Peg DeMarco

Peg DeMarco

Taking a much-needed break from COVID-19 and the depressing news of the world, I thought it might be nice to change pace for this column and share some fun stuff.

For example, in the category of worst business decisions ever made by a mega-franchise, McDonald’s bubblegum-flavored broccoli and attempt to hide it in kids’ Happy Meals takes the award. The attempt to get kids to eat healthier didn’t go over well with the child testers, who not only were confused by the taste but annoyed that Ronald McDonald had turned on them. It took quite a while for Ronald to earn their trust after that blunder.

Somehow, and in some way, it’s obvious that liquor must have been involved in this next one. We now know that armadillo shells are bulletproof.

Yes, it’s true thanks to one Texas man who was hospitalized when a bullet he shot at an armadillo ricocheted off the animal and hit him in the jaw. Sweet retribution for the armadillo who was unhurt, but tough on the embarrassed man showing off in front of his cowboy friends.

The Mother of the Year Award has to go to an octopus. Why? A mother octopus lays 56,000 eggs at a time and spends six months so devoted to protecting the eggs that she doesn’t eat. The babies are the size of a grain of rice when they’re born and Mom fasts for six months. Now that’s dedication.

I didn’t know this one but the American flag was designed by a high school student and the design only earned him a B minus. It started as a school project for Bob Heft’s junior-year history class in 1958.

His design had 50 stars even though Alaska and Hawaii weren’t states yet. Heft figured the two would earn statehood soon and showed the government his design. After President Dwight D. Eisenhower called to say his design was approved, Heft’s teacher quickly changed his grade to an A.

Many of us know that our treasured Teddy bears originated during Theodore Roosevelt’s presidency, but few may realize that Roosevelt loved all animals, had a pet hyena named Bill, a one-legged rooster, a badger, a pony, and a small bear.

The biggest loser of all time has nothing to do with weight. It’s got to be Percy Spencer. Percy was the inventor of the microwave and only received $2 for his discovery. He was working as a researcher for American Appliance Company (now Raytheon) when he noticed a radar set using electromagnetic waves melted the candy bar in his pocket. He had the idea to make a metal box using microwaves to heat food, but the company was the one to file the patent. The $2 was actually a bonus — and that’s all he got for the invention all of us can’t seem to live without.

It took a while, but Europeans finally had the courage to eat tomatoes. Why were they afraid of tomatoes?

Hernán Cortés brought the tomato seeds to Europe in 1519, a mighty long time ago, with the intent of the fruits being used ornamentally in gardens.

By the 1700s, aristocrats started eating tomatoes, but they were convinced the fruits were poisonous because people would die after eating them. In reality, the acidity from the tomatoes brought out lead in their pewter plates, so they actually died of lead poisoning.

Okay, we all know that Ludwig van Beethoven is one of the greatest composers in musical history. The renowned pianist went to a Latin school and learned some math, but never multiplication or division, only addition. And since there were no adding machines during his time or Microsoft Excel, once, when he needed to multiply 62 by 50, he wrote 62 down a line 50 times and then added it all up.

Sometimes, what’s staring at you from your plate can help you make history. It did for Bill Bowerman, a track and field coach in the 1950s who didn’t like how running shoes were made. He first created the Cortez shoe, but still wanted to make a shoe even lighter that could be worn on various surfaces.

During a waffle breakfast with his wife in 1970, the idea came to him of using the waffle texture on the sole of running shoes and, two years later, the waffle sole shoe made their appearance in the 1972 U.S. Olympic track and field trials.

A trademark is often worth its weight in gold because it can last forever. For instance, at the start of any movie made by MGM, even today, that roar of the iconic lion at the audience is trademarked.

Even though MGM has gone through several lion mascots, the sound of the roar is always the same and patented with the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

And, coming up last, think about this: No number before 1,000 contains the letter A.

Am I the only one who didn’t realize this? Yes, I confess that I actually took the time to think about it until I got to a thousand.

Peg DeMarco is a Morganton resident who writes a weekly features column for The News Herald. Contact her at pegdemarco@earthlink.net.

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