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Holiday Inn, Dial Soap & Other Famous Not-So-American Brands

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Anheuser-Busch's announced sale to Belgian brewing giant InBev has been cause for considerable consternation among many members of the media, who seem to think that selling a company so firmly grounded in the American way of life is downright unpatriotic. To hear many people tell it, selling the makers of Budweiser to a foreign conglomerate is tantamount to selling nuclear secrets to Iran, burning a flag, or saying, "No thanks, I don't like apple pie that much." Some digging, though, reveals that lots of brands we think of a "solidly American" are in fact owned by foreign investors.

Miller Brewing Company
You don't even have to leave the beer market to find a company that's been through a transition similar to the one facing Anheuser-Busch. Milwaukee's Miller Brewing, Budweiser's closest competitor, isn't owned by American interests anymore, either. In 2002, South African Breweries bought a controlling interest in Miller by shelling out $3.6 billion in stock and taking on $2 billion of Miller's debt. The deal created the world's largest brewer, which took on the new hybrid name of SABMiller. The company, which also makes such imports as Peroni, Grolsch, and Pilsner Urquell is headquartered in Johannesburg, South Africa.

holiday-inn2.jpgHoliday Inn
What could be more American the Holiday Inn, whose "great signs" were a key icon of classic vacations of the 1950s? Kemmons Wilson opened the first Holiday Inn in Memphis in 1952, and by 1957 owned an exploding chain of franchises. In a seemingly unrelated development in 1989, the British government put the kibosh on breweries owning too many of their own pubs in the U.K. In response, the brewers of Bass started to grow their hotel business. In 1988, Bass started acquiring Holiday Inn's international operations, then bought up the domestic hotels in 1990. The move did so well that Bass actually got out of the beer business by divesting itself of its brewing operation and trademarks in 2000 and switched its name to Six Continents PLC, which later morphed into InterContinental Hotels Group, which currently owns all Holiday Inns.

Lucent Technologies
The name "Lucent" may not ring a lot of bells, but it had a history as a firmly American concern. In fact, Lucent was originally part of AT&T; it was known as AT&T Technologies and specialized in telecomm equipment manufacturing. When AT&T split into three companies in 1996, Lucent became a stand-alone spinoff, and it stayed that way for a decade. Then, in 2006, French competitor Alcatel swallowed Lucent as part of an $11 billion acquisition. The renamed company, Alcatel-Lucent, is headquartered in Paris.

Firestone
Firestone is probably ingrained in your brain as one of America's oldest tire companies, a venerable institution that dates back to early-20th-century Akron. However, after years of taking huge losses and running up billions in debt, the company put itself on the market in 1988. Japanese tire company Bridgestone bought Firestone for $80 a share, or roughly $2.6 billion.

Columbia Pictures
After its inception in 1919, Columbia Pictures cranked out some of America's favorite films, including Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, one of the most iconic screen visions of American patriotism and integrity. Other major hits in the studio's archives include On the Waterfront, The Bridge on the River Kwai, and Ghostbusters. However, the company's not in American hands. Coke briefly owned the company in the 1980s but allegedly talked itself out of the entertainment industry when Ishtar flopped. After a couple of years as a stand-alone company at the end of that decade, Japanese electronics colossus Sony bought Columbia for $3.4 billion in cash in 1989 to bolster its entertainment portfolio.

DKNY.jpgDKNY
Just reading the name "DKNY" might make you think the company is American. After all, it stands for "Donna Karan New York." However, its cash flows run to Paris, not New York. French holding company LVMH Moet Hennessy"“Louis Vuitton made an aggressive bid to buy the company in 2001, and as a result designer Donna Karan's brainchild moved into foreign hands as part of a $243 million purchase. It's now nestled in LVMH's portfolio alongside other luxury spirits, fashion labels, and cosmetics.

Hellman's
Richard Hellman was at the forefront of the condiment industry when he opened a delicatessen in New York and started selling his wife's mayonnaise in 1905. In 1932, Best Foods bought out Hellman's burgeoning mayo empire, and the brand bounced around various companies' portfolios until Best Foods became an independent company in 1995. In 2000, though, Anglo-Dutch consumer goods giant Unilever gobbled up Best Foods for $20.3 billion in stock and $4 billion in debt. Along with Hellman's, Unilever picked up several other well-known food brands, including Skippy peanut butter, Karo syrup, and Entenmann's baked goods.

Dial Soap
Dial originated in 1948 as America's first deodorant soap; it was originally an offshoot of Chicago-based meat processor Armour and Company. It has had a tumultuous history, including a period of ownership by Greyhound, which was perhaps a clever attempt to synergize based on the dirty feeling one has after a long bus ride. By 1996 Dial was solely a hygienic products and cleaning company once again, and then in 2004 it was purchased by German consumer product Henkel KGaA, which also owns brands like Duck Tape and Persil detergent. Henkel dropped $2.9 billion to pick up the soapmaker, in part because it thought Dial's portfolio would play well in developing markets.

