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A Brief History of the Ice Cream Truck

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How a musical truck hijacked an elite dessert and delivered it to the people.

It’s the sound of summer: a string of jangly notes cutting through the sticky-hot air. The response is Pavlovian. Mouths water. Parents reach for their wallets. Kids lace up their shoes and hit the pavement. For Ben Van Leeuwen, it was no different. Growing up in suburban Riverside, Conn., he’d race toward the siren song. The ice cream truck was coming.

In the sea of sweaty half-pints elbowing to place orders, Van Leeuwen always took his time. He’d inspect the full menu, pondering each offering, from cartoon-colored Popsicles to animal-shaped treats with gum balls for eyes. He’d imagine the flavors—Strawberry Shortcake, Choco Taco, King Cone. Then he’d pick what he always picked: a Reckless Rainbow Pop Up. “We were poor,” he laughs. The push pop was cheap.

Today, Van Leeuwen is an ice cream magnate. With six trucks and three storefronts in New York City, the company he runs with his brother, Pete, and business partner, Laura O’Neill, prides itself on its quality. Handcrafted recipes combine sustainably sourced ingredients from far-flung places: Michel Cluizel chocolate from France, pistachios from Sicily, Tahitian vanilla beans from Papua New Guinea. The flavors have put Van Leeuwen on the vanguard of an ice cream truck resurgence. In a single generation, the ice cream truck has moved upmarket.

The history of frozen street treats begins long before Van Leeuwen encountered his first push pop—it begins before even mechanical refrigeration. The very nature of the industry—taking something frozen and hawking it on sultry sidewalks—has always forced ice cream peddlers to innovate. That the cold treat had to come to America before it could move off kings’ tables and into the hands of common folk makes the story that much sweeter.

We All Scream for Ice Cream

It’s hard to imagine now, but for much of human history, Slurpees and Klondike bars and even the humble Reckless Rainbow would have been considered status symbols. Difficult to obtain and harder to store, ice itself was once a luxury. When the Roman Emperor Nero wanted Italian ice, he ordered it the old-fashioned way—dispatching his servants to fetch snow from mountain tops, wrap it in straw, and bring it back to mix with fruits and honey—a practice still popular with elites in Spain and Italy 1,500 years later. In the fourth century, the Japanese emperor Nintoku was so enamored with the frozen curiosity that he created an annual Day of Ice, during which he presented ice chips to palace guests in an elaborate ceremony. Around the world, monarchs in Turkey, India, and Arabia used flavored ices to punch up the extravagance at banquets, serving frosty bouquets flavored with fruit pulp, syrup, and flowers—often the grand finale at feasts intended to impress. But it wasn’t until the mid-16th century, when scientists in Italy discovered a process for on-demand freezing—placing a container of water in a bucket of snow mixed with saltpeter—that the ice cream renaissance truly began.

The innovation spread through European courts, and before long, royal chefs were whipping up red wine slushes, icy custards, and cold almond creams. Italian and French monarchs developed a taste for sorbets. And cooks experimented with every exotic ingredient in their arsenal: violets, saffron, rose petals. But while the excitement for ice cream grew, the treats were clearly reserved for the elite. The dessert needed a trip across the pond and a few more centuries of innovation before it could trickle down to the masses.

Ice cream came to America with the first colonists. British settlers brought recipes with them, and the treat found space at the Founding Fathers’ tables. George Washington loved it. Thomas Jefferson was such a fan that he studied the art of ice cream making in France and returned with a machine so he could churn his own flavors at Monticello. But even in this monarch-free land, the frosty desserts were an extravagance. Vanilla and sugar were expensive, and access to ice was limited. To serve the dessert year-round, Jefferson built himself an icehouse, refrigerated with wagonloads of ice harvested from the nearby Rivanna River. Still, even with all the means and materials, the road to producing ice cream was rocky.

