What you think you know may not be so! Amaze your friends with these fun facts.

Random Did You Know Facts


Mar 31, 2008

Tomato, Fruit or Vegetable

Did you know...

It is neither
It is actually a berry!
But then again most berries are considered a fruit!

Botanically, a tomato is the ovary, together with its seeds, of a flowering plant: therefore it is a fruit or, more precisely, a berry. However, the tomato is not as sweet as the foodstuffs usually called fruits and, from a culinary standpoint, it is typically served as part of a salad or main course of a meal,like vegetables, rather than as a dessert,like fruits. The term "vegetable" has no botanical meaning and is purely a culinary term. BUT the USA Supreme Court in 1893 declared the tomato a vegetable because they were usually eaten with a meal rather than as a dessert, like fruit and berries. The court did not reclassify the tomato for botanical purposes other than for paying a tax under a tariff act.

Due to the scientific definition of a fruit, the tomato remains a fruit when not dealing with US tariffs. Nor is it the only culinary vegetable that is a botanical fruit: eggplants, cucumbers, and squashes of all kinds (such as zucchini and pumpkins) share the same ambiguity. Notice most of these grow on vines.

The massive "tomato tree" growing inside the Walt Disney World Resort's experimental greenhouses in Lake Buena Vista, Florida may be the largest single tomato plant in the world. The plant has been recognized as a Guinness World Record Holder, with a harvest of more than 32,000 tomatoes and a total weight of 1,151.84 pounds. This one-of-a-kind plant yields thousands of tomatoes at one time from a single vine. Yong Huang, Epcot's manager of agricultural science discovered the unique plant in Beijing, China. Huang brought its seeds to Epcot and created the specialized greenhouse for the fruit to grow. The vine grows golf ball-sized tomatoes which are served at Walt Disney World restaurants. The world record-setting tomato tree can be seen by guests along the Living With the Land boat ride at Epcot.

Mar 28, 2008

Chewing Gum

Did you know...
Wrigley's was NOT the first manufacture of chewing gum.
People have enjoyed chewing gum-like substances in many lands and for many, many years. Some of the things they chewed were thickened resin and latex from certain kinds of trees. Others were from various sweet grasses, leaves, grains and waxes.

Lumps of spruce gum were sold in the eastern United States during the early 1800s, making it the first commercial chewing gum in this country. Sometime in 1850, sweetened paraffin wax became popular and eventually exceeded spruce gum in popularity. But that was soon replaced by chicle, the natural gum from the tropical evergreen tree, Manilkara chicle, native to southern North America and South America.
Chicle was used to make the first flavored chewing gum.

In 1850 Mexican General Santa Anna introduces chicle to Thomas Adams, who began to experiment with it as a substitute for rubber. Adams tried to make toys, masks, and rain boots out of the chicle, but every experiment failed. Despite the failures Adams continued to look for a way this chicle could be used. One day he popped a chunk in his mouth and found it to be very satisfying and pliable, but not very flavorful.

In 1870 Adams and his sons opened the first chewing gum factory making Adams New York No. 1.
In 1871 Adams created a licorice-flavored gum called Black Jack. This was the first flavored gum. But the flavor did not last long. On February 14, 1871 Adams was issued the patent on his chewing gum.

In 1880 a man named William White experimented with flavors after receiving a shipment of chicle. He solved the problem by adding sugar and corn syrup to the mix. The first flavor he used was peppermint and it stayed in the gum during chewing.

Adans Gum company is now part of Cadbury-Adams Company.

Mar 25, 2008

Hand-cranked Ice Cream Maker

Did you know...
The first hand-crank ice cream maker was invented by a woman named Nancy Johnson back in 1847. She applied and received a patent for it on September 9, 1847. She later sold her rights to William Young for just $200. He gave it the name of “Johnson Patent Ice-Cream Freezer.” At least with this name he still gave credit to the inventor.

Mar 23, 2008

Windshield Wipers

Did you know...
Before Henry Ford's Model A was manufactured, Mary Anderson of Birmingham, Alabama was granted a patent for a "window cleaning device" in November of 1903. Her innovative invention
could clean snow, rain, or sleet from a windshield by using a handle inside the car.
Her goal was to improve driver vision during stormy weather. This device was later
named "windshield wiper" which was a swinging arm device with a rubber blade that was
operated by the driver from within the vehicle via a lever.

By 1916 the manually driven windshield wiper became standard equipment on all American cars.

Meanwhile another woman inventor named Charlotte Bridgwood invented the first automatic windshield wiper. Charlotte Bridgwood, who was the president of the Bridgwood Manufacturing Company of New York, patented her electric roller-based windshield wiper called the "Storm Windshield Cleaner" in 1917. Her electric Storm Windshield Cleaner used rollers rather than blades and was electrically driven, freeing the hands for safer steering of the car.

But, her product was not a commercial success. It wasn't until a few years later, in 1923, that automatic windshield wipers became standard features on cars.

Mar 22, 2008

Tennis Anyone?

Did you know...
the first tennis raquet was made of human flesh?
Before you go eeek let me explain. The first games of tennis were played by French monks in the 11th or 12th century and they used their hands to swat the ball.It was more like the game of handball, played first by hitting against a wall, then later over a crude net. Because hitting a ball with one's hand proved to be a little too uncomfortable after a while,the players began using gloves.Some sewed netting between the fingers of the gloves.

By the 14th century, players had begun using what we could legitimately call a racquets, with strings made of gut bound in a wooden frame. Tennis at this time was an indoor game.

In 1874, Major Walter C. Wingfield registered his patent in London for the equipment and rules of an outdoor lawn game that is generally considered the first version of what we call tennis today.

A racquet with a metal head existed as early as 1889, but it never saw widespread use. The wooden frame didn't undergo any real challenge until 1967, when Wilson Sporting Goods introduced the first popular metal racquet, the T2000.
The metal was stronger and lighter than wood so it became a top seller.
Now tennis racquets are custom made to fit your playing needs.

Mar 18, 2008

The Zipper

Did you know...
Elias Howe,the man who invented the sewing machine received a patent in 1851 for an 'Automatic, Continuous Clothing Closure.' But Elias did not pursue marketing his clothing closure and as a result, Howe missed his chance to
become the recognized 'Father of the Zipper.'

Some forty-four years later, Mr. Whitcomb Judson marketed a 'Clasp Locker' a device similar to the 1851 Howe patent. Being first to market gave Whitcomb the credit of being the "Inventor of the Zipper", However, his 1893 patent did not use the word zipper.
Mr. Whitcomb Judson, of Chicago, called it a 'Clasp Locker' and it was a complicated
hook-and-eye shoe fastener.
Together with businessman Colonel Lewis Walker, Whitcomb launched the Universal Fastener Company to manufacture the new device. The clasp locker had its' public debut at the 1893 Chicago World's Fair and met with little commercial success.

Later the Swedish-born Gideon Sundback, an electrical engineer, was hired to work for the Universal Fastener Company. His good design skills and a marriage to the plant-manager's daughter, Elvira Aronson, led Sundback to the position of head designer at Universal.
He was responsible for improving the far from perfect 'Judson C-curity Fastener.
He busied himself at the design table after the death of his wife, and by
December of 1913, he had designed the modern zipper.

He increased the number of fastening elements from four per inch to ten or
eleven, had two facing-rows of teeth that pulled into a single piece by a slider, and
increased the opening for the teeth guided by the slider. The patent for the 'Separable Fastener' was issued in 1917. Sundback also created the manufacturing machine for the new zipper. The 'S-L' (or scrapless machine) took a special Y-shaped wire and cut scoops from it, then punched the scoop dimple and nib, and clamped each scoop on a cloth tape to produce a continuous zipper chain. Within the first year of operation, Sundback's zipper-making machinery was producing a few hundred feet of fastener per day.
The popular 'zipper' name came from the B. F. Goodrich Company, when they decided to use Gideon's fastener on a new type of rubber boots or galoshes and renamed the device the zipper, the name that lasted. Boots and tobacco pouches with a zippered closure were the two chief uses of the zipper during its early years. It took twenty more years to convince the fashion industry to seriously promote the novel closure on garments. It was first used on children's clothing.

Mar 5, 2008

Aglets, What's that?

Did you know...
The plastic things on the end of shoelaces are called aglets.
These aglets keep the shoelace ends from fraying, thus
making it easier to lace the shoes.
Aglets have been around since the 8th century or even as early as the 5th century.
At one time aglets were made from metal, glass or even stone and were
highly ornamental. The first agets were used on the ends of ribbons to fasten clothing together. This was of course before the button and buttonhole was invented.
Then in 1790, a gentleman by the name of Harvey Kennedy invented the modern
shoelace and by 1791 all shoelaces came complete with aglets on the ends.
The first shoelace aglets were made from stone and tin. The wealthy had aglets made from
precious metals such as gold and silver up until the 19th century. Plastic aglets came into
use at the turn of the 20th century. Agets can be changed to your liking.

The Light Bulb

Maier's images of (left) Swan's 1883 version of his light bulb, and (right) Maxim's bulb, which was actually patented by Black inventor Lewis Latimer.

Did you know...
9 out of 10 people believe Thomas Edison invented the light bulb.
But this isn't true; Joseph Wilson Swan, a physicist and chemist, invented the first light bulb in 1860.
Swan's light bulb design was substantially that used by Thomas Alva Edison in America nearly 20 years later. In 1880, after the improvement of vacuum techniques, both Swan and Edison produced a practical light bulb.
Lewis Howard Latimer, a pioneer in the development of the electric light bulb, was the only Black member of Thomas A. Edison's research team of noted scientists. While Edison invented the incandescent bulb, it was Latimer, a member of the Edison Pioneers, who developed and patented the process for manufacturing the carbon filaments.

Mar 4, 2008

The Betsy Ross Flag, Or is it?

Did you know...
During the Revolutionary War, several patriots made flags for our new nation. Among them were Cornelia Bridges, Elizabeth (Betsy) Ross, and Rebecca Young, all of whom were from Pennsylvania, and John Shaw of Annapolis, Maryland.

Although Betsy Ross, the best known of these persons, made flags for 50 years, there is no proof that she made the first Stars and Stripes. It is known that she made flags for the Pennsylvania State Navy in 1777. The flag popularly known as the "Betsy Ross flag," which arranged the stars in a circle, did not appear until the early 1790's.

Mar 3, 2008

Signing of the Declaration of Independence

Did you know...
Only two people signed the Declaration of Independence on July 4th. The last signature wasn't added until 5 years later.
Jacob Shallus, a Pennsylvania General Assembly clerk, "penned" the Constitution for a fee of $30 ($261.45 today). Governor Morris was responsible for the wording of the Constitution. It was stored in various cities until 1952, when it was placed in the National Archives Building in Washington, D.C. During the daytime, pages one and four of the document are displayed in a bullet-proof case. The case contains helium and water vapor to preserve the paper's quality. At night, the pages are lowered into a vault, behind five-ton doors that are designed to withstand a nuclear explosion. The entire Constitution is displayed only one day a year, September 17, the anniversary of the day the framers signed the document.

Thirty-nine men signed the Constitution.