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Sweet Talk, Day Five: Popcorn Balls

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Every weekday until Halloween, I'll be offering up trivia treats about sweets you're likely to encounter on October 31. Or, in today's case, October 31, 1900.

popcorn-balls3.jpg1) Popcorn balls were one of the most popular treats in the late 1800s and early 1900s. (Photo courtesy of Tomorrow's Friendly Food.)

2) Popular flavorings during that time period included orange and lemon juice, rose, peppermint, honey, vanilla, molasses and sugar.

3) 30 percent of popcorn in the U.S. is sold at circuses, movies, fairs and baseball games.

4) I was all set to tell you that the largest popcorn ball ever made lives in Sac City, Iowa, weighing in at 3,100 pounds. But it turns out that the record was topped in 2006 by our neighbors in Lake Forest, Illinois. Lake Forest is home to the Popcorn Factory, a company that makes about 1,000,000 pounds of popcorn every year. The ball took employees two days to make and came in at eight feet in diameter and almost 24.5 feet in circumference. It weighs 3,423 pounds. (Continue reading for a picture.)


5) Take this one with a grain of salt (ha), but supposedly the popcorn ball was accidentally invented in Nebraska during the "Year of the Striped Weather." During this year, there was scorching hot sun covering part of a farm and torrential rain on the other part (those of us familiar with Midwestern weather know that this is entirely possible.) The sun made the corn pop and the rain washed the syrup out of the sugarcane. Because the farm was on a hill, syrup flowed down into the corn and it rolled into a big ball of deliciousness. Hmmm.

Yesterday: M&M's. Friday: Candy Apples. Thursday: Tootsie Rolls. Wednedsay: Snickers. Tomorrow: Sixlets, Candy Corn and Swedish Fish. Plus a big Halloween giveaway!

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Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images
Can’t See the Eclipse in Person? Watch NASA’s 360° Live Stream
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Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images

Depending on where you live, the historic eclipse on August 21 might not look all that impressive from your vantage point. You may be far away from the path of totality, or stuck with heartbreakingly cloudy weather. Maybe you forgot to get your eclipse glasses before they sold out, or can't get away from your desk in the middle of the day.

But fear not. NASA has you covered. The space agency is live streaming a spectacular 4K-resolution 360° live video of the celestial phenomenon on Facebook. The livestream started at 12 p.m. Eastern Time and includes commentary from NASA experts based in South Carolina. It will run until about 4:15 ET.

You can watch it below, on NASA's Facebook page, or on the Facebook video app.

Cephalopod Fossil Sketch in Australia Can Be Seen From Space

Australia is home to some of the most singular creatures alive today, but a new piece of outdoor art pays homage to an organism that last inhabited the continent 65 million years ago. As the Townsville Bulletin reports, an etching of a prehistoric ammonite has appeared in a barren field in Queensland.

Ammonites are the ancestors of the cephalopods that currently populate the world’s oceans. They had sharp beaks, dexterous tentacles, and spiraling shells that could grow more than 3 feet in diameter. The inland sea where the ammonites once thrived has since dried up, leaving only fossils as evidence of their existence. The newly plowed dirt mural acts as a larger-than-life reminder of the ancient animals.

To make a drawing big enough to be seen from space, mathematician David Kennedy plotted the image into a path consisting of more than 600 “way points.” Then, using a former War World II airfield as his canvas, the property’s owner Rob Ievers plowed the massive 1230-foot-by-820-foot artwork into the ground with his tractor.

The project was funded by Soil Science Australia, an organization that uses soil art to raise awareness of the importance of farming. The sketch doubles as a paleotourist attraction for the local area, which is home to Australia's "dinosaur trail" of museums and other fossil-related attractions. But to see the craftsmanship in all its glory, visitors will need to find a way to view it from above.

[h/t Townsville Bulletin]


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