As food historian Mark McWilliams explains in The Story Behind the Dish, making a scoop was laborious. Cooks had to extract the iced mixture from a frozen pewter bucket, churn and blend it with cream by hand, and place the concoction back into the bucket for additional freezing. To get the desired silky texture, this churning had to be repeated multiple times over days. McWilliams writes, “the process was long and taxing, and thus generally managed by servants or slaves.” Still, there was a market for the product. According to McWilliams, “The labor-intensive process may have restricted ice cream to the wealthy, but it also measured how strongly ice cream was desired.” Everyone wanted a taste. And now, as a new wave of immigrants began looking for something novel to peddle on city streets, working-class people were about to take their licks.

The Ice Age

In the 1800s, the ice delivery industry exploded. Companies began harvesting frozen rivers and transporting ice to homes at affordable prices. Meanwhile, the technology for hand-crank ice cream makers advanced, making it far easier to scoop sundaes at home. Before long, ice cream was regularly served in parlors and tea gardens across the country. By the 1830s, ice cream’s role as an Independence Day treat was well established. But for the poor urban populations who couldn’t afford July 4th ices or the fresh ingredients to make ice cream at home, immigrant street vendors came to the rescue. Fresh off the boat and with limited job prospects, these innovators used their culinary talents to grasp at the American dream, selling frozen treats from carts chilled with ice.

“Italy and France was where ice cream was first truly developed; they made it delicious,” says food writer Laura B. Weiss, author of Ice Cream: A Global History. “In the U.S., they developed the business.” The cheap wooden wagons let proprietors avoid rent and taxes that came with setting up a store. And demand for their wares was always high.

One popular treat, called hokey-pokey, was a Neapolitan-striped confection. Made with condensed milk, sugar, vanilla extract, cornstarch, and gelatin, all cut into two-inch squares and wrapped in paper, the bite-sized dessert was the perfect street food. According to Anne Cooper Funderburg’s Chocolate, Strawberry, and Vanilla: A History of American Ice Cream, young children of all ethnicities—Jewish, Irish, Italian—would gather on the cobbled streets of Park Row and the Bowery, heeding the vendors’ melodic call: “Hokey-pokey, sweet and cold; for a penny, new or old.” (“Hokey-pokey” is a mangling of the Italian phrase O che poco, or “Oh, how little.”)

Penny licks were also popular among New York’s children and the working class. Before the invention of the ice cream cone, vendors scooped ice cream into a regular glass, which a customer would lick clean. Then they returned the glass to the peddler, who would swish it in a pail before refilling it for the next customer. It was an entirely unsanitary practice. “The mix-ins were bacteria, not chocolate chips,” says Weiss.

Alamy

But it was the ice cream sandwich that truly melted the social boundaries, as blue and white collars alike huddled around pushcarts on hot summer days. According to an article in the August 19, 1900 edition of The Sun, “[Wall Street] brokers themselves got to buying ice cream sandwiches and eating them in a democratic fashion side by side on the sidewalk with the messengers and the office boys.” In fact, by the mid-1800s, ice cream had become such a common indulgence that Ralph Waldo Emerson warned about America’s bent toward materialism and gluttony, hailing ice cream as a chief example. And he was right: In the 1860s, thousands of New York City peddlers were selling penny licks and ice cream sandwiches to ravenous crowds. “They were really the first ice cream trucks,” says Weiss. “They started ice cream as a street food. It was a walk-around food—you’d stand up and eat it.” Ice cream had become a staple of the American diet—not just for the rich and powerful, but for everybody—and it was about to get even more mobile.

On a winter evening in 1920, candy maker Harry Burt was puttering around his ice cream shop in Youngstown, Ohio. Burt had made a name for himself by sticking a wooden handle on a ball of candy to create the Jolly Boy Sucker—a newfangled lollipop. Ready for a bigger challenge, he set out to create an ice cream novelty. He started by mixing coconut oil and cocoa butter to seal a smooth block of vanilla ice cream in the silky chocolate coating. The treat looked good, but it was messy. When his daughter Ruth grabbed for the bar, more of the chocolate coating ended up on her hands than her mouth. So Harry Jr., Burt’s 21-year-old son, came up with a better idea: Why not use the sticks from the lollipops as handles? And with that, the Good Humor bar was born. But Burt wasn’t done innovating yet.

