Tag Archives: chocolate

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 Glazebrook...photo 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 softwood...it'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…

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I’m a Little Bit ADD, I’m a Little Bit Rock and Roll (With Apologies to the Osmonds)…

Fasten your seatbelts, readers…it’s going to be a bumpy ride…I’ll be going through topics faster than my kids can make ice cream disappear.  You’ll laugh; you’ll groan; you’ll salivate; you’ll wish you were having dinner at my house!

1.  Best. Candy. Ever.  Utah didn’t just give us the Osmond family…they also have the Sweet Candy Company which makes the best candy ever: Raspberry Sticks, which are described on the package as “raspberry jelly centers dipped in luscious milk chocolate” (this is NOT a lie!).  I discovered these bits of deliciousness at our local Co-Op when they were marked down after Christmas last week…I bought three boxes…unfortunately, they were gone when I went back for more last night!

Sweet's Raspberry Sticks...

2. Did You Miss a Post?  It seems that my blog host may have been having issues last week…just wondering if everyone who subscribes got notice of my Friday post on the Bay of Fundy…it was a “rerun” from the early days.  I wasn’t the only one having problems: my friend Renée at Life in the Boomer Lane moved her blog to a different host, and her subscribers aren’t getting their notifications (if you’re a fan of Renée’s, the link in my “She Said” blogroll still works!).  Poor Todd at Todd Pack’s Messy Desk put up a post on Thursday that got far fewer comments than usual…he thought the post was bad, but I tried to access it twice, and got the message “Post Not Found” both times!  He ended up taking it down.

3. Cooking Up a Storm.  Jim cooked twice last week, making a turkey dinner with dressing, mashed pototoes, and vegetables last Sunday (and Grammie Clark’s cheesecake for dessert!), and a lovely seafood chowder on Wednesday (with homemade biscuits!).  This past Sunday, I used frozen tomatoes from our garden to make some more pizza sauce (took several hours to cook them down), and made a deep dish pizza (which I forgot to photograph before people dove into it!).  For dessert, we had sour cream chocolate cake.

Homemade Pizza Sauce...I wish you had "Smellovision"...yum!

Leftover Pizza...I cooked the dough a little too long, but it tasted good!

 

Sour Cream Chocolate Cake...sinfully delicious!

4. Mr. James to the Rescue (Again).  When I came downstairs Sunday morning, Dad informed me that Jake was “having trouble” again.  He’d obviously gotten into something he shouldn’t have, and was pooping everywhere (Jake, not my dad!).  Consequently, the fuzzy white hair on his rear end wasn’t so white any more (still Jake).  After giving the dog a bath, I called our resident hairdresser and dog groomer, Jim (aka “Mr. James”) downstairs to do a quick trim on our schoodle’s bum.  I love that man!  We decided it would be best to sterilize the scissors with a little bleach before putting them in the dishwasher…

5. Valentine’s Day.  I’m finally taking down the Christmas books display at the bookstore and replacing it with a Valentine’s Day-themed selection.  Books with the word “love” in the title will be 10% off for the next little while…

Lover's Secrets...10% off...any takers?

6. Crossing Guards With Magical Powers.  As Jim and I were watching our usual Wednesday night comedies on ABC, a commercial that featured a crossing guard caught my cynical eye: she stops the kids in the middle of traffic to take a decongestant (?!!).  Jim helpfully pointed out that she had also stopped the traffic: “She’s an omnipotent crossing guard!” he declared.  I thought The Omnipotent Crossing Guard would make a great blog title.

7. Off the Map.  Speaking of ABC, I’m loving the new drama by the creators of Grey’s Anatomy, Off The Map.  It’s got interesting plotlines and characterization, cool guest stars (Michael McKean and Cheech Marin, so far), and a leading man from New Zealand named Martin Henderson, whose pecs are as sexy as his accent (don’t worry, guys…there are beautiful women on it too)!

Martin Henderson as Dr. Ben Keeton...hot in the jungle...

8. Just Call Me ‘Ms. Technical’.  Yesterday, Dad’s monitor started flickering for no apparent reason.  I got on the phone with Jim (the computer tech), who advised me to try my monitor to see if if would work.  After unhooking Dad’s heavy old-style monitor and hauling it down off the desk out of the way, I carried my slim-line monitor over from my office across the hall, only to find that it didn’t have the right connector to plug into Dad’s computer.  I carried my monitor back, and hooked it back up again.  I only swore a little bit.  Then I went into the back room and pulled out the old (massive) monitor to try it.  I connected it to Dad’s computer (right connection, but no picture…hurrah!).  Still flickering though, from what I could see.  Unhooking it again, I was getting ready to put it away when Dad insisted on carrying it for me (have you ever been offered help when you didn’t really want it?…sigh).  After reconnecting the regular monitor, the problem persisted, and I did a Google search, which suggested that if it wasn’t the monitor, it was likely the video card.   I called Jim again, who said he would look at it in the morning.  After we got home, I floated my “video card theory” for Jim, and was shot down.  Fast forward to this morning:  I turned on Dad’s computer and the monitor was fine.  I forgot the standard advice offered every week by the technicians on The IT Crowd: “Have you tried turning it on and off?” 

9. I’m the Last One Picked for Wii Games Too.  The kids conned me into playing Wii with them the other night.  I totally suck at baseball and tennis…at least I started to get the hang of bowling halfway through!  Damn that hand-eye coordination…I wonder if they have word games for Wii?

10. Classic Albums Live: The Who

Where?  The Imperial Theatre. 

When?  Saturday night. 

What?  An amazing group of musicians recreating the “Who’s Next?” album. 

Why?  I bought Jim tickets for Christmas, and we desperately needed a Date Night!

How?  Very skillfully!  This was our second Classic Albums Live show (we saw the Supertramp: Crime of the Century show last year and it was equally great!).  The band did an excellent job recreating the album note-for-note, and this folkie girl was instantly transported back 35 years to her “headbanger period” (age 15-16).  All the musicians and singers were very talented, and the drummer was awesome! 

If you have a chance to see a Classic Albums Live show, I’d heartily recommend it!

This concludes your tour through my rather addled Tuesday brain…I hope that the transitions didn’t cause any whiplash!

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