Until two centuries ago, ice was just an unfortunate side effect of winter. But in the early 1800s, one man saw dollar signs in frozen ponds.... READ ON
Before home pregnancy tests, the most reliable test was just to wait and see. But women still wanted to know as early as possible whether or not they were harboring a tiny human.... READ ON
A lot of books deal with a parent’s complete unsuitability for the role. But there are good fictional moms and dads out there!... READ ON
Before modern technology could tell expectant parents the sex of their child, how did you tell whether you were carrying a boy or a girl? And even more important, could you choose which?... READ ON
When a surgeon came to Erwin Perzy for help, it wasn't because he wanted a tiny globe he could shake. ... READ ON
Where does glitter come from? Why does it exist? And how in the name of all that is good can you get it off the upholstery?... READ ON
On the day the new royal prince—his first grandson—was born, Charles, Prince of Wales, was going about business as usual, all the British papers reported. But what, if you’re heir to the British crown in one of the world’s oldest constitutional monarchies, exactly is business as usual?... READ ON
We’ve compiled some of the best worst pregnancy advice through the ages. Please don't tell any pregnant women they shouldn't look at monkeys.... READ ON
In 19th-century England, the right time was money. ... READ ON
Say a thanks for Rose. Frozen pizza used to taste terrible. Then this sweetly badass nonna fixed it.... READ ON
The Statue of Liberty arrived in New York on June 17, 1885.... READ ON
George Lucas claims that Princess Leia's iconic buns are from turn-of-the-century Mexico, but our investigation into the matter tells a different story.... READ ON
Heavy is the head that wears the "It Girl" tiara.... READ ON
Nobel prize-winning author Gabriel García Márquez has died at the age of 87. This profile originally appeared in mental_floss magazine in 2009.... READ ON
How do you make people make more people?... READ ON
For some of these big-name personalities, spying taught them the skills that made them famous; for others, being famous made them the perfect spies.... READ ON
No one over the age of Disney really believes that being a princess is really all it's cracked up to be. ... READ ON
Here are some of the more bizarre Grimm tales that didn’t quite merit the Disney treatment.... READ ON
We can’t tell you happened in Kate Middleton's delivery room. But we can tell you what it was like for other historical royal women.... READ ON
The BBC takes its role as an arbiter of taste, morals, ethics, and standards very seriously—so it doesn’t show just anything. But what the BBC decides to ban or not allow is, well, sometimes a little weird.... READ ON
Here are a few things that got songs banned from the Beeb.... READ ON
This might not be the time for the birds and the bees talk, but sometimes, when a man and a woman love each other, they have sex—but they don’t always do it to make a baby. In fact, sometimes, they are very much not in the market for a baby. </span>So before the veritable cornucopia of contraceptive options available to copulating couples today, how did people make love without making dependents?... READ ON
Marie Manning wanted to report on crimes. Instead, she invented the advice column.... READ ON
Despite how beloved Pride and Prejudice is, there have been plenty of people who hated it.... READ ON
Britons woke up yesterday morning to gleeful headlines declaring that the former Kate Middleton, Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, is pregnant. It was, of course, something British tabloids already knew—every time the Duchess turned down a glass of wine in favor of water or happened to rest her hand on her stomach, she was instantly and obviously pregnant.But this time around, she actually is. However, the happy couple was forced to explain to the salivating British press much earlier than they... READ ON
“Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, and one by one.”... READ ON
This morning Mitt Romney tapped Wisconsin congressman Paul Ryan as his running mate. John Nance Garner, FDR's first vice president, either said the VP position wasn't worth "a warm pitcher of piss" or "a warm bucket of spit." Whatever body fluid and receptacle he really used, you get the idea. But that doesn't mean there haven't been some wild scandals along the way.
