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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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Animals
25 Benefits of Adopting a Rescue Dog
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According to the ASPCA, 3.3 million dogs enter shelters each year in the United States. Although that number has gone down since 2011 (from 3.9 million) there are still millions of dogs waiting in shelters for a forever home. October is Adopt a Shelter Dog Month; here are 25 benefits of adopting a shelter dog.

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fun
How Urban Legends Like 'The Licked Hand' Are Born
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If you compare the scary stories you heard as a kid with those of your friends—even those who grew up across the country from you—you’ll probably hear some familiar tales. Maybe you tried to summon Bloody Mary by chanting her name in front of the mirror three times in a dark bathroom. Maybe you learned never to wonder what’s under a woman’s neck ribbon. Maybe you heard the one about the girl who feels her dog lick her hand in the middle of the night, only to wake up to find him hanging dead from the shower nozzle, the words “humans can lick too” written on the wall in the dog’s blood.

These ubiquitous, spooky folk tales exist everywhere, and a lot of them take surprisingly similar forms. How does a single story like the one often called “Humans Can Lick Too” or "The Licked Hand" make its way into every slumber party in America? Thrillist recently investigated the question with a few experts, finding that most of these stories have very deep roots.

In the case of The Licked Hand, its origins go back more than a century. In the 1990s, Snopes found that a similar motif dates back to an Englishman’s diary entry from 1871. In it, the diary keeper, Dearman Birchall, retold a story he heard at a party of a man whose wife woke him up in the middle of the night, urging him to go investigate what sounded like burglars in their home. He told his wife that it was only the dog, reaching out his hand. He felt the dog lick his hand … but in the morning, all his valuables were gone: He had clearly been robbed.

A similar theme shows up in the short story “The Diary of Mr. Poynter,” published in 1919 by M.R. James. In it, a character dozes off in an armchair, and thinks that he is petting his dog. It turns out, it’s some kind of hairy human figure that he flees from. The story seems to have evolved from there into its presently popular form, picking up steam in the 1960s. As with any folk tale, its exact form changes depending on the teller: sometimes the main character is an old lady, other times it’s a young girl.

You’ll probably hear these stories in the context of happening to a “friend of a friend,” making you more likely to believe the tale. It practically happened to someone you know! Kind of! The setting, too, is probably somewhere nearby. It might be in your neighborhood, or down by the local railroad tracks.

Thrillist spoke to Dr. Joseph Stubbersfield, a researcher in the UK who studies urban legends, who says the kind of stories that spread widely contain both social information and emotional resonance. Meaning they contain a message—you never know who’s lurking in your house—and are evocative.

If something is super scary or gross, you want to share it. Stories tend to warn against something: A study of English-language urban legends circulating online found that most warned listeners about the hazards of life (poisonous plants, dangerous animals, dangerous humans) rather than any kind of opportunities. We like to warn each other of the dangers that could be lurking around every corner, which makes sense considering our proven propensity to focus on and learn from negative information. And yes, that means telling each other to watch out for who’s licking our hands in the middle of the night.

Just something to keep in mind as you eagerly await Jezebel’s annual scary story contest.

[h/t Thrillist]

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