Before Bigfoot and Yeti, There Was the Legendary Wampahoofus of Vermont

Mt. Mansfield, Vermont
Mt. Mansfield, Vermont
Wikimedia // Public Domain

Long before Bigfoot and Yeti became well-known in Western popular culture, another legendary creature was said to roam the woods of Vermont’s Green Mountains. Quite possibly a distant cousin of the rackabore, a pig-like creature, and almost certainly a near-relative of the whangdoodle, which has no defined character, the wampahoofus was a large mammal that evolved with legs longer on one side than on the other. The result was either a left-leaning or right-leaning beast that could move rapidly around mountains and hillsides—but only in one direction, clockwise or counterclockwise. (By some accounts, the males always went clockwise, and the females counter-clockwise.) If, by some chance, it reversed course and ended up on the wrong side of a hill on the short side of its body, it could tumble down the slope to its death.

Although details vary, the wampahoofus (also called the gyascutus or gouger) was said to resemble a mix between a deer and wild boar. While the Vermont varieties had fur, a version with scales is also said to have existed elsewhere. Its color varied from a dark green to an almost glowing orange. Some were three-toed, others had five. There’s even mention of a cloven-hoofed wampahoofus, and one that grew a whistle at the end of its tail.

Males and females usually ignored each other, except during courtship and mating. When that period ended, they’d wander around the mountains, grazing on the vegetation and enjoying the sights below. Yet their herbivore lifestyle was not without its threats.

Although there are few reports of them being hunted, the wampahoofus was always on guard. Their unique limb structure only enabled them to move in certain areas—they never entered the valleys or climbed beyond a certain elevation. Only the females sometimes ventured higher than they should, and then only to nurse their calves. In a piece for Nature Compass, a publication from the Green Mountain Club, writer Maeve Kim said her dad’s great-grandfather once came across five of these “ungainly cows [wampahoofuses], each caring for one nursing calf," and that it was “quite a sight.”

The origins of the wampahoofus are a source of spirited debate. References to similar creatures can be found in records dating back hundreds of years, and not just in America. Sir Thomas Browne, for example, wrote in the 17th century that British Badgers or “Brocks” had legs of varied sizes. “That a Brock or Badger hath the legs on one side shorter then [sic] of the other, though an opinion perhaps not very ancient, is yet very general; received not only by Theorists and unexperienced believers, but assented unto by most who have the opportunity to behold and hunt them daily," he recorded.

However, most agree that this particular hybrid originated in the 1800s before the Civil War, and while Vermont seems the likely “birthplace,” there’s also speculation it was first spotted in northern Maine. Experts (a term used lightly) believe the wampahoofus came to life in the lumber camps of the northern woods.

Back then, logging was the largest and most profitable industry in Vermont and much of New England. Before railways and working roads, logs traveled down lakes, rivers, and other bodies of water. Lumberjacks spent months deep in the woods cutting trees and sending them off for processing. At night, around the blazing campfires, these hard-working men killed time sharing far-fetched stories and crafting all sorts of mythical and legendary creatures. Their vivid imaginations may well have sparked the tales of the wampahoofus and related variations elsewhere.

In Fearsome Critters, one of many collections of lumberjack folklore, author Henry Tyron described the migration of the wampahoofus, which he referred to as gougers, from east to west. “Normal Gougers must obviously, travel around the hillside, and in making their daily rounds for food they wear the characteristic, partly gouged-out paths so familiar to woodsmen. These paths were once very common in New England, but today they are thought to be most frequently seen in the partly forested regions of the West,” he wrote. One source told him that the gouger population had grown “too thick” in New England, and “There warn’t enough food to go around and somebody just had to move out.”

Other accounts claim that a pair of entrepreneurial New Englanders brought a wampahoofus (here called a gyascutus) south on a circus-style traveling show, although all that the eager crowd ever witnessed was a set of furry feet peeking from below an elaborate curtain. The showman would poke at the drape, causing the creature to wail and scream. Amidst the chaos, an alarm went off and the creature would escape unseen. A Midwestern newspaper warned residents of this “formidable animal" on the loose, stating that “there is no knowing the amount of mischief he may occasion while roaming at large and disturbing the cogitations of those quiet people who know nothing about him.” Yet, somehow, the Yankees always recaptured the devious beast and had it ready for the next show a few towns away.

