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    21 Shocking, Surprising, And Truly Unforgettable Facts I Learned This Week

    During World War II, many everyday products like toilet paper were rationed for soldiers. British soldiers only got three sheets of toilet paper a day, while American soldiers received a whopping 22 sheets in comparison.

    1. The movie posters for both The Rocky Horror Picture Show and Jaws were designed by Bill Wallen. After releasing the Jaws poster in 1975, he decided to reference the memorable shark jaws in his work for 1976's Rocky Horror Picture Show by using the red lips from the opening scene of the movie. To really hammer the point home, the poster even included the line, "A Different Set Of Jaws." Two years later, The Rocky Horror Picture Show soundtrack was set to be released for the first time in the United States. The album art once again referenced Wallen's past work, this time with the line, "A different kind of Rocky," to reference Wallen's work on the poster for 1976's Rocky.

    the two movie posters

    2. In 1959, nine-year-old Ronald McNair entered the Lake City Public Library in South Carolina. The library was segregated, but McNair, who was Black, ignored the rules and attempted to check out a stack of books about science and calculus. When he reached the counter, the librarian said, "We don't circulate books to Negroes." McNair stood his ground and refused to leave the library, even when the police were called. When the police arrived with McNair's mother in tow, they decided that McNair was not making a public disturbance and allowed him to leave the library with the books after his mother promised she would pay for them if they were not returned on time.

    ronald in a NASA uniform

    McNair's childhood love of science led him to receive his Ph.D. in physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In 1978, he was selected by NASA as a mission specialist astronaut, and was one of the first Black people to fly in space. In January 1985, McNair was assigned to the Challenger space shuttle. On January 28, 1986, the Challenger exploded 73 seconds after takeoff, killing McNair and the six others on board. In 2011, the Lake City Public Library reopened as the Dr. Ronald E. McNair Life History Center to honor McNair.

    Ronald posing in a NASA space uniform

    3. Ever wondered why it seems like nearly every movie villain is British? Turns out, it's because of the perceptions many Americans have regarding British accents! Americans tend to view British accents as both signs of high intellect and untrustworthiness, which lends to the villain stereotype.

    4. While Disney's The Little Mermaid is based on the 1837 fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen, filmmakers took some creative liberties while making the film. Despite the fact that an evil sea witch appears in the original story, she had a very limited role. Disney decided to expand her character's storyline to make her the main villain and named her Ursula.

    Disney really needed to make The Little Mermaid a hit. Their previous movie, The Black Cauldron, was their most ambitious film yet and cost over $45 million to make, but only brought in $23 million at the box office. Disney hired Howard Ashman and his writing partner, Alan Menken, to work on The Little Mermaid. Ashman, who was the playwright and lyricist behind Little Shop of Horrors, was fresh off of a failed project and was in need of a career boost. Ashman believed that incorporating music in the film was the perfect way to make it a smash hit. While working on the film, he noticed filmmakers were having trouble nailing down the look of Ursula.

    howard ashman

    Ashman looked at several of the mockups and noticed one that he said resembled Divine, the drag star who had starred in Hairspray. Ashman actually knew Divine, as they both were part of Baltimore's gay scene. Filmmakers continued to use Divine as inspiration for the character. Sadly, Divine died in 1988 and never got to see the movie.

    Divine on stage

    5. Am I the only person who thought rabbits lived off of carrots? Turns out, carrots are actually kind of like candy for rabbits because of their high sugar content, and should only be eaten in moderation.

    6. While the Lakers are pretty much synonymous with Los Angeles now, the name actually comes from the team's Minnesota roots. The basketball team was founded in Detroit, Michigan in 1946, and was known as the Detroit Gems. Just a year later, they moved to Minnesota and adopted the Lakers moniker to honor Minnesota's state motto of "The Land of 10,000 Lakes." Even though the team moved to Los Angeles in 1960, they decided to keep the name.

    old photo of some Lakers players practicing in their uniforms

    7. Steve Jobs famously had a very specific diet. He was known as a fruitarian, which meant that he ate mostly fruit, along with certain nuts and grains. Jobs would occasionally pick a particular fruit or vegetable and eat only that for long stretches of time. According to Walter Isaacson's biography of Jobs, he drank so much carrot juice that people noticed his skin would often take on an orange hue. In addition to the strict diet, Jobs also fasted for long periods of time, sometimes going weeks without eating. Even when he was diagnosed with cancer, he maintained his fruitarian ways.

    close up of steve

    When Ashton Kutcher nabbed a role playing the Apple founder in the 2013 movie Jobs, he decided to adopt the fruitarian lifestyle in order to get in the right headspace for the film. After learning that Jobs often drank carrot juice, Kutcher said that he "started just drinking carrot juice nonstop all day long." Later that evening, he started feeling shooting pains and was rushed to the hospital, where he was diagnosed with pancreatitis as a result of drinking too much carrot juice.


