Ridiculous History

Ridiculous History

By iHeartPodcasts

History is beautiful, brutal and, often, ridiculous. Join Ben Bowlin and Noel Brown as they dive into some of the weirdest stories from across the span of human civilization in Ridiculous History, a podcast by iHeartRadio.

Episodes

It Is Literally Time For The Leap Year Episode

Let's be honest: leap year sounds pretty nuts when you explain it. We have the regular 365-day year three times in a row, but every fourth year we add one extra day in February. (With... several other notable caveats.) Join Ben, Noel and Max as they figure out where leap year came from, why it's a thing, and whether it's still genuinely better than nothing. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
29/02/24·48m 55s

The Ridiculous History of Hot Sauce

Today, hot sauce is a global phenomenon, with millions of bottles sold every single year. But where does it come from? What makes it so popular -- and why won't water douse the heat when things get out of hand? Tune in as Ben, Noel and Max explore the spicy origin story of hot sauce.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
27/02/24·56m 7s

CLASSIC: Why does the Guinness Beer Company Track World Records?

Odds are you've heard about the Guinness Book of World Records, the famous, often inaccurate compilation of various impressive, important, and ridiculous feats from people across the planet. But how did it come about? How on earth did a brewer become the repository of all this strange knowledge? Tune in for a surprising peek behind the keg -- and into the cups -- of Guinness history and human ambition.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
22/02/24·32m 23s

20 Questions: A Ridiculous Crossover, Part One

Long-time listeners will know Ben, Noel and Max are big fans of their peer podcast, Ridiculous Crime -- but what happens when the guys join forces with Elizabeth, Zaron and Dave? Tune in for the first part of this two-part series, as Ridiculous Crime and Ridiculous History seek to stump each other in a lively game of 20 Questions, all based on strange historical flexes.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
20/02/24·1h 5m

Tecumseh's Curse, Part Two: Boy, It's Tough to be President

As curses go, Tecumseh's is, according to the legend, ridiculously specific. Every US President elected in a year divisible by twenty is doomed to meet misfortune, ruin and possibly death in office. But how did this curse acquire such purported specificity? In part two of this special two-part series, Ben, Noel and Max explore how the curse entered popular culture, as well as the examples true believers point to as evidence.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
15/02/24·55m 49s

Tecumseh's Curse, Part One: Rise of The Prophet

Did the legendary Shawnee chief Tecumseh really lay a curse on US Presidents? In the first part of this special two-part series, Ben, Noel and Max dive deep into Tecumseh's origin, his mission to unite Native peoples against the ruthless expansion of the new United States -- all to learn why so many people believe every president elected in a year ending with zero dies in office.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
13/02/24·47m 31s

History Is Absolutely Riddled With Famous Mistranslations

True story: back in the late 70s, US President Jimmy Carter accidentally claimed he'd left the states forever, and wanted to sleep with everyone in Poland. According to legendary marketing lore, Pepsi accidentally told the nation of China that soda would bring their relatives back from the grave. And don't get us started on weird car names! Join Ben, Noel and Max as they explore some of history's most hilarious mistranslations in the first part of this ongoing series.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
08/02/24·48m 59s

Stuff That Got Left Over, Part Two: Hot Tubs, The Last Shantyman, President Taft Had Pet Cows

In our continually ridiculous mission to explore the funniest events of yesteryear, Ben, Noel and Max often leave some stones unturned. In today's episode the gang pays their respects to the last shantyman, asks why President Taft adopted not one but two cows, and explores multiple historic hot tubs they are not currently allowed to enter. (We end with a shoutout to our favorite turkey.)See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
06/02/24·34m 0s

The Puzzler Returns, Part Two: A Field Trip to the CIA

True story: in the heart of the CIA headquarters at Langley, Virginia, there's a puzzle no one has solved. In the second part of this special two-part episode, Ben, Noel and Max join up with returning guest A.J. Jacobs to learn more about the enigmatic sculpture known as Kryptos. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
01/02/24·43m 6s

The Puzzler Returns, Part One: Puzzles and Spies

For most people, puzzles are a fun, fascinating diversion. Yet throughout history, they've also played a crucial role in the great game of espionage. Join Ben, Noel and Max as they welcome their returning guest A.J. Jacobs, author and creator of The Puzzler podcast, to learn more about the history of puzzles, codes and spies in part one of this special two-part episode.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
30/01/24·44m 49s

A Boeing Wonderland, Part Two: A Fake Rooftop City For All!

As paranoia increases in the wake of the Pearl Harbor attacks, amateur magician (and storied military official) John Francis Ohmer, Jr. finds Uncle Sam and Hollywood increasingly onboard with his idea of camouflaging entire compounds. In the second part of this two-part series, Ben, Noel and Max explore how the US constructed a fake town atop Boeing's most important facility, weirdly named "Plant 2." See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
25/01/24·44m 31s

A Boeing Wonderland, Part One: A Magician Tries to Camouflage Entire Airfields

In the wake of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, paranoia reigned across the western US -- and the country entirely. From California to Washington, civilians and the military alike were terrified that another attack was imminent. The country's aircraft manufacturers were prominent sitting ducks, and too inconvenient to move. With instructions to spin up manufacturing as soon as possible, the clock was ticking and no one was sure what to do. Enter John Francis Ohmer, Jr. -- a veteran, amateur stage magician and man obsessed with camouflage. He traveled across the states, pitching a crazy plan: "What if," he asked, "we keep all the aircraft facilities where they are... and just disguise them?" Tune in as Ben, Noel and Max explore the strange story of Boeing's Wonderland in part one of this two-part series.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
24/01/24·51m 21s

Calvin Coolidge Was Super Weird...and Surprisingly Cool

When President Warren G Harding passed away abruptly while in office, his Vice President Calvin Coolidge assumed in the role of Commander in Chief. Today, he's not as well-known as other US Presidents like Lincoln or Washington -- yet his history remains fascinating and unique. Tune in as the guys explore the strange story of the man sometimes known as "Silent Cal."See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
19/01/24·44m 55s

The Ridiculous History of Baseball Caps: How One Hat Traveled the World

Nowadays it feels like everyone has a baseball cap at home... even though most of the folks wearing them do not, in fact, play baseball. So how did this one type of hat become so ubiquitous -- not just in the US, but the rest of the world? To answer the question, Ben, Noel and Max travel back to the early (hatless) days of baseball, following its evolution to the modern day.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
16/01/24·48m 57s

Breeching: A Weird Historical Obsession with Children's Pants

Have you ever looked at a childhood photo of a noted historical dude and thought -- huh, why did his folks put him in a dress? If so, you're seeing evidence of a strange parenting practice of yesteryear... the phenomenon known as breeching. In today's episode, Ben, Noel and Max explore how awarding a boy his first pair of pants became a rite of passage in Western society, and why it seems so strange in the modern day.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
11/01/24·40m 56s

The Salton Sea: How A Little Whoopsie Turned into Ecological Disaster

Located in southern Riverside and northern Imperial counties, the Salton Sea is California's largest lake. Although large seas have cyclically formed and dried over historic time due to natural flooding from the Colorado River, the current sea formed as the result of an accident during canal construction. And, ever since that moment, humans have been trying to figure out what to do next.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
09/01/24·43m 52s

CLASSIC: Digging Up James K Polk (For the Third Time)

The average American may not hear much about James K Polk in school today, but during his time in office the 11th U.S. President was responsible for a number of tremendously significant policy movements. Today he and his wife are interred in the Tennessee State Capitol... but this was neither their first resting place nor, if certain lawmakers succeed, their last. So: Why do people keep digging up this President's remains? Join Ben and Noel as they exhume the posthumous journey of President Polk in today's Classic episode. (And don't worry, folks: we're back next week!)See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
04/01/24·34m 2s

CLASSIC: The Atomic Whoops: When the US Air Force Bombed South Carolina

During the height of the Cold War, both the US and the USSR constantly ran drills in anticipation of a possible nuclear conflict. While the Gregg family of Mars Bluff, South Carolina knew the Cold War was in full swing, they had no idea that they would become the first American family bombed -- accidentally -- by the US Air Force. Ben and Noel explore one of the most bizarre atomic slip-ups in American history in today's classic episode.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
02/01/24·31m 49s

The History of Soda Pop is So Weird, Part Two: Nostalgia is a Heck of a Drug

Once humans nailed down the spicy art of carbonation, they went absolutely bonkers with flavors and gimmicks. While Coca-Cola and Pepsi may be the world's most famous sodas, hundreds of other drinks came and went -- some with a bang of success, and others falling as flat as a day-old Josta. In part two of this series, Ben, Noel and Max continue their exploration of soda pop history along with shoutouts to some of their favorite discontinued sodas. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
29/12/23·41m 56s

