The Original Locations of 30 Famous Food Chains

Fensterbme/Wikimedia Commons

Ever wonder where your favorite fast food chain first popped up? Look no further.

1. McDonald’s (1398 North E Street, San Bernardino, California)

In 1940, Maurice and Richard McDonald moved their father’s food stand “The Airdrome” from Monrovia to San Bernardino and renamed it “McDonald’s Bar-B-Q.” It functioned as a carhop drive-in until 1948, when the brothers restructured the business to focus on burgers and fries and changed the name to “McDonald’s.” While the North E Street location is no longer a functioning Mickey Ds, the building’s current owner, Juan Pollo Restaurants, utilizes the space as both their corporate headquarters and an unofficial McDonald’s Museum. The oldest operating McDonald’s restaurant is in Downey, California.

2. Pizza Hut (503 South Bluff St, Wichita, Kansas)

Sanjay Acharya/Wikimedia Commons

The first Pizza Hut was opened in 1958 by brothers Dan and Frank Carney in their hometown of Wichita, Kansas. The two knew they wanted to have “Pizza” in their new establishment’s name, but didn’t decide on “Hut” until they discovered the building’s sign only had room for nine letters and that the structure itself looked like a hut. In 1986, the original hut was moved to the campus of Wichita State University—the Carney brothers' alma mater—where it is used by the International Business Student Association as a meeting place.

3. T.G.I. Friday’s (1152 1st Ave, New York, New York)

Looking for a place to meet people—especially the eligible women he noticed in his Manhattan neighborhood—Alan Stillman took the initiative and founded a bar and restaurant. Before it opened in 1965, “singles bars" were a rarity. Friday’s is even credited as being one of the first bars to use “ladies night” as a promotion. The original T.G.I. Friday’s closed in 1994 and is now Baker Street Pub & Grill.

4. Waffle House (2719 East College Avenue, Decatur, Georgia)

Joe Rogers Sr. and Tom Forkner opened the first Waffle House in 1955 and remain involved with the company to this day. The original location is now the Waffle House Museum, where you can make your own waffles in its unchanged interior.

5. Dunkin’ Donuts (543 Southern Artery, Quincy, Massachusetts)

Victorgrigas/Wikimedia Commons

Before America was running on Dunkin’, it was a simple donut shop on Southern Artery—yes, like the heart—in Quincy, Massachusetts. The location opened in 1948 under the name Open Kettle, then a year later it became Kettle Donuts, then a year after that it finally became Dunkin’ Donuts. While the building has been remodeled over the years, it still maintains the original aesthetic.

6. Starbucks (2000 Western Ave, Seattle, Washington)

Postdlf/Wikimedia Commons

The original Starbucks store began selling coffee beans and equipment from its 2000 Western Ave location in 1971, but by 1976, their building was to be demolished and they had to find a new place. In 1977, they opened the “1st and Pike” cafe, located at the mouth of the historic Pike Place Market, and the rest is highly-caffeinated history.

7. Chipotle Mexican Grill (1644 E Evans Ave, Denver, Colorado)

When founder Steve Ells opened the first Chipotle Mexican Grill just down the road from the University of Denver, he and his father figured that it would have to sell 107 burritos a day to be profitable. In a month’s time, the store was selling over ten times that amount. You can still get a Chipotle burrito from its original location.

8. Nathan’s Famous (1310 Surf Ave, Brooklyn, New York)

Wikimedia Commons

What began as a Coney Island hot dog stand in 1916 ... remains a Coney Island hot dog stand. Sure, in the years since Polish immigrant Nathan Handwerker used his life’s savings of $300 to begin selling franks made with his wife Ida’s recipe to hungry Brooklynites, Nathan’s Famous has become a national chain with over 40,000 outlets. But for the Surf Avenue stand, little has changed in its physical appearance (which probably can't be said about most of those training for Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest, an annual competition held at the original location).

