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A Brief History of Cootie Catchers

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ISTOCK

A cootie catcher is full of carefully-folded dichotomies. It’s centuries-old origami performed by kids (usually), many of whom live far away from the device’s country of origin. Delicate in its construction, but usually (in my experience) scrawled over with crayons or colored pencils with clunky renderings. Full of secrets, mysteries, and fates, all of which your friend just wrote right in front of you.

It’s a playground pastime for the inactive mystics and gossips of school, or a way to pass the time in class. The cootie catching practice has endured through the years, though individual ones never did. They were pocketed by those who got what they wanted and wished to preserve it, those who didn’t and wished to conceal it. Left on a desk, trashed, or left behind for someone else to ponder what it all means.

If you were unlucky enough to never encounter a cootie catcher, let’s back things up to the beginning.

The fortune teller also goes by chatterbox, whirlybird, or salt cellar, and that last name is actually reflective of how the origami figure was first introduced to the United States. The 1928 book Fun with Paper Folding contained the “salt cellar,” which, when inverted from how we’re used to seeing it today, was meant to invoke a container that could hold and pour salt. The points of a cootie catcher become legs and the spaces for fingers open up to hold the salt.

The exact lineage and timeline for the introduction of the cootie catcher around the world is somewhat murky. Most sources suggest it’s possible that it appeared in Europe as early as the 17th century. It’s safe to say though that by the 1950s, cootie catchers had started to appear in England and the United States, and propagated from there. Today, the game is played all over the world, and each place has its own name for the fortune teller.

As for the name: Most sources believe the word “cootie” came from the Malay word kutu, meaning “dog tick,” and was brought back by British soldiers after World War I. Some books include mentions of the “cooties” as bugs or dots drawn into the center of the catcher, so the legs act as pincers, swallowing the germs up. Girls were often the ones ridding each other of said cooties, intermixed with the telling of each other's fortunes. (And, probably, doing the tried and true “Circle, circle, dot, dot, now I've got my cootie shot.”)

For first timers or those in need of a refresher course, here’s how to make your own cootie catcher, just in time for back to school.

Once the cootie catcher is built, you can use it both for grabbing cooties off of your friend (without worry of infecting yourself), then fill it with messages and use it to tell fortunes (that’s versatility!). When you’re ready to use it, the fortune teller prompts their subject with a series of choices from the catcher (usually in the form of colors, numbers, or pictures) that will lead to one of the eight flaps inside, each concealing a message. There are plenty of other videos out there on the internet that go into more detail if you need some assistance with your prescience.

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fun
Adult-Sized Little Tikes-Inspired Car Spotted in UK
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eBay

Remember scooting around town in your red and yellow Little Tikes toy car? The fun plastic vehicle offered accessible mobility like a tricycle, but with the sophistication of a real car. It was never meant to be driven outside of the cul-de-sac, but what if there was a grown-up version that could be taken out on the road?

Mechanic John Bitmead and his brother Geoff of Attitude Autos created just that back in 2015, with an oversized spin on the classic kid wheels. It's road-legal and fully functional, looking somewhat similar to a Smart Car (but way cooler). The car was adapted from a Daewoo Matiz and took 16 weeks to make. Despite its small size, it can go up to 70 miles per hour.

This nostalgic creation eventually wound up on eBay for bids of at least £21,500 (roughly $33,000). It only had 5000 miles on it. Sadly, it seems the vehicle went unsold. But Bitmead doesn't appear to be finished with his unique customs. His Instagram page features a post-apocalyptic roadster with a bright pink Hello Kitty paint job. If you live in the UK, perhaps one day you'll see the two racing during your morning commute.

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Hamilton Broadway
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A Hamilton-Themed Cookbook is Coming
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Hamilton Broadway

Fans of Broadway hit Hamilton will soon be able to dine like the Founding Fathers: As Eater reports, a new Alexander Hamilton-inspired cookbook is slated for release in fall 2017.

Cover art for Laura Kumin's forthcoming cookbook
Amazon

Called The Hamilton Cookbook: Cooking, Eating, and Entertaining in Hamilton’s World, the recipe collection by author Laura Kumin “takes you into Hamilton’s home and to his table, with historical information, recipes, and tips on how you can prepare food and serve the food that our founding fathers enjoyed in their day,” according to the Amazon description. It also recounts Hamilton’s favorite dishes, how he enjoyed them, and which ingredients were used.

Recipes included are cauliflower florets two ways, fried sausages and apples, gingerbread cake, and apple pie. (Cue the "young, scrappy, and hungry" references.) The cookbook’s official release is on November 21—but until then, you can stave off your appetite for all things Hamilton-related by downloading the musical’s new app.

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