The Quick 10: Mrs. Piggle Wiggle

Oh, Mrs. Piggle Wiggle. When you look back at these stories today, they were clearly intended as lessons for kids. But because Mrs. Piggle Wiggle used funny magic (left to her by her dead pirate husband in a mysterious old chest) to cure children with horrible behavior, smelled like sugar cookies and lived in an upside-down house, we loved her. At least I did, and so did millions of other kids, judging by Betty MacDonald's book sales. Were you one of them?

1. Like a lot of good children's stories, Betty MacDonald made up the Mrs. Piggle Wiggle stories simply to entertain her kids, nieces and nephews at bedtime. "I hope this book sells," she once said. "If it doesn't it will prove that all these years I've been boring children instead of amusing them."
2. Maurice Sendak illustrated Mrs. Piggle Wiggle's Farm before he was a famous author himself.
3. Hilary Knight illustrated the rest of the Piggle Wiggle books
. Although these books were quite popular, Knight is best known as the artist who brought another character to life - Kay Thompson's Eloise.

4. A few of Mrs. Piggle Wiggle's famous (or infamous) cures: The Thought-You-Saiders Cure, The Interrupters, The Whaddle-I-Doers, The Slow-Eater-Tiny-Bite-Taker Cure, the Fighter-Quarrelers Cure, The Never-Want-to-Go-to-Schooler, The Fraidy-cat Cure, The Show-off Cure and The Slowpoke.

5. Betty MacDonald actually started out writing for adults. The Egg and I, a humorous autobiography about her life as a chicken farmer, is probably the most well-known. It sat at the top of the bestseller list for a while in 1945. She also wrote about her brief stint in a sanatorium due to a bout of tuberculosis. It was called, of course, The Plague and I.

6. The Egg and I was later made into a movie starring Fred MacMurray and Claudette Colbert; it later spawned the uber-popular Ma and Pa Kettle series.

7. Over the course of four books, Mrs. Piggle Wiggle cures or runs across 151 children. Many of these children were named after people in her own life - for example, Sylvia Quadrangle was named after her little sister who died in childhood; the Burbank siblings from Mrs. Piggle Wiggle's Magic shared names with another sibling and a nephew. There was also a Burbank sibling named Bard Burbank; Bard was MacDonald's maiden name.

8. After a long hiatus (Betty MacDonald died in 1958), Mrs. Piggle Wiggle returned in 2007 with Happy Birthday Mrs. Piggle Wiggle. Betty's daughter, Anne, found some old notes of her mother's and based the book largely around those. The release date honored what would have been MacDonald's 100th birthday.

9. I've always enjoyed the quirky names in Harry Potter; apparently I completely forgot that this was a trick Betty MacDonald used in the Mrs. Piggle Wiggle series as well. A few of my favorites: Calliope Ragbag, Paraphernalia Grotto, Cormorant Broomrack, Pergola Wingsproggle, Imogene Haversack, Enterprise Beecham, Corinthian Bop and Nicholas Semicolon.

10. After being in print for nearly 50 years, the series was finally made into a T.V. show in 1994. It didn't last too long, but it starred Jean Stapleton as Mrs. P. Here's a sample:

Did you have a favorite Mrs. Piggle Wiggle Cure or tale?

What other books has Stacy covered? Find out here.

10 Sweet Facts About Candy Canes

The sweet and striped shepherd’s hooks can be found just about everywhere during the holiday season. It's time you learned a thing or two (or 10) about them.


While the origins of the candy cane are a bit murky, legend has it that they first appeared in hooked form around 1670. Candy sticks themselves were pretty common, but they really took shape when the choirmaster at the Cologne Cathedral in Germany got the bright idea of twisting them to look like shepherd’s hooks. He then handed them out to kids during church services to keep them quiet.


It’s no surprise, then, that it was a German immigrant who introduced the custom to America. The first reference we can find to the tradition stateside is 1847, when August Imgard of Wooster, Ohio, decked his home out with the sugary fare.


Candy canes without the red don’t seem nearly as cheery, do they? But that’s how they were once made: all white. We’re not really sure who or exactly when the scarlet stripe was added, but we do know that images on cards before the 1900s show snow white canes.


Most candy canes are around five inches long, containing only about 50 calories and no fat or cholesterol.


The world’s largest candy cane was built by Geneva, Illinois chef Alain Roby in 2012.  It was 51 feet long, required about 900 pounds of sugar, and was eventually smashed up with a hammer so people could take home a piece.


Fifty-four percent of kids suck on candy canes, compared to the 24 percent who just go right for the big crunch. As you may have been able to guess, of those surveyed, boys were nearly twice as likely to be crunchers.


According to the National Confectioners Association, about 1.2 billion candy canes are made annually, and 90 percent of those are sold between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Which honestly begs the question: Who’s buying the 10 percent in the off season?


Bobs (that’s right; no apostrophe) Candies was the first company to really hang its hat on the sweet, striped hook. Lt. Bob McCormack began making candy canes for his kids in the 1920s, and they were such a hit he decided to start mass-producing them. With the help of his brother-in-law, a Catholic priest named Gregory Harding Keller (and his invention, the Keller Machine), McCormack was eventually able to churn out millions of candy canes a day.


December 26 is National Candy Cane Day. Go figure.


Here’s how they make candy canes at Disneyland—it’s a painstaking (and beautiful) technique.

10 Actors Who Hated Their Own Films

1. Sylvester Stallone, Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot. Sly doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to his film career. Despite co-starring with the delightful Estelle Getty as the titular violence-prone mother, Stallone knows just how bad the film was:

"I made some truly awful movies. Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot was the worst. If you ever want someone to confess to murder, just make him or her sit through that film. They will confess to anything after 15 minutes."

2. Alec Guinness, Star Wars.

By the time he played Obi-Wan Kenobi in 1977’s Star Wars: A New Hope, Guinness had already appeared in cinematic classics like The Bridge on the River Kwai, Great Expectations and Lawrence of Arabia. During production, Guinness is reported to have said the following:

"Apart from the money, I regret having embarked on the film. I like them well enough, but it's not an acting job, the dialogue - which is lamentable - keeps being changed and only slightly improved, and I find myself old and out of touch with the young."

The insane amount of fame he won for the role as the wise old Jedi master took him somewhat by surprise and, ultimately, annoyed him. In his autobiography A Positively Final Appearance: A Journal, Guinness recalls a time he encountered an autograph-seeking fan who boasted to him about having watched Star Wars more than 100 times. In response, Guinness agreed to provide the boy an autograph under the condition that he promise never to watch the film again.

3. Bob Hoskins, Super Mario Brothers. He was in Who Framed Roger Rabbit?. As far as I’m concerned, Bob Hoskins is forgiven for Super Mario Bros. Hoskins, though, doesn’t seem to be able to forgive himself. Last year the Guardian spoke with the veteran actor about his career and he summed up his feelings rather succinctly:

What is the worst job you've done?
Super Mario Brothers.

What has been your biggest disappointment?
Super Mario Brothers.

If you could edit your past, what would you change?
I wouldn't do Super Mario Brothers.

4. George Clooney, Batman & Robin. Sure, Batman & Robin made money. But by every other imaginable measure, the film was a complete failure, and a nightmare to the vast majority of the Caped Crusader’s most fervent fanatics. Star George Clooney recognized what a stinker he helped create and once plainly stated, “I think we might have killed the franchise.”

5. David Cross, Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked. When actors have a movie out, it's customary that they publicize the film by saying nice things about it. Earlier this year David Cross took a different approach. When it came to describing his new film Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked, the veteran comedian — better known for Mr. Show and Arrested Development — went on Conan and called the film a “big commercial for Carnival Cruise Lines” and told people not to go see it.

6. Katherine Heigl, Knocked Up. Judd Apatow’s unplanned pregnancy comedy was a huge hit and helped cement her status as a bankable film actress. After the film’s release, however, Heigl didn’t have all good things to say. In fact, what she specifically said about it was that the film was:

"…A little sexist. It paints the women as shrews, as humorless and uptight, and it paints the men as lovable, goofy, fun-loving guys.”

7. Charlize Theron, Reindeer Games. The 2000 action film Reindeer Games starred Ben Affleck, Gary Sinese and Charlize Theron and was directed by John Frankenheimer. But it all somehow failed to come together. In the end the film lost a lot of money and compiled a wealth of negative reviews – including one from its star actress who simply said, “Reindeer Games was not a good movie.”

8. Mark Wahlberg, The Happening. Mark Wahlberg doesn’t exactly seem like a guy who lives his life afraid of trees. But that is the odd position M. Night Shyamalan’s 2008 film The Happening put him in. Wahlberg, as it turns out, doesn’t look back too fondly on the film. He went on record during a press conference for The Fighter when he described a conversation with a fellow actor:

"We had actually had the luxury of having lunch before to talk about another movie and it was a bad movie that I did. She dodged the bullet. And then I was still able to … I don’t want to tell you what movie … alright “The Happening.” F*** it. It is what it is. F***ing trees, man. The plants. F*** it. You can’t blame me for not wanting to try to play a science teacher. At least I wasn’t playing a cop or a crook."

9. John Cusack, Better Off Dead. John Cusack reportedly hated his cult 80s comedy so much that he walked out of the screening and later told the film’s director Steve Holland that Better Off Dead was "the worst thing I have ever seen" and he would "never trust you as a director again."

10 Christopher Plummer, The Sound of Music. The Sound of Music is considered a classic and has delighted many generations of fans. But the film's own lead actor, Christopher Plummer, didn't always sing its praises. Mr. Von Trapp himself declined to participate in a 2005 film reunion and, according to one acquaintance, has referred to the film as The Sound of Mucus.


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