CLOSE
Original image

Sharing My Love For (Plus 9 Fun Facts About) The Sims

Original image

If you read mental_floss with any regularity, you already know that I get easily addicted to certain types of video games. My husband can't get enough of FIFA Soccer '08 for the Wii. I'm so not interested in games like that. Or games like Call of Duty. But I'm scarily obsessed with Guitar Hero, Rock Band and World of Warcraft. And during my freshman year of college, long before any of those games came about, I was holed up in my dorm room playing The Sims.

Creator Will Wright says the game is like having a virtual dollhouse to play with. And he's absolutely right. But it's strange that I like The Sims so much, because I never liked playing with dolls. (In fact, I find them rather terrifying.) At first, it was just fun building houses and decorating them. Then I got into the positively addicting habit of making and naming Sims after people I knew. It was fun to see if the Sim versions of us would interact like we did in real life. Plus it was always fun to kill your friends off. "Hey, Courtney, I accidentally built a room with no door around your Sim and it starved to death. Sorry about that." This might mean I have psychotic tendencies. Whatever. Also, with my love of trivia, I liked finding Easter eggs and inside jokes scattered throughout the game, such as the "See Me, Feel Me" pinball machine.

Of course, just when the fun of the Sims was starting to wear off, Maxis started rolling out with the expansion packs. And you'd better believe I bought all of them.

Livin' Large was the first expansion pack and added more objects and careers.
dc

"¢ House Party added rave-like objects like a lighted dance floor, a mechanical bull, a go-go cage and a DJ booth. If you have a rockin' party (enough people, enough food, etc.), Drew Carey might show up. You can't talk to him or anything, though, you can only watch him work the crowd and talk on his cell phone. If you're having a boring party, a mime shows up and annoys your guests until they all leave.

Hot Date allowed your Sims to, well, go on Hot Dates. This was especially fun for messing with your real-life friends.

Vacation allowed Sims to take skiing holidays and camping trips (among other destinations).

Unleashed introduced the world of pets.

Superstar was one of my favorites. You could become an actor or singer and become celebrities, complete with groupies. If you are good enough to win a "Simmy", Marilyn Monroe hops out of a limo and presents you with an award.

"¢ I thought I would really like Makin' Magic, an expansion pack that capitalized on the Harry Potter trend by letting Sims cast spells and make potions and brews. But it was, eh, only OK.

More Sims trivia:
1) NPCs (non-player characters) included the Grim Reaper, Santa Claus, the Tragic Clown (ugh), strippers (yup), Avril Lavigne, Andy Warhol, Christina Aguilera, Cameron Diaz, Jon Bon Jovi, Sarah McLachlan and a Genie. vamp reaper

2) Sim teens get zits if their hygiene levels drop.

3) Social workers will come and take away babies if your Sim isn't caring for them properly.

4) The NPC character Mortimer Goth is most likely based on Vincent Price.

5) Depending on how many expansion packs you have, you can become a ghost, a vampire, a zombie or a werewolf. Oh, you can also be abducted by aliens.

6) In The Sims 2, Sims can get pregnant (prior to the Sims 2, if your Sim has a baby it just magically appears. Hmm). The action "Try for a Baby" is available when your Sim is in a changing booth, a car, a photo booth or cuddling in a bed or a hot tub. Male Sims can get pregnant if they are abducted by aliens.alien
7) The babble-language that all Sims speak is called "Simish".

8) In The Sims 2, your Sim could be randomly struck and killed by a satellite falling from the sky. This is pretty rare, but it does happen.

9) There is a Sims movie in the works, which I am kind of uncomfortable with.

Anyway, at some point my PC crashed and I ended up getting a Mac. Being a poor college student, I really wasn't up for buying everything over again for the Mac. So I fell out of my Sims habit. I did eventually get The Sims 2 for the Mac, but I guess my addiction just burned itself out. Until now.

A couple of weekends ago I got My Sims for the Wii. It's really similar to Animal Crossing, if you've ever played that. You're in charge of a town and everything that goes with it. When a new NPC moves in, instead of going to Target like every normal person would, the Sim comes to you and asks you to build them a bed. Well, after you build their house, that is. One Sim (Sir Vincent) asked me to build him a museum. I did, and then he said that UPS had lost all of his displays, so could I build him a sarcophagus?
vincent

I was more than happy to help, and when it was complete he said something like, "Wonderful! I can't even tell the difference between this and the real thing! ...and neither will my customers." Shady Sims. You just can't trust them.

Well, are there any other Sims addicts out there? Bella Goth fans? Am I hopelessly outdated?

