Wikipedia / The Internet Archive
Wikipedia / The Internet Archive

30 Things Turning 30 This Year

Wikipedia / The Internet Archive
Wikipedia / The Internet Archive

Happy 30th birthday, 1984! Prince turned the silver screen purple, the first Mac hit our living rooms, and Kevin Bacon helped a small town get its groove back. If you're turning 30 this year, you're in good company—here are 30 things that share your birth year.

1. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (TMNT)

The first TMNT comic book went on sale in 1984. The pizza-eating, crime-fighting ninjas were the brainturtles of artists Peter Laird and Kevin Eastman, who began a tiny publishing company out of Laird's living room. The duo relied on mail-order to sell their comic book. Although originally intended to be a one-shot story, the book sold so well that more issues were created in 1985, ultimately leading to a cartoon, movie, video game, pizza, and comic book empire worth millions. See also: Turtlepedia, a 2,893-page wiki.


2. Tetris

Wikipedia /

Russian programmer Alexey Pajitnov released the first version of Tetris (Те́трис in Russian) on June 6, 1984. The game featured seven tetrominos descending from the top of the screen, to form a sort of jigsaw-puzzle stack at the bottom. The game became insanely popular, spreading across the globe in a variety of versions, many of them unauthorized, on all sorts of computer hardware.

Today, the NES (Nintendo Entertainment System) version of Tetris is used in the Classic Tetris World Championships, and attracts top players from around the world—many of whom are roughly the same age as the game itself.


3. The Cosby Show

On September 20, 1984, America tuned in to see the Huxtable family in Brooklyn. The Cosby Show was a massive hit, revitalizing the sitcom genre and introducing all of us to Cosby sweaters. The show ran through 1992, and spawned the spinoff A Different World in 1987. Here are five minutes of Cosby Show bloopers, in case you've forgotten what a Cosby sweater looked like:


4. Scarlett Johansson & LeBron James

Happy 30th birthday to the following famous and/or infamous people: Kid Cudi (Jan 30), Olivia Wilde (Mar 10), Sarah Jean Underwood (Mar 26), Mandy Moore (Apr 10), America Ferrera (Apr 18), Mark Zuckerberg (May 14), Aubrey Plaza (Jun 26), Prince Harry (Sep 15), Randall Munroe (Oct 17), Katy Perry (Oct 25), Scarlett Johansson (Nov 22), Trey Songz (Nov 24), and LeBron James (Dec 30). (Whew.)


5. "Where's the Beef?"

The most memorable fast food ad of the year was created by Wendy's to emphasize the size of its hamburger patties. In the commercial, actress Clara Peller is presented with a burger from a rival chain, but finds that the bun is comically large and the hamburger patty ridiculously undersized, leading her to exclaim, "Where's the beef?!" The slogan was so catchy it was turned into a song, and appeared throughout American culture, even modestly influencing the Democratic presidential primary that year.

The ad campaign ended in 1985, though Wendy's brought it back in 2011 with the obvious tagline, "Here's the beef."


6. Ronald Reagan's Bombing Gaffe (Plus National Ice Cream Month)

Reagan Library

During a mic check for his weekly radio address, President Reagan joked, "My fellow Americans, I'm pleased to tell you today that I've signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in five minutes." While the clip wasn't broadcast at the time, the recording was leaked. Oops.

On a lighter note, in July of 1984, President Reagan declared that July is National Ice Cream Month, with National Ice Cream Day on the third Sunday of that month. According to the International Dairy Foods Association (which, we promise, is totally a thing):

[Reagan] recognized ice cream as a fun and nutritious food that is enjoyed by a full 90 percent of the nation's population. In the proclamation, President Reagan called for all people of the United States to observe these events with "appropriate ceremonies and activities."

Get your ice cream party started, people. But keep it appropriate.


7. The Mac


Apple unveiled the Mac on January 24, 1984. At a demo event, Steve Jobs removed the Mac from a bag, inserted a 3.5" floppy disk, and booted the machine. The Chariots of Fire theme played, the Mac ran an impressive A/V demo, and finally said, "Hello, I'm Macintosh. It sure is great to get out of that bag. Unaccustomed as I am to public speaking, I'd like to share with you a maxim I thought of the first time I met an IBM mainframe: Never trust a computer that you can't lift!"

The original Mac cost $2,495, which pencils out to more than $5,600 in today's dollars. It had one floppy drive and a measly 128k of RAM, but it caused a revolution in personal computing; its designers were so proud of their creation, they signed the inside of the computer's case. Later the same year, a version with four times the memory debuted, and was promptly nicknamed Fat Mac.


8. MAC

After years of home-cooking lip gloss in their kitchen and selling eyeshadow from their salon, Frank Toskan and Frank Angelo launched a different kind of MAC from a single counter in a Toronto department store. The Makeup Art Cosmetics brand was born out of necessity: most commercially-available cosmetics at the time didn't hold up well under harsh lighting during photography, colors were limited, and stage makeup was fussy and difficult to work with. Originally intended just for makeup artists, MAC quickly grew popular through a perfect storm of word-of-mouth advertising, a good balance of novelty and usefulness, and a mid-range price point that made the brand accessible. (There was also a little help from Madonna, who paired the brand's Russian Red lipstick with various cone-shaped bras throughout her Blond Ambition tour a few years later.)

Today the company is a subsidiary of the $3.7 billion Estée Lauder juggernaut and one of the most popular brands of cosmetics for both professional and personal use. And they're still making those amazing lipsticks, which currently come in more than 160 shades.


9. Doug Flutie's Hail Mary

In what may be college football's most famous play (at least until Auburn's improbable last-second win over Alabama in 2013), Doug Flutie's miracle heave lifted Boston College over powerhouse Miami 47-45. Flutie went on to win the Heisman Trophy. The play has been credited with a rise in applications to Boston College, though the "Flutie Factor" may be overblown.


10. This is Spinal Tap

Image via cinemasquid

Rob Reiner directed the watershed mockumentary This is Spinal Tap, released on March 2, 1984. Chronicling the fictional comeback tour of British heavy metal rockers Spinal Tap, the film became a cult classic. It proudly bore the tagline: "Does for rock and roll what 'The Sound of Music' did for hills." Here's a clip:

But of course, this list goes to 11...and beyond. Moving right along....


11. Legal Taping of TV

Wikimedia Commons / Tomasz Sienicki

The Supreme Court decided a crucial case in January, 1984. Known as the "Betamax case," the court considered whether home VCR users could legally record TV shows for the purpose of watching them later, a practice known as "time-shifting." The court decided that recording episodes of The Cosby Show was just fine, and use of VCRs continued to take off. In an ironic twist, movie studios (who had brought the case in the first place) raked in tons of money selling home video copies of movies using the same technology they had tried to kill.


12. The Video Music Awards

The VMAs began in 1984. Cyndi Lauper won "Best Female Video" for "Girls Just Want to Have Fun"; Madonna performed "Like a Virgin" while crawling around on the floor, wearing a provocative pseudo-wedding gown; and Michael Jackson took home a pile of awards for Thriller. The VMAs were just as scandalous then as they are now.

The full two-and-a-half-hour show is on YouTube. At least for now.


13. The Print Shop

The Internet Archive

Brøderbund's desktop publishing package The Print Shop epitomized 80s-era computing. It allowed users to make cards, signs, and banners. Before printing, it showed a colorful "THINKING" screen as it computed the graphics necessary to print. According to the Internet Archive, "In 1988 Brøderbund announced that it had sold more than one million copies, and that sales of The Print Shop comprised 4% of the entire United States software market in 1987." You can run The Print Shop online in your browser...but you'll need a classic PC and dot-matrix printer to get the full experience.


14. The Trebek Era of Jeopardy!

"Who is an awesome game show host?" Canadian quizmaster Alex Trebek ushered in a new era of Jeopardy! in 1984. Although the show had run with Art Fleming in the 1960s and 70s, Trebek brought Jeopardy! firmly into the 80s. Trebek plans to retire in 2016, thus marking a 32-year run on the show.


15. The "Press Your Luck" Incident

In 1984, ice cream truck driver Michael Larson set a record by winning $110,237 (a combined total of cash and non-cash prizes) in one appearance on the game show Press Your Luck—and he did it by gaming the system. (His appearance aired in June, one month before Reagan's National Ice Cream Month could have sent his day job's income soaring...slightly.)

Larson recorded episodes of the show on his VCR (thank you, Supreme Court!) and noticed that the patterns on the board repeated. So he memorized them, went on the show, and won a pile of money. You can read more about his feat here on mental_floss.


16. Law on the Moon (Sort Of)


The Agreement Governing the Activities of States on the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies, better known as the "Moon Treaty," took effect in July 1984, though it had been grinding through international legal processes since the early 1970s. The idea was to have all the Earth's countries agree that the Moon and other such places would be used for peaceful purposes, and not, say, to create a Death Star.

Although the treaty went into effect and 15 countries ultimately ratified it, none of those countries are actively involved in manned space exploration. So hey, while you're on the Moon, go nuts! (Within the limits of the Outer Space Treaty, that is.)


17. The "Death Star" Hypothesis

Image via Wookieepedia

Seven years after a different Death Star destroyed Alderaan on the silver screen, the journal Nature published a pair of hypotheses from two teams of astronomers who posited that mass extinctions on Earth are caused by an undetected companion star to our Sun. According to the hypothesis, Nemesis, a brown dwarf star, orbits the Sun outside of the Oort cloud, disrupting the paths of comets and asteroids to send them pummeling toward the planets. One such object could have wiped out the dinosaurs, and other events are believed to happen on a roughly regular timeframe of 26-28 million years. The hypothesis was enormously popular in the 80s and early 90s, but Nemesis's existence has been largely discredited; we haven't seen it with any instruments or methods despite its apparent proximity. Nearly 2000 brown dwarf stars have been discovered, but none inside our solar system.


18. Canadians in Space


Marc Garneau is currently a Member of Parliament in Canada. But 30 years ago, he was aboard the space shuttle Challenger, becoming the first Canadian in outer space. After the initial mission, he flew two more, logging over 677 hours in space.

Garneau paved the way for future Canadians in space, including our favorite, Commander Chris Hadfield.


19. TED

While technology, entertainment, and design are everlasting, the first TED conference was a one-off event held in Monterey, California, organized by graphic designer Richard Saul Wurman. Features included Sony's new-but-unreleased "compact disc," an early demo of Apple's Macintosh computer, presentations from Nicholas Negroponte (future founder of One Laptop Per Child) and mathematician Benoît Mandlebrot (discoverer of the Mandelbrot set), and exciting new 3D graphics from LucasFilm. Despite the awesomeness of 1984's event, TED lost a lot of money—so much that another conference wouldn't be held until 1990. Since then, TED has been an annual event.

Today, those of us who aren't in possession of TED invites can watch the presentations via TEDTalks, free online videos, and podcasts launched in 2006, which are arguably one of the most fascinating and binge-able series of videos on the Internet. Speakers include all the people you'd expect—Al Gore, Jane Goodall, Elon Musk, Bill Gates, Bono—but the best moments seem to come from unexpected sources. Take, for instance, neuroanatomist Jill Bolte Taylor's talk, which details the experience of having a massive stroke when you just happen to be a brain scientist.


