographer who in turn paid a friend's couple $200 to use their 4-month old baby in the shoot. Supposedly Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love were so pleased with the pic, they vowed to take the kid out to dinner when he grew up as thanks for his contribution to the album. As for the hook and dollar also featured in the pic? Those were actually Photoshopped into the scene later.
Picture 12.png The Post-Puberty Report: Now 16, Spencer Elden has been featured in various Nirvana documentaries and magazine features. He claims to be a big fan of the band, and proud of his child labor for the album. And while there's no word on whether Courtney Love has followed up on her promise to feed the kid, Nirvana's isn't the only album on which he's been featured. Elden also appears on the cover of Skinny Puppy founder cEvin Key's 2003 album The Dragon Experience.

That Kid: Who Spelled Potato Right (until the VP corrected him)

Picture 5.png The Story: In 1992, Vice President Dan Quayle made a pit stop in Trenton, NJ, where he acted as judge in a 6th grade spelling bee. Unfortunately for Quayle, the cards he'd been handed hadn't been spell-checked. So when William Figueroa, who'd been bused in for the event, spelled out his word correctly, Quayle told him "You're close, but you left a little something off. The e on the end." The press immediately picked up the story, Figueroa appeared on Letterman and Quayle's reputation as a mental midget was solidified in the public's mind.
The Post-Puberty Report: Not good, from what we've read. In 2004, a New York Times reporter met up with Figueroa, who'd since dropped out of high school, had his first child by 16, two more by age 24, and was reportedly working a low paying job.

That Kid: from the National Geographic

Picture 4.png The Story: While visiting a Pashtun refugee camp in Pakistan, photographer Steve McCurry snapped a pic of a 13-year old orphan with hauntingly beautiful eyes. The image made the cover of a 1984 National Geographic, and the girl became an international celebrity. Well, sort of. Despite securing a great shot, McCurry never took down the girl's name, and despite taking more than 10 trips back to the region to locate her, it would be another 17 years before she was tracked down.
The Post-Puberty Report: Now a wife and mother of three, Sharbat Gula lives in a Picture 31.pngremote village in Afghanistan. She lives in purdah, and while only female reporters were allowed to visit and photograph her for National Geographic's long awaited follow-up, supposedly she's now "being looked after" by the magazine. Of course, as the BBC reports, the most amazing part is that she hates the iconic photo. She never liked the red scarf she was photographed in, she doesn't like media attention, and has since moved to avoid future interviews.

Plus, a few more tykes you might've forgotten about:
Louise Brown, the world's first test tube baby, has had her own baby.
Elian Gonzales is now a Cuban celeb, has a lot of pets, gets front row seats to Castro speeches, and apparently helped land his father a plush gig in Cuba's national assembly.
And Heather DeLoach, who tapped danced her way into MTV viewers' hearts as a tap-dancing bee in Blind Melon's "No Rain" video, has since landed several acting jobs, including 2 episodes of ER.

Special thanks to Kara Kovalchik for all her research work on this piece.

nextArticle.image_alt|e
Netflix/Facebook
arrow
entertainment
8 Things We Know About Stranger Things Season 3
Netflix/Facebook
Netflix/Facebook

[Warning: There are lots of Stranger Things season two spoilers ahead.]

Stranger Things season two is in the books, and like we all hoped, it turned out to be a worthy follow-up to an addictive debut season. Now, though, we’re left with plenty of questions, mysteries, and theories to chew on as the wait for a third season begins. But for everything we don’t know about what the next year of Stranger Things will bring us (such as an actual release date), there are more than enough things we do know to keep those fan theories coming well into 2018. While the show hasn't been officially greenlit for a third season by Netflix yet, new details have already begun to trickle out. Here’s everything we know about Stranger Things season three so far.

1. THERE WILL BE ANOTHER TIME JUMP.

The third season of Stranger Things won’t pick up right where the second one left off. Like the show experienced between the first two seasons, there will be a time jump between seasons two and three as well. The reason is simple: the child actors are all growing up, and instead of having the kids look noticeably older without explanation for year three, the Duffer Brothers told The Hollywood Reporter:

“Our kids are aging. We can only write and produce the show so fast. They're going to be almost a year older by the time we start shooting season three. It provides certain challenges. You can't start right after season two ended. It forces you to do a time jump. But what I like is that it makes you evolve the show. It forces the show to evolve and change, because the kids are changing.”

2. THE IDEA IS TO BE SMALLER IN SCALE.

If the series’s second season was about expanding the Stranger Things mythology, the third season won't go bigger just for the sake of it, with the brothers even going so far as to say that it will be a more intimate story.

“It’s not necessarily going to be bigger in scale,” Matt Duffer said in an interview with IndieWire. “What I am really excited about is giving these characters an interesting journey to go on.”

Ross Duffer did stress, though, that as of early November, season three is basically “… Matt and me working with some writers and figuring out where it’s going to go.”

3. THE MIND FLAYER WILL BE BACK.

The second season ended on a bit of a foreboding note when it was revealed that the Mind Flayer was still in the Upside Down and was seen looming over the Hawkins school as the winter dance was going on. Though we know there will be a time jump at the start of next season, it’s clear that the monster will still have a big presence on the show.

Executive producer Dan Cohen told TV Guide: "There were other ways we could have ended beyond that, but I think that was a very strong, lyrical ending, and it really lets us decide to focus where we ultimately are going to want to go as we dive into Season 3."

What does the Mind Flayer’s presence mean for the new crop of episodes? Well, there will be plenty of fan theories to ponder between now and the season three premiere (whenever that may be).