Fact or fiction, evolution didn’t work out well for the wampahoofus. Although a left-leaning wampahoofus could mate with a right-leaning one, the result was a severely deformed offspring with mismatched legs—a poor hybrid that could not move and often perished soon after birth. As time passed, both the left-leaning and right-leaning wampahoofus’s legs became shorter and shorter. Eventually, mating became impossible and the species died out.

Today, the last traces of this elusive creature can be seen along Mount Mansfield, Vermont’s highest peak, where the Wampahoofus Trail intersects the journey to the summit. (The path was reportedly named by a professor who thought a nearby rock formation looked like the legendary creature.) These days, hikers may giggle at the trail's name, and some might snap a picture—but few know the woods are a place where a strange, wobbling creature once roamed.

JELL-O's New Edible Slimes Are As Fun to Eat As They Are to Play With

JELL-O/The Kraft Heinz Company
JELL-O/The Kraft Heinz Company

JELL-O has good news for anyone who has ever gotten hungry watching slime videos on YouTube. As MovieWeb reports, the snack brand has added two new products to their JELL-O Play line: Monster Slime and Unicorn Slime, both of which are 100 percent edible.

JELL-O edible slime starts as a powdered mix. At home, kids and parents can stir three scoops of the powder together with one scoop of warm water for 30 seconds then add an additional tablespoon of warm water to make the slime.

Like the slime you find in toy stores or the DIY kind, this slime is meant to be played with. "The slime stretches if you pull it slowly, but snaps if you pull it apart fast," the product description reads. "It's firm if you squeeze it, but it can also pour and drip like a liquid!" And after they're done playing with their slime, kids (and fun-loving adults) can eat it. As for the slime that does't get eaten and ends up on clothes and hands, JELL-O says it washes off easily with soap and water.

The JELL-O slime comes in two flavors, lime for Monster Slime and strawberry for Unicorn Slime, and will be available in select stores beginning in December. It's part of a line of interactive snack products from JELL-O, which includes pudding pop molds and dirt cups kits.

[h/t MovieWeb]

A Home Alone-Themed Clothing Line Has Arrived Just in Time for Holiday Party Season

RSVLTS
RSVLTS

Little Nero’s Pizza isn’t fiddlin’ around, and neither are The Roosevelts. Just in time for holiday party season, the apparel company—more popularly known as RSVLTS—has launched a clothing line based on Home Alone, the John Hughes-penned 1990 family classic starring Macaulay Culkin.

The logo for Little Nero’s, the fictional pizza chain that Kevin ordered from in the film, has been printed on a red ball cap and a long-sleeved T-shirt. The latter has logos on both the front and back, with the tagline—"No Fiddlin’ Around!"—printed on the sleeve. You can even order a replica of the jacket worn by the pizza delivery kid who was verbally assaulted by a recording of a shoot-'em-up gangster movie.

A long-sleeve shirt with "No Fiddlin' Around" written on the sleeve
RSVLTS

A jacket with "Little Nero's Pizza" written on the back
RSVLTS

A couple of button-up Oxfords are also available. One features everyone's favorite inept burglars, Harry and Marv, in various stages of distress, like being lit on fire or smacked in the face with a red-hot iron (against a sky blue backdrop, no less). Another design features tiny Home Alone-themed icons: an airplane, a pizza, the Eiffel Tower, a bucket of paint, and more of the Wet Bandits, of course.

A button-down shirt with Home Alone-themed icons on it
RSVLTS

Lastly, there’s a “battle plan” hoodie featuring Kevin’s hand-drawn blueprint for outsmarting the burglars. All of the items are officially licensed by 21st Century Fox and range in price from $30 to $75.

If you want to peruse more pop culture-themed apparel, check out RSVLTS's Bob Ross, Rocky, and The Sandlot collections.

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