20. Transformers

Transformers rolled out in the U.S. 30 years ago, after Hasbro bought distribution rights for the Diaclone and Microman toy molds from Japanese company Takara. Generation One (Series 1) launched with 28 figures—18 Autobots, 10 Decepticons—including the infamous Megatron figure that transformed into a gun ("more than meets the eye," indeed).

In September 1984, a three-episode miniseries introduced American children to the classic Autobots and Decepticons and their ongoing battle for the resources necessary to return to their home planet of Cybertron, as well as the Tranformers' human allies, Spike and Sparkplug Witwicky. The series launched soon after, with the first season running through December. During this time, the Dinobots, Insecticons, and Constructicons were introduced, as well as Chip Chase, new Decepticons, new Autobots, and all in time for 1985, when 76 new Transformers toys were released in Series 2.


21. Movies: The Karate Kid, Footloose, Purple Rain, Revenge of the Nerds, and More

It was a banner year for movies. With box-office hits like Footloose, Splash, Revenge of the Nerds, and Ghostbusters we saw a clear theme of underdog heroes overcoming the odds in often bizarre circumstances.

Other notables from that year: Beverly Hills Cop, Police Academy, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Gremlins, The Karate Kid, Dune, and Purple Rain. In a feat of rapid movie-making, both Breakin' and Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo were released in the same year. We were also treated to the Coen brothers' first film, Blood Simple...and Joel Coen married leading lady Frances McDormand in 1984 (they're still together).

Despite all that action in popular movies, 1984's Amadeus pretty much swept the Academy Awards the following year, taking home awards for Best Actor, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Picture, Best Director, and a pile of others. Prince took home the Oscar for Best Original Song for "Purple Rain."


22. BOOKS! (Other Than 1984)

While the world was discussing the dystopian present portrayed in Winston Smith's fictional journal, which began 30 years ago on a cold bright day in April, actual books were being published in the real 1984, including: The Hunt for Red October by Tom Clancy, The Talisman by Stephen King and Peter Straub, Pulitzer-winning Glengarry Glen Ross by David Mamet, Dr. Seuss's The Butter Battle Book, Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution by Steven Levy, King's Thinner, The House on Mango Street (which was almost instantly placed on the AP Readers list; if you were in high school in the 90s, you've probably read it), the 1984 Nebula Award-winning Neuromancerby William Gibson, John Updike's The Witches of Eastwick, and Milan Kundera's The Unbearable Lightness of Being.


23. Born in the U.S.A.

Bruce Springsteen released his best-selling album, a twelve-track masterpiece in which seven songs were released as singles, including the mega-hits "Dancing in the Dark," "Born in the U.S.A.," "I'm on Fire," and "Glory Days." Rolling Stone called Springsteen the "voice of a decade," and wrote, "It's as if Springsteen were saying that life is made to endure and that we all make peace with private suffering and shared sorrow as best we can."

Although the song "Born in the U.S.A." had a cultural impact, the most lasting legacy of the album might be "Dancing in the Dark," an upbeat pop song with oddly grim lyrics, and a classic video featuring a young Courteney Cox dancing onstage. Yes, in 1984 we all danced that way—at least those of us who were born in the U.S.A.

While the pop landscape of 1984 featured bands like Springsteen, Prince, and Wham!, 1984 also saw the formation of Primus, Warrant, Gwar, Soundgarden, Big Audio Dynamite, Fine Young Cannibals, and...wait for it...New Kids on the Block.


24. George Michael Started Being a Big Deal

Singer George Michael had a huge year. As part of the band Wham!, the infectious dance single "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go" became a #1 hit in the United States and the UK. Then came the sultry, saxophone-driven "Careless Whisper," which was technically a George Michael solo effort, but was credited to Wham! in some countries. Michael rounded out the year with two more hits: "Freedom" and "Everything She Wants"; and he performed with the supergroup Band Aid on "Do They Know It's Christmas?"


25. Band Aid

After BBC aired a report by Michael Buerk about the devastating and ongoing famine in Ethiopia, singers Bob Geldof and Midge Ure (pictured) teamed up to raise relief funds. Together, the pair wrote "Do They Know It's Christmas?" then rallied members for the supergroup Band Aid. The final lineup included the members of Duran Duran, Spandau Ballet, Bananarama, Culture Club, Kool and the Gang, U2, Chris Cross, Paul Young, George Michael, Glenn Gregory, Martyn Ware, Phil Collins, Paul Weller, Status Quo, Jody Watley of Shalamar, Marilyn, and the Boomtown Rats.

The single sold a million copies in the first week, and went on to become the UK's highest-selling single of all time... until Elton John's "Candle in the Wind 1997" tribute to the late Princess Diana.

In all, Band Aid raised £5 million for famine relief. The following year's Live Aid, 1989's Band Aid II, 2004's Band Aid 20, and Live 8 in 2005 raised a total of £150 million, and still earns around £2 million per year through the Band Aid Trust, which spends that money for relief efforts in Ethiopia, Uganda, Sudan, and other impoverished African countries.


26. The Quagga's Second Life (Sort of)

Once upon a time, there was an animal called the quagga. It was something of an animal kingdom reverse-mullet, which is to say it was zebra in the front, regular-looking horse in the back. The last captive specimen died in 1883, but it was gone from the wild for nearly a decade before that, thanks to being easy to hunt, having an interesting hide, and not being very good at competing with domesticated livestock for areas to forage.