Original image
Netflix
arrow
entertainment
5 Things We Know About Stranger Things Season 2
Original image
Netflix

Stranger Things seemed to come out of nowhere to become one of television's standout new series in 2016. Netflix's sometimes scary, sometimes funny, and always exciting homage to '80s pop culture was a binge-worthy phenomenon when it debuted in July 2016. Of course, the streaming giant wasn't going to wait long to bring more Stranger Things to audiences, and a second season was announced a little over a month after its debut—and Netflix just announced that we'll be getting it a few days earlier than expected. Here are five key things we know about the show's sophomore season, which kicks off on October 27.

1. WE'LL BE GETTING EVEN MORE EPISODES.

The first season of Stranger Things consisted of eight hour-long episodes, which proved to be a solid length for the story Matt and Ross Duffer wanted to tell. While season two won't increase in length dramatically, we will be getting at least one extra hour when the show returns in 2017 with nine episodes. Not much is known about any of these episodes, but we do know the titles:

"Madmax"
"The Boy Who Came Back To Life"
"The Pumpkin Patch"
"The Palace"
"The Storm"
"The Pollywog"
"The Secret Cabin"
"The Brain"
"The Lost Brother"

There's a lot of speculation about what each title means and, as usual with Stranger Things, there's probably a reason for each one.

2. THE KIDS ARE RETURNING (INCLUDING ELEVEN).

Stranger Things fans should gear up for plenty of new developments in season two, but that doesn't mean your favorite characters aren't returning. A November 4 photo sent out by the show's Twitter account revealed most of the kids from the first season will be back in 2017, including the enigmatic Eleven, played by Millie Bobby Brown (the #elevenisback hashtag used by series regular Finn Wolfhard should really drive the point home):

3. THE SHOW'S 1984 SETTING WILL LEAD TO A DARKER TONE.

A year will have passed between the first and second seasons of the show, allowing the Duffer brothers to catch up with a familiar cast of characters that has matured since we last saw them. With the story taking place in 1984, the brothers are looking at the pop culture zeitgeist at the time for inspiration—most notably the darker tone of blockbusters like Gremlins and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.

"I actually really love Temple of Doom, I love that it gets a little darker and weirder from Raiders, I like that it feels very different than Raiders did," Matt Duffer told IGN. "Even though it was probably slammed at the time—obviously now people look back on it fondly, but it messed up a lot of kids, and I love that about that film—that it really traumatized some children. Not saying that we want to traumatize children, just that we want to get a little darker and weirder."

4. IT'S NOT SO MUCH A CONTINUATION AS IT IS A SEQUEL.

When you watch something like The Americans season two, it's almost impossible to catch on unless you've seen the previous episodes. Stranger Things season two will differ from the modern TV approach by being more of a sequel than a continuation of the first year. That means a more self-contained plot that doesn't leave viewers hanging at the end of nine episodes.

"There are lingering questions, but the idea with Season 2 is there's a new tension and the goal is can the characters resolve that tension by the end," Ross Duffer told IGN. "So it's going to be its own sort of complete little movie, very much in the way that Season 1 is."

Don't worry about the two seasons of Stranger Things being too similar or too different from the original, though, because when speaking with Entertainment Weekly about the influences on the show, Matt Duffer said, "I guess a lot of this is James Cameron. But he’s brilliant. And I think one of the reasons his sequels are as successful as they are is he makes them feel very different without losing what we loved about the original. So I think we kinda looked to him and what he does and tried to capture a little bit of the magic of his work.”

5. THE PREMIERE WILL TRAVEL OUTSIDE OF HAWKINS.

Everything about the new Stranger Things episodes will be kept secret until they finally debut later this year, but we do know one thing about the premiere: It won't take place entirely in the familiar town of Hawkins, Indiana. “We will venture a little bit outside of Hawkins,” Matt Duffer told Entertainment Weekly. “I will say the opening scene [of the premiere] does not take place in Hawkins.”

So, should we take "a little bit outside" as literally as it sounds? You certainly can, but in that same interview, the brothers also said they're both eager to explore the Upside Down, the alternate dimension from the first season. Whether the season kicks off just a few miles away, or a few worlds away, you'll get your answer when Stranger Things's second season debuts next month.

arrow
Food
The Gooey History of the Fluffernutter Sandwich

Open any pantry in New England and chances are you’ll find at least one jar of Marshmallow Fluff. Not just any old marshmallow crème, but Fluff; the one manufactured by Durkee-Mower of Lynn, Massachusetts since 1920, and the preferred brand of the northeast. With its familiar red lid and classic blue label, it's long been a favorite guilty pleasure and a kitchen staple beloved throughout the region.

