Editor's Note: Reader Andrea recently asked if we could cover the history of traffic lights. Here's what we had in the archives.... READ ON
This short piece originally appeared as a sidebar in the mental_floss book 'In the Beginning: A Mouthwatering Guide to the Origins of Everything.'
Pretzel... READ ON
People have been writing words on paper for a lot longer than they've had convenient ways to firmly bind those pages together. As families wrap up their back-to-school shopping, let's take a look at the evolution of staples.
Attached at the... READ ON
A word to all the pre-teens out there who are suffering through constant taunts of "metalmouth": at least you're in good company. Braces go all the way back to the days of the mummies; some of them have been found with crude metal bands wrapped around their teeth. Archaeologists think those bands were connected by catgut, stretched taut to pull the teeth together. (Mmm, sanitary!) Hippocrates and Aristotle are both on record wondering about ways to straighten teeth, too, and the... READ ON
Given how many horrendous karaoke performances we've been subjected to, we weren't at all surprised to learn that the guy who invented the karaoke machine can't sing, can't read music, and plays the keyboards about as well as your average third-grader.
Songs in the Off-key of... READ ON
SPAM (The Food Item)
First, let's get the ingredients out of the way. SPAM is chopped pork shoulder meat with ham, salt, water, sugar, and sodium nitrite. Unless, that is, it's SPAM Lite, in which case there's also some chicken thrown in there. Or SPAM Oven Roasted Turkey, which includes (we assume) turkey and is suitable for... READ ON
This marks the first time we've lumped together priests, soldiers and Playboy bunnies in one article. Common element: they all dress for success.
1. School... READ ON
Here's a look at the early days of some popular newspapers and magazines. We'll save the story of the humble dormitory origins of mental_floss for another time.
The New York... READ ON
For today's reading from In the Beginning: A Mouthwatering Guide to the Origins of Everything, let's take a look at the stories behind some of your favorite spices.
If you eat enough pepper you'll start to sweat, which explains why the ancients thought the stuff made an excellent medical treatment. The Chinese employed it as a treatment for malaria, cholera, and dysentery, while Indian monks used it as a sort of PowerBar: they swallowed small amounts of the stuff in hopes that it would... READ ON
Contrary to schoolyard rumors, no one created the periodic table just to torture you—it all started with the elements. As early as 330 BCE, Aristotle created a four-element table: earth, air, fire, and water. (We'd sign up for a test on that periodic table, no problem.) But it wasn't until the late 1700s that Antoine Lavoisier wrote the first list of 33 elements. He classified them as metals and nonmetals, though we now know that some were compounds or mixtures. Other... READ ON
7-Up was originally called "Bib-Label Lithiated Lemon-Lime Soda."