4. PLENTY OF LEFTOVER SEASON TWO STORYLINES WILL BE IN SEASON THREE.

The Duffer Brothers had a lot of material for the latest season of the show—probably a bit too much. Talking to Vulture, Matt Duffer detailed a few details and plot points that had to be pushed to season three:

"Billy was supposed to have a bigger role. We ended up having so many characters it ended up, in a way, more teed up for season three than anything. There was a whole teen supernatural story line that just got booted because it was just too cluttered, you know? A lot of that’s just getting kicked into season three."

The good news is that he also told the site that this wealth of cut material could make the writing process for the third season much quicker.

5. THERE WILL BE MORE ERICA.

Stranger Things already had a roster of fan-favorite characters heading into season two, but newcomer Erica, Lucas’s little sister, may have overshadowed them all. Played by 11-year-old Priah Ferguson, Erica is equal parts expressive, snarky, and charismatic. And the Duffer Brothers couldn’t agree more, saying that there will be much more Erica next season.

“There will definitely be more Erica in Season 3,” Ross Duffer told Yahoo!. “That is the fun thing about the show—you discover stuff as you’re filming. We were able to integrate more of her in, but not as much you want because the story [was] already going. ‘We got to use more Erica’—that was one of the first things we said in the writers’ room.”

“I thought she’s very GIF-able, if that’s a word,” Matt Duffer added. “She was great.”

6. EXPECT KALI TO RETURN.

The season two episode “The Lost Sister” was a bit of an outlier for the series. It’s a standalone episode that focuses solely on the character Eleven, leaving the central plot and main cast of Hawkins behind. As well-received as Stranger Things season two was, this episode was a near-unanimous miss among fans and critics.

The episode did, however, introduce us to the character of Kali (Linnea Berthelsen), who has the ability to manipulate people’s minds with illusions she creates. Despite the reaction, the Duffers felt the episode was vital to Eleven’s development, and that Kali won’t be forgotten moving forward.

“It feels weird to me that we wouldn’t solve [Kali’s] storyline. I would say chances are very high she comes back,” Matt Duffer said at the Vulture Festival.

7. OTHER "NUMBERS" MIGHT SHOW UP.

We're already well acquainted with Eleven, and season two introduced us to Eight (a.k.a. Kali), and executive producer Shawn Levy heavily hinted to E! that there are probably more Hawkins Laboratory experiments on the horizon.

"I think we've clearly implied there are other numbers, and I can't imagine that the world will only ever know Eleven and Eight," Levy said.

8. THERE MIGHT NOT BE MANY SEASONS LEFT.

Don’t be in too much of a rush to find out everything about the next season of Stranger Things; there might not be many more left. The Duffer Brothers have said in the past that the plan is to do four seasons and end it. However, Levy gave fans a glimmer of hope that things may go on a little while longer—just by a bit, though.

“Hearts were heard breaking in Netflix headquarters when the Brothers made four seasons sound like an official end, and I was suddenly getting phone calls from our actors’ agents,” Levy told Entertainment Weekly. “The truth is we’re definitely going four seasons and there’s very much the possibility of a fifth. Beyond that, it becomes I think very unlikely.”

nextArticle.image_alt|e
iStock
arrow
Big Questions
Why Do Fruitcakes Last So Long?
iStock
iStock

Fruitcake is a shelf-stable food unlike any other. One Ohio family has kept the same fruitcake uneaten (except for periodic taste tests) since it was baked in 1878. In Antarctica, a century-old fruitcake discovered in artifacts left by explorer Robert Falcon Scott’s 1910 expedition remains “almost edible,” according to the researchers who found it. So what is it that makes fruitcake so freakishly hardy?

It comes down to the ingredients. Fruitcake is notoriously dense. Unlike almost any other cake, it’s packed chock-full of already-preserved foods, like dried and candied nuts and fruit. All those dry ingredients don’t give microorganisms enough moisture to reproduce, as Ben Chapman, a food safety specialist at North Carolina State University, explained in 2014. That keeps bacteria from developing on the cake.

Oh, and the booze helps. A good fruitcake involves plenty of alcohol to help it stay shelf-stable for years on end. Immediately after a fruitcake cools, most bakers will wrap it in a cheesecloth soaked in liquor and store it in an airtight container. This keeps mold and yeast from developing on the surface. It also keeps the cake deliciously moist.

In fact, fruitcakes aren’t just capable of surviving unspoiled for months on end; some people contend they’re better that way. Fruitcake fans swear by the aging process, letting their cakes sit for months or even years at a stretch. Like what happens to a wine with age, this allows the tannins in the fruit to mellow, according to the Wisconsin bakery Swiss Colony, which has been selling fruitcakes since the 1960s. As it ages, it becomes even more flavorful, bringing out complex notes that a young fruitcake (or wine) lacks.

If you want your fruitcake to age gracefully, you’ll have to give it a little more hooch every once in a while. If you’re keeping it on the counter in advance of a holiday feast a few weeks away, the King Arthur Flour Company recommends unwrapping it and brushing it with whatever alcohol you’ve chosen (brandy and rum are popular choices) every few days. This is called “feeding” the cake, and should happen every week or so.

The aging process is built into our traditions around fruitcakes. In Great Britain, one wedding tradition calls for the bride and groom to save the top tier of a three-tier fruitcake to eat until the christening of the couple’s first child—presumably at least a year later, if not more.

Though true fruitcake aficionados argue over exactly how long you should be marinating your fruitcake in the fridge, The Spruce says that “it's generally recommended that soaked fruitcake should be consumed within two years.” Which isn't to say that the cake couldn’t last longer, as our century-old Antarctic fruitcake proves. Honestly, it would probably taste OK if you let it sit in brandy for a few days.

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

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios