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What's in a Name?

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These names have probably all ended up in your shopping cart at some point, but how well do you know their origins? Let's take a look at the names behind some of our favorite groceries.

Kellogg's

Seventh-day Adventist brothers Will Keith and John Harvey Kellogg stumbled across a tasty process for flaking corn while working at Michigan's Battle Creek Sanitarium. The brothers were looking for a vegetarian diet that would work with the Seventh-day Adventist principles, and when they realized the cereal could be a healthy breakfast food, they took their development commercial in 1897.

In addition to being a major philanthropist, W.K. Kellogg also became a big deal in the Arabian horse industry. The ranch he opened in Pomona, CA gave rise to a number of famous horses, including the one Rudolf Valentino rode in the film Son of the Sheik.

Post Cereals

The rivalry between Post and Kellogg's on the cereal aisle is intense, but it's got nothing on their personal differences. Post Foods were the brainchild of Charles William Post, who had the idea for a line of cereal products...while eating the Kellogg brothers' creations at the Battle Creek Sanitarium! (As the story goes, W.K. Kellogg was famously secretive about the corn flaking process, but his brother John would let anyone hanging around the sanitarium watch.) Post founded Postum Cereal Co. in 1895, and in 1897 he introduced Grape Nuts.

Post was a bit of a character once he became wealthy. In 1907 he snapped up 200,000 acres of Texas ranchland to create a utopian community he called the Double U. The Double U had a gin and a textile mill, but it didn't allow drinking or brothels. Within seven years the town was ready to incorporate, at which point it changed its name to Post. Post, TX now has around 3,700 residents and is the county seat of Garza County.

Pepperidge Farm

In 1937 Margaret Rudkin had a problem. The youngest of her three sons had asthma and severe allergies, and whenever he ate commercially processed foods, he got sick. A doctor convinced Rudkin to feed the boy a diet that consisted mostly of fruits and vegetables, but she eventually decided to bake the tot some stone ground whole wheat bread. The first attempt at the bread wasn't great – she later joked, "My first loaf should have been sent to the Smithsonian Institution as a sample of Stone Age bread, for it was hard as a rock and about one inch high" – but Rudkin kept trying until she nailed the recipe.

Rudkin then convinced a local grocer to carry her bread at the then-exorbitant price of 25 cents a loaf, more than twice what normal bread cost. After some haggling, he finally agreed, and her baking found quite a following. Rudkin named her baking company Pepperidge Farm after the Fairfield, CT estate where she and her family lived. The farm itself was named after a giant old pepperidge tree that grew on the property.

Campbell's Soup

Andy Warhol's favorite canned good got its start when Joseph A. Campbell and Abraham Anderson founded the Joseph A. Campbell Preserve Company in 1869. The men sold condiments, soups, jellies, canned tomatoes, and other pantry staples. Things didn't really take off until MIT-educated chemist Dr. John T. Dorrance convinced Campbell's general manager – who also happened to be Dorrance's uncle – to hire him. Dorrance wanted to play with the chemical constitution of Campbell's products so badly that he took a meager $7.50 a week in salary and agreed to pay for his lab equipment out of his pocket.

Campbell's tiny investment in Dorrance paid off. In 1897, Dorrance hit on a way to revolutionize the soup industry by condensing half of the water out of the canned product. Less water meant that it was much lighter to ship the soup, a huge boost to the company's bottom line. The red-and-white color scheme came about the following year after executive Herberton Williams attended a Cornell-Penn State football game. Williams was so struck by the Cornell player's red-and-white jerseys that he suggested the company's soup cans use the same combination.

Tombstone Pizza

The creepy name has a funny story. Back in the early 1960s, brothers Joseph "Pep" and Ronald Simek ran a bar on the outskirts of Medford, WI. Since their tavern was across the street from a cemetery, they named the place the Tombstone Tap. Pep Simek supplemented the bar's dime-a-glass beer offerings with homemade pizzas, and his creations grew so popular that other local bars asked if Pep would whip up a batch of pizzas for them, too. Pep and Ron joined together with their wives to start making pizzas for other restaurants and bars, and they named their wares Tombstone in honor of their own tavern.