9. Wendy’s (257 E Broad St, Columbus, Ohio)

Fensterbme/Wikimedia Commons

Though Wendy’s closed its original restaurant in 2007, the spirit of the company’s first restaurant still lives on—in their flagship store in Dublin, Ohio, which boasts an entire “community room” full of company history and memorabilia. Some historians, such as Yelp user Jeffrey H., still found the original location’s shutdown to be tragic, calling the day it closed its doors “one of America’s darkest.”

10. Hooters (2800 Gulf-to-Bay Blvd, Clearwater, Florida)

Original Hooters

In 1983, six businessmen got together and changed the face (ahem) of chain restaurant history when they opened a “delightfully tacky, yet unrefined” dining establishment by the name of Hooters. Thanks to the “Hooters Six”—as they are referred to in the “Saga” section of the restaurant’s website—never again would someone have to suffer through ordering food and beverages from a person wearing actual pants. While it has been subject to extensive remodeling projects, the original Hooters is still home to their trademark hospitality, wings, and weird uncle smell.

11. Blimpie (110 Washington St, Hoboken, New Jersey)

Hoboken Sandwich

In 1964, three former high school classmates opened up the first Blimpie sandwich shop in Hoboken, New Jersey. One of the founders, Tony Conza, came up with the name after searching the dictionary for an alternative to sub and hoagie and coming across the word blimp, which he felt would sound enough like a sandwich with “ie” at the end of it. The original Blimpie is still functioning, so come on down—and, for the love of all that is piled on top of a hero, don’t mention Jared.

12. Taco Bell (7112 Firestone Blvd, Downey, California)

Downey Daily

The building that was once the very first Taco Bell is now home to an unaffiliated Mexican takeout place, but if you “Yo quiero Taco Bell” and only Taco Bell, don’t worry—there’s one right across the street. There aren’t many places where one can enjoy a Fourth Meal and admire history at the same time.

13. Burger King (7146 Beach Blvd, Jacksonville, Florida)

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Originally called Insta-Burger, the first Burger King was founded by Keith J. Kramer and his wife’s uncle-in-law Matthew Burns in Jacksonville, Florida. With the help of their “Insta-Broilers”— ovens capable of cooking 400 burgers per hour—the two went on to open multiple Insta-Burger restaurants and become a franchise. In 1959, Kramer and Burns sold the company to Insta-Burger franchisees James McLamore and David R. Edgerton, who changed the name to Burger King. A place called Stan’s Sandwich now operates out of the original location.

14. Sbarro’s (1701 65th St, Brooklyn, New York)

It may be difficult to imagine a Sbarro’s that isn’t steps away from a Spencer’s Gifts, but the pizza chain began as a salumeria (or Italian grocery store) in the Bensonhurst neighborhood of Brooklyn in 1956. The original Sbarro’s, where Gennaro and “Mama” Carmela set up shop after emigrating from Naples, is now a Japanese restaurant. You can still put the old adage about there being no such thing as bad pizza to the test at Kings Plaza Shopping Center, where they opened their first mall-based location in 1970.

15. White Castle (NW corner of First and Main St, Wichita, Kansas)

Where the first White Castle opened in 1921 now stands a multi-tiered parking garage. Today, the closest place to that original location to grab a case of sliders is all the way in St. Louis. Though seemingly content with depriving the people of Kansas, White Castle didn't forget where it came from: In 2011, the company celebrated its 90th birthday by making a special one-day only return to Wichita to grill up burgers as a fundraiser for the Kansas Food Bank.

16. Sonic (215 N Main St — Stillwater, Oklahoma)

After discovering that his burger joint’s name was already trademarked, Top Hat Drive-In owner Troy N. Smith Sr. renamed his Oklahoma chain "Sonic Drive-In" in 1959. Though it was not the original Top Hat location, the first Sonic sign arrived at the Stillwater restaurant and that’s where it remains today. The service might not actually be “with the speed of sound,” as the sign states, but you can drown that disappointment in half-price drinks and slushes from 2 to 4 PM each day.

17. Kentucky Fried Chicken (3890 S. State Street — Salt Lake City, Utah)

Wikimedia Commons

Colonel Harland Sanders began selling fried chicken made with his secret recipe from a roadside restaurant in Corbin, Kentucky during the Great Depression. It wasn’t until 1952, however, that Sanders opened the first Kentucky Fried Chicken in Utah. The Salt Lake City location is still a KFC and boasts a display showcasing one of the Colonel’s trademark white suits and a statue of him and Dave Thomas, an early franchise owner who came up with the “rotating bucket” sign (and founded his own fast food chain, Wendy’s).

18. Panda Express (3214 Glendale Galleria — Glendale, California)

Hawaiian location via Wikimedia Commons

In 1973, Chinese immigrants Andrew Cherng and his father Ming Tsai Cherng opened the Panda Inn restaurant in Pasadena, California. After ten years of providing the Los Angeles area with upscale sit-down meals, management for the Glendale Galleria asked the Cherngs to consider creating a fast-food version of their restaurant. They agreed, and now no trip to the mall is complete without a delicious free sample of unidentifiable goodness.

19. Subway (North End — Bridgeport, Connecticut)

Looking for a way to pay for college, 17-year-old Fred DeLuca borrowed $1000 from Dr. Peter Buck and opened Pete’s Super Submarines in Bridgeport, Connecticut. By 1968, just three years after the restaurant’s inception, the two added four shops and shortened the name to Subway. DeLuca never became the doctor he set out to be, but he did receive an honorary doctorate from the University of Bridgeport in 2002. The original Subway is no longer there, but those looking to “Eat Fresh” have over 40,000 other locations to choose from.

20. Little Caesars (32594 Cherry Hill Rd — Garden City, Michigan)

Yelp

In 1959, brothers Mike and Marshall Ilitch opened the first Little Caesars in a Garden City, Michigan strip mall. Mike wanted to call it "Pizza Cheap," but Marshall (and good sense) won out with Little Caesar’s Pizza Treat. While the name was shortened, the demand for their “Pizza! Pizza!” has stayed strong. In 2008, Little Caesars filled an order from the VF Corporation for 13,386 pizzas. You can still pick up a “Hot-n-Ready” ‘za from the original location, but as one Yelp-user remarked, “It should be ‘hot and ready in 8 minutes.’" Et tu, Dave K?

21. Jamba Juice (17 Chorro Street, Suite C — San Luis Obispo, California)

Yelp

Jamba Juice began as Juice Club in 1990 when Kirk Perron opened his first storefront in San Luis Obispo, California. In 1995, the name was changed to Jamba Juice and four years later the company went national with its acquisition of Zuka Juice, Inc. The first Jamba Juice is still up and running, in case you feel like a smoothie and some history next time you’re in San Luis Obispo.

22. In-N-Out (The intersection of Interstate 10 and Francisquito Avenue — Baldwin Park, California)

Wikimedia Commons

The first In-N-Out was built in 1948 when Harry and Esther Snyder set out to "Give customers the freshest, highest quality foods you can buy and provide them with friendly service in a sparkling clean environment." The original location was demolished so Interstate 10 could be built, so you'll have to get your "animal style" fix at another location.

23. Tim Hortons (65 Ottawa Street N. — Hamilton, Ontario, Canada)

Google Maps

The first Tim Hortons was founded under the name Tim Horton Donuts in 1964. The owner, a professional hockey player, was a member of the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs. Despite being an active athlete, Horton was able to juggle both careers thanks to his business partner Ron Joyce, a former Hamilton police constable. Tim Horton Donuts was eventually shortened to "Tim Horton's," which was eventually further truncated to "Tim Hortons" to maintain uniformity in the name of all their locations while also complying with the language laws of Quebec. The original location still operates as a Tim Hortons, but Ottawa Street N is now honorarily named "Tim Hortons Way." Also: Tim Horton originally sold hamburgers.

24. Five Guys (3235 Columbia Pike — Arlington, Va)

Later Virginia location, via Wikimedia Commons

In 1986, Jerry and Janie Murrell, along with four other guys (their sons), founded Five Guys. The couple had advised the boys to “start a business or go to college.” The first restaurant was located in the Westmont Shopping Center—which was also home to Brenner’s Bakery, where the Murrells originally got their rolls. Five Guys no longer calls the Arlington, Virginia shopping center home, but they maintain a strong presence in Northern Virginia, where the first five Five Guys were opened.