Aside from its weird appearance, the interesting thing about the quagga came after it was wiped from the planet. In 1984, a team of scientists at the University of California at Berkely cloned fragments of the quagga's DNA taken from a 140-year-old sample. It was the first successful attempt to clone DNA from an extinct species, and the first step in the ongoing pursuit of technology that will give the world wooly mammoths and velociraptors again.

We may not have to wait for that technology, though: As it turns out, the mitochondrial DNA used in that quagga-cloning project revealed that the species was actually a subspecies of the still-living plains zebra. Through selective breeding, the Quagga Project hopes to create a living population of quaggas. In 2005, the first quagga-like foal was born; she was considered a successful first step toward quagganess because her striping was visibly fainter than that of her parents.


27. Dude, You're Getting a Dell

Michael Dell started his computing empire while studying at the University of Texas. He made low-cost PCs from off-the-shelf components, though his company was initially called PC's Limited. One early customer told The Smithsonian, "[The computer] always sounded as if it were coming apart. I never did figure out why."

Thirty years later, Dell is still selling customizable PCs. Need tons of RAM? Looking for a student discount? Want a keyboard but not a mouse? Dude, you're getting a Dell!


28. Muppet Babies

In 1984, Jim Henson gave us a window into the animated childhoods of our favorite Muppets. The Muppet Babies debuted in a fantasy sequence in The Muppets Take Manhattan, and their own TV series premiered in the fall. Kermit, Miss Piggy, and the gang gave us their interpretations of Star Wars, Star Trek, Indiana Jones, The Twilight Zone, The Jetsons, I Love Lucy, and more.


29. The "Baby Bell" Telephone System

Wikimedia Commons / Badmachine

On January 1, 1984, AT&T was broken into seven independent "Regional Holding Companies," which became known popularly as the "Baby Bells." This was the end of a long saga of anti-trust litigation against AT&T, which had held a monopoly on the U.S. telephone market before then. The birth of the Baby Bells led to competition in the phone market, which drove down long-distance pricing and generally shook up the phone system through the 80s and 90s. Today, three big phone carriers can trace their roots to those Baby Bells: AT&T Inc., CenturyLink, and Verizon.

In 2008, Network World asked Does the AT&T breakup still matter 25 years on? The answer is complex, and boils down to "maybe."


30. Ghostbusters

The first Ghostbusters movie introduced us to a trio of failed Columbia University professors whose post-collegiate careers involved clearing New York City of various paranormal infestations. Bill Murray stole the show as Dr. Peter Venkman, a character originally intended for the (then-deceased) John Belushi. Film critic Roger Ebert gave the movie 3.5 out of 4 stars, writing "Ghostbusters is one of those rare movies where the original, fragile comic vision has survived a multimillion-dollar production."

Ghostbusters launched a second film, two TV shows, various video games and comic books, and of course this epic single by Ray Parker, Jr.:

Images via Getty unless noted.

Courtesy Maxie B's
25 Cupcake Bakeries You've Got to Try
Courtesy Maxie B's
Courtesy Maxie B's

While it's difficult to improve upon perfection, bakers are constantly putting new twists on cupcakes. These bakeries showcase the latest trends and the classic style we all know and love.


A chocolate cupcake from Baked & Wired in Washington, D.C.
m01229, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

Baked & Wired is where Georgetown locals go when they’re hankering for something sweet. In 2001, owners Tony and Teresa Velazquez were running a graphics studio out of the same location when they realized they wanted to expand to baked goods and coffee (hence the name Baked & Wired). They offer a variety of unique “cakecup” flavors with equally unique names, like the Pretty Bitchin’, Chocolate Cupcake of Doom (above), and Uniporn and Rainho. They also offer a vegan Oreo cakecup.


A blueberry muffin topped with frosting and a piece of bacon from The Copper Hen.
Courtesy The Copper Hen

The Copper Hen—a restaurant and wedding venue that serves farm-to-table food and desserts—offers a variety of cupcakes, including miniatures, individual-sized cakes in mason jars you can keep, and cakes that come with a pipette of booze for infusing. Two must-tries are the top selling Champagne Cupcake and the Bacon Blueberry Breakfast Cupcake, a streusel crumb cake layered with bacon and blueberries (as if we needed an excuse to have cupcakes for breakfast). The Copper Hen also sells a chocolate gluten-free cupcake with buttercream frosting.


Two trays of cupcakes from Muddy's Bake Shop.
Kat Gordon

Muddy’s Bake Shop has two locations in Memphis and East Memphis, plus a “secret kitchen,” closed to the public, where they hold classes and pop-up shops. This small-batch, home-style bakery cares about making their community a better place by using sustainable practices and supporting local charities. Owner Kat Gordon says the cupcake that started it all is her best-selling Prozac—a classic devil’s food chocolate cake with chocolate buttercream frosting. If you’re into making cupcakes but hate doing dishes, Muddy's will ship you a DIY kit featuring the Prozac and Capote cupcakes. The kit includes six plain cupcakes in each flavor, two bags of frosting, and sprinkles.


A chocolate cupcake topped with caramel popcorn and frosting.
Courtesy Kyra's Bakery

Every item at Kyra’s Bake Shop—the only four-time winner of Food Network’s Cupcake Wars—is 100 percent gluten-free. The menu is updated monthly and posted on the website so customers can plan their visits around the featured cupcake flavors. Owner Kyra Bussanich recommends trying the PMS, a chocolate cake filled with salted caramel, dipped in chocolate ganache, and topped with marshmallow meringue and peanut butter buttercream frosting. But check the menu because, she says, “it only happens once a month.” You can purchase Kyra’s recipe book, Sweet Cravings, to bake all of her award-winning cupcakes and other treats at home.