A visionary, Burt was intrigued by the era’s technological advances. Prohibition had helped soda fountains and ice cream shops proliferate in place of bars. Fast food like burgers and hot dogs had infiltrated the menus in America’s swelling suburbs. Meanwhile, the Henry Ford–led automobile industry was exploding. To Burt, combining these national trends—fast food and cars—was a no-brainer. He just needed to figure out how to get his portable treat into the hands of hungry kids. In 1920, Burt invested in 12 refrigerator trucks for distribution around the city. He made sure they were pristine white and put professional-looking drivers in signature white uniforms to signify cleanliness and safety to parents. Then he crafted a scheme for luring the kids. “He promised to follow a specified route so families would know when to expect the truck to come by,” says Nick Soukas, director of ice cream for Unilever, which now owns the Good Humor brand. “A bell, which came from Harry Jr.’s bobsled, chimed so everyone would know they could come out and purchase Good Humor bars.” At first, all that ringing drew curious children into the streets to see what the fuss was about, but before long, the sound was synonymous with the ice cream man.

Corbis

From the 1920s to the ’60s, thousands of Good Humor men patrolled the nation’s neighborhoods, becoming part of the communities they served. Good Humor men inspired a children’s Little Golden Book. In 1965, Time reported, “To the young, he has become better known than the fire chief, more welcome than the mailman, more respected than the corner cop.” When a Westchester County, N.Y., Good Humor man switched routes, 500 neighborhood children signed a petition for his return.

But Burt’s truck wasn’t the only game in town. In the 1950s, two brothers from Philadelphia, William and James Conway, were busy dreaming up their own version of a mobile ice cream unit. At the time, soft-serve machines had become popular in soda shops, and the Conways saw no reason they couldn’t go mobile. So they bolted a soft-serve machine to the floor of a truck. On St. Patrick’s Day in 1956, the brothers took their Mister Softee truck on its maiden voyage, handing out green ice cream to excited kids on West Philadelphia streets. “That didn’t really work too well,” says Jim Conway, son of James and current president of Mister Softee.

The heat and power of the condensers, generator, and gas engines overwhelmed the early trucks, and the electricity often puttered out. “You’d be in the middle of making someone’s cone, and everything would shut down,” Conway says. “You’d have to open the back doors and wait for the thing to cool.”

Perfecting the vehicle proved to be a challenge. The Conways had to experiment with airflow and mitigating heat, using fans and different generators. (Decades later, the company would customize its trucks with innovative rust-free aluminum, General Motors Vortec engines, and high-efficiency Electro Freeze soft-serve machines.) By 1958, the company had become so successful that the brothers began to franchise. Before long, the trademark sailboat-blue and white ice cream trucks were being sold to vendors all over the Northeast and mid-Atlantic. The Conways even one-upped the Good Humor bell, hiring Grey Advertising to pen a jingle for the company. By 1960, the “Mister Softee (Jingle and Chimes)” was playing from trucks on a drum-and-spindle contraption, like a roaming music box. A modern day “Hokey Pokey,” Mister Softee’s never-ending ditty became the siren call to a new generation.

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Chasing down the ice cream man on hot summer days wasn’t Ben Van Leeuwen’s only formative experience with ice cream trucks. In 2005, while Van Leeuwen was attending Skidmore College, he rented a retired Good Humor truck and sold the treats with his brother to wealthy Connecticut residents. But Van Leeuwen found that the allure of the treats had faded. “I hated the way they tasted,” he says. The brothers did, however, appreciate the independence of the job. And with organic farmer’s markets blooming all over New York City and the food truck itself enjoying a gourmet reinvention, the brothers saw a modern ice cream market developing. People were increasingly interested in their food’s origins just as they were clamoring for exotic epicurean adventures. In 2008, the brothers rolled out their first truck, painted a vintage faded yellow, after spending a few months developing their first batch of flavors. They were initially too rushed to outfit their truck with speakers. When they realized the silence helped them stand out from Mister Softee’s insistent jingle, they decided to remain music-free.