25. Dairy Queen (501 N. Chicago Street — Joliet, Illinois)

Two years after they invented the revolutionary formula for soft-serve ice cream in 1938, father and son duo John Fremont “Grandpa” and Bradley McCullough opened the very first Dairy Queen along with a former customer, Sheb Noble. The three knew they were onto something when the ice cream store sold over 1600 servings of the McCullough’s new treat in just two hours.

26. Jack In The Box (6270 El Cajon Boulevard — San Diego, California)

Jack in the Box

Robert O. Peterson opened the first Jack in the Box in 1951 when he converted his existing drive-in restaurant into a drive-thru. With its two-way intercom and pickup window, Jack in the Box made fast food even faster. Where the first Jack in the Box once stood is now Platt College San Diego. The private for-profit college does not have a mascot or an athletic program to go with it, but perhaps they can adopt the terrifying clown that once sat atop the location.

27. Benihana (47 W. 56th Street — New York, New York)

Wikimedia Commons 

In 1964, 25-year-old Hiroaki “Rocky” Aoki took the money he made driving an ice cream truck in Harlem and opened the first Benihana. New Yorkers were initially wary of dining at the hibachi restaurant, but after it received positive reviews, people were much more open to the idea of sitting near a hot surface with strangers while their chef threw their food around. The Beatles, Muhammad Ali, and other notables have dined at the original location, which is still in business today.

28. Carrabba’s Italian Grill (3115 Kirby Drive — Houston, Texas)

Google Maps

Johnny Carrabba and his uncle Damian Mandola opened the first Carrabba’s Italian Grill in 1986. As they claim on their website, they’re not real chefs, but rather “real eaters,” and their restaurant was such a success that another location opened in Houston soon after. By 1993, Carrabba and Mandola were in a joint venture with Outback Steakhouse, Inc. (now Bloomin’ Brands) and two years after that, Outback Steakhouse, Inc. purchased the rights to develop the chain nationwide. The first (and second) Carrabba’s are still owned and operated by the Carrabba family.

29. Chick-fil-A (2841 Greenbriar Parkway SW — Atlanta, Georgia)

Yelp

The first Chick-fil-A opened in Atlanta’s Greenbriar Mall in 1967, six years after S. Truett Cathy, the chain’s Chairman and CEO, invented the chicken sandwich while working at Dwarf House, his Hapeville, Georgia restaurant. At first, Cathy referred to his burger alternative as a “chicken steak” sandwich, but ended up replacing “steak” with “fillet,” a word he found more appealing. Both the original Chick-fil-A and Dwarf House restaurants are still open for business—unless, of course, it’s a Sunday.

30. Fuddruckers (8602 Botts Lane — San Antonio, Texas)

Google Maps

Philip J. Romano—the father of Romano’s Macaroni Grill—founded Fuddruckers in 1979 because he believed, “the world needed a better hamburger.” The restaurant began as Freddie Fuddruckers, and it opened in a former bank.

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18 Smart Products To Help You Kick Off Summer
iStock
iStock

Whether you’re trying to spiff up your backyard barbeque or cultivate your green thumb, these summertime gadgets will help you celebrate the season from solstice to the dog days.

1. ROSÉ WINE GLASSES; $60

Rosé Wine Glass
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: Wine not? When the temperature rises and beer isn’t your thing, reach for the rosé. Riedel’s machine-blown SST (see, smell, taste) wine glasses will give the sparkly stuff ample room to breathe, making every refreshing sip worthwhile.

Find It: Amazon

2. NERF N-STRIKE ELITE SURGEFIRE; $25

Nerf SurgeFire
Hasbro

Why It’s Cool: The N-Strike Elite SurgeFire (say that five-times-fast) sports a pump-action rotating drum for maximum foam-based firepower and holds up to 15 Nerf darts in its arsenal.