Quaker Oats

Here's a shocker: Quaker Oats wasn't founded by a Quaker! In 1877 mill owner Henry D. Seymour read an encyclopedia article on the Quakers and decided that the traits described in the article – integrity, honesty, and purity – were all good qualities for his fledgling company's oats to have. He trademarked the name for his Ravenna, OH mill's business, and in 1901 Quaker Mill Company merged with three other oat mills to form the Quaker Oats Company.

Claussen Pickles

The famously crunchy pickles actually arose from a bad situation. In 1870, farmer Hans Claus was stuck with a crop of cucumbers he couldn't seem to sell. Rather than let them go to waste, he pickled the unwanted stock and sold the cucumbers. Soon, his business took off, and he never had to waste another cucumber.

Hans Claus made his pickles the traditional way where the cucumbers went into brine and then underwent heat processing. Claussen's famous cold treatment for its pickles actually didn't come around until the 1960s when Claus' great-grandson Ed Claussen perfected a way to make refrigerated pickles that retained their crunch.

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The Sweet Surprise Reunion Mr. Rogers Never Saw Coming
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Family Communications Inc./Getty Images

For more than 30 years, legendary children’s show host Fred Rogers used his PBS series Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood to educate his young viewers on concepts like empathy, sharing, and grief. As a result, he won just about every television award he was eligible for, some of them many times over.

Rogers was gracious in accepting each, but according to those who were close to the host, one honor in particular stood out. It was March 11, 1999, and Rogers was being inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame, an offshoot of the Emmy Awards. Just before being called to the stage, out came a surprise.

The man responsible for the elation on Rogers’s face was Jeff Erlanger, a 29-year-old from Madison, Wisconsin who became a quadriplegic at a young age after undergoing spinal surgery to remove a tumor. Rogers was surprised because Erlanger had appeared on his show nearly 20 years prior in 1980 to help kids understand how people with physical challenges adapt to life’s challenges. Here's his first encounter with the host:

Reunited on stage after two decades, Erlanger referred to the song, “It’s You I Like,” which the two sang during their initial meeting. “On behalf of millions of children and grown-ups,” Erlanger said, “it’s you I like.” The audience, including a visibly moved Candice Bergen, rose to their feet to give both men a standing ovation.

Following Erlanger’s death in 2007, Hedda Sharapan, an employee with Rogers’s production company, called their poignant scene “authentic” and “unscripted,” and that Rogers often pointed to it as his favorite moment from the series.

Near the end of the original segment in 1980, as Erlanger drives his wheelchair off-camera, Rogers waves goodbye and offers a departing message: “I hope you’ll come back to visit again.”

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20 Things You Might Not Have Known About Firefly
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© 2002 Twentieth Century Fox

As any diehard fan will be quick to tell you, Firefly's run was far, far too short. Despite its truncated run, the show still offers a wealth of fun facts and hidden Easter eggs. On the 15th anniversary of the series' premiere, we're looking back at the sci-fi series that kickstarted a Browncoat revolution.

1. A CIVIL WAR NOVEL INSPIRED THE FIREFLY UNIVERSE.

The Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Killer Angels from author Michael Shaara was Joss Whedon’s inspiration for creating Firefly. It follows Union and Confederate soldiers during four days at the Battle of Gettysburg during the American Civil War. Whedon modeled the series and world on the Reconstruction Era, but set in the future.

2. ORIGINALLY, THE SERENITY CREW INCLUDED JUST FIVE MEMBERS.

When Whedon first developed Firefly, he wanted Serenity to only have five crew members. However, throughout development and casting, Whedon increased the cast from five to nine.

3. REBECCA GAYHEART WAS ORIGINALLY CAST TO PLAY INARA.

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Before Morena Baccarin was cast as Inara Serra, Rebecca Gayheart landed the role—but she was fired after one day of shooting because she lacked chemistry with the rest of the cast. Baccarin was cast two days later and started shooting that day.

4. NEIL PATRICK HARRIS WAS ALMOST DR. SIMON TAM.

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Before it went to Sean Maher, Neil Patrick Harris auditioned for the role of Dr. Simon Tam.

5. JOSS WHEDON WROTE THE THEME SONG.

Whedon wrote the lyrics and music for Firefly’s opening theme song, “The Ballad of Serenity.”

6. STAR WARS SPACECRAFT APPEAR IN FIREFLY.

Star Wars was a big influence on Whedon. Captain Malcolm Reynolds somewhat resembles Han Solo, while Whedon used the Millennium Falcon as inspiration to create Serenity. In fact, you can spot a few spacecraft from George Lucas's magnum opus on the show.

When Inara’s shuttle docks with Serenity in the pilot episode, an Imperial Shuttle can be found flying in the background. In the episode “Shindig,” you can see a Starlight Intruder as the crew lands on the planet Persephone.

7. HAN SOLO FROZEN IN CARBONITE POPS UP THROUGHOUT FIREFLY.

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Nathan Fillion is a big Han Solo fan, so the Firefly prop department made a 12-inch replica of Han Solo encased in Carbonite for the Canadian-born actor. You can see the prop in the background in a number of scenes.

8. ALIEN'S WEYLAND-YUTANI CORPORATION MADE AN APPEARANCE.

In Firefly’s pilot episode, the opening scene features the legendary Battle of Serenity Valley between the Browncoats and The Union of Allied Planets. Captain Malcolm Reynolds takes control of a cannon with a Weyland-Yutani logo inside of its display. Weyland-Yutani is the large conglomerate corporation in the Alien film franchise. (Whedon wrote Alien: Resurrection in 1997.)

9. ZAC EFRON'S ACTING DEBUT WAS ON FIREFLY.

A 13-year-old Zac Efron made his acting debut in the episode “Safe” in 2002. He played Young Simon in a flashback.

10. CAPTAIN MALCOLM REYNOLDS'S HORSE IS A WESTERN TROPE.

At its core, Firefly is a sci-fi western—and Malcolm Reynolds rides the same horse on every planet (it's named Fred).

11. FOX AIRED FIREFLY'S EPISODES OUT OF ORDER.

Fox didn’t feel Firefly’s two-hour pilot episode was strong enough to air as its first episode. Instead, “The Train Job” was broadcast first because it featured more action and excitement. The network continued to cherry-pick episodes based on broad appeal rather than story consistency, and eventually aired the pilot as the show’s final episode.

12. THE ALLIANCE'S ORIGINS ARE AMERICAN AND CHINESE.

The full name of The Alliance is The Anglo-Sino Alliance. Whedon envisioned The Alliance as a merger of American and Chinese government and corporate superpowers. The Union of Allied Planets’ flag is a blending of the American and Chinese national flags.

13. THE SERENITY LOUNGE SERVED AS AN ACTUAL LOUNGE.

Between set-ups and shots, the cast would hang out in the lounge on the Serenity set rather than trailers or green rooms.

14. INARA SERRA'S NAME IS MESOPOTAMIAN.

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Inara Serra is named after the Mesopotamian Hittite goddess, the protector of all wild animals.

15. THE CHARACTERS SWORE (JUST NOT IN ENGLISH).

The Firefly universe is a mixture of American and Chinese culture, which made it easy for writers to get around censors by having characters swear in Chinese.

16. THE UNIFORMS ARE RECYCLED FROM STARSHIP TROOPERS.

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The uniforms for Alliance officers and soldiers were the costumes from the 1997 science fiction film Starship Troopers. The same costumes were repurposed again for the Starship Troopers sequel.

17. "SUMMER!" MEANS SOMEONE MESSED UP.

Every time a cast member flubbed one of his or her lines, they would yell Summer Glau’s name. This was a running gag among the cast after Glau forgot her lines in the episode “Objects In Space.”

18. THE SERENITY SPACESHIP WAS BUILT TO SCALE.

The interior of Serenity was built entirely to scale; rooms and sections were completely contiguous. The ship’s interior was split into two stages, one for the upper deck and one for the lower. Whedon showed off the Firefly set in one long take to open the Serenity movie.

19. "THE MESSAGE" SHOULD HAVE BEEN THE SHOW'S FAREWELL.

Although “The Message” was the twelfth episode, it was the last episode filmed during Firefly’s short run. Composer Greg Edmonson wrote a piece of music for a funeral scene in the episode, which served as a final farewell to the show. Sadly, it was one of three episodes (the other two were “Trash” and “Heart of Gold”) that didn’t air during Firefly’s original broadcast run on Fox.

20. FIREFLY AND SERENITY WERE SENT TO THE INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION.

American Astronaut Steven Ray Swanson is a big fan of Firefly, so when he was sent to the International Space Station for his first mission (STS-117) in 2007, he brought DVD copies of Firefly and its feature film Serenity aboard with him. The DVDs are now a permanent part of the space station’s library.

This post originally appeared in 2014.

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