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The Weird Week in Review

Banana Attacks Gorilla

The Wireless Center, a Verizon outlet in Strongsville, Ohio, was staging a promotion on June 29th featuring their mascot, a man dressed as a gorilla. Police were called because a man dressed as a banana walked in and attacked the gorilla! The banana then fled on foot with four unidentified men. Police did not find the banana. The gorilla was uninjured, but embarrassed.

Chestnut Wins Fifth Hot Dog Title

The annual July 4th hot dog eating contest was held Monday in front of Nathan's Famous Hot Dogs in Coney Island. And once again, American Joey Chestnut defeated all the others by scarfing down 62 hot dogs.

It wasn't a personal best for the 27-year-old nicknamed Jaws, but it was enough to out-eat second-place finisher Patrick Bertoletti by nine wieners. Chestnut, of San Jose, Calif., won $10,000 and the coveted mustard-yellow belt.

"I feel great!" he said after the contest, adding that he was going to drink a lot of water and avoid hot dogs for a few days.

In a separate division for women, Sonya Thomas ate 40 hot dogs to claim the pink belt championship.

Astronaut Survives Intentional Homeopathic Overdose

A group of Swedish scientists, including astronaut/physicist Christer Fuglesang, staged a deliberate overdose of homeopathic medicine to highlight its efficacy -or rather, its lack of efficacy. Homeopathy is based on the idea that a remedy grows stronger as it is diluted with more water. In Sweden, where such therapy is popular, homeopathic medicines must be diluted with water 10,000 times the amount of the active ingredient. Fuglesang and the others took ten times the normal amount of Coffea Alfaplex, a homeopathic sleeping pill. After the experiment, Fuglesang told a newspaper he felt fine, no better and no worse.

Man Freed from Gas Tank

Earr Stokes of Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, looked into the gas tank of a car he'd taken to a garage to get a tire changed. He saw that someone had stuck a chocolate bar into the tank, so he reached in to retrieve it. But his hand became stuck in the filler pipe, and eventually his cousin summoned help. After trying to pull the hand out, firefighters had to cut the pipe from the tank, while one fireman stood by with a water hose just in case a spark from the saw ignited the gas. Once freed from the car, Stokes walked to a waiting ambulance, where paramedics removed the pipe from his fingers.

Duct Tape Used for Ducks

Passersby on Victory Road in Boise, Idaho, noticed something going on in the storm drain. A mother duck was hovering over the drain, and ducklings could be heard trapped below. A small crowd gathered, and the animal lovers wrapped duct tape, sticky side out, on the end of a stick. They used the homemade instrument and a pool skimmer to retrieve three ducklings and reunite them with the mother duck. The story did not say whether the tape used was Duck brand.

Nation's Most Expensive Gas Prices Displayed Temporarily

The most expensive gas station in the United States is Sun Gas near Orlando International Airport, but you won't know it by looking -they refuse to display the prices on a sign. The city passed an ordinance requiring that prices be posted, but Sun would rather pay the $250-a-day fine than show passing motorists that their gas is $5.79 a gallon. So last Thursday, a local artist did it for them.

Performance artist Brian Feldman, known for off-the-wall art, spent nearly six muggy hours in front of the station. Around his neck hung a gas station-style sign with Sun Gas' current prices for a gallon of regular, mid-grade and premium.

"This is an art installation, and I am playing the role of the sign. Hopefully, they'll do the right thing and post their prices. But if they don't, I'll do my best to make sure they get the attention they deserve," said Feldman, who was alternately cursed and praised by passing motorists trying to puzzle out his connection to the station.

Cop in Golf Cart Eventually Catches Fleeing Suspect

A sheriff's deputy in Lehigh Acres, Florida, chased a domestic battery suspect on foot through several backyards and down streets in a gated community. The officer than commandeered an electric golf cart from one of the residents. He continued to chase the suspect, who was on foot, for almost two more miles! Eventually, Jeremiah Ellarius Haynes had to stop and rest, and that's when the deputy nabbed him. Haynes was charged with battery and resisting arrest.

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Thanks to a Wet Winter, New Zealand Faces a Potential Potato Chip Shortage
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New Zealand has plenty of unique and tasty snacks, but kiwis also love potato chips. The universal comfort food is in danger Down Under, however, as an unusually wet winter has devastated the island country’s tuber crops, according to BBC News.

Twenty percent of New Zealand’s annual potato crop was wiped out from a series of major storms and floods that ravaged the nation’s North and South Islands, The Guardian reports. In some regions, up to 30 percent of potato crops were affected, with the varieties used to make chips bearing the brunt of the damage.

Potato prices spiked as farmers struggled, but the crisis—now dubbed “chipocalypse” by media outlets—didn't really make the mainstream news until supermarket chain Pak’nSave posted announcements in potato chip aisles that warned customers of a salty snack shortage until the New Year.

Pak’nSave has since rescinded this explanation, claiming instead that they made an ordering error. However, other supermarket chains say they’re working directly with potato chip suppliers to avoid any potential shortfalls, and are aware that supplies might be limited for the foreseeable future.

New Zealand’s potato farming crisis extends far beyond the snack bars at rugby matches and vending machines. Last year’s potato crops either rotted or remained un-harvested, and the ground is still too wet to plant new ones. This hurts New Zealand’s economy: The nation is the world’s ninth-largest exporter of potatoes.

Plus, potatoes “are a food staple, and this is becoming a food security issue as the effects of climate change take their toll on our potato crop,” says Chris Claridge, the chief executive of industry group Potatoes New Zealand, according to The Guardian.

In the meantime, New Zealanders are preparing to hunker down for a few long months of potential potato peril—and according to some social media users, kale chips are not a suitable alternative. “Chipocalypse” indeed.

[h/t BBC News]

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Supermarket Employees to Compete in National Bagging Competition
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In today’s busy world, efficiency is king—especially at grocery stores, where long checkout lines can turn even the most patient shopper into a petulant purchaser. It only makes sense, then, that a nationwide competition exists among supermarket employees to determine the country’s best bagger.

As the Associated Press reports, Alysha Orrok, a teacher from Portsmouth, New Hampshire, recently won her state’s Best Bagger competition. She’s now headed to the U.S. finals, which will take place in Las Vegas in February 2018 and is sponsored by the National Grocers Association (NGA).

In Las Vegas, finalists from more than a dozen states—ranging from Washington to Florida—will duke it out onstage to see who’s truly king or queen of the checkout line. Competitors will be judged on weight distribution, appearance, speed, and technique (no smushed bread or bruised fruits allowed).

Orrok, who works evenings and weekends at a local grocery store, says she was initially clumsy on the job. “My first day as a bagger I dropped a soda and it exploded everywhere,” she told NBC Boston.

Over time, though, Orrok got so good at her side gig that she decided to compete in the New Hampshire state bagging competition earlier this month. At the tournament, "I was like 10 seconds faster than the next person," Orrok said. "I feel like I get in the zone and I just fly."

Competitors heading to 2018’s Best Bagger competition will face off to see who can achieve the best customer service in the shortest time span. The grand prize is $10,000, which will be awarded to a deserving grocery store employee “with infectious company pride and an enthusiastic commitment to customer service,” according to the NGA.

[h/t NBC Boston]

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