10 Facts About the Mall of America

iStock/Wolterk
iStock/Wolterk

The Mall of America is more than just a shopping mall—it's a bona fide tourist attraction. For more than a quarter-century, the gigantic shopping center has brought tens of millions tourists to the city of Bloomington, Minnesota for deals on designers duds and roller coaster rides galore. Here at a few things you might not know about the legendary shopping mall.

1. YES, IT'S THE BIGGEST MALL IN AMERICA.

Up until 2015, the Mall of America and Pennyslvania's King of Prussia Mall were regularly duking it out for the title of "biggest" versus "largest" mall in America. And while the Mall of America has always maintained a larger total square footage, King of Prussia boasted more actual retail space. That officially changed in 2015, when the Mall of America expanded its footprint.

But the Mall of America won't hold that title for much longer; Miami's American Dream Mall is set to steal the title when it opens (but it could be a while, as the shopping center is still in the development phase).

2. The mall has its own zip code.

It's 55425, in case you're dying to know (or just need it).

3. THERE ARE MORE THAN 12,250 PARKING SPACES.

With 5.4 million square feet to cover, more than 500 stores, a theme park, an aquarium, a movie theater, a wedding chapel and lots more, how many parking spaces do you think would be adequate? Well, the mall has 12,287. But there are plenty of options if you find yourself at the mall with 12,287 other people and can't seem to find a spot, including hotel shuttles, parking at IKEA, plus bus and rail services that will take you directly to the mall.

If you want to skip all that driving around looking for a spot, the MyPark app will let you reserve a premium parking spot for your visit.

4. THE MALL HAS ITS OWN APP.

In addition to MyPark, the Mall of America has its own dedicated app that lets you maximize your visit. The app lets you virtually visit all 500-plus of the center's stores, create a digital to-do list so that you don't miss anything, add parking reminders for your cars, and map out the facility so that you know where you're going—and don't get lost.

5. BEFORE IT WAS A MALL, IT WAS A STADIUM (WHERE THE BEATLES ONCE PLAYED).

Before it was the Mall of America, it was the Metropolitan Stadium, where you'd likely find Vikings and Twins before you'd find bargain hunters. The Beatles also played there in 1965.

6. There are a couple of MONUMENTS to the old stadium.

If you want to experience a bit of the mall's past life as a stadium, there are a couple of reminders. The first is a bronze plaque that marks where home plate once stood; it's embedded in the floor in the northwest corner of Nickelodeon Universe. The second is probably quite perplexing if you've ever been on the Log Chute and noticed what appears to be a random chair affixed to the wall that has nothing to do with the ride. It shows the spot where the longest home run at the Old Met was hit by Minnesota Twin Harmon Killebrew, who blasted the ball 520 feet from home plate.

7. THE SPACE RELIES ON BODY HEAT TO KEEP IT WARM.

The only common areas (the areas that aren't actually inside of stores) that are heated at the mall are the entryways. The rest of the mall uses skylights, lighting fixtures, and good old body heat from all of the employees and the customers. In fact, even in Minnesota's sub-zero temps in the winter, an air conditioning system has to be used to keep the mall at a comfy shopping temperature.

8. YOU CAN GET MARRIED THERE.

If you want to get married at the Chapel of Love at the Mall of America, you're not alone: more than 7500 couples have tied the knot at the Mall since the chapel opened its doors nearly 25 years ago. Wedding packages start at $249 for the couple and up to 12 guests and go to more than $4000 for a catered affair. (That doesn't include flowers or photography, by the way.)

9. visitors drop more than $160 apiece.

On average, each tourist spends about $162 during one trip to the mall. That same tourist spends about $1.25 outside the mall and the shopping destination boasts more than 40 million visitors per year.

10. IT'S NOT THE LARGEST MALL IN NORTH AMERICA.

Although the mega-mall might be the largest mall in the U.S., it's not the largest mall in North America. That distinction belongs to West Edmonton Mall in Alberta, Canada. The largest mall in the world is the New South China Mall in Dongguan, China, which is home to an 82-foot-high replica of the Arc de Triomphe and a 1.3-mile-long canal with gondolas. While the New South China Mall has long been referred to as the world's largest "ghost mall" because of its lack of occupants, or shoppers, it seems poised for a comeback.

This article originally ran in 2009.