Today, there’s no shortage of entrepreneurs in the ice cream truck market. In San Jose, Calif., Ryan and Christine Sebastian created Treatbot, “a karaoke ice cream truck from the future” that allows customers to eat scoops of Eastside Horchata ice cream while singing Michael Jackson’s “Beat It.” In Tacoma, Cool Cycles Ice Cream Company sells motorcycles with a sidecar freezer that holds 600 ice cream bars. And in New York City, Doug Quint, a classically trained bassoonist, turned a retired Mister Softee truck into the Big Gay Ice Cream Truck, which spun off into a storefront that pairs classic soft serve with toppings like sriracha hot sauce and pumpkin butter.

But classicists need not fear. The traditional soft serve truck is in no danger. Although Good Humor phased out its trucks in the late ’70s, today there are more than 400 Mister Softee franchises employing more than 700 trucks across 15 states. Except for the trucks’ tune technology—the jingle is now blasted loud and clear through electronic circuits—they’re unchanged, right down to the classic soft serve menu on the side. “For close to 50 years, that menu board has changed only four times,” Conway says. Keeping tradition close is a big part of the Mister Softee ideal.

Whether they’re vintage or modern, classic or creative, ice cream trucks have a seductive allure that’s about more than just ice cream. They summon a particular kind of nostalgia—the sense of freedom and possibility that comes from long, carefree summer days and the particular thrill of having a dollar in your pocket and a long list of treats from which to choose. The ice cream man has basically been doing the same thing for hundreds of years now—exciting crowds by delivering something utterly familiar wrapped in different packages. But there’s comfort in that. Van Leeuwen’s quick to point out that the fan favorite among his elaborately refined offerings isn’t its sweet sticky black rice flavor or its luscious strawberry-beet creation, but vanilla, plain and simple. And as the upper-class crowd packs into the Van Leeuwen shop to sample the gourmet scoops, just one neighborhood over it’s evident how little ice cream has changed. Standing by the Red Hook ball fields, you’ll find immigrants rolling tiny pushcarts filled with flavored ices, chasing their dreams the way so many new Americans have, hawking a dessert of kings at nickel-and-dime prices.

This story originally appeared in mental_floss magazine.

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Giovanni Rufino - © 2012 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved
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XOXO: 20 Things You Might Not Know About Gossip Girl
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Giovanni Rufino - © 2012 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved

Ten years ago, Gossip Girl became appointment television for America’s teenagers—and a guilty pleasure for millions more (whether they wanted to admit it or not). Like a new millennium version of Beverly Hills, 90210, the series—which was adapted from Cecily von Ziegesar’s book series of the same name—saw The O.C.’s Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage trade in their west coast cool for New York City style as the show followed the lives of a group of friends (and sometimes enemies) navigating the elite world of prep schools and being fabulous on Manhattan's Upper East Side. In honor of the series’ tenth anniversary, here are 20 things you might not have known about Gossip Girl.

1. IT WAS SUPPOSED TO BE A LINDSAY LOHAN MOVIE.

Originally, the plan for adapting Gossip Girl wasn’t for a series at all. It was supposed to be a feature film, with Gilmore Girls creator Amy Sherman-Palladino writing the script and Lindsay Lohan set to star as Blair Waldorf. When those plans fell through, the producers approached Josh Schwartz—who was just wrapping up work on The O.C.—about taking his talent for creating enviable high school worlds to New York City’s Upper East Side.

"The books are a soap opera, and TV makes a lot of sense," executive producer Leslie Morgenstein told Backstage of the decision to go the small-screen route. "When we made the list of writers who would be the best to adapt Gossip Girl for television, Josh was at the top of the list."

2. PENN BADGLEY INITIALLY TURNED DOWN THE ROLE OF DAN HUMPHREY.

Barbara Nitke - © 2012 THE CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Though he was hardly a household name when Gossip Girl premiered, Penn Badgley had been acting for nearly a decade—and had a lot of experience working on first season TV shows that never took off—when he was offered the role of Brooklyn outsider Dan Humphrey, and his initial response was: thanks, but no thanks.