The History of Soda Pop is So Weird, Part One: The Saga of Spicy Water

There's nothing quite like the fizzy kick of soda -- since ancient times, cabonation beverages have always delighted and fascinated humanity... even though soda certainly isn't the healthies drink. In the first part of this two-part episode, Ben kicks soda as he, Noel and Max dive into the history of these amazing drinks.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
26/12/23·46m 47s

The Puzzler, Part Two: Waldo, Rubik, and More

How did the Rubik's Cube become a global phenomenon? Where exactly is Waldo? In part one of this series, legendary author and podcaster AJ Jacobs regales the gang with the wide world of Puzzlers, from early human history to the modern day.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
21/12/23·43m 55s

The Puzzler, Part One: The Crossword Moral Panic

This week, Ben, Noel and Max welcome special guest, the legendary author AJ Jacobs, to explore the world's strangest historical puzzle crazes. In part one of this two-part series, AJ regales the gang with the moral panic surrounding early crosswords, armchair treasure hunts and much more. Spoiler: you can hear Ben and Noel on AJ's own show, The Puzzler.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
19/12/23·32m 17s

Christmas Has A Dark Side: The Krampus Episode

As the western world gears up for its biggest holiday, the guys dive into the strange story of Krampus: a pre-Christian, pagan entity that somehow not only survived the arrival of Christianity -- but thrived, first as a side character in Central European holiday celebrations, then went global as more and more people enjoyed exploring 'the dark side' of Christmas. Spoiler: capitalism loves a franchise.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
14/12/23·45m 40s

A House Divided: Various Times Congress Tried to Beat the Snot Out of Each Other

Media pundits love to say America is 'divided as never before' -- but how true is that? In today's episode, Ben, Noel and Max dive into multiple Congressional debacles, from that time a civil war almost happened (before the actual civil war) to that time one guy literally assaulted another dude with a cane, and much more.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
12/12/23·54m 36s

Scientists Who Were Horrifically Persecuted, Part Two: Alan Turing

Human history is absolutely riddled with cases of one person making a magnificent discovery -- only to be punished by the society in which they reside. In part two of this sadly continual series, Ben, Noel and Max explore the story of the legendary Alan Turing, who turned the tide of WWII... and was subsequently targeted, persecuted and betrayed by the United Kingdom.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
07/12/23·31m 4s

Serious Diseases with Seriously Funny Names, Part Two: Rickets, Brain Fever, and Maple Syrup

History is riddled with oddly-named diseases -- rickets, scurvy, brain fever and more. But where do these names come from? In the second part of this special two-part series, Ben, Noel and Max dive into the etymology of these strange and dangerous maladies.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
05/12/23·41m 6s

Serious Diseases with Seriously Funny Names, Part One: Dropsy

History is riddled with oddly-named diseases -- rickets, scurvy, brain fever and more. But where do these names come from? In the first part of this special two-part series, Ben, Noel and Max dive into the etymology of these strange and dangerous maladies... starting with dropsy.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
30/11/23·37m 25s

Oh Man, James Joyce was a Dirty Dude!

James Joyce is, without question, one of the most famous authors in the English language. Millions of readers have enjoyed (and sometimes struggled with) his groundbreaking novels and short stories. However... that's not all Joyce wrote. In today's episode, Ben, Noel and Max explore some of Joyce's personal correspondence, which reaches levels of depravity that make the racy scenes of Ulysses pale in comparison. Warning: this episode contains graphic language and situations -- and, as such, may not be appropriate for all listeners.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
28/11/23·42m 11s

What's the Deal with Turkey on Thanksgiving?

It's Thanksgiving in the United States -- and Thanksgiving is weird! In today's episode, Ben, Noel and Max explore some of the big questions about Thanksgiving: How did the parade become a thing? Why do the Cowboys and the Lions always play? How on Earth did turkey become the traditional main dish?See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
23/11/23·46m 35s

Tammany Hall: America's Early Puppet Masters

It's no secret that politics can often have a dark side -- smoky backrooms, corruption and graft have always had their place in American history. And, amid all the corruption, few institutions are as infamous as Tammany Hall. In today's episode, Ben, Noel and Max dive into the origin, growth, and ultimate collapse of this thoroughly American, thoroughly corrupt, and thoroughly ridiculous political machine.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
21/11/23·53m 39s

The Hoover Dam is Ridiculous, Part Two: The Audacity!

As the railroads tried and failed to control flooding in the Salton Sink, state and federal leaders realized America needed a bigger solution. With the Great Depression in full swing, workers from across the country traveled to Vegas in hopes of working on the Hoover Dam. In the second part of this week's two-part episode, Ben, Noel and Max explore the construction of this modern marvel -- and bust some of the most popular Hoover myths along the way.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
16/11/23·32m 18s

The Hoover Dam is Ridiculous, Part One: Man Versus Nature

The next time you're in Vegas, rent a car and spend a day at the Hoover Dam. This towering, larger-than-life marvel of human engineering has fundamentally shaped the United States. But building it was far from easy. In the first part of this two-part series, Ben, Noel and Max recount the guys' adventure exploring the Dam in person... and the sheer, ridiculous audacity of the thing.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
14/11/23·39m 56s

CLASSIC: Waging War With Hallucinogenic Honey

Honey is popular around the world, and for good reason. This addictively sweet substance is a common ingredient in hundreds of recipes, and people historically believe it has medicinal properties in addition to, well, being delicious! But in certain areas of the world honey is much more than a sweet ingredient -- it's a disturbingly effective weapon of war. In today's classic episode, the gang revisits the story of "Hallucinogenic Honey".See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
09/11/23·23m 55s

CLASSIC: Ben Franklin Tried To Reinvent the Alphabet

"For such a popular, well-known language, English is full of strange, seemingly arbitrary rules. Most people just accept these various idiosyncrasies... but Benjamin Franklin was not most people. In today's classic, listen as Ben and Noel explore Franklin's strange quest to revise the English language by cutting out old letters (and inventing new ones)."See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
07/11/23·29m 3s

CLASSIC: When the Puritans Canceled Christmas

Nowadays Christmas is a globally-recognized holiday celebrated by millions of people, but in the past this wasn't the case. In fact, some groups of Christians detested the holiday, going so far as to ban it completely. So what led Puritans to ban one of the most prominent celebrations in the Christian faith? In today's classic episode, the gang revisits the breakaway Christians that genuinely found Christmas un-Christian.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
02/11/23·28m 16s

How Did Trick-Or-Treating Become a Thing?

Every year at the end of October, countless children (and adults) don costumes and head into the night, going door to door with the same ritual cry: Trick or Treat! But where did this odd practice come from? In today's special Halloween episode, the guys explore the ancient predecessors of this tradition... as well as the more extreme versions, where there's way more emphasis on tricks than on treats.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
31/10/23·59m 4s

The Tangled History of Topiary, Part Two: That Shrub Is Looking at Me Funny

Ben, Noel and super producer Casey Pegram dive back into the weeds of the surprisingly ancient (and ridiculous) art of trimming flora into bizarre and elaborate shapes. It’s a practice that had a habit of falling in and out of fashion depending on the whims of whoever was in power. Were topiaries simply an elaborate flex for the super rich or something that could be appreciated by everyone? Or maybe both?! Find out in this second part of the history of topiaries.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
26/10/23·27m 5s

The Tangled History of Topiary, Part One: The Ancient Art of Fancy Plants

If you've ever looked at a bush and thought "this would be way cooler if it was shaped like a rabbit," then you're part of a long line of topiary enthusiasts throughout history. This ancient art of shaping, training and trimming plants and trees into fanicful, decorative shapes dates back into antiquity. In this special two-part series, Ben, Noel and Casey dive into the origin story of twisting, tangled origin story of topiary (and how it's way weird than you might think).See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
24/10/23·31m 28s

Scientists Who Were Horrifically Persecuted, Part One

Today, scientists are treated with respect (for the most part), but this wasn't always the case. In the first part of this recurring series, Ben, Noel and Casey explore the ridiculous, at-times tragic stories of scientists who were persecuted for their discoveries.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
20/10/23·52m 43s

The Crappy, Commodious History of Toilets

Since the dawn of civilization, humanity has been trying to figure out where to put all its poop. While it's easy to take your average flushing commode for granted, it turns out thousands of years of research went into creating the toilets we use today. Tune in as Ben, Noel, and Casey dive into the bizarre history of modern restrooms.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
17/10/23·47m 49s

Aaron Burr, Part Two: The Fall of a Guy Nobody Liked

In the second part of this series, Ben, Noel and Max explore how Burr's struggle to acquire political power seemed to lead him, again and again, into conflict with his frenemey Alexander Hamilton -- a rivalry that would ultimately culminate in a fatal duel. Spoiler: Aaron Burr survives. His career does not.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
12/10/23·45m 53s

Aaron Burr, Part One: The Rise of a Guy Nobody Liked

Thanks in large part to the musical Hamilton, Aaron Burr has re-entered the public zeitgeist. In the first part of this two-part series, Ben, Noel and Max explore the rise of Aaron Burr, from his unfortunate early life through his heroic exploits through the American Revolution into his ...mixed experience with US politics.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
10/10/23·42m 39s

Introducing: McCartney A Life in Lyrics

Hi, Ridiculous History fans! Listen to McCartney: A Life in Lyrics hosted by Paul McCartney! A new masterclass podcast that dives into an improvised journey with one of the most beloved figures in popular music. Each episode is centered on one song in McCartney’s catalog – from early Beatles to his solo work. Don't just take our word for it, check out the trailer to decide for yourself!   About McCartney: A Life in Lyrics: McCartney: A Life in Lyrics is a master class, a memoir, and an improvised journey with one of the most beloved figures in popular music: Paul McCartney. Each episode is centered on one song in McCartney’s catalog – from early Beatles to his solo work. Over the course of the podcast, listeners sit in on conversations between McCartney and the poet Paul Muldoon about the people, experiences, and art that inspired McCartney’s songwriting. The stories are richly interwoven with music and sounds contemporary to each song, providing a revelatory, entertaining window into a truly iconic creative genius. The first season is 24 episodes, but there is a treasure trove of tapes of more than 150 of McCartney’s songs.   Listen to McCartney: A Life in Lyrics on the iHeartRadio app or wherever you get your podcasts!See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
06/10/23·8m 17s

Royals Who Died on the Toilet: Our Classiest Episode Yet

In the newest installment of this continuing series on weird royal deaths, Ben, Noel and Max explore intensely ...crappy... stories of royals who, despite all their worldly power, died on the toilet. Tune in to hear what may be the lads' classiest podcast yet.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
05/10/23·35m 4s

That Time Indiana Tried to Change Pi

Pi itself is pretty ridiculous. This number -- the ratio of the circumference of any circle to the diameter of that circle -- appears to continue into infinity, with no predictable pattern. In today's episode, Ben, Noel and Max explore something even more ridiculous: that time in 1897 when an amateur mathematician named Edward J. Goodwin almost persuaded the state of Indiana to legally change the meaning of Pi. Tune in to hear how he would have got away with it, were it not for the accidental intervention of another guy who just happened to be in the room.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
03/10/23·41m 14s

Why Don't People Wear White After Labor Day?

The boys hit the road, traveling to Las Vegas and recording live. In this special episode, Ben, Noel, Max and guest producer Paul Dechant explore the evolution of Labor Day, from its origin to the strange -- and, let's be honest, ridiculous -- tradition of avoiding white clothing. With a special shout out to Max's snazzy Wedding White Pants.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
28/09/23·30m 8s

Michigan Has Its Own Bermuda Triangle

It's true! At least, to some. For decades various people have claimed Michigan has its own area of intense paranormal activity -- UFOs, ghosts, disappearances, you name it -- and they've mapped out something called "the Michigan Triangle." In today's episode, Ben, Noel and Max look through the evidence to determine whether these stories are true, or... you know. Ridiculous.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
26/09/23·45m 57s

The Road to Modern Basketball, Part Two: How Dribbling Became A Thing

As James Naismith's new sport became increasingly popular, more and more people looked for ways to evolve, adjust, or flat-out change Naismith's original rules. In the second part of this series, Ben, Noel and Max explore how basketball continued to change over time -- and how some kids at Yale found a loophole to "pass the ball to themselves."See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
21/09/23·50m 19s

The Road to Modern Basketball, Part One: Naismith and "The Incorrigibles"

These days basketball is a billion dollar cultural phenomenon -- but where did it come from? In the first part of this week's series, Ben, Noel and Max explore the origins of basketball, starting with the moment a young James Naismith was asked to distract a bunch of "incorrigible" students during the winter months. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
19/09/23·40m 25s

The 10th President's Grandson is Alive Today

John Tyler was the president of the United States from 1841 to 1845 -- and, while some historians may not remember him as the best of presidents, he has another claim to fame: one of his grandchildren is alive today. In today's episode, Ben, Noel and Max explore the life and times of President Tyler, from his childhood in Virginia through the strange circumstances that led him to the presidency, his marriages, children, and more.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
15/09/23·38m 15s

Stuff That Got Left Over: Nukes

When the guys recorded their episode on broken arrows -- lost nuclear weapons throughout history -- they didn't get to one fascinating (and disturbing) tangent: the world of nuclear test sites. In the first episode of the continuing Leftover series, Ben, Noel and Max explore the astonishing, at times ridiculous, tales of nuclear test sites you can actually visit in the modern day.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
12/09/23·34m 26s

Ralph Nader Versus Big Auto

While Ralph Nader may not be everyone's favorite politician, he's responsible for some of the biggest life-saving changes in American government. In today's episode, Ben, Max and Noel explore how young Ralph transformed from an eccentric, hitchhiking student to a national champion of consumer rights. This is the story of the man who took on General Motors... and won.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
08/09/23·43m 47s

CLASSIC: Baguettes and Vacation: France versus Bakers

You've probably heard that France takes its bread seriously -- but did you know France had specific laws governing the lives of bakers? For centuries the country regulated how and when bakers could close or take vacation. Although this may sound amusing now, in the past it was a deadly serious issue. So what happened? In today's classic episode, let's revisit the events that lead to the French government being so frightfully concerned about bakers taking time off.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
05/09/23·24m 46s

Everyone Was Covered in Poop: A Grimy History of Soap

Today, soap is ubiquitous. It comes in thousands of forms, brands, and varieties -- but this wasn't always the case. In today's episode, Ben, Noel and Max explore the theoretical origin story of soap, and how humanity eventually decided (after a few stops and starts) to literally clean up its act.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
31/08/23·44m 38s

Behind the Logo: The Story of the Nike Swoosh

Everyone knows the Nike swoosh — but where did it come from? In today’s episode, the guys dive into the origin story of one of the world’s most recognizable brands, from its humble beginnings to its status as a modern-day icon.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
30/08/23·37m 23s

The Architecture of Spite, Part Three: The Pie House and a Scorned Argentine

How far would you go in the name of love? In this installment of The Architecture, Ben, Noel and Max dive into more amazing -- and ridiculous -- tales of people who literally constructed buildings as a means of revenge.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
24/08/23·40m 21s

The Architecture of Spite, Part Two: Macy's and The Skinny House

At its best, architecture is a kind of poetry made tangible, frozen in time for generations to come. But, as it turns out, architecture can also be a tremendous avenue for all sorts of less cool emotions: pettiness, spite, vengeance -- you name it.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
22/08/23·34m 8s

The Ridiculous History of Intellectual Property, Part 2: When Things Get Weird

Who owns an idea? Who should -- or should not -- profit from a concept? In part two of this special two-part series, Ben, Noel and Max explore the modern history of intellectual property... including what happens when court cases go off the rails into ridiculousness.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
17/08/23·45m 23s

The Ridiculous History of Intellectual Property, Part 1: The Ancient Past

Today the concept of intellectual property, or IP, is pretty well-established. And this notion of ownership over some often intangible concept, brand or idea may seem like a product of the modern age -- but, as it turns out, it's much, much older than that. In part one of this two-part series, Ben, Noel and Max explore the ridiculous history of IP.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
15/08/23·38m 32s

World War II's Alaskan Front: The Aleutian Island Campaign

Alaska is known for its stunning beauty, harsh climate, and remoteness -- but it was also the site of an intensely strange series of battles between the Japanese and US militaries. In today's episode, Ben, Noel and Max explore how two of the world's most powerful militaries fought over three small islands off the Alaskan coast... and why the battle almost became forgotten in the modern day.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
10/08/23·47m 14s

Micronations: The Amazing Story of Vatican City

Despite the name, Vatican City is an independent, sovereign nation -- and its history may surprise you. In today's episode, Ben, Noel and Max explore the story of the Vatican from its origins all the way to the modern day.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
08/08/23·49m 26s

The FBI versus Hip-Hop

Nowadays, hip-hop is everywhere -- this genre informs countless aspects of modern music around the world. Shortly after its creation, power structures in the United States sought to suppress this music, perceiving it as a threat to the status quo. In today's episode, Ben, Noel and Max explore the success of rap... and how the FBI accidentally helped the legendary NWA reach worldwide success.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
03/08/23·49m 25s

The Inventor of the Saxophone Had Some of the World's Worst Luck

Today the saxophone is a well-known musical instrument, popular across the planet. But, when you learn the story of its inventor Adolphe Sax, you quickly learn it's amazing he survived long enough to invent the saxophone in the first place. In today's episode, Ben, Max and returning special guest Lauren Vogelbaum dive deep into Sax's bizarre -- dare we say ridiculous -- habit of repeatedly injuring himself and almost dying due to any number of nearly-unbelievable accidents.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
02/08/23·54m 12s

Animals On Trial, Part 2: Legal Personhood "Goes Wild"

Given that more and more evidence shows all kinds of non-human animals are capable of experiencing grief, loss, joy and pain, should they not have some of the same legal rights guaranteed (in theory, at least) to humans? In the second part of this two-part series, Ben, Noel and Max explore legal cases around the world wrestling with this issue.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
27/07/23·41m 55s

Animals On Trial, Part 1: Tons of Animals Went to Kangaroo Courts

While the the concept of a court system is an entirely human invention, it turns out non-human animals have been in some sort of court not once, but countless times across the span of history. In the first part of this two-part series, Ben, Noel and Max explore the strange way in which early court cases against animals led to animal rights.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
25/07/23·50m 7s

Broken Arrows, Part 2: In Which Actions Have Consequence

In part two of this special two-part series, Ben, Noel and Max dive further into the (objectively disturbing) truth about just how many nuclear weapons are currently MIA. The gang speculates on the implications of these missteps -- and, as they wonder about the consequences of their actions, See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
20/07/23·49m 40s

Broken Arrows, Part 1: Whoops, Where's Our Nuke?

Nuclear weapons are one of the most dangerous things humanity ever invented. So while we might reasonably assume people would keep a close eye on these potentially world-ending bombs and missiles...we would be wrong. In this week's two-part series, Ben, Noel and Max explore the harrowing, ridiculous times humans absolutely lost track of live nukes -- some of which are still out there, somewhere, in the modern day.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
18/07/23·39m 24s

New Providence: That Time Pirates Had A Government

The so-called Golden Age of Piracy was a time of lawless, terrifying, at-times amazing and objectively ridiculous history. In today's episode, Ben, Noel and Matt explore a fascinating claim: Did some anti-authoritarian pirates really form their own government?See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
13/07/23·56m 41s

Tons of People Married Their First Cousins

What do Albert Einstein, Jesse James and Saddam Hussein have in common? Like many notable figures throughout history, these men ended up marrying their first cousins. In today's episode, Ben, Noel and Max dive into the stories of how these historical figures ended up in romantic relationships with members of their extended families.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
11/07/23·51m 2s

Lost Media, Part 2: The Magnificent Ambersons

True story: Orson Welles has a film no one will ever see. In the second part of this continuing series, the guys explore "The Magnificent Ambersons," from its origins to its adaptations all the way to what could have been Our Pal Orson's next masterpiece -- only to end up as his most haunting regret.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
06/07/23·39m 28s

The Ridiculous History of "Snake Oil"

Nowadays, "snake oil" usually means a fake medicine or treatment that claims -- with no evidence -- to cure any number of medical conditions. But where did this term come from? In today's episode, Ben, Noel and Max dive into the story of Clark Stanley, the Rattlesnake King who (accidentally) helped create the modern FDA.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
04/07/23·52m 0s

Badass of the Week, Part 2: Rise of the Kung Fu Werewolf

Everyone can agree the story of T'ai Djin is amazing -- he was born afflicted with a rare genetic condition that made him look like a werewolf, was adopted by Shaolin monks and became the most badass guy in China -- but how much of the story is fact, and how much is fiction? In part two of this week's series, the guys chat with Badass of the Week creator Ben Thompson about T'ai Djin, the nature of heroism, myth, and much, much more.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
29/06/23·41m 0s

Badass of the Week, Part 1: An Origin Story

What makes an historical figure larger than life? Since 2004, author and historian Ben Thompson has been writing about the most badass people in history, from generals to saints, from pioneers to criminals. In the first part of this special two-part series, Ben (Bowlin), Noel, and Max hang with the creator of Badass of the Week.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
27/06/23·33m 1s

That Time Abe Lincoln Trolled His Way Into a Real-life Duel

In 1842, Abraham Lincoln wrote an article clowning a guy named James Shields. Although the article was satirical, and attributed to a made-up author, Shields still didn't love the joke. Some of Abe's friends -- including his future wife -- joined in, and, eventually Shields had enough. He demanded satisfaction, and challenged Lincoln to a duel. It... didn't go as planned. Tune in to learn more about the ridiculous escapades of one of America's most beloved presidents.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
22/06/23·36m 30s

The Creation of (and Backlash Against) Father's Day

With another Father's Day in the books, Ben, Noel and Max hit the new studio for the first time, exploring the history of this paternal partner to the slightly-more famous Mother's Day. Featuring a cameo from the one and only Matt.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
20/06/23·40m 59s

Colorado's Ridiculous, Disturbingly Corrupt 1904 Election, Part Two: Everyone Resigns

What happens when both candidates in a gubernatorial election are cartoonishly corrupt? That's the question Colorado wrestled with back in 1904 -- in part two of this special two-part episode, Ben, Noel and Max dive into the cavalcade of chicanery that led not one, but two Governors to resign within hours of taking office. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
15/06/23·36m 13s

Colorado's Ridiculous, Disturbingly Corrupt 1904 Election, Part One: Let's Jump Off The Train

Elections are somewhere between sports and religions for the United States. It seems that, each and every time, people have problems with the official results. In this week's special two-part episode, Ben, Noel and Max dive deep into one of the most ridiculous elections in all of US history: two candidates for state governor went head to head. They fought dirty. They both tried to fix the vote -- and both loudly complained about the other along the way.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
13/06/23·37m 57s

How Horrible Chocolate Helped Win World War II

A successful military hinges on nutrition, and modern warfare is no different. In today's episode, Ben, Noel and Max dive to the strange deal Uncle Sam made with the Hershey chocolate company: creating a candy bar that tasted terrible -- on purpose.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
08/06/23·30m 33s

Micronations: How a Guy Got Ran Out of Town and Created San Marino

While San Marino may not make many international headlines, this micronation has one of the most fascinating origin stories in all of Europe. In today's episode, Ben, Noel and Max explore how a formerly rural area just about 6 miles from Rimini became a home for a stonemason hoping to get away from it all.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
06/06/23·43m 37s

The Library of Congress is Full of Super Weird Stuff

Since 1800, the Library of Congress has functioned as the national library of the United States. Don't let the name fool you -- this institution isn't just a bunch of dusty old tomes and long-forgotten letters from politicians. In today's episode, Ben, Noel and Max explore some of the weirdest things in the joint, from ancient cuneiform to human hair and, honestly, some stuff so lewd that we decided not to put it in the description.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
01/06/23·36m 39s

That Time A Guy Literally Bought The London Bridge

Let's say you have a big dream: you're creating a new community, smack-dab in the middle of nowhere. Problem is, not a ton of people want to live in the middle of nowhere. When Robert McCulloch saw his newest venture wasn't going as planned, he came up with a thoroughly American scheme... in a ridiculous display of ambition and extravagance, McCullough purchased the London Bridge -- and shipped the entire thing to Arizona.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
30/05/23·40m 2s

We Got Super Into Toy Cars, Part Two: Rivalry and Nostalgia

As the toy car industry exploded, new companies entered the market -- but the Matchbox/Hot Wheels rivalry remained front and center for collectors and distributors alike. In the second part of this special two-part episode, we explore what happened to all those old toy car companies... and why you should always (always!) hold on to your old toys.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
25/05/23·29m 44s

We Got Super Into Toy Cars, Part One: Matchbox versus Hot Wheels

Remember toy cars? Ben, Noel and Max investigate the surprisingly weird evolution of old-school, die-cast car models from their origins to the modern day, ultimately asking what happened to the fad. Bonus points for everyone taking a Matchbox or Hot Wheels toy and vrooming-vrooming around as we explore this one.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
23/05/23·43m 24s

Why The Creator of Mother's Day Got So Mad About Mothers' Day

Continuing our grand tradition of being a bit late to things, we celebrate Mother's Day with an exploration of the multiple women -- activists, poets, and heroes -- responsible for creating a tradition that continues across the world in the modern day. Bonus points if you call your Mom right after listening.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
18/05/23·31m 47s

Micronations: Monaco is More than a Casino!

For the vast majority of the world, Monaco seems like something out of a billionaire's fever dream -- completely surrounded by France, this tiny country is perhaps best known for the wealth of its residents and its opulent approach to gambling. However, there's much, much more to the story. In today's episode, Ben, Noel and Max explore the origin story of this unique micronation, from the ancient past to the modern day.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
16/05/23·55m 14s

Fonts They Love to Hate, Part Two: Papyrus, Times New Roman and Beyond

From serif to san, from kerning to Krueger, it turns out people have some pretty extreme opinions about fonts. In part two of this special two-part episode, Ben, Noel and Max explore the nature of print. Papyrus, New Times Roman, Wingdings -- if you can name a font, it turns out there's a story behind it.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
11/05/23·47m 28s

Fonts They Love to Hate, Part One: Origins of Comic Sans

While many people outside of graphic design may not think about fonts in a conscious manner, it turns out the way a word is depicted can have a huge impact on how you process the information. In the first part of this two-part series, Ben, Noel and Max explore the origins of some of the world's-least favorite fonts.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
09/05/23·34m 7s

Even More Ridiculous Royal Deaths

As the old saying goes, it's good to be king -- unfortunately, it can also be pretty dangerous. In today's episode, Ben, Noel and Max explore strange royal deaths, from a mysterious accident/assassination to a fatal chair, a drunken boat ride and more.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
04/05/23·42m 40s

A (Completely Different) History of Sampling: Free Stuff

In the ridiculous aftermath of their series on music samples, Ben, Noel and Max dive into the scrumptious, weird history of everything from free samples in grocery stores to the bizarre evolution of freebies in general. Strap in, Ridiculous Historians: it's much weirder than you think.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
02/05/23·45m 0s

A History of Sampling, Part Two: Creativity in Court

What happens when your favorite artist uses a sample in their own work? Are they merely inspired, or are they stealing? In the second part of this special two-part episode, Ben, Noel and Max explore the -- wait for it -- ridiculously complicated legalities surrounding the science and art of sampling in the modern day.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
27/04/23·56m 38s

A History of Sampling, Part One: An Origin Story

In the world of music, sampling is somewhere between an art and a science. In this week's special two-part episode, Ben, Noel and Max explore the strange, fascinating evolution of sampling, from the early days of cutting physical tape to the dawn of hiphop and more. (Spoiler, we also spend some time talking about our recent Monster Jam adventure.)See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
25/04/23·52m 47s

How Did Monster Trucks Become a Thing?

Even if you're not a fan of cars or racing, you've heard of monster trucks -- they're the huge, modded vehicles famous for committing acts of wanton destruction in arenas and stadiums across the United States. In today's episode, Ben, Noel and Max dive into their strange origin story... along with the rivalries that ensued offstage.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
20/04/23·52m 53s

The Ridiculous, Scrumptious Desserts of Mardi Gras

From the epic parade to the krewes and flambeaux, Mardi Gras is a celebration chock-full of tradition -- and these traditions include some pretty amazing desserts. In today's episode, Ben, Noel and Max dive into the most ridiculous Mardi Gras desserts (spoiler: it goes way past king cake).See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
18/04/23·50m 30s

The Amazing History of Japanese Toys, Part Two: The World Takeover

As Matsuzo Kosuge struggled to keep his business afloat amid the chaos of war, he became incredibly inventive, using cast-off beer and soup cans as raw materials and setting up shop in abandoned cattle sheds. In the second part of this two-part episode, Ben, Noel and Max explore the rise of Japanese toys.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
13/04/23·33m 0s

The Amazing History of Japanese Toys, Part One: A Serious Business

When most of us think of toys, we fondly recall moments from childhood, or think of toys we gifted to loved ones over the years. Yet toys are a serious, big business -- and, more than once, they played a vital role in Japan's postwar economy. In part one of this week's special two-part episode, Ben, Noel and Max explore the amazing story of master toymaker Matsuzo Kosuge.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
11/04/23·32m 3s

The Weird Journey of the $2 Bill

If you've spent your life in the US, you've probably seen a $2 bill every once in a while -- they're much less common than, say, the $1, the $10 or the $20. In fact, many people assume the $2 bill is a thing of the past... but that turns out not to be true. In today's episode, Ben, Noel and Max explore the origin of the Deuce, why it was so controversial, and why it's still around in the modern day.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
06/04/23·32m 14s

The Fascinating History of Ice Cream Trucks

The iconic ice cream truck holds a special place in American culture -- but where did they come from? In today's episode, Ben, Noel and Max dive deep into the waffle cone of ice cream history for the scoop on one of the world's most successful street food industries. (We also don't actually get to waffle cones, but that's a story for another day.)See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
04/04/23·47m 58s

The Strange Tale of Charles Entertainment Cheese, Part Two: Betrayal and Nostalgia

As Nolan Bushnell's Chuck E. Cheese concept took America by storm, competitors entered the field. In the second part of this two-part episode, Ben, Noel and Max explore how Charles Entertainment Cheese weathered numerous ups and downs through the decades -- along with some pretty weird trivia.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
30/03/23·59m 12s

The Strange Tale of Charles Entertainment Cheese, Part One: Atari and Pizza

For many Americans, Chuck E. Cheese is an immediate hit of pure nostalgia -- the pizza! The birthdays! The games! And, of course, the characters. In this week's special two-part episode, Ben, Noel and Max dive deep into the strange history of Chuck E. Cheese, from its founding days in the shadow of Atari, all the way to the modern day.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
28/03/23·37m 37s

CLASSIC: What's the Deal with Smashing Cake at Weddings?

Weddings are an ancient tradition, and over the millenia the various rituals associated with (theoretically) life-long partnership have evolved and changed. One ritual in particular became both prominent and controversial in the West: the act of newly-married couples smashing wedding cake into each other's faces. So where did it come from? Why does it happen, and what do its critics think the practice means?See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
23/03/23·29m 57s

THE LAST SOVIET - EP 5: Three Hot Days in August

Sergei makes the decision to stay in the space station. But a few weeks later something happens that changes everything. Mikhail Gorbachev disappears. What happens over the next 3 days will decide the future of the Soviet Union once and for all. Three days that changed the world.  Like what you hear? Follow us @kscope_nyc on Twitter and Instagram.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
22/03/23·28m 30s

CLASSIC: Conquest via Bird Poop: One Island at a Time

If you land on a deserted island, you might be tempted to search for the basic stuff first -- food, water, shelter, and so on -- but don't forget to keep an eye out for guano! Why, you ask? Well, due to a relatively obscure law, the presence of guano on a deserted island may allow you to declare it property of the United States! Sort of. Tune into today's classic episode learn more.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
21/03/23·32m 45s

The Architecture of Spite, Part One: Lovers, Loiterers and Murderers

At its best, architecture is a kind of poetry made tangible, frozen in time for generations to come. But, as it turns out, architecture can also be a tremendous avenue for all sorts of less cool emotions: pettiness, spite, vengeance -- you name it. In the first part of this recurring series, Ben, Noel and Max explore the wide, surprising (and, frankly, ridiculous) world of spiteful architecture. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
16/03/23·43m 49s

Turn, Turn, Turn: A History of Turn Signals

If you've ever been stuck in traffic, you know turn signals are a vital part of safe driving (though not everyone seems to think so). But where did these nifty little blinking lights come from? Why didn't they come along until years after the invention of the automobile? Join Ben, Max and Noel as they explore the strange evolution of signaling, from the early days of on-the-road hand gestures all the way to modern, electronic turn signals.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
14/03/23·31m 36s

A Legally Haunted House

These days, many people associate the idea of a 'haunted house' with horror novels, campfire tales and scary movies. But what happens when someone goes to court, claiming their new house is haunted? In celebration of International Women's Day, guest hosts Lauren Vogelbaum and Mykal Alder June take over to explore the strange series of events that led to New York officially declaring at least one house legally haunted.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
08/03/23·41m 24s

The Oddly Dark History of Crash Test Dummies (Not The Band)

As automobiles took the world by storm, manufacturers quickly realized they needed to make a ton of safety improvements -- and fast. But how could you accurately determine what happened in a car crash, without risking human lives? In today's episode, Ben, Noel and Max dive into the evolution of crash testing... along with the little-known dark side of crash test dummies.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
07/03/23·50m 45s