Push pop cupcakes of various flavors from Forever Sweet Bakery.
Courtesy Forever Sweet Bakery

Locals have voted Forever Sweet Bakery the area’s best bakery four years in a row. Forever Sweet specializes in custom cakes and serves all kinds of mouthwatering cupcake flavors, from Beer Batter Bacon to Banana Honey Cinnamon. You can walk into their shop to purchase a treat from the case, or you can order ahead for one of their “outside the box” styles, like a cupcake push-pop—vanilla cake layered between globs of frosting that will be sure to make you feel like a kid again.


A cupcake that looks like a piece of sushi.
Courtesy Cupcake Sushi

These bite-sized, patent-pending cupcakes are hand-rolled and can be eaten with chopsticks, just like real sushi. Owner Lori Shubert started Cupcake Sushi after trying to create a smaller cupcake that didn’t lose flavor. Since traditional paper tends to dry out the cake, she experimented with scooping out the center of normal cupcakes and rolling her buttercream frosting around it. These sweet treats are offered only in Florida at select retail locations for now, but the company will soon offer franchise opportunities. You can also order these little gems online—Shubert recommends trying the Key Lime, Triple Chocolate, and Red Velvet.


A chocolate cupcake topped with a piece of brownie and chocolate sauce from Dia Doce bakery.
Courtesy Dia Doce

Dia Doce (“Sweet Day” in Portuguese) has won numerous local awards, including “Best of the Main Line,” and also took first place on the Food Network show Cupcake Wars. You can see their green cupcake truck at local festivals or pop into their brick-and-mortar location in West Chester. Sustainability is important to owner Thais da Silva Viggue, so the shop uses seasonal ingredients whenever possible. Dia Doce has created more than 100 unusual cupcakes, from Lemon Basil to Cereal and Milk to Waffle Cone. That last one features vanilla cake with a fudge center, salted caramel frosting, and a garnish of a waffle drizzled with a bittersweet ganache and rainbow sprinkles.


Delicious, bundt-cake shaped cupcakes on a tray.
Courtesy Nothing Bundt Cakes

Nothing Bundt Cakes was started in 1997 by two friends, Dena Tripp and Debbie Shwetz. They began baking cakes for friends and family, and they received so many compliments that they realized they could launch an entire bakery. While their signature items are full-size bundt cakes, they do offer bite-sized Bundtinis and mini bundt cakes called Bundtlets. You have to try the Chocolate Chocolate Chip— with more than 220 bakeries throughout the country, you might be lucky enough to find a location within driving distance.


Cupcake bombs from Baked Dessert Cafe.
Courtesy of Baked Dessert Cafe

Baked is a made-from-scratch bakery that produces a whole line of delicious items, but customers rave about the cafe's cupcake bombs—an all-natural twist on the popular cake pop (which are usually dipped in artificially-flavored chocolate). They offer a few standard flavors every day, like the popular Chocolate Cake with chocolate icing, and rotate in a few seasonal flavors (like fall's Apple Spice).


A container of four cupcakes from Nadia Cakes.
m01229, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

Owner Abby Jimenez opened her first Nadia Cakes in Palmdale in 2009, and since then, has won a number of awards and opened two Minnesota stores in Maple Grove and Woodbury. Nadia Cakes offers cupcakes that are both whimsical and delicious (there's even one called Unicorn Barf that looks surprisingly tasty). Maybe you’ll be lucky enough to visit when the featured flavor is Caramel Red Velvet Junkyard, a moist red velvet cupcake filled with fudge and topped with caramel buttercream, caramel and chocolate drizzle, M&M’s, Oreo and red velvet crumbs, rainbow sprinkles, and a mini Oreo.


A side-by-side photo of Maxie B's s'more cupcake—one whole, one cut in half.
Courtesy Maxie B's

Maxie B’s began in 1985 as a yogurt shop but evolved into the cute bakery that it is today. Named after the owners’ pugs, this shop offers dog treats (pupcakes!) as well as people treats. Oozing with the southern charm you would expect from a North Carolina bakery, they are best known for their layered cakes, but have a scrumptious assortment of pies and, of course, cupcakes. The cupcake menu changes seasonally, and all of Maxie B's items are always made from scratch with locally sourced ingredients. Some seasonally popular varieties to try are the S’mores, the Streuseled Sweet Potato, and the Harry Potter-inspired Butterbeer. They also offer southern flavors like King Cake, Sweet Tea, and Mint Julep.


A creme brulee cupcake from Huascar & Co.
Erin McCarthy

Huascar & Co., located in the Hell's Kitchen neighborhood of New York City, is owned by Chef Huascar Aquino—the only NYC baker, so far, to have won Cupcake Wars. The bakery uses the freshest ingredients to craft its cupcakes; there are 19 flavors served every day, with many stuffed decadently with cream. You can expect two to three additional flavors that will rotate with the seasons. One of their most popular cupcakes is the Crème Brûlée, a vanilla bean cake with vanilla bean crème brûlée filling, vanilla icing, and a sugar crust that is torched when you order it.