This gooey, spreadable, marshmallow-infused confection is used in countless recipes and found in a variety of baked goods—from whoopie pies and Rice Krispies Treats to chocolate fudge and beyond. And in the beyond lies perhaps the most treasured concoction of all: the Fluffernutter sandwich—a classic New England treat made with white bread, peanut butter, and, you guessed it, Fluff. No jelly required. Or wanted.

There are several claims to the origin of the sandwich. The first begins with Revolutionary War hero Paul Revere—or, not Paul exactly, but his great-great-great-grandchildren Emma and Amory Curtis of Melrose, Massachusetts. Both siblings were highly intelligent and forward-thinkers, and Amory was even accepted into MIT. But when the family couldn’t afford to send him, he founded a Boston-based company in the 1890s that specialized in soda fountain equipment.

He sold the business in 1901 and used the proceeds to buy the entire east side of Crystal Street in Melrose. Soon after he built a house and, in his basement, he created a marshmallow spread known as Snowflake Marshmallow Crème (later called SMAC), which actually predated Fluff. By the early 1910s, the Curtis Marshmallow Factory was established and Snowflake became the first commercially successful shelf-stable marshmallow crème.

Although other companies were manufacturing similar products, it was Emma who set the Curtis brand apart from the rest. She had a knack for marketing and thought up many different ways to popularize their marshmallow crème, including the creation of one-of-a-kind recipes, like sandwiches that featured nuts and marshmallow crème. She shared her culinary gems in a weekly newspaper column and radio show. By 1915, Snowflake was selling nationwide.

During World War I, when Americans were urged to sacrifice meat one day a week, Emma published a recipe for a peanut butter and marshmallow crème sandwich. She named her creation the "Liberty Sandwich," as a person could still obtain his or her daily nutrients while simultaneously supporting the wartime cause. Some have pointed to Emma’s 1918 published recipe as the earliest known example of a Fluffernutter, but the earliest recipe mental_floss can find comes from three years prior. In 1915, the confectioners trade journal Candy and Ice Cream published a list of lunch offerings that candy shops could advertise beyond hot soup. One of them was the "Mallonut Sandwich," which involved peanut butter and "marshmallow whip or mallo topping," spread on lightly toasted whole wheat bread.

Another origin story comes from Somerville, Massachusetts, home to entrepreneur Archibald Query. Query began making his own version of marshmallow crème and selling it door-to-door in 1917. Due to sugar shortages during World War I, his business began to fail. Query quickly sold the rights to his recipe to candy makers H. Allen Durkee and Fred Mower in 1920. The cost? A modest $500 for what would go on to become the Marshmallow Fluff empire.

Although the business partners promoted the sandwich treat early in the company’s history, the delicious snack wasn’t officially called the Fluffernutter until the 1960s, when Durkee-Mower hired a PR firm to help them market the sandwich, which resulted in a particularly catchy jingle explaining the recipe.

So who owns the bragging rights? While some anonymous candy shop owner was likely the first to actually put the two together, Emma Curtis created the early precursors and brought the concept to a national audience, and Durkee-Mower added the now-ubiquitous crème and catchy name. And the Fluffernutter has never lost its popularity.

In 2006, the Massachusetts state legislature spent a full week deliberating over whether or not the Fluffernutter should be named the official state sandwich. On one side, some argued that marshmallow crème and peanut butter added to the epidemic of childhood obesity. The history-bound fanatics that stood against them contended that the Fluffernutter was a proud culinary legacy. One state representative even proclaimed, "I’m going to fight to the death for Fluff." True dedication, but the bill has been stalled for more than a decade despite several revivals and subsequent petitions from loyal fans.

But Fluff lovers needn’t despair. There’s a National Fluffernutter Day (October 8) for hardcore fans, and the town of Somerville, Massachusetts still celebrates its Fluff pride with an annual What the Fluff? festival.

"Everyone feels like Fluff is part of their childhood," said self-proclaimed Fluff expert and the festival's executive director, Mimi Graney, in an interview with Boston Magazine. "Whether born in the 1940s or '50s, or '60s, or later—everyone feels nostalgic for Fluff. I think New Englanders in general have a particular fondness for it."

Today, the Fluffernutter sandwich is as much of a part of New England cuisine as baked beans or blueberry pie. While some people live and die by the traditional combination, the sandwich now comes in all shapes and sizes, with the addition of salty and savory toppings as a favorite twist. Wheat bread is as popular as white, and many like to grill their sandwiches for a touch of bistro flair. But don't ask a New Englander to swap out their favorite brand of marshmallow crème. That’s just asking too Fluffing much.

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios