15 Things You Might Not Know About Indiana

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1. Though it is seldom mentioned in the comic strip or cartoon series, "Garfield" takes place in Muncie. The television special Happy Birthday, Garfield mentions Muncie — where creator Jim Davis went to college — as Garfield and owner Jon Arbuckle’s place of residence.

2. Indiana sits atop one of the richest concentrations of limestone on the planet, and prides itself on the fine quality of its mineral output. Indiana’s limestone has helped build the Pentagon, the Empire State Building, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the National Cathedral, and more.

3. The first gasoline pump was born in Fort Wayne, Indiana, on Sept. 5, 1885. Its conception, invention, and sale constitute the second greatest triumph of one Sylvanus Freelove Bowser. His greatest triumph, of course, is that name.

4. The 21,000 students attending Ball State University have quite the unique benefactor to thank for their education. The school, founded in 1918, sits on land donated by the Ball Corporation, a company that is most famous for its canning jars but also creates spacecraft and aeronautics equipment.

5. Indiana Jones was born in New Jersey (to a father from Scotland), raised in New Mexico and Utah, schooled in England, and employed in Illinois and Connecticut. He adventured in Nevada, Egypt, Nepal, India, China, Austria, Italy, Germany, Turkey, and Peru… and he favored New York professional sports teams. Never once have we seen Dr. Jones, who was created by two fellows from Ohio and California, set foot in Indiana. (Henry borrowed his extracurricular nickname from a childhood dog, in fact.)

6. Nobody seems to know for sure where the Indiana demonym “Hoosier” came from, or what it even means. (There was a gag about this in the Indiana-set comedy film In & Out, in which Lewis J. Stadlen’s character is repeatedly interrupted before he can reveal the origin of the term.) Varied theories attach the terminology to pejorative slang, a frontiersman warning call, a Cumbrian word that might refer to a hilly landscape, the names of labor entrepreneur Samuel Hoosier and Methodist Reverend Harry Hosier, and a satirical yarn involving a Frenchman stumbling upon the aftermath of a brawl in which a man’s ear had been bitten off.

7. Simply by default — as Alexandria resident Michael Carmichael realized one day — there has to be a ball of paint somewhere that is bigger than any other ball of paint on this vast planet. Carmichael then made up his mind to become the owner of that ball of paint. On New Year's Day 1977, Carmichael revisited his favorite childhood activity by dipping a baseball in a bucket of paint. Every year since, he and his family have added coats upon coats of paint to this offbeat art project, winding up with a sphere weighing over 3,750 pounds from more than 23,000 coats of paint. The ball now resides in a shed next to Carmichael's home, where visitors are invited to add a fresh coat of paint to keep the project rolling.

8. Warsaw, Indiana’s nickname might not be as hip and exciting as Sin City or the Big Easy, but it’s certainly more reassuring: the town is known as the Orthopedic Capital of the World, due to its pioneering of the manufacture and distribution of orthopedic appliances between 1895 and 1905. Today, over 50 percent of the world market share for orthopedic devices comes from Warsaw-based companies.

9. For most of us, fouling up a math problem resulted in little more than a few points off the midterm. But one geometric miscalculation got Indiana physician Edwin Goodwin laughed out of the Senate. In 1894, the would-be numbers whiz — believing he had discovered a game-changing method for the impossible task of squaring a circle — approached Representative Taylor Record with a legal proposal ever so humbly titled, “A Bill for an act introducing a new mathematical truth and offered as a contribution to education to be used only by the State of Indiana free of cost by paying any royalties whatever on the same, provided it is accepted and adopted by the official action of the Legislature of 1897.” Despite being anything but mathematically sound, Goodwin’s proposal made it from Indiana’s House of Representatives all the way to State Senate, where it actually had a fair chance at passing… until Senator Orrin Hubbell proclaimed it no man or government’s authority to sanction the properties of math. After that, as history tells, everyone pretty much got on the anti-Pi Bill (as it is derisively, albeit inaccurately, nicknamed), and laughed Goodwin out of the legislative process.

10. On March 31, 1880, Wabash became the first city to be illuminated by electric light. Ohio inventor Charles Brush, who had once brought light to a Cleveland park, was on the hunt for a grander conquest: an entire town. Teaming with the Common Council of Wabash, Brush adorned the courthouse flagstaff with a set of four 3,000-candlepower lamps rigged to a generator. The glow is said to have been visible at a mile’s distance, and to have been witnessed by 10,000 citizens.

11. If you’ve ever found yourself belting a karaoke anthem of “Louie, Louie,” then you’ve experienced the distinct realization that you’ve never understood any of the words (well, save for the titular refrain) in the catchy Kingsmen tune. In the 1960s, Indiana took issue with this incomprehensibility, assuming that the rock ditty was intentionally mumbled to hide its lyrics' obscene nature. As such, the state's radio stations stopped airing the song at the request of Governor Matthew Walsh (who was coerced into banning the number by, of all people, a contemporary teenager).

12. Historically, Indiana has produced more professional basketball players per capita than another state, sending 26 of every million citizens to the NBA. Indiana’s tenth-largest city, Muncie, also holds the distinction of being the metropolitan area to produce the most players per capita (with 59 players per every million). Indiana is also responsible for the largest number of high school students to participate in the McDonald’s All-American game: 44 of the 888 young men to play in the competition since 1977 have hailed from Indiana.

13. While a handful of states have Indiana beat in overall ice cream production, the plucky little state certainly makes the most of what it has. According to a study in 2011, Indiana produced 87 million gallons of ice cream from only 19 factories over the course of the year. That’s 4.6 million gallons per factory, which greatly outshines Texas's 1.4 million gallons per factory (97 million gallons total from 71 factories) and California’s 800,000 gallons per factory (162 million gallons total from 202 factories).

14. The very first peacetime train robbery in documented history happened just outside of Seymour. Local boys the Reno Gang (otherwise known as the Jackson Thieves, named so for the Indiana county they called home) pioneered the gambit on October 6, 1866, swiping over $10,000 from passengers headed east.

15. Indiana’s Heritage House Convalescent Center has housed a couple of noteworthy residents. Edna Parker, the oldest living person between the years of 2007 and 2008, and Sandy Allen, the tallest woman in American history, resided in the Shelbyville retirement center at the same time.

10 Things You Might Not Know About Columbo

Universal Pictures Home Entertainment
Universal Pictures Home Entertainment

For more than 40 years, Peter Falk entered living rooms around the world as Lieutenant Columbo, an unconventional L.A. homicide detective known for his ruffled raincoat and trademark cigar. The actor would go on to win four Emmys for the role, while the series itself remains a benchmark for television crime dramas. But if series creators William Link and Richard Levinson went with their initial choice, the iconic role of Columbo would have gone to a syrupy-smooth crooner rather than the inelegant Falk. Get familiar with one of TV's most unique heroes with facts about Columbo.

1. BING CROSBY WAS ORIGINALLY EYED FOR THE ROLE.

Columbo creators Richard Levinson and William Link's first choice to play their low-key detective was crooner Bing Crosby. Der Bingle loved the script and the character, but he feared that a TV series commitment would interfere with his true passion—golf. It was probably providential that Crosby turned the role down, since his death in 1977 occurred while the series was still a solid hit on NBC. 

2. PETER FALK WAS AN UNEXPECTED SEX SYMBOL.

Peter Falk in 'Columbo'
Universal Pictures Home Entertainment

Character actor Lee J. Cobb was also considered for the role, until Peter Falk phoned co-creator William Link. Falk had gotten a copy of the script from his agents at William Morris and told Link that he’d “kill to play that cop.” Link and Levinson knew the actor back from their days of working in New York, and even though he was the opposite of everything they’d originally pictured for Lt. Columbo, they had to admit that Falk had a certain likeability that translated to both men and women. Falk was described by a certain female demographic as “sexy,” and males liked him because he was an unthreatening, humble, blue-collar underdog who was smarter than the wealthy perps he encountered.

3. FALK WAS A GOVERNMENT WORKER BEFORE BECOMING AN ACTOR.

Peter Falk wasn’t too far removed from the character he played. In real life he tended to be rumpled and disheveled and was forever misplacing things (he was famous for losing his car keys and having to be driven home from the studio by someone else). He was also intelligent, having earned a master’s degree in Public Administration from Syracuse University, which led to him working for the State of Connecticut’s Budget Bureau as an efficiency expert until the acting bug bit him. He was also used to being underestimated due to his appearance; he’d lost his right eye to cancer at age three, and many of his drama teachers in college warned him of his limited chances in film due to his cockeyed stare. Indeed, after a screen test at Columbia Pictures Harry Cohn dismissed him by saying, “For the same price I can get an actor with two eyes.”

4. COLUMBO'S DOG WASN'T A WELCOME SIGHT AT FIRST.

Columbo's dog
Universal Pictures Home Entertainment

When Columbo was renewed for a second season, NBC brass had a request: they wanted the lieutenant to have a sidekick. Perhaps a young rookie detective just learning the ropes. Link and Levinson were resistant to the idea, but the network was pressuring them. They conferred with Steven Bochco, who was writing the script for the season opener, “Etude in Black,” and together they hatched the idea of giving Lt. Columbo a dog as a “partner.” Falk was against the idea at first; he felt that between the raincoat, cigar, and Peugeot his character had enough gimmicks. But when he met the lethargic, drooling Basset Hound that had been plucked from a pound, Falk knew it was perfect for Columbo's dog.

The original dog passed away in between the end of the original NBC run of the series and its renewal on ABC, so a replacement was necessary. The new pup was visibly younger than the original dog, and as a result spent more time in the makeup chair to make him look older.

5. FALK'S REAL-LIFE WIFE PLAYED A ROLE IN THE SERIES.

Falk first met Shera Danese, the woman who would become his second wife, on the set of his 1976 film Mikey & Nicky. The movie was being filmed in Danese’s hometown of Philadelphia, and the aspiring actress had landed work as an extra. They were married in 1977, and she was able to pad out her resume by appearing on several episodes of Columbo. Her first few appearances were limited to small walk-on parts—secretaries, sexy assistants, etc. By the time the series was resurrected on ABC in the early 1990s, she was awarded larger roles.

She originally auditioned for the role of the titular rock star in 1991’s “Columbo and the Murder of a Rock Star,” but her husband adamantly refused, since the role included a scene of her in bed making love to a much younger man. She instead played the role of a co-conspiring attorney, and was also allowed to sing the song that was the major hit for the murdered star.

6. THE CHARACTER'S TRADEMARK RAINCOAT CAME FROM FALK'S CLOSET.

The initial wardrobe proposed for Columbo struck Peter Falk as completely wrong for the character. To get closer to what he wanted for Columbo, the actor went into his closet and found a beat-up coat he had bought years earlier when caught in a rainstorm on 57th Street. And he ordered one of the blue suits chosen for him to be dyed brown. The drab outfit would become one of the trademarks of the character for decades.

7. STEVEN SPIELBERG GOT AN EARLY BREAK ON COLUMBO.

“Murder by the Book” was the second Columbo episode filmed, but it was the first one to air after the show was picked up as a series. Filming was delayed for a month, though, when Falk refused to sign off on this “kid”—a 25-year-old named Steven Spielberg—to direct the episode. Finally he watched a few of Spielberg’s previous credits (all of them TV episodes) and was impressed by his work on the short-lived NBC series called The Psychiatrist. Once filming was underway, Falk was impressed by many of the techniques employed by the young director, such as filming a street scene with a long lens from a building across the road. “That wasn’t common 20 years ago,” Falk said. He went on to tell producers Link and Levinson that “this guy is too good for Columbo."

