A 14-foot-tall sakura tree has sprung up in LEGOLAND Japan just in time for cherry blossom season. As SoraNews 24 reports, the 7348-pound structure is made entirely of LEGO bricks, earning it the Guinness World Record for largest LEGO cherry blossom tree.
The tree's unveiling marked the one-year anniversary of the opening of LEGOLAND Japan. To construct it, a team of expert builders at the LEGO factory in the Czech Republic spent 6700 hours assembling 881,470 plastic blocks around metal support pipes. The final components were then shipped to Nagoya, Japan where they were put together and displayed at the park. Every visible part of the tree is made of LEGO—even the lanterns, which light up at night to illuminate the pink canopy.
The cherry blossom is an icon of springtime in Japan that's recognizable around the world. Each year, the nation celebrates the season with festivals and sakura-flavored treats like Pepsi and frappuccinos. This latest homage to Japan's national tree may be the most ambitious yet.
Like the living sakura trees that explode into vibrant color around Japan this time of year, the LEGO cherry blossoms won't be around for long—LEGOLAND guests have until May 6 to catch a peek of the tree.
Attention America: you're probably eating hot dogs the wrong way, which is pretty embarrassing when you consider how much you love them.
The National Hot Dog and Sausage Council, a part of the American Meat Institute, has an official etiquette guide for hot dog-eating, in order to do the summer staple justice. Surprisingly, many of the rules are intended to prevent people from getting too fancy with their franks.
How to plate your hot dog
No need for fancy garnishes—keep the presentation simple. Sticking with the laid-back theme, be sure to only use plain buns or those with poppy or sesame seeds. Even if they're your favorite, the council's website says "sun-dried tomato buns or basil buns are considered gauche with franks," so you might want to stay away.
How to Dress your hot dog
Dressing your hot dog is also a bigger deal than you might think. First, there's an order to follow. Wet condiments (mustard or chili, for example) go on first, followed by chunky ingredients—if you're putting onions or sauerkraut on your hot dog, this is the time to do it. Next comes cheese. Spices, such as pepper or celery salt, come last.
The National Hot Dog and Sausage Council also has rules about ketchup, much to the dismay of Internetcommenters. According to the council, no person over the age of 18 should top their hot dog with ketchup, despite the fact that over half of all Americans use the condiment. Former council president Janet Riley (the so-called "Queen of Wien") is shocked by this: "Ketchup’s popularity was the big surprise, considering our etiquette rules—and ketchup’s notable absence from regional hot dog favorites like the Chicago Dog and the New York Dog."
How to serve your hot dog
According to the Council, always use low-maintenance dishes. Paper plates are preferable, but any everyday dish will do. Want to eat your hot dog off fine china? Sorry, that's a faux pas. Finally, if you're serving cocktail wieners, use colored toothpicks instead of plain ones. Cocktail forks are in poor taste, according to Riley.
How to eat your hot dog
Because hot dogs are such casual foods, you should never use a fork and knife. Instead, always use your hands for any hot dog on a bun. While you're at it, make sure you take no more than five bites to finish your frank (although seven is acceptable for foot-longs). Make sure you eat every part of the hot dog, including any leftover parts of the bun.
Finally, make sure your beverage of choice doesn't outshine the food. Wine shouldn't be paired with hot dogs. Instead, opt for beer, soda, lemonade, iced tea … really, anything that doesn't clash with your non-ketchup topping.
How to clean up after your hot dog meal
If you find yourself covered in mustard (or whatever else you put on your hot dog that isn't ketchup), there's also a way to clean up. Use paper napkins to clean your face—cloth napkins are never okay—but make sure that you lick off any condiments that you find on your fingers.
Finally, if you attend a hot dog barbecue, you don't send a thank you note. While a thoughtful gesture, the council notes that it "would not be in keeping with the unpretentious nature of hot dogs."
Want more advice from the council? The National Hot Dog and Sausage Council put together this handy video, featuring the Queen of Wien herself, boasting all the rules, some patriotic music, and a couple great food puns.
At 2 years old, New Jersey native Darius Brown was diagnosed with delays in comprehension, speech, and fine motor skills. At 12, he’s already founded a company, spoken to a national news corporation, and sewn hundreds of bow ties.
Brown's company, Beaux and Paws, donates the bow ties he creates to shelters to help animals get adopted, Todayreports. The hope is that since dogs and cats sporting bow ties are so unbelievably adorable, people won’t be able to resist taking them home. It combines two of Darius’s passions, fashion and animals, and the idea was years in the making.
When Brown's sister, Dazhai Brown-Shearz, was creating girls’ hair ribbons in cosmetology school, she and their mother Joy Brown decided to involve then-8-year-old Darius in the process, thinking it might help him exercise his fine motor skills and also have a positive impact on other tasks he struggled with, like tying his shoes.
It worked, and it also ignited an enthusiasm for style and design that extended beyond hair ribbons: Brown began sewing festive, vibrant bow ties for himself, which he told Today he wears “literally everywhere.” People started stopping Brown on the street, asking where they could purchase them. Then, when the pre-teen learned about how shelters couldn’t accommodate all the animals displaced by hurricanes Harvey and Irma, he had an idea for how to increase adoptions. Brown sent batches of bow ties to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), and has since expanded his shipments to shelters all over the country.
With more than 47,000 Instagram followers and a personal letter of commendation from former President Barack Obama, Beaux and Paws has grown exponentially since its inception, and Darius no longer needs to pay for supplies out of pocket; his GoFundMe campaign has raised more than $11,000. Brown is planning to put some of that money toward a summer trip that will take him to five different states, so that he can deliver his bow ties to shelters and assist with adoption events personally.
“We’re definitely very proud of Darius,” his mom told Today. “He’s overcome a lot and he’s still on his journey of overcoming a lot of things. He just keeps going for what he believes in.”