The Cookie Dough Cupcake from Happycakes.
Courtesy of Happycakes:)

Happycakes is an award-winning bakery located in Morehead City (a second location in Cary, North Carolina, is opening soon). They use all-natural ingredients and avoid food dyes and artificial flavors. Every cupcake in the shop is made fresh each morning, and the flavors change daily; there's even a schedule on the Happycakes website so you can time your visit. One of the most popular flavors is Cookie Dough, a vanilla cake with a homemade cookie dough center, swirled in a vanilla Swiss meringue buttercream frosting, and topped with a homemade cookie. And don’t feel guilty about buying a dozen, because 10 percent of every sale is donated to a charity that fights sex trafficking in the Philippines. Charitable and delicious.


The interior of Pinkitzel Cupcakes & Candy in Oklahoma City.
Elizabeth Albert, Flickr, CC BY SA 2.0

Pinkitzel's two locations are full of eye candy and actual candy. The whimsical and colorful spaces are exactly what husband-and-wife owners Christa and Jonathan were hoping to achieve. Since opening in 2010, their shops have served more than half a million cupcakes and has become one of Oklahoma’s top destinations on TripAdvisor. If you’re lucky enough to live nearby, you can host your next birthday party or bridal shower there and expect to blow your guests away. Almost every cupcake is topped with candy and sprinkles, and flavors range from Bubblegum Cupcake to Chocolate Turtle Cheesecake to Peanut Butter Nutella.


Two cupcakes from Molly's Cupcakes in Chicago.
Jaysin Trevino, Flickr // CC BY SA 2.0

John Nicolaides’s third grade teacher, Miss Molly, baked cupcakes for her students’ birthdays; now, he’s giving back with his bakery, Molly’s Cupcakes, which donates a portion of its profits to local schools. Visitors can pick from pre-prepared cupcakes, like the cream-filled peach cobbler (vanilla cake, cinnamon peach puree, brown sugar streusel, homemade whipped cream, sliced peach), or go the DIY route, choosing their own base and frosting, and finishing up at the Sprinkle Station. You can find Molly’s in New York, in Des Moines and Sioux City, Iowa, and in two locations in Chicago.


Four Strawberry Champagne cupcakes from Bredenbeck's.
Courtesy Bredenbeck's

If you’re a Pennsylvania native, you may be familiar with this family-owned bakery, which was founded back in 1889. Bredenbeck’s is a popular choice when it comes to Philadelphia delicacies like butter cake and German cookies, and their cupcakes made fresh from scratch every day are a local favorite. They favor quality, not quantity, when it comes to their cupcake flavors: You'll find only a few varieties in the shop at a time, but they do rotate seasonal and holiday favorites. One of their most popular cupcakes is the Strawberry Champagne, a vanilla cake filled with strawberry champagne compote and topped in strawberry buttercream frosting.


The sign of the cupcake bakery Trophy Cupcakes and Party.
Jessica Spengler, Flickr // CC BY SA 2.0

At Trophy's five Seattle locations, customers can buy cupcakes from the case or pre-order a themed dozen. Try the “I Love the 80’s,” which features cupcakes topped with cassette tapes, roller skates, and rainbows. For a limited time, customers can pre-order the “Trophy’s 10th Birthday,” a funfetti cake with vanilla buttercream frosting, topped with a macaron, lollipop, marshmallow, meringue kiss, white chocolate-covered pretzel, animal cookies, cotton candy, donut holes, and Trophy’s own blue candies. Whew. At $12.50 a pop, they’re worth every penny.


House of Cupcakes' red velvet cupcakes.
Courtesy House of Cupcakes

When House of Cupcakes won Cupcake Wars, the line of customers went out the door of their Princeton shop, and the bakery soon needed to expand. They opened two more New Jersey locations in East Brunswick and in Clifton, and in January 2018 they will be opening stores in Dubai and Saudi Arabia. They offer cupcake classes and parties where you can bake and decorate your own cupcakes. Every day they serve 65 different flavors, and owner Ruthie Bzdewka says that the Red Velvet is their most popular cupcake of them all. In addition to all those cupcakes, they also offer cookies and chocolate-covered pretzels. You can find their food truck traveling around New Jersey every weekend; check their Facebook page to find out where they will be.


The exterior of Sugar Mama's Bakery in Austin, Texas.
Rachel Kramer Bussel, Flickr // CC BY SA 2.0

Sugar Mama’s is owned by husband-and-wife team Olivia and Steve O’Neal. They have a long list of awards and accomplishments, including having made a birthday cake for rapper Kanye West. The owners use locally sourced and Fair Trade-certified ingredients to create a variety of delicious goodies—including 12 different flavors of cupcakes that change daily. If you’re a baklava fan, pick up Harlow’s Honey Baklava—a buttermilk honey cake with Round Rock honey filling and cinnamon buttercream frosting topped with a phyllo puff.


A delicious-looking chocolate cupcake topped with shaved chocolate from Frost Cupcake Factory
Courtesy Frost Cupcake Factory

Frost Cupcake Factory sells a handpicked selection from 42 standard flavors throughout the week in addition to seasonal varieties. The two most popular are Rose Velvet and Burnt Almond, and they also offer cake pops, cupcake push pops, and mason jar cupcakes, in addition to other baked goods. Frost customizes cupcakes for corporate clients too; if you head out to a San Jose Sharks game, you may find them in the concession stands.


A plate of cupcakes from Love Kupcakes.
Courtesy Love Kupcakes

Love Kupcakes is a bakery and food truck based in Portland that strives to use sustainable practices and all-natural ingredients. They serve traditional, vegan, and gluten-free varieties of cupcakes in an array of sweet flavors like Strawberry Basil, Funfetti, and Snickerdoodle, and introduce seasonal options too. Pick up their best-seller, the Chocolate Sea-Salted Caramel, the next time you're in Maine. Look for their cupcake truck around town and at local festivals (follow them on social media for locations) or rent it for your wedding or special event.