11 Surprising Facts About Prince

BERTRAND GUAY/AFP/Getty Images
BERTRAND GUAY/AFP/Getty Images

It was three years ago today that legendary, genre-bending rocker Prince died at the age of 57. In addition to being a musical pioneer, the Minneapolis native dabbled in filmmaking, most successfully with 1984’s Purple Rain. While most people know about the singer’s infamous name change, here are 10 things you might not have known about the artist formerly known as The Artist Formerly Known as Prince.

1. His real name was Prince.

Born to two musical parents on June 7, 1958, Prince Rogers Nelson was named after his father's jazz combo.

2. He was a Jehovah's Witness.

Baptized in 2001, Prince was a devout Jehovah's Witness; he even went door-to-door. In October 2003, a woman in Eden Prairie, Minnesota opened her door to discover the famously shy artist and his bassist, former Sly and the Family Stone member Larry Graham, standing in front of her home. "My first thought is ‘Cool, cool, cool. He wants to use my house for a set. I’m glad! Demolish the whole thing! Start over!,'" the woman told The Star Tribune. "Then they start in on this Jehovah’s Witnesses stuff. I said, ‘You know what? You’ve walked into a Jewish household, and this is not something I’m interested in.’ He says, 'Can I just finish?' Then the other guy, Larry Graham, gets out his little Bible and starts reading scriptures about being Jewish and the land of Israel."

3. He wrote a lot of songs for other artists.

In addition to penning several hundred songs for himself, Prince also composed music for other artists, including "Manic Monday" for the Bangles, "I Feel For You" for Chaka Khan, and "Nothing Compares 2 U" for Sinéad O'Connor.

4. His symbol actually had a name.


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Even though the whole world referred to him as either "The Artist" or "The Artist Formerly Known as Prince," that weird symbol Prince used was actually known as "Love Symbol #2." It was copyrighted in 1997, but when Prince's contract with Warner Bros. expired at midnight on December 31, 1999, he announced that he was reclaiming his given name.

5. In 2017, Pantone gave him his own color.

A little over a year after Prince's death, global color authority Pantone created a royal shade of purple in honor of him, in conjunction with the late singer's estate. Appropriately, it is known as Love Symbol #2. The color was inspired by a Yamaha piano the musician was planning to take on tour with him. “The color purple was synonymous with who Prince was and will always be," Troy Carter, an advisor to Prince's estate, said. "This is an incredible way for his legacy to live on forever."

6. His sister sued him.

In 1987, Prince's half-sister, Lorna Nelson, sued him, claiming that she had written the lyrics to "U Got the Look," a song from "Sign '☮' the Times" that features pop artist Sheena Easton. In 1989, the court sided with Prince.

7. He ticked off a vice president's wife.

In 1984, after purchasing the Purple Rain soundtrack for her then-11-year-old daughter, Tipper Gore—ex-wife of former vice president Al Gore—became enraged over the explicit lyrics of "Darling Nikki," a song that references masturbation and other graphic sex acts. Gore felt that there should be some sort of warning on the label and in 1985 formed the Parents Music Resource Center, which pressured the recording industry to adopt a ratings system similar to the one employed in Hollywood. To Prince's credit, he didn't oppose the label system and became one of the first artists to release a "clean" version of explicit albums.

8. Prince took a promotional tip from Willy Wonka.

In 2006, Universal hid 14 purple tickets—seven in the U.S. and seven internationally—inside Prince's album, 3121. Fans who found a purple ticket were invited to attend a private performance at Prince's Los Angeles home.

9. He simultaneously held the number one spots for film, single, and album.

During the week of July 27, 1984, Prince's film Purple Rain hit number one at the box office. That same week, the film's soundtrack was the best-selling album and "When Doves Cry" was holding the top spot for singles.

10. He screwed up on SNL.

During Prince's first appearance on Saturday Night Live, he performed the song "Partyup" and sang the lyric, "Fightin' war is a such a f*ing bore." It went unnoticed at the time, but in the closing segment, Charles Rocket clearly said, "I'd like to know who the f* did it." This was the only episode of SNL where the f-bomb was dropped twice.

11. He scrapped an album released after having "a spiritual epiphany."

In 1987, Prince was due to release "The Black Album." However, just days before it was scheduled to drop, Prince scrapped the whole thing, calling it "dark and immortal." The musician claimed to have reached this decision following "a spiritual epiphany." Some reports say that it was actually an early experience with drug ecstasy, while others suggested The Artist just knew it would flop.

This story has been updated for 2019.

17 Delicious Facts About Peeps

Getty Images
Getty Images

You know whether you prefer chicks to bunnies, fresh to stale, or plain to chocolate-covered. But there’s a lot you may not know about Peeps, everyone’s favorite (non-chocolate) Easter candy.