The Deeply Weird Stories of Patron Saints

Did you know there’s a Patron Saint of (repentant) murderers? And another one for ugly people? In today’s episode, Ben, Noel and Max explore how some Catholic Saints became the holy intercessors for some — frankly, weird — things.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
02/03/23·40m 56s

Svetlana! Svetlana! The Strange Life of Josef Stalin's Daughter, with Dan Kitrosser

As the daughter of Josef Stalin, it's safe to say Svetlana Iosifovna Alliluyeva was never destined for a normal life. Still, no one could have predicted the bizarre globe-trotting adventures she would take as she escaped the Soviet Union and became the world's most famous defector. In today's episode, the guys sit down with award-winning playwright and screenwriter Dan Kitrosser to learn more about his newest project, a deep dive into the story of Svetlana -- much of which remained untold until today.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
28/02/23·38m 39s

Let's Start a Coup! Ep 1 – A Basket Full of Fascists

Nowadays, most people can agree that fascism is, well, a bad thing. But back in the 1930s, life absolutely sucked for most Americans, and fascism still had a sort of new car smell. Wall Street bankers were convinced they could take their country back from the clutches of ‘class traitors’ like Roosevelt, sink the New Deal and put the United States on a better – meaning more profitable – path.  They had the money. They had an army. Now all they needed was a leader.  See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
27/02/23·40m 6s

Weird Epidemics, Part One: From Sweating to Pokemon

What makes people laugh uncontrollably, for hours at a time? Whatever happened to that 'Sweating Sickness,' and why did so many parents in Japan become convinced their children might die if those kids watched a certain Pokemon episode? Tune in as Ben, Noel and Max explore the strange commonalities of past epidemics.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
23/02/23·49m 38s

CLASSIC: When Scientists Hid Under Beds To Spy On Kids

Let's say you're a scientist -- how far would you go to carry out a study? Back in the 1930s, two intrepid researchers went into full spy mode, stalking college students in an effort to determine how they behaved when they didn't know they were being observed. In today's classic episode, we join Ben and Noel as they explore the strange, ridiculous and, at times, disturbing history of informed consent.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
21/02/23·37m 26s

Surprising Former Careers, Part III: Goldberg, Trudeau and Buscemi

While many celebrities and public figures are known for achievements in just a few specific fields, almost everyone has had more than a few odd jobs on the way to fame. Before she became a legendary actress, Whoopi Goldberg flexed her acting chops on some... mature phone lines. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was a jack of all trades before he finally entered politics. And iconic performer Steve Buscemi was, it turns out, one heck of a heroic firefighter both before -- and during -- his acting career. Tune in for the full scoop on this next installment of Ridiculous History's Surprising Former Careers.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
16/02/23·31m 51s

Introducing: The Last Soviet

Hey, Ridiculous History listeners! The newest hit docuseries of another star-studded podcast, The Last Soviet is live. Go check out the beginning of this thrilling journey with Lance Bass, NSync Superstar, and Russian-trained astronaut!”   About The Last Soviet: Lance Bass, NSync Superstar, and Russian-trained astronaut takes you on a wild ride into space. He tells the story of the last Soviet cosmonaut who is trapped on the world’s only space station, as the country he knows and loves collapses beneath him. On this journey through Earth’s atmosphere in the form of a podcast, Lance introduces you to the woman who won a reality show cosmonaut contest, a ham radio operator in Australia who became a lifeline for the Soviet Space Station, a hustler from Chicago who tried to sell coca-cola to the Russians and the editor of Playboy who took part in a revolution.   It’s one man’s dream to go to space, his dedication to the country he thought he knew and 313 days spent orbiting the Earth. 313 days that changed our world.    Plus, Lance’s own dream to go to space and the lengths he went to make it a reality.  Listen to The Last Soviet on the iHeartRadio app or wherever you get your podcasts!  See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
15/02/23·3m 46s

It Turns Out Blue Laws Aren't Entirely Terrible

If you've ever tried to buy beer at the wrong time in certain parts of the US, you may have run into the odd proscriptions known as blue laws. Originally intended as a way of enforcing Christian religious practices, these laws ban certain business and recreational activities -- not just booze! -- on Sundays. But what are these things, exactly? How did they come to be, and why did the Supreme Court ultimately rule them constitutional despite their religious origins? Tune in as Ben, Noel and Max set the record straight on blue laws... and don't worry, you can still listen to this episode on Sundays.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
14/02/23·47m 1s

The Origin of Moby Dick, Part Two: Horrors At Sea

Captain George Pollard Jr. was just 29 years old when his whaling vessel, the Essex, met with disaster. As the hapless crew struggled (and largely failed) to survive their horrific time at sea, they encountered starvation, madness, exposure and some fates arguably worse than death. In the second part of this two-part series, Ben, Noel and Max explore the harrowing, doomed journey of the Essex -- and how the tale later inspired Herman Melville's masterpiece, Moby Dick.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
09/02/23·45m 3s

The Origin of Moby Dick, Part One: Mocha Dick

Today, Herman Melville's magnum opus Moby Dick is lauded as a classic of American literature -- but it turns out Melville didn't invent the whole thing on his own. In the first part of this special two-part series, Ben, Noel and Max dive into the story of a real-life white whale named Mocha Dick, and how his tragic story inspired Melville to create a fictional white whale all his own.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
07/02/23·28m 15s

The (Weirdly Crooked) History of the Food Pyramid

Nutrition is a big deal -- across the United States, tons of kids learned the basics of nutrition through a handy infographic called the 'Food Pyramid,' which laid out how much of a given food group the average person should consume. But there's much, much more to the story than what you'd see in the average textbook. Join Ben, Noel and Max as they dive into the story of the food pyramid -- and how big business successfully, time and time again, went up against science to make sure consumers kept, well, consuming.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
02/02/23·46m 0s

That Time Europeans Went Nuts For Dancing

If you've ever been to a great concert or a banging dance party, then you know sometimes the spirit can overwhelm you -- you might feel compelled to dance. For most people this is a delightful experience... however, this wasn't the case for several unfortunate communities in Medieval Europe. In today's episode, Ben, Noel and Max explore the strange store of Europe's Dancing Plagues, also called St. Vitus' Dance.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
31/01/23·37m 30s

Star Trek Almost Never Happened, Part Two: In Which We Boldly Go

After just three seasons, the original run of Star Trek reached syndication -- which would become key to everything that happened afterward. In the second part of this series, Ben, Noel and Max explore the fundamental cultural shifts triggered by Star Trek, and how the depiction of a more equal society (however fictional that depiction might be) genuinely changed the world.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
26/01/23·44m 1s

Star Trek Almost Never Happened, Part One: Pilots and Peril

Nowadays Star Trek is more than just a show -- it's a global pop culture phenomenon, with measurable impacts on the real world. In part one of this special two-part series, Ben, Noel and resident Trexpert Max explore just how close Star Trek came, multiple times, to extinction. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
24/01/23·39m 50s

“It’s Edible!” The Origin of Breakfast Cereal, Part Two

Cereal is everywhere these days. While diet trends come and go, those ubiquitous boxes and mascots seem here to stay -- and, in some cases, it seems people are buying an idea as much as buying a foodstuff. In part two of this two-part series, Ben, Noel and Max trace the brilliant, at-times Machiavellian marketing moves that led cereal to glory... and ask how long those days may last.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
19/01/23·54m 5s

“It’s Edible!” The Origin of Breakfast Cereal, Part One

Cereal is everywhere nowadays, but how did it become a thing? For most of us, this stuff is the ultimate convenient breakfast, and even the most sugary varieties claim to offer nutritional benefits and a balanced start to your day -- even if those claims may be a bit... misleading. In the first part of this two-part series, Ben, Noel and Max dive deep into the (at times bizarre) origin story of modern breakfast cereal.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
17/01/23·37m 56s

Would-be Presidents, Part One: If At First You Don't Succeed...

