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FASCINATING FACTS: 10 TRIVIAL FACTS TO IMPRESS YOUR FRIENDS WITH

In every social gathering, there is a person that never ceases to impress everyone with immense knowledge and insightful tales. Now, you too can be that person! We have brought 10 cool facts for social gatherings that will definitely leave an impression on people. From knowing about how pricey pineapples were to the first bikini gals, here are the 10 cool facts for social gatherings.

1. Sweet iced tea started as a symbol of luxury due to the combined expensive nature of tea, ice, and sugar. The oldest known recipe dates back to 1879.

Sweet iced tea was originally a luxury drink.

Sweet iced tea is one of the most common drinks today. It is also quite affordable as compared to the other super-expensive drinks that have made their way to the cafe tables. But sweet iced tea did not start as an affordable drink. It was seen as a symbol of wealth when it first started.

The oldest known recipe of sweet iced tea dates back to 1879. It was published in a community cookbook by Marion Cabell Tyree called Housekeeping in Old Virginia. The recipe actually had green tea in it as, at that time, mostly only the sweetened version of green tea was consumed. But during World War II, the major green tea sources were cut off from the United States and only the Indian black tea was available. So, Americans started drinking predominantly black tea.

Anyway, when it started, sweet iced tea was really expensive. The reason was the ingredients used – green tea, ice, and sugar – were expensive. Ice, in fact, was the most expensive as it was shipped from far places. It is said that even cold drinking water was a luxury at that time. (source)

2. German chocolate cake is not actually German. It was named after Samuel German, an American, who developed the type of baking chocolate that is used in the cake.

German chocolate cake/ Baker’s German’s Sweet Chocolate Bar

Although its name starts with “German,” German chocolate cake is in no way related to Germany. The cake’s origin dates back to 1852 when baker Samuel German, an American, developed a new type of dark chocolate to be used for baking by the Baker’s Chocolate Company. The product was named “Baker’s German’s Sweet Chocolate” in honor of Samuel German.

On June 3, 1957, a recipe called the “German’s Chocolate Cake” appeared in The Dallas Morning News as the recipe of the day. A homemaker, Mrs. George Clay, was the creator of the recipe. The recipe used the chocolate that Samuel German developed almost 105 years ago and became quite popular. The chocolate brand was owned by General Foods at that time. They noticed the popularity and distributed the recipe to other newspapers. This skyrocketed the sales of Baker’s Chocolate by 73%!

In the middle of mass distribution, the fact that the cake is not actually German got lost and the misconception developed that German chocolate cake was, in fact, from Germany. (source)

3. Even though tomatoes are an indispensable part of Italian cuisine, they were not incorporated into Italian foods until the late 17th or early 18th century. Before that, they were just used for their beauty as a tabletop decoration. Also, the original Italian recipes involving tomatoes are said to have Spanish origins.

Tomatoes were not part of Italian cuisine in the beginning.

When anyone says “Italian food,” the first thing that comes to mind is pasta with tomato sauce. Pasta and tomatoes make up the essence of Italian cuisine. But surprisingly, tomatoes were not even part of the original Italian cuisine. The first ever recorded mention of tomatoes in the Italian diet was on October 31, 1548. Apparently, it was a letter from the house of Cosimo de’ Medici informing the safe arrival of a basket of tomatoes.

In ancient Italy, tomatoes were merely grown in vegetable gardens for their ornamental value.  Even poor people didn’t consume them as they were not as filling as the other available fruits and vegetables. The rich used tomatoes just as a tabletop decoration.

It was not until the late 17th century or the early 18th century that tomatoes were incorporated into the cuisine. The earliest cookbook that had a recipe based on tomatoes dates back to 1692, and it is said that the author had copied these recipes from Spanish sources. (source)

4. The idea of M&Ms was copied from the chocolate pellets that the Spanish army used to eat during the Spanish Civil War. The pellets were designed so that soldiers could have chocolate in their rations without it melting in tropical climates. The first big customer for the M&Ms was the US army.

The concept of M&Ms was copied from the chocolate pellets that the Spanish army during the Civil War. The design was made so that the soldiers could enjoy chocolate in tropical climates without melting.

Frank C. Mars, son of the founder of the Mars Company, Forrest Mars Sr., copied the idea of M&Ms from the Spanish Civil War. In the 1930s during the war, Frank saw that the soldiers were indulging on “Smarties,” a type of chocolate pellet made by the British. The pellets had a colored shell of hardened sugar syrup that prevented the chocolate inside from melting.

Frank patented his own method in 1941 and started production the same year. The company was named “M&M Limited,” named after his father, Forrest Mars, and Bruce Murrie, the son of President William F. R. Murrie of Hershey Chocolate. This is the source of the two Ms. Bruce Murrie had a 20% share in the company which allowed the M&Ms to be made from Hershey Chocolate. The partnership was also based on the fact that during that time, Hershey controlled the market of rationed chocolate.

As history would have it, the first big customer for the company was the US army. The army saw it as a way to feed soldiers chocolate without having it melt in tropical climates. During World War II, M&Ms were sold exclusively to the army. This resulted in an increasing demand for the candies causing the company to grow bigger.

The tagline, “Melts in your mouth, not in your hand”  was started by the brand in 1949. (source)

5. It is a myth that Einstein failed a math exam. He actually failed his entrance test to Zurich Polytechnic as he scored poorly in botany, zoology, and the language sections.

Einstein never failed math. It is a myth.

Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Buckminster Fuller – they all have something in common apart from the fact that they have revolutionized the respective fields they worked in. They were either dropouts or expelled from college. In other words, none of them finished college. Common people love to associate prior failures with current successful people as it gives them a sense of inspiration that if those people can, they can too. So, when the myth about Einstein failing math gained momentum, no one stopped to check the sources and everybody started taking it as a fact.

Einstein never failed a math test. From a young age, Einstein had a knack for solving problems. It’s mind-blowing that in just a matter of four months, Einstein authored four papers that completely altered everything we knew about the workings of the universe. And, he did all that in his spare time, because in his day job, he had a lot of free time!

But he did fail once. He failed the college entrance exam to Zurich Polytechnic. Einstein was always good at math, but he was really bad in the other subjects. He flunked the botany, zoology, and language sections in the entrance exam. This is where the myth originated. (source)

6. Once upon a time, the Aztecs used cacao beans as a form of currency since they believed them to be a gift of Quetzalcoatl, the god of wisdom.

Cacao beans were used as currency by the Aztecs.

Chocolate started its journey in Mesoamerica. People there were making fermented chocolate beverages as early as 450 BCE. The Aztecs had a very different view of chocolate. They believed that the cacao beans were a gift from the god of wisdom, Quetzalcoatl. This led to the cacao beans holding so much value that they were used as a form of currency!

Originally, chocolate was just consumed as a liquid. It was either consumed bitter or mixed with spices and corn puree. The drink was considered an aphrodisiac and was believed to give strength to the drinker. Even today, some locals in southern Mexico consume chocolate in the same manner.

It was only after chocolate made its way to Europe that sugar was added to it and it became the chocolate that we know today. (source)

7. A second is so called because it divides the hour by 60 for the second time, the first time being called a “minute.”

A second is called a second because it is the second division of the hour, after a minute.

The second is a unit of time and has a very logical, mathematical definition. But, the term actually originated as the “second minute.” The first minute, or what is rightly known as the “prime minute,” was the first division of the hour by 60. The prime minute is what we know today as simply a “minute.” Now, when the prime minute is divided by 60 again, it gives the “second minute” or the second that we know today. (source)

8. The Romans were some of the first people to wear bikinis.

The “bikini” mosaic, showing athletic women.

Bikinis might look like a modern, liberating piece of clothing for modern women, but in reality, women have been wearing bikinis since the 4th century! In an artwork in Villa Romana del Casale, Sicily that dates back to the Diocletian Period, women were depicted wearing garments that resemble modern bikinis. The artwork is a floor mosaic that has the images of 10 women known as the “Bikini Girls.”

It’s amazing that these women are depicted as working out. While one of them is lifting weights, the other is throwing a discus. There were also a few who seemed to be playing handball and dancing. These ancient, Roman women were athletes and dancers. The part of mosaics with these women is the most replicated among the 37 million colored tiles at the location.

Similar mosaic artworks have also been found in Tellaro, Italy and Patti, Sicily. (source)

9. Pineapples used to be so expensive in the 18th century that people would rent them as a centerpiece for their party.

Pineapple were luxury items in the 18th century.

It’s hard to believe that once upon a time, pineapples used to be an item of luxury. Only wealthy people were able to afford them. The crowned top of the fruit combined with its gem-like texture was seen as a symbol of wealth and power by ancient people.

Christopher Columbus was the first to discover this fruit. When he brought it back to Spain, the people, especially the royalty, was taken aback by its deliciousness. It was a rare fruit that people had never seen before. It was difficult and costly to transport the fruit, so it immediately became a symbol of wealth and power.

When the pineapple made its way to England in the 17th century, it brought its aura of royalty around it. In the 18th century, a single pineapple could cost as much as $8,000 in today’s money! It became so desirable that people would rent a pineapple for the night to show off among friends and other party goers.

By the 20th century, the US started producing pineapples on a large scale. and it became affordable to the masses. (123)

10. Horses have more in common to rhinos than they do to deers.

Horses and rhinos are related.

Who would have thought that horses and rhinos are related! They hang on the same branch of the evolutionary tree. Although scientists had known the similarity between the two for a long time, they were yet to discover any physical link between the two. Horses and rhinos belong to the same biological group known as “perissodactyls.” The missing physical link has come in the form of a fossil discovered in India that scientists claim to have been the common ancestor of both horses and rhinos.

The fossils belonged to a creature known as Cambaytherium thewissi. In the past 10 years, more than 200 bones of Cambaytherium thewissi were dug up by scientists in Gujarat, India. The bones were restructured to draw a picture of the creature. The picture turned out to resemble the biological group perissodactyls. Now, scientists believe that Cambaytherium thewissi must have been the common ancestor of all the animals belonging to the perissodactyls group that includes horses and rhinos.

The Cambaytherium thewissi walked the Earth 54.5 million years ago. They might have migrated to other areas during that time, and their descendants must have adapted to the evolutionary and environmental changes of the new areas. This is may be why we see no physical similarity between a horse and a rhino, although they are genetically connected. (12)

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