8. COLUMBO'S FIRST NAME WOUND UP THE SUBJECT OF A LAWSUIT.

Fred L. Worth, author of several books of trivia facts, had a sneaking feeling that other folks were using his meticulously researched facts without crediting him. He set a “copyright trap” and mentioned in one of his books that Lt. Columbo’s first name was “Philip,” although he had completely fabricated that so-called fact. Sure enough, a 1984 edition of the Trivial Pursuit board game listed the “Philip” Columbo name as an answer on one of their cards, which led to a $300 million lawsuit filed by Mr. Worth.

The board game creators admitted in court that they’d garnered their Columbo fact from Worth’s book, but the judge ultimately determined that it was not an actionable offense. By the way, years later when Columbo was available in syndicated reruns and HD TV was an option, alert viewers were able to freeze-frame a scene where the rumpled lieutenant extended his badge for identification purposes in the season one episode “Dead Weight” and determine that his first name was, in fact, “Frank.”

9. THE SERIES DIDN'T FOLLOW A STANDARD MYSTERY FORMAT.

The premise of Columbo was the “inverted mystery,” or a “HowCatchEm” instead of a “WhoDunIt.” Every episode began with the actual crime being played out in full view of the audience, meaning viewers already knew “WhodunIt.” What they wanted to know is how Lt. Columbo would slowly zero in on the perpetrator. This sort of story was particularly challenging for the series’s writers, and they sometimes found inspiration in the most unlikely places. Like the Yellow Pages, for example. One of Peter Falk’s personal favorite episodes, “Now You See Him,” had its genesis when the writers were flipping through the telephone book looking for a possible profession for a Columbo murderer (keep in mind that all of Columbo’s victims and perps were of the Beverly Hills elite variety, not your typical Starsky and Hutch-type thug).

A page listing professional magicians caught their eye, and that led to a classic episode featuring the ever-suave Jack Cassidy playing the role of the former SS Nazi officer who worked as a nightclub magician. When the Jewish nightclub owner recognized him and threatened to expose him, well, you can guess what happened. But the challenge is to guess how Lt. Columbo ultimately caught him. 

10. THERE WAS A SPINOFF THAT KIND OF WAS BUT THEN WASN'T.

The 1979 TV series entitled Mrs. Columbo was not technically related to the original Peter Falk series. In fact, Levinson and Link opposed the entire concept of the series; it was NBC honcho Fred Silverman who gave the OK to use the Columbo name and imply that Kate Mulgrew was the widowed/divorced wife (the series changed names and backstories several times during its short run) of the famed homicide detective. The “real” Mrs. Columbo was never mentioned by her first name during the original series, but actor Peter Falk possibly slipped and revealed that her name was “Rose” when he appeared at this Dean Martin Roast saluting Frank Sinatra and asked for an autograph.

12 Savory Facts About Bacon

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iStock

Bacon is everywhere these days. You can find it in ice cream, coffee, cupcakes, and chewing gum. There are bacon-scented candles, bacon lip balm, and even a bacon deodorant. With bacon saturating every corner of the market, it’s worth looking at the origins of this smoky, salty food and how it became so wildly popular. In honor of National Bacon Lovers Day, here are a few facts to whet your appetite.

1. IT DATES BACK TO 1500 BCE.

The Chinese were the first to cook salted pork bellies more than 3000 years ago. This makes bacon one of the world’s oldest processed meats.

2. ROMANS CALLED IT "PETASO."

Bacon eventually migrated westward, where it became a dish worthy of modern-day foodies. The Romans made petaso, as they called it, by boiling salted pig shoulder with figs, and then seasoning the mixture with pepper sauce. Wine was, of course, a frequent accompaniment.