It takes a lot of skill -- and luck -- to become the President of the United States. We always hear about the folks who won elections... but what about the folks who lost, not once, but multiple times? In part one of this continuing series, Ben, Noel and Max dive into the strange stories of presidential candidates who ran and lost. Then ran again, and lost again. (And then sometimes ran, and lost, again.)See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
12/01/23·51m 5s

The Leaf Blower Episode

Out of all the weirdly specific inventions for your yard, the leaf blower remains the most controversial (by far). In today's long-overdue episode, Ben, Noel and Max cut past the noise to figure out just where these things came from, how they work -- and why critics argue "the devil's hairbrush" isn't just annoying... but also potentially dangerous.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
11/01/23·44m 5s

The US Navy Teamed Up With Mobsters, Part Two: The Mob Goes to War

As the Mob clamps down on possible terrorists in the New York docks, the organization looks for new ways to expand their partnership with Uncle Sam -- as it turns out, they have a lot of connections in Sicily, and their assistance just may help the Allies win some decisive battles. Learn more in part two of this special two-part series.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
05/01/23·42m 43s

The US Navy Teamed Up With Mobsters, Part One: Luciano Gets Lucky

After the suspicious destruction of the USS Lafayette in Manhattan, the Navy became convinced saboteurs may be at work on American soil. There was another problem -- try as they might, they couldn't infiltrate the notoriously shady dockworker culture, which was in large part run by organized crime. This conundrum led to one of the strangest partnerships in the history World War II: the US Navy, hat in hand, came to the Mafia and asked for help. Tune in for more in part one of this special two-part series.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
03/01/23·55m 21s

CLASSIC: When People Thought They Were Made of Glass

In 1422, King Charles VI died after ruling France for more than 40 years. He was also remembered as Charles the Mad, in part because he was convinced that his body was made of glass and would shatter upon contact with other people. In today's classic episode, we will revisit this condition, known as the glass delusion, which would continue to pop up through medieval Europe until the late 19th century, seemingly disappearing in the modern day.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
29/12/22·29m 5s

CLASSIC: Nazis, Churchill and Chocolate

When Lord Victor Rothschild first heard the news, he was incredulous -- surely Nazi Germany wasn't seriously planning to assassinate Winston Churchill with an exploding chocolate bar. However, he learned the intelligence reports were solid. In today's classic episode, we will learn what Rothschild did to prevent this before the Prime Minister fell victim to a literal death by chocolate.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
27/12/22·27m 16s

Ridiculous Royal Deaths, Part Two: Don't Drink Mercury

Throughout history, despite all their occasional arguments to the contrary, members of royal families have been just as human as everyone else. In part two of this continuing series, Ben, Noel and Max dive into more stories of ridiculous deaths, from plans to become immortal, to an obsession with testing the boundaries of food allergies, and more. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
22/12/22·44m 36s

Ridiculous Royal Deaths, Part One: Revenge of the Buck-Toothed

It's no secret that the lives of historical royalty have often been filled with triumph and tragedy -- and, sadly, many royals have met strange, untimely ends. In today's episode, Ben, Noel and Max dive into some of history's strangest (and most ridiculous) deaths.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
20/12/22·38m 16s

CLASSIC: When Dentist Sold Dentures Made with Corpse Teeth

Here in the modern day, most people don’t love going to the dentist — but we still have it much better than the dental patients of yesteryear! In today's classic episode, we join the guys as they dive into a strange, grisly story from the early days of dentistry.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
15/12/22·32m 44s

From Mesopotamia to Hot Dogs: A History of Mustard

Mustard! Whether you like it, love it, or hate it, you've almost definitely tried it in one of many varieties. In this installment of their continuing series on the ridiculous history of condiments, Ben, Noel and Max explore mustard's ancient origins all the way up the modern day.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
13/12/22·49m 58s

Coca-Cola, Dr. King, and the Civil Rights

When Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. won the Nobel Prize, Atlanta Mayor Ivan Allen, Jr. spearheaded a interdenominational celebration of King's work -- but many business leaders refused to go along. In fact, the whole thing may have fallen through were it not for the Coca-Cola company. Tune in to learn more.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
08/12/22·37m 10s

William Mitchell Was Basically a Real-life Willy Wonka

Do you like Tang? Are you known to gobble Pop Rocks, or find yourself lying awake at night, worried about the world's supply of tapioca substitutes? If so, you might be surprised to learn one brilliant, prodigious food scientist single-handedly changed the world with these inventions and more. In today's episode, Ben, Noel and Max explore the story of William A. Mitchell, the real-life Willy Wonka behind everything from Cool Whip powdered egg whites.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
06/12/22·40m 32s

The Olympics Used to Have an... Extraordinarily Weird Art Competition

Everyone's heard of the Olympics. This global competition brings athletes from around the world together to compete in various sports -- but, not too long ago, one man led the charge to bring artists, sculptors, musicians and more into the fray, with medal-worthy competitions of their own. In today's episode, the guys explore how this became part of the Olympics... and why the organization eventually revoked every single medal they awarded, striking these artists' work from the record.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
01/12/22·40m 29s

A Circus, or a Cult? The Strange Story of Shen Yun

If you live near any large city outside of mainland China, you may have seen advertisements for the world-famous Shen Yun Performing Arts Company, a US-based non-profit known for its elaborate shows in over 130 locations across the planet. But you might not know the full story of this company's origin. In today's episode, Ben, Noel and Max explore the strange origin of Shen Yun -- along with that of the religious movement, Falun Gong.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
29/11/22·36m 16s

How A Massive Turkey Screw-up Created TV Dinners

Hey, it's us, your pals Ben, Noel and Max from Ridiculous History. We figured the holidays can be stressful for everyone, and we're pretty sure you've heard the history of Thanksgiving countless times. So instead of telling you that story, we decided to celebrate by exploring the weird history of TV dinners and microwave meals -- none of which would exist if the food company Swanson hadn't accidentally found itself with 260 tons of leftover turkeys after Thanksgiving in 1953. So tune in; we hope it gives you a chuckle.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
24/11/22·53m 26s

J. Paul Getty, Part Two: A Kidnapping Discount

For members of the mob, the plot to kidnap J. Paul Getty's grandson was a home run -- after all, what's a few million to a literal billionaire? Yet, as it turns out... the mob didn't know who they were messing with. In the second part of this two-part series, Ben, Noel and Max explore a series of terrifying events that led to one of most ridiculous examples of miserliness in human history.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
22/11/22·33m 1s

J. Paul Getty, Part One: Money Doesn't Make You Happy

It's often said that money doesn't buy happiness -- and, in the tragic case of the Getty family, it seems that saying holds true. In part one of this two-part series, Ben, Noel and Max explore Getty's origin story, his infamously... let's say... 'thrifty' nature, and how he earned a reputation of one of the coldest businessmen in modern history.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
17/11/22·35m 32s

Have you heard of Andorra?

While it may be unfamiliar to many folks outside the region, the 6th-smallest country in Europe has a fascinating history all its own. In today's episode, Ben, Noel and Max dive into the strange origin story of Andorra, from its ancient past to the modern day.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
15/11/22·31m 1s

How Smart Was Alex the Grey Parrot?

Picked at random from a pet store, a humble grey parrot named Alex went on to fundamentally alter the way humans think about animal cognition. In today's episode, Ben, Noel and Max explore how animal psychologist Irene Pepperberg and her parrot pal Alex spent three decades proving it's actually pretty impressive to be 'bird brained.'See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
10/11/22·40m 32s

Surprising Former Careers, Part 2: Truman Can't Sell Hats

Years before he became a world-famous actor, Christopher Lee did wetwork with elite special forces during World War II. Before entering public office, Harry Truman almost ruined his life by starting a haberdashery. In part two of this continuing series, Ben, Noel and Max explore the ins and outs of more surprising former careers.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
08/11/22·40m 43s

The Ancient -- and Surprisingly Divisive! -- Story of Ketchup

Ketchup is in almost 97% of US homes today -- and, while this statistic may sound surprising, it turns out there's a long story behind this humble condiment. In today's episode, Ben, Noel and Max trace the origin of ketchup from its ancient predecessors in Southern China and the Mediterranean to the introduction of the tomato all the way to the modern day. Tune in for the first episode in our continuing series on the history of condiments (and tell us which condiments you'd like us to explore next).See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
03/11/22·56m 24s

The Bizarrely Xenophobic Origins of Scotch Tape

There's no two ways about it: tape is a pretty handy, amazing thing -- and one we often take for granted. In today's episode, Ben, Noel and Max dive deep into the origin story of Scotch tape, uncovering the weird prejudice behind the name, as well as the journey of the young man who changed the world with his... well, let's call it stick-to-it-iveness. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
01/11/22·49m 20s

Lost Media, Part Two: We Didn't Start The Fire

Silent films took the world by storm, but the material they were manufactured from was notoriously -- cartoonishly -- flammable. Soon multiple studio buildings were burning to the ground. There wasn't always a spark involved, either: sometimes this stuff just spontaneously combusted. In part two of this two-part series, Ben, Noel and Max explore how silent films became so endangered in the modern day. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
27/10/22·30m 18s

Lost Media, Part One: What Happened to All Those Silent Films?

