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9 Sweet Facts for Sour Patch Kids Day

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Who needs dental enamel? Today is Sour Patch Kids Day! The sour, sweet, vaguely human shaped candy is experiencing an unprecedented surge in popularity, with nearly 4 million Facebook “likes” for its fan page and steadily increasing sales.

To celebrate the faux-holiday, 7-Eleven is offering free SPK-flavored Slurpees; we’re offering 9 facts about the candy, its origins, and whether there’s an ideal serving temperature.

1. They Started Out as Martians.  

When Canadian candy conglomerate Jaret International created Sour Patch Kids in the late 1970s, they originally intended to capitalize on the popularity of UFOs. The candy was called Mars Men and sold reasonably well. When Jaret exported the product to the United States in 1985, they decided Americans were A). not as enthused about aliens, and B). preoccupied with the Cabbage Patch Kids, prompting the name change. Amazingly, no intellectual property lawsuit was filed, and the Sour Patch Kids were born.

2. The Blonde Kid on the Package Was a Real, Live Boy.

Though he eventually disappeared from SPK promotional material, the Sour Patch Kid mascot of the packaging was based on Jaret partner Frank Galatolie’s son, Scott. He remained with the brand for some time, usually with his tongue sticking out, and later sported a baseball cap. As part of a brand facelift in 1992, Scott’s alter ego was redesigned and joined by a female companion. Both disappeared circa 2011 when the candy got a gingerbread-looking gummy as its new spokes…thing.

3. There Might Be an Ideal Temperature for Consumption.

If you’ve ever observed that Sour Patch Kids purchased at a movie theater tasted better than ones bought at a store, you’re not alone: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt of SeriousEats.com theorizes that SPKs are soft and fresh in multiplexes due to high turnover. SPKs bought from bulk bins—which are exposed to air as well as grubby little hands—or from candy aisles might stand a higher chance of being stale.

4. They Provide Housing for Indie Bands.

The Rolling Stones sleep wherever they want, but small bands need accommodations when they travel; Mondelez International, the current owner of SPK, has leased homes in East Austin, Texas and Brooklyn, NY for musicians passing through town for gigs. In exchange for free lodging, the talent is expected to mention the “Patch” (the slang name for the property) on social media. To help dilute the shame of corporate shilling, bowls of the candy are provided.

5. Bootleg SPKs Are Being Laced with Drugs.

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“Flakka,” which is close to the synthetic drug ethylone, is a street substance that causes frenetic behavior typically associated with bath salts or Richard Simmons. Prevalent in the Miami, Florida area, it's allegedly being dusted over candy that looks alarmingly like Sour Patch Kids. The Miami Sun Times reported in July that a drug bust produced batches of spiked gummies. According to local news affiliate WFLA, Miami-Dade police issued a public warning about the trend.    

6. They’re Tongue-Activated.

Sour Patch Kids contain tartaric and citric acids, which are chock full of protons that our tongues register as sour. The protons actually increase when the acids are mixed with a liquid like saliva. Sour Patch Kids Extreme takes it one further, adding lactic acid for an extra bit of tongue-sizzling goodness.

7. They Turned Method Man a Little Sour.

Rapper Method Man got some heat in 2011 for performing a song, “World Gone Sour,” that was created at the behest of Mondelez. The gummies are prominent in both the song and accompanying music video, leading to charges Method may have sold out. “I think it is for the betterment of the music,” he said. “At least [Sour Patch Kids] got a real rapper to do a video. They got a rough rapper and they should get kudos for that and I should get kudos for broadening our horizons."

8. They Can Be Little Jerks.

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Sour Patch has seen a rise in sales in recent years thanks to an aggressive social media presence, including a game app and a series of commercials intended for viral consumption. In one spot, a gang of gummies saw off the high heel of a woman about to approach a prospective date; in another, they release a skunk into a hapless man’s bedroom. The sentient creatures express some measure of remorse when they turn “sweet”—like setting out a mattress for a man they’ve tripped with a string of holiday lighting—but they still appear to delight in abusing others. You might be pleased to know that:

9. You Can Buy Their Tiny Severed Heads.

Brands often experiment with new approaches in foreign markets. Perhaps one day Americans will be able to enjoy Sour Patch Kids Heads and Bodies, a Halloween-themed promotion available in the UK that features their little decapitated heads and matching torsos. Who’s responsible for this confectionary massacre? Probably the guy they pushed down a flight of concrete stairs.

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Win a Trip to Any National Park By Instagramming Your Travels
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If you're planning out your summer vacation, make sure to add a few national parks to your itinerary. Every time you share your travels on Instagram, you can increase your chances of winning a VIP trip for two to the national park of your choice.

The National Park Foundation is hosting its "Pic Your Park" sweepstakes now through September 28. To participate, post your selfies from visits to National Park System (NPS) properties on Instagram using the hashtag #PicYourParkContest and a geotag of the location. Making the trek to multiple parks increases your points, with less-visited parks in the system having the highest value. During certain months, the point values of some sites are doubled. You can find a list of participating properties and a schedule of boost periods here.

Following the contest run, the National Park Foundation will decide a winner based on most points earned. The grand prize is a three-day, two-night trip for the winner and a guest to any NPS property within the contiguous U.S. Round-trip airfare and hotel lodging are included. The reward also comes with a 30-day lease of a car from Subaru, the contest's sponsor.

The contest is already underway, with a leader board on the website keeping track of the competition. If you're looking to catch up, this national parks road trip route isn't a bad place to start.

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15 Dad Facts for Father's Day
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Gather 'round the grill and toast Dad for Father's Day—the national holiday so awesome that Americans have celebrated it for more than a century. Here are 15 Dad facts you can wow him with today.

1. Halsey Taylor invented the drinking fountain in 1912 as a tribute to his father, who succumbed to typhoid fever after drinking from a contaminated public water supply in 1896.

2. George Washington, the celebrated father of our country, had no children of his own. A 2004 study suggested that a type of tuberculosis that Washington contracted in childhood may have rendered him sterile. He did adopt the two children from Martha Custis's first marriage.

3. In Thailand, the king's birthday also serves as National Father's Day. The celebration includes fireworks, speeches, and acts of charity and honor—the most distinct being the donation of blood and the liberation of captive animals.

4. In 1950, after a Washington Post music critic gave Harry Truman's daughter Margaret's concert a negative review, the president came out swinging: "Some day I hope to meet you," he wrote. "When that happens you'll need a new nose, a lot of beefsteak for black eyes, and perhaps a supporter below!"

5. A.A. Milne created Winnie the Pooh for his son, Christopher Robin. Pooh was based on Robin's teddy bear, Edward, a gift Christopher had received for his first birthday, and on their father/son visits to the London Zoo, where the bear named Winnie was Christopher's favorite. Pooh comes from the name of Christopher's pet swan.

6. Kurt Vonnegut was (for a short time) Geraldo Rivera's father-in-law. Rivera's marriage to Edith Vonnegut ended in 1974 because of his womanizing. Her ever-protective father was quoted as saying, "If I see Gerry again, I'll spit in his face." He also included an unflattering character named Jerry Rivers (a chauffeur) in a few of his books.

7. Andre Agassi's father represented Iran in the 1948 and 1952 Olympics as a boxer.

8. Charlemagne, the 8th-century king of the Franks, united much of Western Europe through military campaigns and has been called the "king and father of Europe" [PDF]. Charlemagne was also a devoted dad to about 18 children, and today, most Europeans may be able to claim Charlemagne as their ancestor.

9. The voice of Papa Smurf, Don Messick, also provided the voice of Scooby-Doo, Ranger Smith on Yogi Bear, and Astro and RUDI on The Jetsons.

10. In 2001, Yuri Usachev, cosmonaut and commander of the International Space Station, received a talking picture frame from his 12-year-old daughter while in orbit. The gift was made possible by RadioShack, which filmed the presentation of the gift for a TV commercial.

11. The only father-daughter collaboration to hit the top spot on the Billboard pop music chart was the 1967 hit single "Something Stupid" by Frank & Nancy Sinatra.

12. In the underwater world of the seahorse, it's the male that gets to carry the eggs and birth the babies.

13. If show creator/producer Sherwood Schwartz had gotten his way, Gene Hackman would have portrayed the role of father Mike Brady on The Brady Bunch.

14. The Stevie Wonder song "Isn't She Lovely" is about his newborn daughter, Aisha. If you listen closely, you can hear Aisha crying during the song.

15. Dick Hoyt has pushed and pulled his son Rick, who has cerebral palsy, through hundreds of marathons and triathlons. Rick cannot speak, but using a custom-designed computer he has been able to communicate. They ran their first five-mile race together when Rick was in high school. When they were done, Rick sent his father this message: "Dad, when we were running, it felt like I wasn't disabled anymore!"

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