3. THE WORD REFERS TO THE "BACK" OF A PIG.


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The word bacon comes from the Germanic root “-bak,” and refers to the back of the pig that supplied the meat. Bakko became the French bacco, which the English then adopted around the 12th century, naming the dish bacoun. Back then, the term referred to any pork product, but by the 14th century bacoun referred specifically to the cured meat.

4. THE FIRST BACON FACTORY OPENED IN 1770.

For generations, local farmers and butchers made bacon for their local communities. In England, where it became a dietary staple, bacon was typically "dry cured" with salt and then smoked. In the late 18th century, a businessman named John Harris opened the first bacon processing plant in the county of Wiltshire, where he developed a special brining solution for finishing the meat. The "Wiltshire Cure" method is still used today, and is a favorite of bacon lovers who prefer a sweeter, less salty taste.

5. "BRINGING HOME THE BACON" GOES BACK CENTURIES.

These days the phrase refers to making money, but its origins have nothing to do with income. In 12th century England, churches would award a "flitch," or a side, of bacon to any married man who swore before God that he and his wife had not argued for a year and a day. Men who "brought home the bacon" were seen as exemplary citizens and husbands.

6. IT HELPED MAKE EXPLOSIVES DURING WORLD WAR II.

In addition to planting victory gardens and buying war bonds, households were encouraged to donate their leftover bacon grease to the war effort. Rendered fats created glycerin, which in turn created bombs, gunpowder, and other munitions. A promotional film starring Minnie Mouse and Pluto chided housewives for throwing out more than 2 billion pounds of grease every year; "That’s enough glycerin for 10 billion rapid-fire cannon shells."

7. HARDEE’S FRISCO BURGER WAS A GAME CHANGER FOR BACON.

Bacon took a beating in the 1980s, when dieting trends took aim at saturated fats and cholesterol. By the '90s, though, Americans were ready to indulge again. Hardee’s Frisco Burger, one of the first fast-food burgers served with bacon, came out in 1992 and was a hit. It revived bacon as an ingredient, and convinced other fast-food companies to bacon-ize their burgers. Bloomberg called it "a momentous event for fast food, and bacon’s fate, in America."

8. THE AVERAGE AMERICAN CONSUMES 18 POUNDS OF BACON EACH YEAR.

Savory, salty, and appropriately retro: The past couple years have been a bonanza for bacon, with more than three quarters of restaurants now serving bacon dishes, and everything from candy canes to gumballs now flavored with bacon. Recent reports linking processed meats to increased cancer risk have put a dent in consumption, and may have a prolonged effect. But for now, America’s love affair with bacon continues.

9. THERE’S A CHURCH OF BACON.

This officially sanctioned church boasts 13,000 members under the commandment "Praise Bacon." It’s more a rallying point for atheists and skeptics than for bacon lovers, per se, and there’s no official location as of yet. But the church does perform wedding ceremonies and fundraisers, and has raised thousands of dollars for charity. All bacon praise is welcome, even if you're partial to vegetarian or turkey bacon over the traditional pork. Hallelujah!

10. THERE'S ALSO A BACON CAMP.


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It’s like summer camp, but with less canoeing and more bacon cooking. Held every year in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Camp Bacon features speakers, cooking classes, and other bacon-related activities for chefs and enthusiasts eager to learn more about their favorite food.

11. MODERN TECHNOLOGY WANTS TO HELP YOU WAKE UP AND SMELL BACON.

An ingenious combination of toaster and alarm clock, the Wake 'n Bacon made waves a few years back with the promise of waking up to fresh-cooked bacon. Sadly, the product never made it past the prototype phase, but those intent on rising to that smoky, savory aroma were able to pick up Oscar Mayer’s special app, which came with a scent-emitting attachment.

12. THERE’S A BACON SCULPTURE OF KEVIN BACON.

It had to happen eventually. Artist Mike Lahue used seven bottles of bacon bits, lots of glue, and five coats of lacquer to create a bust of the Footloose star, which sold at auction a few years back. No word on how well the bacon bit Bacon bust has held up.

This article originally ran in 2016.

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