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The Great Penny Debate

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Over the years, media coverage occasionally ramps up around what I think of as the Great Penny Debate: whether to discontinue the U.S. one-cent denomination. The issue was covered on 60 Minutes a few weeks back, and now it's showing up in an excellent New Yorker article. The heart of the issue is that pennies cost more than one cent to make, so why not stop making them? There's also some disagreement as to the efficiency (and thus cost) of counting out change using pennies -- wouldn't rounding to the nearest five cents be faster? Given the prevalence of "take-a-penny" dishes at many checkout counters, it seems that cashiers already prefer rounding than dealing with pennies.

Countries (including the U.S., with the 1857 elimination of the half-penny) have discontinued low-denomination coins before, so it's not a far-fetched notion to think that the penny's days are numbered. But the actual issue aside, this whole penny discussion is jam-packed with trivia about coins and metallurgy. The New Yorker piece linked above brings us some great tidbits. I've gone ahead and collected some of its best factoids for your reading pleasure:

A penny minted before 1982 is ninety-five per cent copper -- which, at recent prices, is approximately two and a half cents' worth.

...More recent [pennies] are ninety-seven and a half per cent zinc.

Nickels, despite their silvery appearance, are seventy-five per cent copper.

Canadian five-cent coins ... were a hundred per cent nickel most years from 1946 to 1981.

Primarily because zinc [in addition to copper] has soared in value, producing a penny now costs about 1.7 cents.

...The Treasury incurs an annual penny deficit of about fifty million dollars -- a condition known in the coin world as "negative seigniorage."

Breaking stride to pick up a penny, if it takes more than 6.15 seconds, pays less than the federal minimum wage.

...Eliminating pennies would increase our reliance on nickels, which now cost almost ten cents to manufacture....

There's much more to the article than these bits of trivia, so I encourage you to read it in full. Also, the article mentions people "throwing away" pennies. Really? Dear readers, please tell me if you've been throwing away pennies. I toss mine in a jar, but never the trash.

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Little Baby's Ice Cream
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Food
Pizza and Cricket Cake Are Just Some of the Odd Flavors You'll Find at This Philadelphia Ice Cream Shop
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Little Baby's Ice Cream

Ice cream flavors can get pretty out-there, thanks to the growing number of creative scoop shops willing to take risks and broaden their customers’ horizons beyond chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry. Intrepid foodies can cool off with frozen treats that taste like horseradish, foie gras, and avocado, while Philadelphia's Little Baby’s Ice Cream is pushing the boundaries of taste with chilly offerings like everything bagel, Maryland BBQ, ranch, and cricket cake.

Cricket-flavored ice cream, created by Philadelphia-based Little Baby's Ice Cream
Little Baby's Ice Cream

Everything Bagel-flavored ice cream, created by Philadelphia-based Little Baby's Ice Cream
Little Baby's Ice Cream

As Lonely Planet News reports, Little Baby’s Ice Cream launched its first signature “oddball” ice cream—Earl Grey sriracha—in 2011. Since then, its rotating menu has only gotten quirkier. In addition to the aforementioned flavors, customers who swing by Little Baby’s this summer can even try pizza ice cream.

The store created the savory flavor in 2011, to celebrate neighborhood eatery Pizza Brain’s inclusion into Guinness World Records for its vast collection of pizza memorabilia. The savory, Italian-esque snack is made from ingredients like tomato, basil, oregano, salt, and garlic—and yes, it actually tastes like pizza, Little Baby’s co-owner Pete Angevine told Lonely Planet News.

Pizza-flavored ice cream, made by Philadelphia-based Little Baby's Ice Cream
Little Baby's Ice Cream

“Frequently, folks will see it on the menu and be incredulous, then be convinced to taste it, giggle, talk about how surprised they are that it really tastes just like pizza … and then order something else,” Angevine said. “That’s just fine. Just as often though, they’ll end up getting a pizza milkshake!”

Little Baby’s flagship location is in Philadelphia's East Kensington neighborhood, but customers can also sample their unconventional goods at additional outposts in West Philadelphia, Baltimore, and a pop-up stand in Washington, D.C.’s Union Market. Just make sure to bring along a sense of adventure, and to leave your preconceived notions of what ice cream should taste like at home.

[h/t Lonely Planet]

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Warby Parker
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Space
Warby Parker Is Giving Away Free Eclipse Glasses in August
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Warby Parker

When this year’s rare “all-American” total solar eclipse comes around on August 21, you’ll want to be prepared. Whether you’re chasing the eclipse to Kentucky or viewing it from your backyard, you’ll need a way to watch it safely. That means an eclipse filter over your telescope, or specially designed eclipse glasses.

For the latter, you can just show up at your nearest Warby Parker, and their eye experts will hand over a pair of eclipse glasses. The stores are giving out the free eye protectors throughout August. The company’s Nashville store is also having an eclipse party to view the celestial event on the day-of.

Get your glasses early, because you don’t want to miss out on this eclipse, which will cross the continental U.S. from Oregon to South Carolina. There are only so many total solar eclipses you’ll get to see in your lifetime, after all.

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