Find It: Hasbro Toy Shop

3. BUSHEL & BERRY PLANTS; $34

plant
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: You don’t need to have a green thumb to create a brag-worthy garden this summer. Besides producing snackable mid-season berries, these open-growing bushes can be planted immediately for easy set-up to make you look like a botanical pro.

Find It: Amazon

4. INFLATABLE DONUT; $17

Doughnut float
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: When the only dunking you’re doing is taking a dip in the pool, a 48-inch inflatable donut is the perfect way to stay afloat.

Find It: Amazon

5. STAR SPANGLED SPATULA; $21

American flag spatula
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: O say can you see by your grill’s charcoal light / Meats so proudly we cooked ... with a star spangled spatula. Depending on the specific model, these all-American grilling tools (designed in New Jersey and made in Chicago) are made of a combination of walnut and stainless steel or nylon. As an added bonus: 5 percent of the proceeds go to the Penn Abramson Cancer Center.

Find It: Amazon

6. MLB HOT DOG BRANDERS; $8 AND UP

MLB San Diego Padres Hot Dog BBQ Brander
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: Take your hot dogs, sausages, brats, and more out to the ballgame without ever leaving your grill. These branders from Pangea Brands are dishwasher-safe and made of ceramic-coated cast iron.

Find It: Amazon

7. UNA GRILL; $139

grill
MoMA Shop

Why It’s Cool: This portable charcoal-heated grill is as efficient as it is stylish. The compact size lets you cook at the park, after hitting up MoMA, or anywhere in between.

Find It: MoMa Shop

8. HAMBURGER GRILLING BASKET; $21


Why It’s Cool: Made of steel and finished with a non-stick coating, this grilling tool flips four burgers at once and maintains perfect burger proportions to guarantee nobody stays hungry for long.

Find It: Amazon

9. COPPER FIRE PIT; $121

metal fire pit
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: The grill isn’t the only place for a roaring fire this summer. This 100 percent solid copper fire pit makes for the perfect gathering spot at your next BBQ, or just to warm up after a cool summer evening.

Find It: Amazon

10. BENDY STRAW POOL NOODLE FLOAT; $10

Bendy Straw Inflatable Pool Float
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: Inflatable pool floats shouldn’t be boring, and this bendy straw float definitely does not suck. This unique spin on traditional pool noodles is sure to make for some cheesy jokes, but at least you’ll be comfortable floating in the pool or at the beach.

Find It: Amazon

11. GRIDDLER DELUXE; $111

Cuisinart GR-150 Griddler Deluxe
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: If you’re looking for some serious panini power, this griddler offers up a versatile lineup of six cooking options in one. And with dual-zone functions you can sling burgers while searing filets and sautéeing vegetables all at the same time.

Find It: Amazon

12. VINTAGE SNOW CONE MAKER; $30

Vintage Snow Cone Maker
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: With its old-timey design, dual cone shelf, and endless flavor options, this snow cone maker is guaranteed create a cool treat.

Find It: Amazon

13. DACHSHUND CORN ON THE COB HOLDERS; $7

Dog Corn Holders
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: While meat-lovers will inevitably scarf down a lot of hot dogs this summer, vegetarians who happen to love another kind of dog will be smitten with these stainless steel, Dachshund-shaped corn on the cob prongs. They’re a fun spin on a summer grilling favorite.

Find It: Amazon

14. ICE CREAM SANDWICH MAKER; $16

Ice Cream Sandwich Maker
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: Four sandwiches are better than one, especially when they're of the ice cream variety. Make four ice cream sandwiches at once with this homemade spin on a classic cold treat.

Find It: Amazon

15. UE WONDERBOOM; $68

Bluetooth speaker
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: Besides delicious food and great company, some memorable tunes are required for the quintessential barbeque. This portable bluetooth speaker offers up some booming sound in a small package, and with a battery power of 10 hours on a single charge you can keep the party going all night.

Find It: Amazon

16. ROLLORS GAME; $38

Rollors Backyard Game
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: When you’re sick of bocce, hate horseshoes, and you’re over cornhole, you might want to take up “rollors,” a family-friendly game that combines your favorite traditional backyard festivities into one game for people of all ages.

Find It: Amazon

17. HAMMOCK; $174

hammock
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: Rest easy knowing that this 100 percent hand-woven and hand-dyed cotton hammock contributes to artisan job-creation in Thailand.

Find It: Amazon

18. VSSL SURVIVAL ESSENTIALS; $59

Emergency Survival Tent Outdoors
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: Compact, convenient, and durable, the VSSL Shelter can come in handy when things don’t go quite as planned. The device—which features a lightweight emergency shelter all within the handle of a compact, weather-resistant aluminum LED flashlight—is designed to keep you safe under the worst conditions.

Find It: Amazon

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Illustration by Mental Floss. Image: Rischgitz, Getty Images
11 Things You Might Not Know About Johann Sebastian Bach
Illustration by Mental Floss. Image: Rischgitz, Getty Images
Illustration by Mental Floss. Image: Rischgitz, Getty Images

Johann Sebastian Bach is everywhere. Weddings? Bach. Haunted houses? Bach. Church? Bach. Shredding electric guitar solos? Look, it’s Bach! The Baroque composer produced more than 1100 works, from liturgical organ pieces to secular cantatas for orchestra, and his ideas about musical form and harmony continue to influence generations of music-makers. Here are 11 things you might not know about the man behind the music.

1. PEOPLE DISAGREE ABOUT WHEN TO CELEBRATE HIS BIRTHDAY.

Some people celebrate Bach’s birthday on March 21. Other people light the candles on March 31. The correct date depends on whom you ask. Bach was born in Thuringia in 1685, when the German state was still observing the Julian calendar. Today, we use the Gregorian calendar, which shifted the dates by 11 days. And while most biographies opt for the March 31 date, Bach scholar Christopher Wolff firmly roots for Team 21. “True, his life was actually 11 days longer because Protestant Germany adopted the Gregorian calendar in 1700,” he told Classical MPR, “but with the legal stipulation that all dates prior to Dec. 31, 1699, remain valid.”

2. HE WAS THE CENTER OF A MUSICAL DYNASTY.

Bach’s great-grandfather was a piper. His grandfather was a court musician. His father was a violinist, organist, court trumpeter, and kettledrum player. At least two of his uncles were composers. He had five brothers—all named Johann—and the three who lived to adulthood became musicians. J.S. Bach also had 20 children, and, of those who lived past childhood, at least five became professional composers. According to the Nekrolog, an obituary written by Bach’s son Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, "[S]tarting with Veit Bach, the founding father of this family, all his descendants, down to the seventh generation, have dedicated themselves to the profession of music, with only a few exceptions."

3. BACH TOOK A MUSICAL PILGRIMAGE THAT PUTS EVERY ROAD TRIP TO WOODSTOCK TO SHAME.

In 1705, 20-year-old Bach walked 280 miles—that's right, walked—from the city of Arnstadt to Lübeck in northern Germany to hear a concert by the influential organist and composer Dieterich Buxtehude. He stuck around for four months to study with the musician [PDF]. Bach hoped to succeed Buxtehude as the organist of Lübeck's St. Mary's Church, but marriage to one of Buxtehude's daughters was a prerequisite to taking over the job. Bach declined, and walked back home.

4. HE BRAWLED WITH HIS STUDENTS.

One of Bach’s first jobs was as a church organist in Arnstadt. When he signed up for the role, nobody told him he also had to teach a student choir and orchestra, a responsibility Bach hated. Not one to mince words, Bach one day lost patience with a error-prone bassoonist, Johann Geyersbach, and called him a zippelfagottist—that is, a “nanny-goat bassoonist.” Those were fighting words. Days later, Geyersbach attacked Bach with a walking stick. Bach pulled a dagger. The rumble escalated into a full-blown scrum that required the two be pulled apart.

5. BACH SPENT 30 DAYS IN JAIL FOR QUITTING HIS JOB.

When Bach took a job in 1708 as a chamber musician in the court of the Duke of Saxe-Weimar, he once again assumed a slew of responsibilities that he never signed up for. This time, he took it in stride, believing his hard work would lead to his promotion to kapellmeister (music director). But after five years, the top job was handed to the former kapellmeister’s son. Furious, Bach resigned and joined a rival court. As retribution, the duke jailed him for four weeks. Bach spent his time in the slammer writing preludes for organ.

6. THE BRANDENBURG CONCERTOS WERE A FAILED JOB APPLICATION.

Around 1721, Bach was the head of court music for Prince Leopold of Anhalt-Köthen. Unfortunately, the composer reportedly didn’t get along with the prince’s new wife, and he started looking for a new gig. (Notice a pattern?) Bach polished some manuscripts that had been sitting around and mailed them to a potential employer, Christian Ludwig, the Margrave of Brandenburg. That package, which included the Brandenburg Concertos—now considered some of the most important orchestral compositions of the Baroque era—failed to get Bach the job [PDF].

7. HE WROTE ONE OF THE WORLD'S GREATEST COFFEE JINGLES.

Bach apparently loved coffee enough to write a song about it: "Schweigt stille, plaudert nicht" ("Be still, stop chattering"). Performed in 1735 at Zimmerman’s coffee house in Leipzig, the song is about a coffee-obsessed woman whose father wants her to stop drinking the caffeinated stuff. She rebels and sings this stanza:

Ah! How sweet coffee tastes
More delicious than a thousand kisses
Milder than muscatel wine.
Coffee, I have to have coffee,
And, if someone wants to pamper me,
Ah, then bring me coffee as a gift!

8. IF BACH CHALLENGED YOU TO A KEYBOARD DUEL, YOU WERE GUARANTEED TO BE EMBARRASSED.

In 1717, Louis Marchand, a harpsichordist from France, was invited to play for Augustus, Elector of Saxony, and performed so well that he was offered a position playing for the court. This annoyed the court’s concertmaster, who found Marchand arrogant and insufferable. To scare the French harpsichordist away, the concertmaster hatched a plan with his friend, J.S. Bach: a keyboard duel. Bach and Marchand would improvise over a number of different styles, and the winner would take home 500 talers. But when Marchand learned just how talented Bach was, he hightailed it out of town.

9. SOME OF HIS MUSIC MAY HAVE BEEN COMPOSED TO HELP INSOMNIA.

Some people are ashamed to admit that classical music, especially the Baroque style, makes them sleepy. Be ashamed no more! According to Bach’s earliest biographer, the Goldberg Variations were composed to help Count Hermann Karl von Keyserling overcome insomnia. (This story, to be fair, is disputed.) Whatever the truth, it hasn’t stopped the Andersson Dance troupe from presenting a fantastic Goldberg-based tour of performances called “Ternary Patterns for Insomnia.” Sleep researchers have also suggested studying the tunes’ effects on sleeplessness [PDF].

10. HE WAS BLINDED BY BOTCHED EYE SURGERY.

When Bach was 65, he had eye surgery. The “couching” procedure, which was performed by a traveling surgeon named John Taylor, involved shoving the cataract deep into the eye with a blunt instrument. Post-op, Taylor gave the composer eye drops that contained pigeon blood, mercury, and pulverized sugar. It didn’t work. Bach went blind and died shortly after. Meanwhile, Taylor moved on to botch more musical surgeries. He would perform the same procedure on the composer George Frideric Handel, who also went blind.

11. NOBODY IS 100 PERCENT CONFIDENT THAT BACH IS BURIED IN HIS GRAVE.

In 1894, the pastor of St. John’s Church in Leipzig wanted to move the composer’s body out of the church graveyard to a more dignified setting. There was one small problem: Bach had been buried in an unmarked grave, as was common for regular folks at the time. According to craniologist Wilhelm His, a dig crew tried its best to find the composer but instead found “heaps of bones, some in many layers lying on top of each other, some mixed in with the remains of coffins, others already smashed by the hacking of the diggers.” The team later claimed to find Bach’s box, but there’s doubt they found the right (de)composer. Today, Bach supposedly resides in Leipzig’s St. Thomas Church.

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