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2 Rings That Make Super Bowl Bling Look Common

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Every professional athlete longs to "get a ring" by winning a championship, and earning a Super Bowl ring is certainly a rare and amazing feat. However, it's not that rare. The NFL has played 41 Super Bowls, and with over fifty people per team, that means that there are at least 2,000 or so player rings floating around out there. Plus, all manner of coaches, front-office staff, and other team employees get rings of their own, too. So while a Super Bowl ring is rare, it's got nothing on these two from European theater:

1. The Iffland-Ring

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This ring boasts a rarity that even Tolkien could appreciate: there's only one. The ring originally lived on the finger of German theater icon A.W. Iffland and features his portrait studded with small diamonds. Towards the end of his life, Iffland passed the jewelry on to fellow actor Ludwig Devrient. By tradition, the bearer is the most significant living German-speaking actor, and when he dies his will specifies the next man to wear the ring.

This line of succession hasn't always been so clean, though. According to legend, Albert Basserman, who received the ring in 1911, kept picking successors who died. After he outlived his first three choices, Basserman decided to give up and donated the ring to a museum. However, when he died in 1952, the Austrian Federal Ministry of Education intervened and awarded the ring to Werner Kraub. The current holder, Swiss actor Bruno Ganz, has worn the ring since 1996.

2. Hans-Reinhart-Ring

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Similarly, the Hans-Reinhart-Ring is awarded to a luminary of the Swiss theater. It's not as rare as the Iffland-Ring, though, since the ring has been awarded annually since 1957 and each winner gets his or her own ring. Not surprisingly, the ring is named after Hans Reinhart, a wealthy playwright and poet who endowed the program.

Since its inception, the ring has grown to signify the top award in Swiss theater. Laureates have included operatic soprano Lisa Della Casa, the clown Dmitri, and actor and director Benno Besson. Current Iffland-Ring holder Bruno Ganz won the award in 1991, giving him the closest thing Swiss stagecraft has to Tom Brady's ring-encrusted knuckles.

Ethan Trex grew up idolizing Vince Coleman, and he kind of still does. Ethan co-writes Straight Cash, Homey, the Internet's undisputed top source for pictures of people in Ryan Leaf jerseys. His last mental_floss story somehow lumped together Beavis & Butthead and The Puppy Bowl.

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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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