Cupcakes in mason jars from Wicked Good Cupcakes.
Courtesy Wicked Good Cupcakes

Tracey Noonan and Danielle Vilagie are a mother-daughter dream team that started Wicked Good Cupcakes after taking cake decorating classes together. After getting requests to ship their cupcakes from their Cohasset, Massachusetts shop, they came up with the idea of putting the treats in mason jars to prolong their freshness and durability. They were featured on Shark Tank and teamed up with Kevin O’Leary to take their business to the next level—today, they're a super-successful gourmet online retailer. They have a variety of flavors, including Maple Bacon Whiskey and Sea Salted Caramel, that can be ordered online or found in their Boston-area bakery.


A tray of Blooming Lotus cupcakes.
Courtesy of Blooming Lotus

If there is such thing as a healthy cupcake, Blooming Lotus makes it. This bakery is grain-, processed sugar-, dairy-, soy-, and egg-free, and the nut and seed flours they use are high in protein. (Basically, you can eat one of their cupcakes and pretend you’re eating a protein bar.) Blooming Lotus was started after the owner and her sister were diagnosed with Crohn’s disease and they adopted restricted diets. Their baked goods have developed quite a following in stores around the Milwaukee area. They offer three flavors of cupcake: Chocolate Brownie with chocolate frosting; Carrot Cake with toffee frosting; and Spice Cake with toffee frosting.


A tray of cupcakes from JoZettie's Cupcakes.
Courtesy of JoZettie's Cupcakes

Everything made in JoZettie’s kitchen is made fresh and from scratch every day. The owner, Mrs. Ida, says she decided to open her shop when she walked by a vacant building with a “for rent” sign on it. Today, JoZettie’s has two locations in Montgomery, where customers can choose from a variety of unusual flavors, including Pineapple Upside-Down Cake and Caramel Pecan Cheesecake. The bakery's best-selling yummies are Sweet Potato, Key Lime, Red Velvet, and Red Velvet Cheesecake, all topped with cream cheese icing. Follow the bakery on social media to discover the featured flavor of the day.


A Jones Bros Sweet and Salty cupcake next to a box.
Zane Mulligan, Flickr // CC BY ND 2.0

Jones Bros. Cupcakes—a full bakery and ice cream shop—is a true family business: It's run by brothers Brad and Bill Jones, along with their parents, Jerry and Elizabeth. The shop offers a rotating variety of cupcake flavors as well as specials and seasonal tastes that pop up on the weekends. If you're visiting, try the best-selling Sweet and Salty, a chocolate cake filled with caramel and sea salt, then topped with chocolate buttercream and a caramel drizzle. Hit their drive-through window for extra-fast service.

Paramount Pictures
14 Fascinating Facts About Saturday Night Fever
Paramount Pictures
Paramount Pictures

We can tell by the way you use your walk that you're a fan of Saturday Night Fever, the 1977 blockbuster that made John Travolta a mega-star and brought disco into the mainstream. (Whether that's a good thing or a bad thing is a matter of opinion.) To enhance your appreciation of what was the highest-grossing dance movie of all time until Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan (2010) and Steven Soderbergh’s Magic Mike (2012) beat it, here's a groovy list of facts to celebrate the film's 40th birthday. Put on your boogie shoes and read! 


Saturday Night Fever was an instant hit when it was released in December 1977, quickly becoming one of the highest-grossing movies of the year. What's especially impressive is that it did this despite being rated R and thus (theoretically) inaccessible to teenagers, the very audience that a disco movie would (theoretically) appeal to. And so in March 1979, the film was re-released in a PG version, with all the profanity, sex, and violence either deleted or downplayed. This version took in another $8.9 million (about $30 million at 2016 ticket prices), bringing the film's U.S. total to $94.2 million. Both versions were released on VHS and laserdisc, though the R-rated cut didn't become widely available on home video until the DVD upgrade. 


"Tribal Rites of the New Saturday Night," a detailed look at the new generation of urban teenagers by British journalist Nik Cohn, was published in New York Magazine in June 1976. The central figure in the article was Vincent, "the very best dancer in Bay Ridge," whose name was changed to Tony Manero for the movie. But years later, Cohn confessed: "[Vincent] is completely made-up, a total fabrication." The styles and attitudes Cohn had described were real, but not the main character. Cohn said he'd only recently arrived in Brooklyn, didn't know the scene well, and based Vincent on a Mod he'd known in London in the '60s.


Most of the film had already been shot when music producer-turned-movie producer Robert Stigwood commissioned the Bee Gees to write songs for it. The brothers, only modestly successful at that point and hard at work on their next album, didn't know what the movie was about but cranked out a few tunes in a weekend. They also repurposed several songs they'd been working on, including "Stayin' Alive," a demo version of which was prepared in time to be used in filming the opening "strut" sequence. (You'll notice Travolta struts in sync with the music.) So if the movie's signature songs didn't come until later, what were the cast members listening to when they shot the dance scenes? According to Travolta, it was Boz Scaggs and Stevie Wonder. 


With 15 million copies sold in the U.S. alone, Saturday Night Fever was the top-selling soundtrack album of all time before being supplanted by The Bodyguard some 15 years later. It's also the only disco record (so far) to win the Grammy for Album of the Year, and one of only three soundtracks (besides The Bodyguard and O Brother, Where Art Thou?) to win that category. It was the number one album on the Billboard charts for the entire first half of 1978, and stayed on the charts until March 1980, long after the supposed death of disco.


