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10 Spooky Commercials Starring Horror Legend Vincent Price

captainbijou.com, Youtube
captainbijou.com, Youtube

From the 1930s through the 1980s, Vincent Price was an incredibly prolific actor, best known for his distinctively spooky voice, and his performances in a range of classic (and not-so-classic) horror movies.

Price appeared in everything from the original versions of House on Haunted Hill (1959), The Fly (1958), and House of Wax (1953) to 1959’s campy The Tingler, a novelty 3D movie in which theatergoers’ seats vibrated at scary moments throughout the film. His final on-film performance was in Tim Burton’s Edward Scissorhands (1990).

But the horror legend didn’t just appear in movies—Price was also a prolific commercial actor. In the ‘70s and ‘80s, Price lent his image or voice to ads for wine coolers, board games, candy bars, and even the American Dairy Association. Full of haunted mansions, spooky music, and terrifying wordplay (“prices that won’t scare you!”), most of the commercials put Price’s horror pedigree front and center. Check out 10 of our favorites.

1. TILEX

“It’s alive!” The mildew, that is. Fortunately, Vincent Price has the solution: Tilex instant mildew remover! It’ll rid your haunted mansion of even the most resilient mildews. 

2. THE ANTIQUE GUILD

This 1979 ad for antique furniture packs an impressive number of spooky jokes into just 30 seconds of airtime.

3. STAY ALIVE

Price plays up the creepiness for this 1978 spot for a Milton Bradley board game called Stay Alive. Sitting in a spooky castle on a dark and stormy night, Price warns viewers that the game can be “quite deadly.”

4. POLAROID VIDEOCASSETTES

Another haunted house commercial from 1984—this time for a hauntingly old-school product: videocassettes that clean your VCR as they play. 

5. PETER PAUL'S PEANUT BUTTER WITH NO JELLY

The all peanut butter “Peanut Butter With No Jelly” candy bar improved upon the classic PB&J by removing extraneous ingredients like bread and jelly.

6. SUN COUNTRY WINE COOLERS

In 1985, a company called Sun Country inexplicably decided to put Vincent Price in a polar bear costume and then play some old fashioned haunted house music to sell their wine coolers. 

7. THE ENCHANTED WORLD

Once again appearing in a spooky mansion, with spooky music in the background, Price advertises a not-particularly-spooky series of myths and legends for Time Life Books in this 1985 commercial. 

8. EASTER SEALS HALLOWEEN COUPONS

The “safe,” “fun” alternative to giving out actual candy on Halloween, the coupons are a worried parent’s dream.

9. CHIPS AHOY

Price lent his voice to this mysterious cookie commercial. 

10. THE AMERICAN DAIRY ASSOCIATION

Price appeared in this dairy commercial in 1982, warning consumers against “false” dairy products, and reminding them to look for the official “American Dairy Association” seal.

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Hate Red M&M's? You Need a Candy Color-Sorting Machine
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You don’t have to be a demanding rock star to live a life without brown M&M's or purple Skittles—all you need is some engineering know-how and a little bit of free time.

Mechanical engineering student Willem Pennings created a machine that can take small pieces of candy—like M&M's, Skittles, Reese’s Pieces, etc.—and sort them by color into individual piles. All Pennings needs to do is pour the candy into the top funnel; from there, the machine separates the candy—around two pieces per second—and dispenses all of it into smaller bowls at the bottom designated for each variety.

The color identification is performed with an RGB sensor that takes “optical measurements” of candy pieces of equal dimensions. There are limitations, though, as Pennings revealed in a Reddit Q&A: “I wouldn't be able to use this machine for peanut M&M's, since the sizes vary so much.”

The entire building process lasted from May through December 2016, and included the actual conceptualization, 3D printing (which was outsourced), and construction. The entire project was detailed on Pennings’s website and Reddit's DIY page.

With all of the motors, circuitry, and hardware that went into it, Pennings’s machine is likely too ambitious of a task for the average candy aficionado. So until a machine like this hits the open market, you're probably stuck buying bags of single-colored M&M’s in bulk online or sorting all of the candy out yourself the old fashioned way.

To see Pennings’s machine in action, check out the video below:

[h/t Refinery 29]

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How Common Is Your Birthday? An Interactive Map Can Tell You
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by James Hunt

At some point in their life, everyone counts back from their birthday and tries to figure out what anniversary, special occasion, or other excuse might have happened to their parents nine months before they were born. To make this backtracking exercise easier—and give us the chance to do it for a much larger population—data journalist Matt Stiles created an interactive "heat map" showing the most common birthdays in the United States for individuals born between 1994 and 2014.

Click on the map and you'll quickly notice that July, August, and September are by far the most common birth months. It's no surprise that nine months prior you'll find the dark and rainy period of October, November, and December when—to put it delicately—people have to make their own entertainment.

According to Stiles, "People generally seem to have time for baby-making during their time off. Several of the most common birth dates, in September, correspond with average conception periods around Christmas. September 9 is most common in this dataset, though other days in that month are close. September 19 is second. Following a customary gestation period, many of these babies would, in theory, have been conceived on December 17 and December 27, respectively."

But that's not all we can tell from the chart. When you take into account the fact that some people get to choose their child's birthday because of induced and elective births, they tend to want to stay away from the hospital during understaffed holiday periods.

"The least common birthdays in this dataset were Christmas Eve, Christmas [Day], and New Year’s Day," Stiles concluded. "Dates around Thanksgiving aren’t as common. July 4 is also at the bottom of the list. Conversely, Valentine’s Day ranks relatively high, as you can see in the graphic, as are the days just before a new tax year begins."

Amazingly, though it only comes around every four years, Leap Year babies aren't as uncommon as you might think: February 29 ranked 347th out of 366 on the list.

You can play around with the interactive graphic, and see the full ranking of birthdays, here.

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