    8. While many shark species have tiny teeth all over their bodies, whale sharks actually take it up a notch: not only do they have teeth on their bodies, but they also have teeth on their eyeballs. These teeth, called dermal denticles, protect the whale shark's eyes, as they have no eyelids.

    whale shark

    9. When President Zachary Taylor suddenly died on July 9, 1850, his death became the subject of many conspiracy theories. After all, Taylor was a war hero who was in relatively good health. On July 4, 1850, Taylor gave Fourth of July remarks, then ate a large number of cherries, topped off with a glass of milk. Soon after, he began suffering from intense stomach pains and took to his bed, where he remained until he died several days later. The official cause of death was cholera morbus.

    president taylor

    Shortly after Taylor's death, conspiracy theories began to swirl. Some thought he had been killed by pro-slavery Southerners, especially after he decided it would be best for California to join the Union as a free state. Others believed that he had been murdered in order to pave the way for Millard Fillmore to take office. After all, when Taylor died, Fillmore swiftly replaced every single Cabinet member, something that was unprecedented for the time. The theories persisted for over a century, until 1991 when Taylor's body was exhumed. Medical examiners declared once and for all that he died from gastroenteritis that might have been caused by the White House's contaminated water supply.

    drawing of the bed-ridden president surrounded by people

    10. In addition to having a dominant hand, we also have a dominant nostril. Most people do about 75% of their breathing out of one nostril, and only 25% out of the other.

    11. When the Food Network debuted in 1993, it focused heavily on chefs, high-class restaurants, and intense cooking techniques. The channel steadily gained popularity through the 1990s and turned chefs like Bobby Flay and Emeril Lagasse into television personalities. After the terrorist attacks of September 11, even more people were drawn to the channel as an escape from the devastating news because they played their normal programming instead of airing special news reports.

    bobby and emeril

    As a result of this new audience, the Food Network decided to focus their attention on programming that they thought had an even wider appeal. They began developing reality cooking shows like Chopped and Iron Chef that didn't solely focus on cooking techniques and instead amped up the drama and competition. This pivot also paved the way for the careers of chefs like Paula Deen, Rachael Ray, and Guy Fieri, whose takes on comfort food appealed to Americans trying to distract themselves from difficult times.

    12. When Woodrow Wilson married Edith Bolling in 1915, she made headlines for being "a real American Princess of [Native] Indian Lineage." In fact, Edith was actually a direct descendant of Pocahontas, with the linkage dating back 10 generations. Edith supposedly loved to flaunt her relation to Pocahontas, but often faced criticism for her lack of attention to causes that supported Native Americans. Pocahontas wasn't the only big name Edith could connect her lineage to. She was also related to Thomas Jefferson, Robert E. Lee, Martha Washington, and Letitia Tyler.

    13. Super Bowl I aired in January 1967 on both CBS and NBC. Unfortunately, neither network thought to save the footage, meaning that the first-ever Super Bowl was believed to be missing for years. Luckily, Martin Haupt decided to record the game, unbeknownst to his family. He kept the recordings a secret for eight years until he was diagnosed with cancer and suggested to his ex-wife that she could sell the tapes to pay for college for their children. Soon after Haupt's death, his ex put the tapes in the attic, where they sat for decades.

    football game

    In 2005, Troy, Martin's son, got a phone call from Clint Hepner, one of his childhood friends. Hepner said that he had read an article in Sports Illustrated that said if a tape of Super Bowl I existed, it would be worth an estimated $1 million. Hepner remembered seeing a box of tapes marked Super Bowl in Troy's attic when they used to play up there as kids. Sure enough, Haupt and his mother were able to unearth the tapes and contacted the NFL to see if they could collect their $1 million.

    cbs cameraman filming a game

    Shockingly, the NFL said they didn't need the tapes, but offered Haupt $30,000 for them. He declined the deal. The NFL then told him that if he sold the tapes to anyone else, he would face severe legal action, as the NFL technically owns the content on the tapes. Haupt told the New York Times that the saga was "like you’ve won the golden ticket but you can’t get into the chocolate factory." Ahead of Super Bowl L, the NFL pieced together their own version of Super Bowl I to air using old footage, but never mentioned Haupt's side of the story.

    players lifting up a coach to celebrate

    14. While most of the country was all in on The Simpsons, First Lady Barbara Bush was not a fan. She said the show was "the dumbest thing I've ever seen." The Simpsons writing staff decided to respond to her critiques through a letter written by Marge Simpson, the show's matriarch. In the letter, Marge wrote "Heaven knows we’re far from perfect and, if truth be known, maybe just a wee bit short of normal; but as Dr. Seuss says, 'a person is a person.'"

    Bush jokingly sent a response of her own: "I am glad you spoke your mind; I foolishly didn’t know you had one." She apologized for the remarks and the feud seemed to be settled until, in 1992, President George H.W. Bush dissed The Simpsons in a speech. "We are going to keep on trying to strengthen the American family to make American families a lot more like the Waltons and a lot less like the Simpsons!"

    barbara bush

    15. Humans have two types of long-term memories: declarative and procedural. There are two separate branches of declarative memories: episodic, which includes things that have happened to you, and semantic, which are factually based. Meanwhile, procedural memories are related to skills like riding a bike or throwing a ball. Even if the memories you have of doing these things are wiped away, chances are, you'll still remember the actual process of doing them because the area where procedural memories are stored tends to have less nerve cell turnover, thus preserving skills for longer periods of time.