Disco had been popular enough in the mid-1970s to land multiple disco tunes on the Billboard charts, but by the end of 1977, when Saturday Night Fever came out, the backlash had started and the trend was on its way out. But thanks to the movie (and its soundtrack), not only did disco not die out, it achieved more widespread, mainstream, middle-America success than it ever had before.


Paramount Pictures

First connection: It was supposed to be directed by John G. Avildsen, whose previous film was Rocky. Ultimately, that didn’t work out and Avildsen was replaced with John Badham a few weeks before shooting began. Second connection: Tony has a Rocky poster on his bedroom wall. Third connection: Saturday Night Fever’s 1983 sequel, Staying Alive, was directed by ... Sylvester Stallone.


Saturday Night Fever made Travolta a movie star, but he was already a teen heartthrob because of the popular sitcom Welcome Back, Kotter, where he played a delinquent teenager with the hilarious and timeless catchphrase "Up your nose with a rubber hose." Still, nobody was prepared for how Travolta's fame would affect the movie, which was to be shot on the streets of Brooklyn. As soon as the neighborhood found out Travolta was there, the sidewalks were swarmed by thousands of onlookers, many of them squealing teenage girls. (Badham said there were also a lot of teenage boys holding signs expressing their hatred for Travolta for being more desirable than themselves.)

Co-star Donna Pescow said, "The fans—oh, my God, they were all over him. It was scary to watch." Badham said, "By noon of the first day, we had to shut down and go home." Since it was nearly impossible to keep the crowds away (or quiet), Badham and the crew resorted to filming in the middle of the night or at the crack of dawn. 


Paramount Pictures

In the brief scene where Tony, his boys, and Stephanie are loudly eating at White Castle, those were the real burger-flippers, not actors. Badham told them to just go about their business. He also told his actors to cut loose and surprise the White Castlers in whatever way they saw fit. The shot that's in the movie appears to be a reaction to Joey standing on the table and barking, but Badham said it was actually in response to something else: "Double J (actor Paul Pape) pulling his pants down and mooning the entire staff of the White Castle."


Casting the role of Tony's dance partner, Stephanie, proved difficult. Hundreds of women auditioned, but nobody seemed right. Meanwhile, 32-year-old Karen Lynn Gorney was looking for her big break into show business. As fate would have it, she shared a cab with a stranger who turned out to be producer Robert Stigwood's nephew. He mentioned that his uncle was working on a movie, and Gorney replied, "Oh, am I in it?"— her standard joke whenever she heard about a film being made. The nephew wound up submitting Gorney as a candidate, and the rest is history. 


John Travolta stars in Saturday Night Fever (1977)
Paramount Pictures

Travolta met Diana Hyland on the set of the TV movie The Boy in the Plastic Bubble, in which she played his mother. (She was 18 years older than him.) They had been dating for six months when Hyland succumbed to breast cancer at the age of 41, after filming just four episodes of her new gig on Eight Is Enough. Travolta was able to leave Saturday Night Fever and fly to L.A. in time to be with her before she died, then had to return to work. 


For Tony and Stephanie's rehearsal scene about 30 minutes into the movie, Badham had used the song "Lowdown" by Boz Scaggs, going so far as to shoot the scene, including the dialogue, with the song actually playing in the background. (That's usually a no-no, for exactly the reasons you're about to read about.) According to Badham, no sooner had they wrapped the scene than Scaggs' people reached out to say they couldn't use the song after all, as Scaggs was thinking of pursuing a disco project of his own. Badham now had to have the actors re-dub the dialogue (since the version he'd recorded was tainted by "Lowdown"); what's more, he had to find a new song that would fit the choreography and tempo of the dancing. Composer David Shire rose to the occasion, writing a piece of instrumental music that met the specifications, and that’s what we hear in the movie. 


In another rehearsal scene 55 minutes into the movie, Tony and Stephanie do the "tango hustle," which looks like a combination of both of those dances. This was something Travolta and Gorney invented as a matter of necessity: the film's choreographer didn't realize he was supposed to be on the set that day, and the actors didn't have any steps prepared. The tango hustle, alas, never quite caught on.  


Travolta and Badham both assumed Tony's disco outfit would be black, as men's suits tended to be at the time. Costume designer Patrizia Von Brandenstein convinced them it should be white, partly to symbolize the character's journey to enlightenment but also for practical reasons: a dark suit doesn't photograph very well in a dark discotheque. 


Von Brandenstein took Travolta to a cheap men's clothing store in Brooklyn (swamped by teenage fans, of course) and bought the suit off the rack—three identical suits, actually, so they wouldn't have to stop filming when one became soaked with Travolta's sweat. Two of the suits disappeared after the movie was finished; the remaining one, inscribed by Travolta, was bought at a charity auction in 1979 by film critic Gene Siskel, who cited Saturday Night Fever as one of his favorite movies. He paid about $2000 for it. In 1995, he sold it for $145,500 to an anonymous bidder through Christie's auction house.

In 2012, after a lengthy search, curators at London's Victoria and Albert Museum found the owner (who still preferred to remain anonymous) and persuaded him to lend it for an exhibit of Hollywood costumes. It is now presumably back in that man's care, whoever he may be. (P.S. Badham says on the 2002 DVD commentary that the suit is on display at the Smithsonian, a tidbit repeated by NPR in 2006 and Vanity Fair in 2007. But they must be mistaken. The suit’s sale in 1995 and rediscovery for the 2012 museum exhibit are verified facts; the suit isn't in the Smithsonian's online catalogue; and finally, a 2007 Washington Post story about the Smithsonian lists the suit as one of the items the museum director wanted to get.)

Additional sources:
John Badham DVD commentary
DVD featurettes


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