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6 Obscure Facts About the Noid

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If you watched American TV in the late 1980s, you'll remember the Noid, the crazed anti-pizza terrorist who served as mascot for Domino's Pizza under the banner "Avoid the Noid." (Domino's pizzas were, of course, Noid-proof.) Although Domino's eventually dropped the Noid, here are six items of Noid trivia for your enjoyment.

1. The Noid Led to a Hostage Situation

In January 1989, 22-year-old Kenneth Lamar Noid interpreted the Domino's ads as a personal assault on his character. Believing he was engaged in an ongoing battle with Domino's head Tom Monaghan, Noid took matters into his own hands, holding up a Domino's outlet in Georgia. From Time magazine:

Kenneth Noid, 22, walked into a Domino's Pizza shop in Chamblee, Ga., with a .357 Magnum revolver and took two employees hostage. When police arrived, he demanded $100,000 in cash, a getaway car and a copy of The Widow's Son, a 1985 novel about secret societies in an 18th century Parisian prison.

All Noid got was the pizza he ordered. After a five-hour siege, the two employees slipped away and Noid gave himself up.

Noid was charged with kidnapping, aggravated assault, and theft by extortion. He was found not guilty by reason of insanity. Domino's stopped runing Noid ads, and we all moved on.

2. "Affordable Fun": The Avoid the Noid Video Game

Game image courtesy of The Internet Archive

In 1989, California Merchandising Concepts developed an Avoid the Noid video game for DOS. Billed on the box as "Affordable Fun!" the game is utterly horrible; you play a Domino's Pizza delivery driver trying to deliver a pizza to Doom Industries, while avoiding the Noid and his bizarre traps. Your defense (aside from jumping) is a Noid Avoider, which can only be used five times. When the Noid destroys all pizzas, the game ends. You can play it online courtesy of the Internet Archive, though I doubt you'll enjoy the experience.

3. Yo! Noid Brought Pizza-Smashing to Nintendo

Capcom

Capitalizing on The Noid's success, Capcom altered an existing Japanese game for the Nintendo Entertainment System called Kamen no Ninja Hanamaru. The 1991 remake, entitled Yo! Noid, was surprisingly detailed and difficult—probably because it was originally intended to be an entirely different game and the pizza content was tacked on.

In Yo! Noid, the Noid is actually the hero of the story, using his magic yo-yo to battle his way through New York City, eventually confronting Mr. Green (just another Noid, but green).

Yo! Noid has a surprising fan following on the web. Check out, for example, the Yo Noid! Shrine and an online version of the game.

4. The Noid's Non-Advertising Appearances in TV & Film

Aside from his advertising gig, the Noid has appeared in episodes of The Simpsons and Family Guy. He's also briefly visible in Michael Jackson's Moonwalker. (Fortunately Jackson manages to Avoid him.)

5. The Noid & The California Raisins: Separated at Birth?

The Noid was brought to life with claymation, the creation of Will Vinton, the same man who brought us '80s icons like The California Raisins (official spokesraisins for the California Raisin Advisory Board) and The Adventures of Mark Twain.

These days Vinton is still producing commercials, including the computer-animated M&M character ads.

6. The Noid Used Voice Talent from Masters of the Universe

Pons Maar in Return to Oz // IMDB

Actor Pons Maar lent his voice to the Noid, summoning bursts of crazed laughter and bubbly warbling which made the character genuinely weird. Aside from his Noid gig, Maar is perhaps best known as the lead Wheeler in the movie Return to Oz. He also voiced various (somewhat obscure) cartoon roles over the years—the one I remember best is the hissing Saurod from Masters of the Universe. Maar also did puppet work on major productions like Team America: World Police, Monkeybone, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

A Sample Noid Commercial

Here's an example of the Noid in action:

Note: A version of this story first ran on June 3, 2008.

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The Surprising Reason Why Wendy's Serves Fast Food's Only Baked Potato
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iStock

For an industry that prides itself on convenience and indulgence, a fiber-rich pseudo-vegetable that’s hard to eat on the go and isn’t deep-fried seems like a curious addition to a fast food menu. Yet Wendy’s has been selling baked potatoes for nearly three decades—11-and-a-half ounces of pure, unpeeled spud, drowned in your choice of toppings.

According to Thrillist writer Wil Fulton, who spoke with Wendy’s vice president of culinary innovation Lori Estrada, the chain first got turned on to the foil-wrapped food in the 1980s, when nutrition experts were (erroneously) touting low-fat diets for weight loss. Eager to embrace the trend, Wendy's viewed a plain potato as a popular alternative to sliced, oil-slicked fries.

The hysteria over fat may have disappeared, but the collective consumer appetite for the potato did not. Estrada says she believes many of them consider the 270-to-480 calorie (depending on toppings) carb dump a meal unto itself, and that some enjoy piling on cheese, bacon, and other burger trimmings for a tasty and inexpensive dinner.

So why don’t you see baked potatoes at other franchises? Estrada speculates that the logistical issues are a turnoff. The potatoes are cooked from a raw state in convection ovens, which could necessitate new equipment and ample prep time. With fries still the king of sides, franchisees may not think it’s worth the hassle.

Wendy’s is undoubtedly happy to have the market to themselves: The chain sells 1 million tubers a week.

[h/t Thrillist]

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The Secret Ingredient That Makes LaCroix Water So Irresistible
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LaCroix

The distinctive Technicolor cans of LaCroix sparkling water are an increasingly popular sight in stores and on kitchen tables around the country. (If you're old enough to remember the Snapple phenomenon of the 1990s, this is like that—just bubbly.) But as The Wall Street Journal recently pointed out, few of the beverage's loyal fans have any idea what it is they're drinking.

LaCroix comes in a variety of flavors, from tangerine to coconut. The can label, however, is cryptic, listing "natural flavors" as part of the ingredients. Their website discloses only that "natural essence oils" are involved, which sounds like LaCroix should be applied to your hair and then rinsed off.

A look at the nutritional information for LaCroix water
LaCroix

As it turns out, that's not too far off. According to The Wall Street Journal, these "essences" are naturally produced chemicals that are manufactured by heating up fruit or vegetable remnants until they make a vapor, then condensing them into a clear concentrate. They're used in a variety of consumer products, from shampoos to ice pops.

LaCroix was unwilling to confirm the Journal's claim, protecting their manufacturing process in a manner similar to Coca-Cola's famously secretive treatment of their recipe. They do state that no sugars are added, but that may not be enough to protect your teeth: Carbonated water and citric acids can combine to create a lower pH, which has a detrimental effect on tooth enamel. Like most everything that tastes good, these flavored waters are best enjoyed in moderation.

[h/t The Wall Street Journal]

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