    16. In 1952, Johanna Mankiewicz was struggling with a geometry problem. She decided to write a letter to none other than Albert Einstein seeking help with the challenging assignment. "I realize that you are a very busy man, but you are the only person we know of who could supply us with the answer," she wrote in the letter. Einstein actually loved responding to letters from children and decided to offer his expertise to Mankiewicz. The letter made headlines and the world eagerly waited for Einstein's response.


    Unfortunately, Einstein took the challenge a little too seriously and offered up a solution to the problem that was a little out of Mankiewicz's skill set. Instead of helping her with the homework, the genius actually confused Mankiewicz even more, and soon, headlines like "Einstein flunks out as geometry teacher" began to circulate. After following the story, Leon Benkoff, a dentist, wrote to the LA Mirror and told them that Einstein had actually made a mathematical error in attempting to solve the problem. Sure enough, after looking into Benkoff's claims, the newspaper found that Einstein had actually interpreted the problem incorrectly, and crowned him "the man who corrected Einstein."

    woman doing a math problem

    17. Back in the age of dinosaurs, days were a tad bit shorter. Instead of clocking in at the typical 24 hours, days were only about 23 hours and 30 minutes long. In fact, 70 million years ago, the Earth rotated about 372 times a year instead of the 365 times we're now accustomed to.

    18. The "Midnight Train To Georgia" actually was headed to a different location when it was first written! In 1970, Jim Weatherly wrote a song called "Midnight Plane to Houston." He got the idea after overhearing his friend Lee Majors on the phone with his girlfriend Farrah Fawcett. Fawcett had told Majors that she was going to take "the midnight plane to Houston" to go visit her parents. The conversation stuck with Weatherly, and he wrote the song "Midnight Plane to Houston" in about 45 minutes, with Majors and Fawcett being the main characters.

    farrah on a skateboard

    When producers heard the song, they loved it and wanted to give it to Cissy Houston, but asked Weatherly to change the location because of Houston's last name. The song was changed to mention Georgia, and Houston recorded it. A few years later, the song was given to Gladys Knight and the Pips, who recorded their own version of the track. Their cover became a smash hit, reaching No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and winning a Grammy Award for Best R&B Vocal Performance by a Duo, Group, or Chorus.

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    Buddah Records / Via

    19. During World War II, many everyday products like toilet paper were rationed for soldiers. British soldiers only got three sheets of toilet paper a day, while American soldiers received a whopping 22 sheets in comparison.

    20. The Doritos Locos taco has been a staple of the Taco Bell menu since its release in 2012. The process for creating the beloved taco began in 2009, when CEO Greg Creed decided he wanted to celebrate the chain's upcoming 50th birthday by reinventing the brand's signature crunchy taco. After a 30-day ideation period, the idea for Doritos Locos tacos was born. In fact, Todd Mills, a major Taco Bell fan, had written a letter pitching the idea to the brand and had even created a Facebook page advocating for the "Taco Shells from Doritos Movement." In 2012, Mills received a call from Taco Bell telling him that his dream was becoming a reality.

    doritos tacos

    During consumer taste tests, the tacos bombed and received poor reviews. After spending two more years and over 40 trials tweaking the recipe, Taco Bell unveiled the Doritos Locos taco in 2012. The brand even had to hire 15,000 people to keep up with the overwhelming demand for the new product, placing two to three additional employees in each restaurant. Mills never sought compensation for his idea. When he was diagnosed with brain cancer, Taco Bell donated $1,000 to help him pay for medical bills. Mills died in 2013.

    21. And finally, Diana Nyad became the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida without a shark cage. Nyad began competitively swimming at age 10. After graduating from college in 1973, Nyad set several marathon swimming records, completing the 22-mile Bay of Naples race in eight hours and 11 minutes in 1974, and conquering a 28-mile swim around Manhattan in seven hours and 57 minutes, beating the previous record by nearly an hour. In 1979, Nyad swam 102 miles from North Bimini to Juno Beach, Florida, in 27 hours and 30 minutes, which was the longest ocean swim on record at the time.

    Nyad at an event

    Nyad first attempted to swim from Cuba to Florida in 1978. She swam with a shark cage, but had to quickly abandon the challenge when she came across rough seas. Soon after, Nyad gave up distance swimming to pursue a career in broadcast journalism. By 2011, she was inspired to attempt the Cuba–Florida swim once again, but failed three more times. One attempt ended after she had an asthma attack, the second ended after she suffered from painful jellyfish stings, and the third was brought to a stop due to lightning.

    nyad swimming

    In 2013, at age 64, Nyad attempted the swim for the fourth time since 2011. She had a crew of 35 aiding her through the process, which she attempted without a shark cage. On September 2, Nyad completed the swim in 52 hours, 54 minutes, and 18.6 seconds. In the days following the feat, many said she cheated by being in contact with other people during the swim. Nyad shot back and said that she never touched a boat or another person for support during the swim, but needed to stop to get special equipment from her team to prevent jellyfish stings.

    nyad being greeted as she swims on shore

    What was the most interesting fact you learned this week? Let us know in the comments!