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.
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10 Memorable Neil deGrasse Tyson Quotes
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Neil deGrasse Tyson is America's preeminent badass astrophysicist. He's a passionate advocate for science, NASA, and education. He's also well-known for a little incident involving Pluto. And the man holds nearly 20 honorary doctorates (in addition to his real one). In honor of his 59th birthday, here are 10 of our favorite Neil deGrasse Tyson quotes.

1. ON SCIENCE

"The good thing about science is that it's true whether or not you believe in it."
—From Real Time with Bill Maher.

2. ON NASA FUNDING

"As a fraction of your tax dollar today, what is the total cost of all spaceborne telescopes, planetary probes, the rovers on Mars, the International Space Station, the space shuttle, telescopes yet to orbit, and missions yet to fly?' Answer: one-half of one percent of each tax dollar. Half a penny. I’d prefer it were more: perhaps two cents on the dollar. Even during the storied Apollo era, peak NASA spending amounted to little more than four cents on the tax dollar." 
—From Space Chronicles

3. ON GOD AND HURRICANES

"Once upon a time, people identified the god Neptune as the source of storms at sea. Today we call these storms hurricanes ... The only people who still call hurricanes acts of God are the people who write insurance forms."
—From Death by Black Hole

4. ON THE BENEFITS OF TECHNOLOGY INVENTED FOR USE IN SPACE

"Countless women are alive today because of ideas stimulated by a design flaw in the Hubble Space Telescope." (Editor's note: technology used to repair the Hubble Space Telescope's optical problems led to improved technology for breast cancer detection.)
—From Space Chronicles

5. ON THE DEMOTION OF PLUTO FROM PLANET STATUS 

PBS

"I knew Pluto was popular among elementary schoolkids, but I had no idea they would mobilize into a 'Save Pluto' campaign. I now have a drawer full of hate letters from hundreds of elementary schoolchildren (with supportive cover letters from their science teachers) pleading with me to reverse my stance on Pluto. The file includes a photograph of the entire third grade of a school posing on their front steps and holding up a banner proclaiming, 'Dr. Tyson—Pluto is a Planet!'"
—From The Sky Is Not the Limit

6. ON JAMES CAMERON'S TITANIC

"In [Titanic], the stars above the ship bear no correspondence to any constellations in a real sky. Worse yet, while the heroine bobs ... we are treated to her view of this Hollywood sky—one where the stars on the right half of the scene trace the mirror image of the stars in the left half. How lazy can you get?"
—From Death by Black Hole

7. ON DEATH BY ASTEROID

"On Friday the 13th, April 2029, an asteroid large enough to fill the Rose Bowl as though it were an egg cup will fly so close to Earth that it will dip below the altitude of our communication satellites. We did not name this asteroid Bambi. Instead, we named it Apophis, after the Egyptian god of darkness and death."
—From Space Chronicles

8. ON THE MOTIVATIONS BEHIND AMERICA'S MOONSHOT

"[L]et us not fool ourselves into thinking we went to the Moon because we are pioneers, or discoverers, or adventurers. We went to the Moon because it was the militaristically expedient thing to do."
—From The Sky Is Not the Limit

9. ON INTELLIGENT LIFE (OR THE LACK THEREOF)

Perhaps we've never been visited by aliens because they have looked upon Earth and decided there's no sign of intelligent life.
Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/n/neildegras615117.html
Perhaps we've never been visited by aliens because they have looked upon Earth and decided there's no sign of intelligent life.
Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/n/neildegras615117.html

"Perhaps we've never been visited by aliens because they have looked upon Earth and decided there's no sign of intelligent life."

10. PRACTICAL ADVICE IN THE EVENT OF ALIEN CONTACT 

A still from Steven Spielberg's E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
Universal Studios
"[I]f an alien lands on your front lawn and extends an appendage as a gesture of greeting, before you get friendly, toss it an eightball. If the appendage explodes, then the alien was probably made of antimatter. If not, then you can proceed to take it to your leader."
—From Death by Black Hole
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40 Fun Facts About Sesame Street
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Now in its 47th season, Sesame Street is one of television's most iconic programs—and it's not just for kids. We're big fans of the Street, and to prove it, here are some of our favorite Sesame facts from previous stories and our Amazing Fact Generator.

Sesame Workshop

1. Oscar the Grouch used to be orange. Jim Henson decided to make him green before season two.

2. How did Oscar explain the color change? He said he went on vacation to the very damp Swamp Mushy Muddy and turned green overnight.