“The reason I turned it down initially was because I was just frustrated,” Badgley told Vulture in 2012. “I was frustrated and I was broke and I was depressed and I was like, ‘I cannot do that again. I can't.’ … Stephanie Savage, the creator [of Gossip Girl], she said to me, ‘I know you might not want to do this again, but just take a look at it.’ And I actually was like, ‘I appreciate so much that you thought of me. I just don't want to do this. Thank you for understanding that I wouldn't want to do this.’ And then they couldn't find anybody for it—which is weird, because a million people could play Dan Humphrey—and she came back around, I was about to get a job as a waiter, and I was like, ‘Okay.’”

3. ULTIMATELY, BADGLEY PROBABLY WISHES HE HAD FOLLOWED HIS INITIAL INSTINCT.

Badgley told Vulture that, “I wouldn't be here without Gossip Girl, so I will always be in debt and grateful. And I've said some sh*t that ... I don't regret it, but I'm just maybe too honest about it sometimes.”

But executive producer Joshua Safran had a different view on the situation. “Penn didn’t like being on Gossip Girl, but …. he was Dan,” Safran told Vanity Fair. “He may not have liked it, but [his character] was the closest to who he was.”

4. THE CREATORS GOT THE IDEA TO CAST BLAKE LIVELY FROM THE INTERNET.

According to Vanity Fair, when it came time to casting the show’s main roles, they cruised some of the online message boards related to the Gossip Girl book series to see which actors fans of the books were suggesting. One name they kept seeing for the role of Serena van der Woodsen: Blake Lively, who had starred in The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. “We didn’t see a lot of other girls for Serena,” Schwartz said. “She has to be somebody that you believe would be sitting in the front row at Fashion Week eventually.”

5. LIKE BADGLEY, LIVELY WAS ON THE VERGE OF QUITTING ACTING.

© 2008 Warner Bros. Television

Like her onscreen (and eventually off-screen) love interest Penn Badgley, Blake Lively was also considering leaving Hollywood when Gossip Girl came calling, so she turned the producers down.

“I said, ‘No, I want to go to college. Thank you, though,’” Lively told Vanity Fair. “Then they said, ‘OK, you can go to Columbia [University] one day a week. After the first year [of the show], it’ll quiet down. Your life will go back to normal and you can start going to school. We can’t put it in writing, but we promise you can go.’ So that’s why I said, ‘OK. You know what? I’ll do this.’”

As for that going back to school and life going back to normal? “When they say, ‘We promise, but we can’t put it in writing,’ there’s a reason they can’t put it in writing,” she said.

6. LEIGHTON MEESTER DYED HER HAIR TO GET THE PART OF BLAIR.

Because Blair Waldorf and Serena van der Woodsen were both best friends and occasional enemies, it was important to the show’s creators that the characters did not look like the same person. That fact almost cost Leighton Meester the role of Blair.

“She came in and she was really funny, and really smart and played vulnerable,” Schwartz recalled of Meester’s audition. “But there was one problem: she was blonde. And Blake was blonde, obviously; Serena had to be blonde. So, [Leighton] went to the sink and dyed her hair. She wanted it.’” (Sounds like something Blair would do.)

7. THE NETWORK WORRIED THAT ED WESTWICK LOOKED LIKE A “SERIAL KILLER.”

Giovanni Rufino - © 2012 THE CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved

Ed Westwick, who originally auditioned for the role of Nate Archibald but ended up playing bad boy Chuck Bass, almost didn’t land a role on the show at all. Though the show’s co-creators, Schwartz and Savage, loved the darker edge that Westwick brought to the group of friends, The CW worried “that he looked more like a serial killer than a romantic lead.”

“He's menacing and scary, but there's a twinkle in his eye,” casting director David Rapaport told BuzzFeed. “You want to hate him, but you would also probably sleep with him. He's one of those guys you hate for always getting away with things, but you also want to hang out with him and see what he's up to next. He's the guy that's going to give you a joint for the first time or get you drunk for the first time, so you know he's wrong for you, but he's fun.” Fans clearly agreed.

8. WESTWICK CHANNELED HIS INNER CARLTON BANKS TO PLAY CHUCK BASS.

In order to perfect his posh American accent, Westwick—who was born in London—looked to another iconic American television character for help: The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’s Carlton Banks (Alfonso Ribeiro). “There’s a slight thing in Carlton Banks,” Westwick told Details Magazine in 2008, “that kind of über-preppy, that I did pick up on.”

