Patents, Potatoes, the Post Office and Other Fun Facts for February 17th…

I haven’t done a roundup of historical facts lately…figured today is a good day for that…lots of things happened on February 17th!

1. On February 17, 1691, Thomas Neale was granted a 21-year British patent for North American postal service (it was February 18th that the phrase, “The check is in the mail,” was first uttered…not really!).  In 1694, Thomas married England’s richest widow.  Sadly, Thomas died in 1699, heavily in debt, despite the fact that his franchise only cost 80 cents a year.  It seems he was a bit of a gambling addict…another one of his accomplishments was developing a pair of dice to prevent cheating at gaming.

Thomas Neale...

2. On February 17, 1795, it is said that Thomas Seddal harvested an 8.3 kilogram (about 18 lb., 5 oz.) potato from his garden in Chester, England.  The largest potato known in modern times was grown last year by amateur gardener, Peter Glazebrook, in Northampton, and weighed 8 lb., 4 oz.  Imagine how much butter you would need for this monster:

8 lb., 4 oz. potato grown by Peter from The Telegraph...

3. On February 17, 1818, Baron Karl von Drais de Sauerbrun patented the “draisine”, an early bicycle.  I hope Anna doesn’t see this…she’ll probably want me to buy her one!  Karl is also credited with inventing the earliest typewriter with a keyboard in 1821.  Like poor Thomas Neale, Karl also died penniless, in 1851.

This is a draisine from 1820 made of cherry and's in a museum in Heidelberg, Germany.

4.  On February 17, 1867, William Cadbury, English chocolate manufacturer, was born.  He was the third generation of Cadburys in the business (joining in 1887), but made some important changes.  William established pension funds for the employees in the early years of the 20th century.  Under his leadership, Cadbury stopped buying cocoa from Sao Thome and Principe Islands after slavery was discovered to be in practice there (he also convinced his competitors, Fry and Rowntree, to boycott Portuguese cocoa from West Africa).  In 1905, William commissioned French designer Georges Auriol to design the first proper company logo, a cocoa tree.  The Cadbury script logo introduced in 1921 is William’s signature.  Cadbury Easter Creme Eggs are amazing…

5. On February 17, 1876, sardines were first canned by Julius Wolff in Eastport, Maine.  Until 1871, Americans had imported their sardines from France and Spain, but the Franco-Prussian War ended that practice.  Julius was the owner of a New York brokerage firm which had been bringing in the European sardines.  He established the first sardine factory, Eagle Preserve Fish Company, on Passamaquoddy Bay.  Over the next 125 years, some 400 sardine factories operated along Maine’s coast.  In 2008, Ronnie Peabody opened the Maine Coast Sardine History Museum in Jonesport, Maine.  There’s even a Sardine Society

Scene from a Maine sardine factory...

6. On February 17, 1924, Austro-Hungarian swimmer Johnny Weissmuller set a record for the 100-yard freestyle (52.4 seconds).  It was but one of the 67 world records he would set during his impressive swimming career.  Movie buffs will recognize Johnny as the actor who played the role of Tarzan in a dozen movies, and “delivered” the famous Tarzan yell (which was actually a recording of three vocalists spliced together: a soprano, an alto, and a hog-caller).  After Tarzan, Johnny went on to play Jungle Jim in more than a dozen movies and a TV series.  Johnny was married five times, and fathered three children: his son, Johnny Jr., followed him into acting, but wasn’t nearly as successful.  Johnny died January 20, 1984.  At his request, a recording of the Tarzan yell was played three times as his coffin was being lowered into the ground.

Cheeta with Johnny Weissmuller...I was always confused about why the monkey's name was "Cheeta"...

7. On February 17, 1933, Blondie married Dagwood Bumstead in the comic strip, Blondie.  I bet there aren’t a lot of people that know that the bride’s maiden name was Boopadoop!  Or that Dagwood went on a 28-day hunger strike to convince his well-to-do parents to let him go ahead with the wedding!

The Bumstead Wedding Scene...

8. On February 17, 1969, Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash recorded an album together, which was never released.  They cut more than a dozen tracks, including renditions of “It’s All Right, Mama” and Cash’s “I Walk The Line.” However, only a version of Dylan’s “Girl From The North Country,” was eventually released.  It would become the first track of Dylan’s “Nashville Skyline,” which came out in April of 1969.  I found this bootleg album online:

Bootleg Album...

 I hope you’ve enjoyed this walk down Memory Lane…


Filed under food, satire

46 responses to “Patents, Potatoes, the Post Office and Other Fun Facts for February 17th…

  1. What a fun post, although there is something more than a bit disturbing about that potato.

  2. A pop-culture-walk-about. Fantastic!

    Am I the only one who hates Cadbury’s Easter Creme Eggs and finds them (gasp) a little revolting? This could be blasphemy, but I’ll take my chance…

    Happy Feb 17th!