3. During a 2004 episode, Cookie Monster said that before he started eating cookies, his name was Sid.

4. In 1980, C-3PO and R2-D2 visited Sesame Street. They played games, sang songs, and R2-D2 fell in love with a fire hydrant.

5. Mr. Snuffleupagus has a first name—Aloysius

6. Ralph Nader stopped by in 1988 and sang "a consumer advocate is a person in your neighborhood."

7. Caroll Spinney said he based Oscar's voice on a cab driver from the Bronx who brought him to the audition.

8. In 1970, Ernie reached #16 on the Billboard Hot 100 with the timeless hit "Rubber Duckie."

9. One of Count von Count's lady friends is Countess von Backwards, who's also obsessed with counting but likes to do it backwards.

10. Sesame Street made its Afghanistan debut in 2011 with Baghch-e-Simsim (Sesame Garden). Big Bird, Grover and Elmo are involved.

11. According to Muppet Wiki, Oscar the Grouch and Count von Count were minimized on Baghch-e-Simsim "due to cultural taboos against trash and vampirism."

12. Before Giancarlo Esposito was Breaking Bad's super intense Gus Fring, he played Big Bird's camp counselor Mickey in 1982.

13. Thankfully, those episodes are available on YouTube.

14. How big is Big Bird? 8'2". (Pictured with First Lady Pat Nixon.)

15. In 2002, the South African version (Takalani Sesame) added an HIV-positive Muppet named Kami.

16. Six Republicans on the House Commerce Committee wrote a letter to PBS president Pat Mitchell warning that Kami was not appropriate for American children, and reminded Mitchell that their committee controlled PBS' funding.

17. Sesame Street's resident game show host Guy Smiley was using a pseudonym. His real name was Bernie Liederkrantz.

18. Bert and Ernie have been getting questioned about their sexuality for years. Ernie himself, as performed by Steve Whitmere, has weighed in: “All that stuff about me and Bert? It’s not true. We’re both very happy, but we’re not gay,”

19. A few years later, Bert (as performed by Eric Jacobson) answered the same question by saying, “No, no. In fact, sometimes we are not even friends; he can be a pain in the neck.”

20. In the first season, both Superman and Batman appeared in short cartoons produced by Filmation. In one clip, Batman told Bert and Ernie to stop arguing and take turns choosing what’s on TV.

21. In another segment, Superman battled a giant chimp.

22. Telly was originally "Television Monster," a TV-obsessed Muppet whose eyes whirled around as he watched.

23. According to Sesame Workshop, Elmo is the only non-human to testify before Congress.

24. He lobbied for more funding for music education, so that "when Elmo goes to school, there will be the instruments to play."

25. In the early 1990s, soon after Jim Henson’s passing, a rumor circulated that Ernie would be killed off in order to teach children about death, as they'd done with Mr. Hooper.

26. According to Snopes, the rumor may have spread thanks to New Hampshire college student, Michael Tabor, who convinced his graduating class to wear “Save Ernie” beanies and sign a petition to persuade Sesame Workshop to let Ernie live.

27. By the time Tabor was corrected, the newspapers had already picked up the story.

28. Sesame Street’s Executive Producer Carol-Lynn Parente joined Sesame Workshop as a production assistant and has worked her way to the top.

29. Originally, Count von Count was more sinister. He could hypnotize and stun people.

30. According to Sesame Workshop, all Sesame Street's main Muppets have four fingers except Cookie Monster, who has five.

31. The episode with Mr. Hooper's funeral aired on Thanksgiving Day in 1983. That date was chosen because families were more likely to be together at that time, in case kids had questions or needed emotional support.

32. Mr. Hooper’s first name was Harold.

33. Big Bird sang "Bein' Green" at Jim Henson's memorial service.

34. As Chris Higgins put it, the performance was "devastating."

35. Oscar's Israeli counterpart is Moishe Oofnik, whose last name means “grouch” in Hebrew.

36. Nigeria's version of Cookie Monster eats yams. His catchphrase: "ME WANT YAM!"

37. Sesame's Roosevelt Franklin ran a school, where he spoke in scat and taught about Africa. Some parents hated him, so in 1975 he got the boot, only to inspire Gob Bluth’s racist puppet Franklin on Arrested Development 28 years later.

38. Our good friend and contributor Eddie Deezen was the voice of Donnie Dodo in the 1985 classic Follow That Bird.

39. Cookie Monster evolved from The Wheel-Stealer—a snack-pilfering puppet Jim Henson created to promote Wheels, Crowns and Flutes in the 1960s.

40. This puppet later was seen eating a computer in an IBM training film and on The Ed Sullivan Show.

Thanks to Stacy Conradt, Joe Hennes, Drew Toal, and Chris Higgins for their previous Sesame coverage!

An earlier version of this article appeared in 2012.

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