1. It used to take 27 hours to make a Peep.

A candy Peep being made
Getty Images

That was in 1953, when Sam Born acquired the Rodda Candy Company and its line of marshmallow chicks. Back then, each chick was handmade with a pastry tube. Just Born quickly set about automating the process, so that it now takes just six minutes to make a Peep.

2. An average of 5.5 million Peeps are made every day.

Peeps candies being made
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All of them at the Just Born factory in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. In one year, the company makes enough peeps to circle the earth—twice!

3. Yellow chicks are the original Peep, and still the favorite.

Boxes of yellow chick Peeps
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Yellow bunnies are the second most popular color/shape combination. Pink is the second best-selling color.

4. The recipe has stayed pretty much the same.

Cooking up a batch of Peeps
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The recipe begins with a boiling batch of granulated sugar, liquid sugar, and corn syrup, to which gelatin and vanilla extract are later added. 

5. The equipment has also (mostly) stayed the same.

Peeps candies being made
Getty Images

Since Just Born turned Peeps-making into an automated process, the chicks have been carefully formed by a top-secret machine known as The Depositor. Created by Sam Born’s son, Bob, The Depositor could manufacture six rows of five Peeps apiece in a fraction of the time it took workers to form them by hand. And that same machine that Bob built has been keeping the Peeps flowing ever since. Until rather recently …

In 2014, the company announced that it was planning to renovate its manufacturing plant, including The Depositor. “It’s a little sad,” vice president of sales and marketing Matthew Pye told Candy Industry Magazine at the time. “Bob Born made it from scratch in 1954 and it allowed us to distribute and grow the brand nationally." 

6. The updated equipment means new Peeps innovations could be coming.

Making Peeps at the Just Born factory
Getty Images

“The investment in our marshmallow making process will allow for more efficiency, more consistency, improved quality, and additional innovation capabilities,” co-CEO Ross Born told Candy Industry magazine about the new depositor, which will be able to produce a wider variety of Peeps in all sizes. “The [old] Peeps line did one thing and one thing very well—cranking out chicks day in and day out. Five clusters, just in different colors,” Born said.

7. Peeps used to have wings.

They were clipped in 1955, two years after the first marshmallow chicks hatched, to give the candy a sleeker, more “modern” look.

8. The eyes are the final touch.

A close up of a yellow chick Peep
Getty Images

The final flourish for all of these squishy balls of sweetness is adding the eyes, which are made of carnauba—a non-toxic edible wax (that is also found in some shoe polishes and car waxes, plus many other candies).

9. Peeps may be destructible, but their eyes are not.

Making Peeps at the Just Born factory
Getty Images

In 1999, a pair of scientists at Emory University—dubbed “Peeps Investigators”—decided to test the theory that Peeps are an indestructible food. In addition to a microwave, the pair tested the candy’s vulnerability to tap water, boiling water, acetone, and sulfuric acid (they survived them all). When they upped the ante with some Phenol, the only things that didn’t disappear were the eyes. 

10. They really are everyone's favorite non-chocolate Easter candy.

For more than 20 years now, no other non-chocolate Easter candy has been able to compete with the power of Peeps. With more than 1.5 billion of them consumed each spring, Peeps have topped the list of most popular Easter treats for more than two decades.

11. There are sugar-free Peeps.

Counterintuitive, we know. But in 2007, the first line of sugar-free Peeps hit store shelves.

12. There are also chocolate-covered Peeps.

Chocolate-covered Peeps hit the market in 2010. Today there’s a full line of them for every occasion.

13. Peeps come in a variety of flavors.

Color and shape (i.e. yellow chick) are no longer the only ways to categorize a Peep. They now come in an array of flavors, including fruit punch, sour watermelon, lemon sherbet, blueberry, and pancakes and syrup.

14. Peeps lip balm is a thing.

Yep.

15. On New Year's Eve, a giant Peep is dropped in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.


PEEPS®

The drop is done with a traditional chick that flashes different colors at midnight.

16. Believe it or not, Peeps are not Just Born's best-selling brand.

That honor belongs to Mike and Ike. (Sorry, Peepsters.)

17. They're a boon to a creativity.

Blue chick Peeps
Getty Images

All over the country, Peeps have become the preferred media for a number of highly anticipated annual art contests. (You can check out some of the coolest creations from Westminster, Maryland's PEEPshow here.)

Updated for 2019.

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