  3. Wendy, it’s hard to believe there was only one worthy track of the dozen that Cash recorded with Dylan, you know?

  4. Ah, a post after my own heart. I love this stuff! The Blondie info is very nifty. I’ll have to find a way to work that one into 18th century Enlightenment thought next Tuesday. And I definitely will.

  5. Fun, fun facts, Wendy. That potato was something else and I especially loved the Blondie facts! Ilove the comics!! Something else I love…your new blog background…very nice. Hugs, Diane

  6. I’m so excited for Cadbury mini eggs! I was most interested to read that fun fact about Mr. Cadbury. Thank goodness for him!

  7. You say Potato—I say Chocolate!! We can all say FUN post.

  8. I love your historic posts, Wendy. I’ll celebrate any day that gave birth to the creator of the Cadbury Egg.

    (P.S. I like your blog’s new look!)

    • Thanks, Maura…history is one of my favourite things…if I could find someone who would pay me to research and write all day, I’d be a happy camper! Glad you like the new layout! Wendy

  9. Loved today’s post even though its almost tomorrow. I would love to have a draisine along with your Ann, so cool. I never remembered that Blondie and Dagwood weren’t married. In my mind they were always together. Everyday you learn something new is a good day in my book. Love your blog’s new look!

  10. I could eat a cadbury egg every day. love those.
    I must say…the potato picture might give me nightmares…ickness creepypants.

    by the time you see this, it will be Friday!
    happy day!

  11. Cadbury cream eggs are on sale all year round over here.. they’re a bit too sweet for my liking even the mini ones are too much.

    Now that spud is just screaming to be mashed with butter and gravy.

    Is it just me or does the frame of that bike look like a rifle, with a snooker cue stuck on the side?

  12. Cool post, Wendy. Interesting fun facts. I like the bike.
    We visited Cadbury World in Bournville (in Birmingham, UK) a few years back – it was really fascinating. We went through the factory and the museum. We were given chocolate bars and liquid chocolate at every turn. It was exciting at first but soon we all turned green! Apparently the factory employees are welcome to eat as much chocolate as they can, and the novelty wears off very quickly!
    I could do without the creme eggs – way too sweet and icky for me! They have crazy TV commercials for them over here.
    Sunshine xx

    • Glad you enjoyed it, Sunshine! My brother lives near where a Hershey factory used to be…we toured it a few years ago. Creme eggs are too sweet for me too…the best thing about them is the commercials!

      Hugs, Wendy

  13. duke1959

    Thanks for the history lesson. History is something I love.

  14. I can eat an entire box of Cadbury eggs. In one sitting. It’s a thing about myself I like to brag about.

    Good to hear they were all about fair trade before it became trendy!

  15. Great stuff, thanks! Any post that includes Tarzan and Cadbury Creme Eggs is definitely worth my attention!

  16. How fun was this! What a potato! And that bike looks so cool–don’t know about Anna, but I’m wanting one!
    Hugs from Haiti,

  17. Fascinating–and never knew about the Dylan/Cash duo–perfect match- up. Got to be a huge Dylan fan when I lived in England!
    Have always loved William Morris, too! I’ve always been just a big ol’ Anglophile at heart.

  18. Wendy, we’ve just got back from exploring another part of London we’ve not been to before. We walked past Kelmscott House, which was William Morris’ home from 1878 – 1896, and is home to the William Morris society. I had never heard of him before your mentioning that your blog background was one of his designs! I’m going to write about today’s adventure next week, and will include the photo we took of Kelmscott House!
    Amazing, hey?
    Sunshine xx

    • Yet another neat coincidence, Sunshine…William Morris was one of the pioneers of the Arts and Crafts Movement, one of my favourite time periods in antiques! Looking forward to your post! Hugs, Wendy

  19. Did you ever wonder who had the bigger anger management problem, Dagwood or Mr. Dithers?

  20. Hi Wendy,
    Love this. I always learn something new from your posts. Who knew of the Sardine Society. Cool!
    The potato startled me as it reminded me of a former employer….she had 4 heads too. Yeeesh!
    Were you a comic strip lover at one time?

    • Glad you enjoyed it, Barb…I always try to learn at least one new thing every day! Sorry about your boss! I used to read certain strips (Peanuts, Blondie, Family Circus, etc.), but I find that the print is too small for me to read easily now, so I basically don’t bother any more.


  21. I didn’t know Blondie went back that far. I do remember Betty Boop. And looking at the early bicycle made me think about the song “Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer do.” There’s a line about a bicycle built for two.

    I passed on the Style Award!

  22. Finally have time to catch up with my reading and here I am. Interesting and funny facts…especially that super-duper Potato! Tarzan made me nostalgic…I was quite a fan of that yell 😛

    Am so happy to be back! Missed reading my favorites 🙂 Off now to catch your latest.
    Hugs, H.

  23. jacquelincangro

    Hi Wendy, Loved this historic round-up! I had no idea that Tarzan’s yell was 3 different people! Makes Carol Burnett’s rendition even more impressive. 🙂
    I’m suddenly feeling an urge for a Cadbury Egg!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s