1. Chester Arthur Was Canadian!
Chester Arthur took office under the thickest cloud of suspicion. As a lieutenant in... READ ON
Note: This article was originally published in 2009. We're currently switching to a new hosting provider, and it's a messy process. So while we wait for the "OK, you can start posting again" note from the server migration people, we'll be putting up a few stories you may have missed the first time around.The clothes may make the man, but sometimes it's what the clothes make the man do that makes the story. Throughout history there have been more than a few instances of an article of clothing actually... READ ON
Note: This article was originally published in May 2009. We're currently switching to a new hosting provider, and it's a messy process. So while we wait for the "OK, you can start posting again" note from the server migration people, we'll be putting up a few stories you may have missed the first time... READ ON
Cartoonist Charles Addams was almost as bizarre as the characters he drew. His most famous creation, The Addams Family, has been reincarnated time and again during the past 70 years, coming back to life from the grave. Are his drawings morbid? Sure. But they’re also... READ ON
The Flintstones has been off the air and in syndication since 1966. But Flintstones Vitamins remain on the shelves and in homes, despite the fact that this generation of children probably has no clue who Fred, Wilma, Barney, Betty and Dino are. ... READ ON
It’s a lot more difficult than you might think to find good parents in fiction: Perhaps unsurprisingly, a lot of fiction deals either with the lack of a parent—being a cardinal rule of children’s fiction to ditch the parents—or a parent’s complete unsuitability for the role. But there are a few out there, parents who make you think, “Gee, I wish my parents were like that.”
Here’s our totally comprehensive, really scientific overview of good parenting in fiction:
1. Atticus Finch
To... READ ON
It's difficult to find anything, especially a commercial product, that hasn't really changed in 140 years. But Vaseline, that miracle product that is used for everything from softening tough skin to keeping beauty queens smiling, may just fit the bill. Vaseline turned up on the market in 1870—and the world has been just a bit softer, maybe a bit greasier since.
From Rod Wax to... READ ON
While the story of Marie Antoinette ends with her beheading in 1793, the tragedy of her family continued to unfold long after her death.... READ ON
For as long as people could write, it seems, the more romantic and less self-conscious have been penning love letters. But in the era of texting ("luv u") and tweeting and emailing, the visceral pleasure of a handwritten love letter is largely lost. What grammar school kid even gets an "I like you, do you like me? Check yes or no" note anymore? And sure, an email can explain the depths to which you love your "own dear boy," your "Best Beloved," or your... READ ON
Fan fiction—that is, fiction that uses an existing universe created by another author and expands (or pirates) it—has literally been around for centuries. Consider the "infancy gospels," later texts that explored the life of the infant Christ and other figures in the original gospels.
But right now, we are living in an unprecedented era of devoted—even rabid—fandom, where the dedication of a few can actually bring a dead series back from the brink (Firefly), can... READ ON
These days, you can rent just about everything—Segways, leprechauns, little people, sheep, dogs. And here in the UK, a very clever and environmentally concerned businessman came up with a brilliant idea: Rent out Christmas trees for the holiday season.
The whole thing works like this: The renter orders a tree, choosing between three models (the Fraser fir, the Norway spruce, and the Nordmann fir), in sizes between 5 and 8 feet tall. The tree is then delivered to the customer's door in a... READ ON
According to the World Toilet Organization—yes, there is actually a World Toilet Organization—2.5 billion people worldwide are without access to proper sanitation, like a working toilet. Much more than just an inconvenience, poor sanitation and crappy toilets (sorry) are hugely detrimental to the health of people living under those conditions, leading to the deaths of around 1.8 million people, mostly children, each year. The World Toilet Organization is asking people around the world to... READ ON
You might think that bras are pretty much fulfilling their function in life—they do their job and most of the time, they do it well. But lucky for us, some very creative inventors disagree. This post is for all of you who wear bras and have thought, "Man, I wish this thing did something else."
1. The Putting Mat Bra
Evidently, golfing has been growing in popularity among Japanese women—so much so that lingerie designer Triumph recently released the Nice Cup in Bra, a bra and... READ ON
Since the dawn of time, people have found nifty ways to clean up after the bathroom act. But the idea of a commercial product designed solely to wipe one's bum? That started about 150 years ago, right here in the U.S.A.... READ ON
The friendly Swedish Fish are a staple of the US candy scene, a denizen of nearly every movie theater counter and convenience store. But where did they come from? And why fish? Why not Swedish Reindeer? Or Geese? There isn't a lot of research on Swedish Fish out there, but here's what we got:
In the Beginning"¦
Out of the primordial ooze of the sugar sea, from whence the flora and fauna of the gummy earth have evolved, come the Swedish Fish. The Swedish Fish belongs to the genus of... READ ON
Last year marked the 100th anniversary of the publication of Anne of Green Gables, Lucy Maud Montgomery's first book about Anne, the redheaded orphan of Canada's Prince Edward Island, and her misadventures. But this year, Anne fans are in for a treat.
This week, the Anne of Green Gables canon (the Anne-on?) is expanding: Publisher Penguin is releasing the complete version of The Blythes Are Quoted, Montgomery's very last installment in the Anne series. The book, dropped off at her... READ ON
About one in every 2 million lobsters is born with a rare genetic defect that turns it blue.