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John Candy Was Born (and other historical Halloween happenings)

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Today we're treating you to some of the more interesting and coincidental events to occur on this day in history. While you all know today is Halloween, you may not know that on this date...

-Martin Luther began the Protestant Reformation, nailing his 95 theses to the door of the Wittenberg Palace church in 1517.

-John Keats, who later wrote a sonnet titled "Written in Disgust of Vulgar Superstition," was baptized in 1795.

-Nevada, a state now known for the revelry and costumes of Las Vegas, became the 36th state in 1864. (===>)

-Arthur Conan Doyle's "The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes" was published in 1892.

pooh.jpg -In 1912, Oliver Martin Johnson, Jr. was born. As one of Disney's "Nine Old Men," Johnson worked on films such as "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs," "Cinderella," "Alice in Wonderland," "Peter Pan," "One Hundred and One Dalmatians," "Robin Hood," and "The Many Adventures of Winnie The Pooh," all of which have inspired hundreds of Halloween costumes around the world. (===>)

magician.jpg-The master of magic, Harry Houdini died of peritonitis in 1926.

-In 1933, many cities in America suffered great destruction at the hands of mischief-making adolescent boys. The day became known as "Black Hallowe'en," and many cities formed committees to prevent such destruction from happening again.

-Orson Welles, in 1938, expressed "deep regret" for the confusion caused by his presentation of "War of the Worlds" on the previous day. He was also bewildered, though, that people actually believed the alien invasion was real.

woodsy.jpg -Chicago once attempted to abolish Halloween, with the City Council voting unanimously for October 31, 1942, to be declared "Conservation Day." (Nobody declared you should dress up as Woodsy the Conservation Owl. But it's an option. ===>)

-Canadian comedian and actor John Candy was born in 1950.

-In 1964, Helen Pfeil distributed ant poison, steel-wool pads, and dog biscuits as Halloween "treats" to older children in New York. Her case is the first recorded incident of Halloween candy tampering.

-Ronald O'Bryan poisoned his child's Halloween candy in 1974. He was indicted for his 8-year-old son's murder, as well as for the attempted murder of his 5-year-old daughter and three other children. Supposedly, he did it for the $38,000 insurance on his children.

-Marijuana-stuffed Snickers bars were accidentally handed out to children in Hercules, Calif., in 2000. The candy had landed in the dead-mail office and was handed out by an employee, who was unaware that the candy was an attempt to mail marijuana to San Francisco.

Previously on mental_floss:

"¢ Don't miss your chance to win a Gummi Bear-inspired light!
"¢ What's your Halloween Giveaway Strategy?
Ten Epic Costumes
Gruesome Party Food
DIY Decorations.

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Hulton Archive/Getty Images
6 Radiant Facts About Irène Joliot-Curie
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Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Though her accomplishments are often overshadowed by those of her parents, the elder daughter of Marie and Pierre Curie was a brilliant researcher in her own right.


A black and white photo of Irene and Marie Curie in the laboratory in 1925.
Irène and Marie in the laboratory, 1925.
Wellcome Images, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY 4.0

Irène’s birth in Paris in 1897 launched what would become a world-changing scientific dynasty. A restless Marie rejoined her loving husband in the laboratory shortly after the baby’s arrival. Over the next 10 years, the Curies discovered radium and polonium, founded the science of radioactivity, welcomed a second daughter, Eve, and won a Nobel Prize in Physics. The Curies expected their daughters to excel in their education and their work. And excel they did; by 1925, Irène had a doctorate in chemistry and was working in her mother’s laboratory.


Like her mother, Irène fell in love in the lab—both with her work and with another scientist. Frédéric Joliot joined the Curie team as an assistant. He and Irène quickly bonded over shared interests in sports, the arts, and human rights. The two began collaborating on research and soon married, equitably combining their names and signing their work Irène and Frédéric Joliot-Curie.


Black and white photo of Irène and Fréderic Joliot-Curie working side by side in their laboratory.
Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Their passion for exploration drove them ever onward into exciting new territory. A decade of experimentation yielded advances in several disciplines. They learned how the thyroid gland absorbs radioiodine and how the body metabolizes radioactive phosphates. They found ways to coax radioactive isotopes from ordinarily non-radioactive materials—a discovery that would eventually enable both nuclear power and atomic weaponry, and one that earned them the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1935.


The humanist principles that initially drew Irène and Frédéric together only deepened as they grew older. Both were proud members of the Socialist Party and the Comité de Vigilance des Intellectuels Antifascistes (Vigilance Committee of Anti-Fascist Intellectuals). They took great pains to keep atomic research out of Nazi hands, sealing and hiding their research as Germany occupied their country, Irène also served as undersecretary of state for scientific research of the Popular Front government.


Irène eventually scaled back her time in the lab to raise her children Hélène and Pierre. But she never slowed down, nor did she stop fighting for equality and freedom for all. Especially active in women’s rights groups, she became a member of the Comité National de l'Union des Femmes Françaises and the World Peace Council.


Irène’s extraordinary life was a mirror of her mother’s. Tragically, her death was, too. Years of watching radiation poisoning and cancer taking their toll on Marie never dissuaded Irène from her work. In 1956, dying of leukemia, she entered the Curie Hospital, where she followed her mother’s luminous footsteps into the great beyond.

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Live Smarter
You Can Now Order Food Through Facebook
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After a bit of controversy over its way of aggregating news feeds and some questionable content censoring policies, it’s nice to have Facebook roll out a feature everyone can agree on: allowing you to order food without leaving the social media site.

According to a press release, Facebook says that the company decided to begin offering food delivery options after realizing that many of its users come to the social media hub to rate and discuss local eateries. Rather than hop from Facebook to the restaurant or a delivery service, you’ll be able to stay within the app and select from a menu of food choices. Just click “Order Food” from the Explore menu on a desktop interface or under the “More” option on Android or iOS devices. There, you’ll be presented with options that will accept takeout or delivery orders, as well as businesses participating with services like or EatStreet.

If you need to sign up and create an account with or Jimmy John’s, for example, you can do that without leaving Facebook. The feature is expected to be available nationally, effective immediately.

[h/t Forbes]


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