9. GRETA GERWIG AUDITIONED FOR THE SHOW … IN OVERALLS.

In 2015, Golden Globe-nominated actress Greta Gerwig—who just wrote and directed Lady Bird, starring Saoirse Ronan—talked to HuffPost Live about the mistakes she made early on in her career as an actress. “I have had moments when I was starting out when I was auditioning for things like Gossip Girl," she said. “And they would look at me like, 'Why are you wearing overalls to this audition?' And I'd be like, 'They said she was from a farm!' and they would be like, 'Well, this is Gossip Girl.’” (The role she was auditioning for, Eva Coupeau—a love interest for Chuck—eventually went to Clémence Poésy, who played Fleur Delacour in the Harry Potter movies.

10. BLAIR WALDORF HAD TWO MOMS.

© 2008 Warner Bros. Television

In Gossip Girl’s pilot episode, Blair’s mom—popular women’s clothing designer Eleanor Waldorf—was played by Florencia Lozano. In episode two, and throughout the rest of the series, Eleanor was portrayed by Margaret Colin.

11. IT WAS ONE OF TELEVISION’S FIRST STREAMING SUCCESS STORIES.

Years before House of Cards changed the way we watch, and even define, “television,” Gossip Girl served as a sort of precursor to the streaming generation. While the show’s Nielsen ratings were mediocre, New York Magazine reported that, “New episodes routinely arrived at the No. 1 most-downloaded spot on iTunes, and then there were the hundreds of thousands who were downloading free week-old episodes on the CW's site. Even executives at Nielsen threw up their hands and admitted that Gossip Girl appeared to be speaking to an audience so young and tech-savvy they hadn't really figured it out just yet.” (Lost and The Office had followed similar tracks.)

12. THE SHOW WAS BANNED BY SOME NEW YORK CITY SCHOOLS.

Giovanni Rufino - © 2012 THE CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

According to Vanity Fair, some of the elite New York City private schools that might have shared some similarities with the show’s fictional Constance Billard and St. Jude's banned their students from watching it. (Which, the outlet noted, “only served, in all likelihood, to make the students want to watch it more.”)

13. THE SERIES TURNED ITS CRITICISMS INTO A MARKETING CAMPAIGN.

Even by 2007’s standards, Gossip Girl—for a show about high schoolers on what was mainly known as a teen-friendly television network—seemed to relish in pushing the boundaries of what might be acceptable. It didn’t take long for parental advocacy groups like the Parent Television Council to take very public, and vocal, issue with the show's in-your-face sexuality. When it was criticized as being “mind-blowingly inappropriate” and “every parent’s nightmare,” the show turned those critiques into a marketing campaign to help promote viewership.

14. A WRITERS STRIKE HELPED THE SERIES GROW ITS VIEWERSHIP.

While the show struck a chord with certain audiences immediately upon its release, the 2007-2008 Writers Guild of America Strike proved to be a boon to the series. “The CW, because they couldn’t just run repeats or game shows, [Gossip Girl is] all they had,” Schwartz told Vanity Fair. “They kept re-running the show during the strike so more and more people were watching.” Which led to even higher ratings when the show returned for a second season.

15. DESIGNERS WERE BEGGING TO SEE THEIR FASHIONS WORN ON THE SHOW.

Giovanni Rufino - © 2012 THE CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Just like New York City itself, the fashions in Gossip Girl essentially served as another character. According to a 2008 article in The New York Times, “Merchants, designers, and trend consultants say that Gossip Girl … is one of the biggest influences on how young women spend."

“When we came back with Season 2, so many designers were lining up and wanting to be a part of it,” the show’s costume designer Eric Daman told Vanity Fair. “They wanted their stuff on either Blake or Leighton.”

16. IT SPAWNED ITS OWN CLOTHING LINE.

To capitalize on the show’s influence in the fashion world, Daman and designer Christine Cybelle (a.k.a. Charlotte Russe) created a Gossip Girl-inspired clothing line.

17. KRISTEN BELL PLAYED AN ESSENTIAL PART OF THE SERIES, BUT WAS NEVER CREDITED.

Though viewers had to watch all 121 episodes of Gossip Girl to learn the identity of the titular tattler, Kristen Bell provided the voice for “Gossip Girl” for all six seasons, without credit. And while she sort of hoped that the finale would have revealed that she was indeed “Gossip Girl” all along, that ending was not meant to be. “I’m sure that it would’ve been really cool had I got to play some vicious part and actually come out as Gossip Girl, but I think it was appropriate for one of the main cast members to have surfaced as Gossip Girl,” she told Perez Hilton.

Though she was a key part of the series, she didn’t learn GG’s true identity until the very end of the show—and she was surprised. “I don’t know that I ever forethought it being Dan,” she admitted. “That was a bit of a shocker!" (If it makes her feel any better, Badgley reportedly didn’t learn Gossip Girl’s identity until that scene was actually shot.)

18. JANUARY 26 IS "GOSSIP GIRL DAY" IN NEW YORK CITY.

© 2008 Warner Bros. Television

At least it was in 2012, when then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg proclaimed January 26 “Gossip Girl Day” in celebration of the show’s 100th episode. “I don’t have a whole lot of time to follow what New York magazine has called ‘The Greatest Teen Drama of our time,’” Bloomberg said. “But I am interested in finding out who the real Gossip Girl is—Serena’s cousin, maybe? And I don’t see how Blair could marry Prince Lewis while she is clearly in love with Chuck, although she and Dan became pretty close when they interned at that fashion magazine. And I just wish that Nate and Vanessa had been able to work things out, I guess Nate was preoccupied with everything that was going on with his father and Jenny and, I mean, it was a tangled web, I guess Dan would have ended up making their relationship impossible anyway, but I’m just a casual fan.” 

Super-fans of the show can still take a Gossip Girl tour of New York City.

19. IVANKA TRUMP AND JARED KUSHNER MADE A CAMEO.

Over the full course of the series, plenty of familiar faces popped up, but two in particular seem kind of funny in retrospect: Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner played themselves in a club scene. (Ivanka was apparently a huge fan of the series.) “They did it for the money,” a chuckling Schwartz told Vanity Fair.

20. IN AN ALTERNATIVE UNIVERSE, SERENA IS A SERIAL KILLER.

In 2002, von Ziegesar published a bloody take on her famed book series with Gossip Girl: Psycho Killer, which she said she’d love to see adapted. "I took the original text of the first book and whenever I saw an opportunity, I layered in this story of Serena coming back from boarding school as this coldblooded psychopath, which, to me makes total sense,” von Ziegesar told Entertainment Weekly. “She’s sort of like the Ryan Gosling of Gossip Girl world. She has that deadpan style, doesn’t seem to have much personality, and she’s really gorgeous, but then underneath she has this kind of scary ability to kill people. So she’s murdered people up at boarding school. She’s always had this dark side and everyone is a little bit scared of her.”

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Natasha Zinko
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This Just In
This Jeans-Inside-Your-Jeans Look Will Cost You $695
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Natasha Zinko

Besides a few updates here and there, the classic style of denim blue jeans hasn’t changed much since the late 19th century. Now, a London-based fashion designer wants to disrupt the wardrobe staple. Their revolutionary new idea? A second waistband sewed on top of the first one.

According to Mashable, these high-waisted double jeans from Natasha Zinko are retailing for $695. Wearing the pants makes it look like you forgot you already had jeans on and put on a second pair on top of them. But buying two pairs of designer jeans to wear at once would probably be less expensive than owning this item. The double jeans are actually one garment, with the high-waisted inner pair stopping at the hips. Boasting seven pockets, they’re not entirely impractical, but having to undo two sets of buttons and zippers sounds like more trouble than it’s worth.

Model wearing double jeans.
Natasha Zinko
There is a market for high-end blue jeans disguised as fashion crimes, as Nordstrom proved earlier this year with their $425 pants covered in fake dirt. The Natasha Zinko double jeans have already sold out on shopbop.com.

[h/t Mashable]

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