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This Candle Smells Like a Defunct Discount Store's Snack Bar

Smell can light up the memory more surely and immediately than any other sense. So it makes sense that Pennsylvania-based Sugar Creek Candle Company has scored a nostalgic hit with a candle fragranced like the snack bar of Hills, a now-defunct department store.

Anthony Barravecchio, co-founder and chief operating officer of the Sugar Creek Candle Company in Irwin, Pennsylvania, says he has lost count of the number of orders he’s received for the "Pittsburgh Dad's Hills Snack Bar" candle. “It’s been thousands,” he tells mental_floss.

Barravecchio won’t disclose the ingredients that make the candle smell like Hills, but they apparently work: A woman on Sugar Creek’s Facebook page commented: “[M]y husband didn't know anything about the candle. He came through the door, stopped, smelled, paused for a minute and said, "[D]oes it smell like Hill's in here?’ Lol.”

At one point, the Canton, Ohio-based Hills department store had more than 200 locations in 14 states. The store’s trademark snack bars sold hot dogs, soft pretzels, buttered popcorn, and soft drinks. Their smells were an olfactory mainstay throughout the Mid-Atlantic and Lower Midwest before Hills entered a financial downward spiral and was bought and absorbed by competitor Ames in 1998. (Four years later, Ames also folded.)

Though gone, Hills lives on in the memories of the people who use to eat pretzels and ICEEs at their snack bars. One such person is Curt Wootton, a comedian who stars in the hyperlocal (and popular) YouTube sitcom Pittsburgh Dad, which features monologues from a working-class cheapskate father character. The series’ most high-production episode features a fantasy sequence in which Pittsburgh Dad uses the Back to the Future DeLorean to travel back in time to shop at Hills. (Wootton even purchased rights to the Hills logo on the cheap.)

Wootton and Barravecchio belong to the same gym, and the candle came to fruition after Barravecchio approached him and inquired about making a tie-in product.

Sugar Creek makes soy candles (better for scent, says Barravecchio), and the company often uses irreverent humor to sell their products. In addition to typical fragrances, their line includes "Waffles N’At" candles and the tropical-scented "Monkey Farts." Their candles, including Pittsburgh Dad Hills Snack Bar, are available online and at a few stores (including one that, like Hills, is a regional icon: The Giant Eagle grocery chain).

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How to Craft the Perfect Gag, According to Buster Keaton
Buster Keaton seen with Donald O'Connor on the set of a film in 1957
Buster Keaton seen with Donald O'Connor on the set of a film in 1957
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Dubbed “The Great Stone Face” for his ability to hold a deadpan expression even as the world (quite literally) crashed down around him, Buster Keaton was “one of the three great silent comedians” in film history, according to filmmaker Tony Zhou.

A video by Zhou, spotted by The Kid Should See This, explains just how Keaton managed to pull off such memorable stunts, and why his scenes continue to influence modern actors and filmmakers. First, Keaton shunned title cards and subtitles, instead opting to advance the story through action. He disliked repetition and thought each movement should be unique, while also insisting on authenticity and proclaiming that a filmmaker should “never fake a gag.” If a gag couldn’t be captured all in one shot, he wouldn’t do it.

The angle and positioning of the camera was also paramount. Many of Keaton’s vaudeville-esque gags were visual in nature, toying with the viewer’s perspective to create illusions that led to hilarious reveals. But for that to be successful, the camera had to remain stationary, and the joke had to play out entirely onscreen.

A low-speed chase scene in Wes Anderson's The Grand Budapest Hotel, where Ralph Fiennes's Gustave H. runs up a long staircase in the background to escape cops, is a modern example of this. “Like Wes Anderson, Buster Keaton found humor in geometry,” Zhou says.

Check out Zhou’s video below.

[h/t The Kid Should See This]

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History
15 Funny Quips from Great American Humorists
Hulton Archive, Getty Images
Hulton Archive, Getty Images

The art of social satire is a tough one, but a great humorist's keen observations, witticisms, and turns of phrase continue to ring true even decades later. "Humor is something that thrives between man's aspirations and his limitations," the musical comedian Victor Borge once noted. "There is more logic in humor than in anything else. Because, you see, humor is truth." (In other words, it's funny 'cause it's true.) Here are 15 more quips from some of America's most astute commentators.

1. MARK TWAIN (1835-1910)

Mark Twain
Rischgitz, Getty Images

"Familiarity breeds contempt—and children."

2. DOROTHY PARKER (1893-1967)

Dorothy Parker looks at the camera. There is a man in a tuxedo and wine bottles in the background.
Evening Standard, Getty Images

"That would be a good thing for them to cut on my tombstone: Wherever she went, including here, it was against her better judgment."

3. JAMES THURBER (1894-1961)

James Thurber smokes a cigarette sitting in an armchair.
Fred Palumbo, Library of Congress, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

"Last night I dreamed of a small consolation enjoyed only by the blind: Nobody knows the trouble I've not seen!"

4. NORA EPHRON (1941-2012)

Nora Ephron smiles for press at an event.
Stephen Lovekin, Getty Images

"Summer bachelors, like summer breezes, are never as cool as they pretend to be."

5. GORE VIDAL (1925-2012)

Gore Vidal
Central Press, Getty Images

"The four most beautiful words in our common language: I told you so."

6. ARTEMUS WARD (1834-1867)

A sepia-toned cabinet card of Artemus Ward
TCS 1.3788, Harvard Theatre Collection, Harvard University, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

"They drink with impunity, or anybody who invites them."

7. GERTRUDE STEIN (1874-1946)

Gertrude Stein sits at a desk with a pen in her hand.
Hulton Archive, Getty Images

"The thing that differentiates man from animals is money."

8. FRANKLIN PIERCE ADAMS (1881-1960)

Franklin Pierce Adams sits at a desk that's covered in papers.
Harris & Ewing Collection, Library of Congress, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

"Nothing is more responsible for the good old days than a bad memory."

9. ETHEL WATERS (1896-1977)

Ethel Waters leans in a doorway.
William P. Gottlieb, Library of Congress, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

"All the men in my life have been two things: an epic and an epidemic."

10. ROBERT BENCHLEY (1889-1945)

Robert Benchley sits at a desk in a scene from 'Foreign Correspondent.'
Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

"Drinking makes such fools of people, and people are such fools to begin with that it's compounding a felony."

11. AMBROSE BIERCE (1842-1914)

A seated portrait of Ambrose Bierce
Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

"Saint: A dead sinner revised and edited."

12. MAE WEST (1893-1980)

A portrait of Mae West
Hulton Archive, Getty Images

"When choosing between two evils, I always like to try the one I've never tried before."

13. GEORGE S. KAUFMAN (1889-1961)

A seated portrait of George S. Kaufman
The Theatre Magazine Company, photograph by Vandamm, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

"At dramatic rehearsals, the only author that's better than an absent one is a dead one."

14. VICTOR BORGE (1909-2000)

Victor Borge plays the piano.
Keystone, Getty Images

"Santa Claus has the right idea—visit people only once a year."

15. GEORGE CARLIN (1937-2008)

George Carlin doing a stand-up set
Ken Howard, Getty Images

"Atheism is a non-prophet organization."

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