For a relatively brief period of time, silent films rocked the world of entertainment. However, these nitrate- and acetate-based films proved both fragile -- and downright dangerous. In the first part of this two-part series, Ben, Noel and Max dive into the strange story of how so many silent films ended up lost forever.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
26/10/22·38m 17s

A Ridiculous History of Hot Tubs

While hot tubs may not always have the... best reputation in some circles, there's no denying people across the world love a good, hot soak after a long day. And we've loved this since antiquity, all the way back to the first time humans found natural hot springs. In today's episode, Ben, Noel and Max dive into the strange origin of hot tubs, from millennia past all the way to the modern day. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
20/10/22·45m 5s

Eugene V Debs, Part Two: A Prisoner Runs For President

As a known agitator, Eugene V. Debs soon caught the attention of the US power structure -- and his outspoken nature led to him to court. In part two of this two-part series, Ben, Noel and Max explore how the Espionage Act resulted in Eugene's incarceration... and how he ran for the office of President while literally imprisoned. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
18/10/22·1h 3m

Eugene V Debs, Part One: Railroad Workers Fight The Power

You may not have heard of Eugene V. Debs before this podcast -- but in his day this political activist was one of the most prominent (and at-times controversial) figures in the United States. In part one of this two-part series, Ben, Noel and Max explore Gene's origin story, from his early career in the railroad industry to his growing status as a trade unionist and agitator of the status quo.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
13/10/22·34m 49s

The Michelin Man was an Unhinged Lunatic

Virtually every foodie is aware of the Michelin Guide -- the last word in high-end restaurant ratings -- but originally came about as a way to sell more cars (and, ultimately, tires). In today's episode with research associate Geoff Bartlett, Ben, Noel and Max dive deep into the origins of the Michelin guide, as well as Michelin's iconic mascot Bibendum, the Michelin Man. Spoiler: the Michelin Man was originally the absolute worst mascot for anything related to driving. Tune in to learn why.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
11/10/22·52m 5s

The Yukio Mishima Story, Part Two: Mishima's End

In his heyday, Japanese author Yukio Mishima was one of the most well-known writers in the world. But where did he come from -- and what on Earth led to his strange demise? In part two of this two-part episode, Ben, Noel and Max welcome research associate Zach Williams in his first on-air appearance. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
06/10/22·50m 3s

The Yukio Mishima Story, Part One: Confessions of a Mask

In his heyday, Japanese author Yukio Mishima was one of the most well-known writers in the world. But where did he come from -- and what on Earth led to his strange demise? In part one of this two-part episode, Ben, Noel and Max welcome research associate Zach Williams in his first on-air appearance. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
05/10/22·46m 4s

Wait, How Do I Know It's Funny? A Rollicking History of Laugh Tracks

We've all heard them. You're watching or hearing a show, a character says something, and -- boom! -- an invisible choir of audience members loses their minds in riotous laughter, awws, or applause. But how did where does this come from? In today's episode, we're learning how this came to be, and how it eventually became its own worst enemy. Ben here: I'd like to give a special thanks to Max for some stellar sound design. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
29/09/22·47m 38s

Who, exactly, were the Luddites?

Today you'll hear people described as 'Luddites' if they don't care for -- or don't understand -- some newer piece of technology, but where did this phrase come from? In today's episode, Ben, Noel and guest producer Tari trace the term back to its surprising origin story ... a violent labor uprising that, these days, remains largely forgotten.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
27/09/22·42m 43s

Instant Noodles Changed The World, Part Two: Going Global

As Momofuku Ando's instant noodles take Japan by storm, he sets his sights on the global horizon. In part two of this two-part series, Ben, Noel and Max explore the expansion of instant noodles into the United States, the rest of the planet -- and, eventually, space.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
22/09/22·33m 30s

Instant Noodles Changed The World, Part One: An Origin Story

Today, instant noodles are ubiquitous. You can find them in almost every grocery store, in any number of flavors sold by any number of brands -- but where did they come from? In part one of this two-part series, Ben, Noel and Max dive into the story of Momofuku Ando, and how a sudden realization in post-WWII Japan inspired an idea that would go on to change the world.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
20/09/22·31m 15s

The Accidental Invention of Holding Music

We've all been there -- you're calling a bank, a loan company, you name it, and boom: you're put on hold. But where does that music come from? In today's episode, Ben and Noel dive into the strange origin story of telephone holding music. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
15/09/22·31m 2s

Inventors Killed By Their Own Inventions: Flyin' or Dyin', Part Two

How far would you go to fly? It's a question many inventors have asked themselves over the ages and, tragically, for every successful breakthrough it seems there were also dozens of failures, flops and -- sometimes -- fatal crashes. In part two of Flyin' or Dyin', Ben, Noel and Max explore modern inventors who died as a result of their flying contraptions. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
13/09/22·39m 56s

Inventors Killed By Their Own Inventions: Flyin' or Dyin', Part One

Humans can swim, though not as well as a fish. Humans can run, though not as swift as a cheetah. From ancient civilization to the modern day, no human being can fly unaided. In this first of a long-running series, Ben, Noel and Max explore inventors across history who died while trying to fly. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
08/09/22·31m 30s

Wilhelm Reich and Orgone, Part 2: Willy vs. The Feds

If Reich's concept of orgone was simple pseudoscience, why did the US government ban -- and burn -- his books? In part two of this two-part episode on Wilhelm Reich and orgonomic vibes, Ben, Noel and Max explore Reich's activities in the US, as well as the oft-ignored legacy of Reich's studies in the modern day.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
07/09/22·50m 31s

Wilhelm Reich and Orgone, Part 1: Sexy Psychoanalysis

Born in 1897, Wilhelm Reich was an Austrian doctor of medicine and a psychoanalyst, as well as -- for a time -- a follower of Sigmund Freud. Today, he's most often associated with his life's work: the study of a strange, pervasive energy he called "orgone." In part one of this two-part series, Ben, Noel and Max explore Reich's origin story, from his early days to the experiences that persuaded him sexual vibes could, literally, save the world.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
01/09/22·47m 51s

The History of Pringles: Once You Pop...

Pretty much everyone recognizes Pringles -- these tasty, not-quite potato chips come in tons of at-times bizarre flavors, all neatly packed in a nifty tube. But where did Pringles come from? In today's episode, Ben, Noel and Matt dive deep into the hidden history of this snack, the astonishing science behind it and the incredibly weird funeral demands of the Pringles creator.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
30/08/22·55m 34s

Lincoln Loved Cats, and Other Presidential Pets

Are you a cat person, a dog person, or somewhere in between? It turns out that famous trash-talking wrestler -- and former President -- Abraham Lincoln was also a huge fan of cats. In today's episode, Ben, Noel and Max dive into the lives of Presidential pets, from eagles to goats, dogs and more. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
25/08/22·45m 12s

CLASSIC - Presidents Love Their Ridiculous Pets

In today's episode, we venture into the podcast vault to talk about some snuggly friends, many of the ridiculous variety. It's no secret that, until very recently, US Presidents were known as huge fans of pets -- and they didn't limit themselves to cats and dogs! Join Ben and Noel as they explore some of the strangest pets in presidential history, from warhorses and cows to bears, raccoons and much, much more.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
23/08/22·32m 27s

What Happened to Ronald McDonald? Part Two: Supersizing A Mystery

In a world where the iconic McDonald's arches became as recognizable as the Pope or Mickey Mouse, Ronald McDonald himself became synonymous with not just fast food -- but the United States, western imperialism and capitalism overall. In the second part of this episode, Ben, Max and returning special guest, the (ostensibly) reformed Jonathan Strickland, aka the Quizster, take a case-by-case look at the alleged causes of Ronald's demise, from anti-obesity activists to changing cultural tastes, a real-life clown terror craze, and more.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
18/08/22·59m 35s

What Happened to Ronald McDonald? Part One: Everybody Loves A Clown

Today, billions of people across the world recognize McDonald's — it's one of the planet's most well-known brands. Yet, in recent years, McDonald's has also become home to an enduring mystery: What exactly happened to Ronald McDonald? In part one of this two-part series, Ben and Max welcome special guest Jonathan Strickland for an in-depth exploration of Ronald's meteoric rise and fall.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
16/08/22·55m 50s

The 1904 St. Louis Marathon Was Absolutely Bonkers

It's no secret that the Olympics have evolved over time, and met with their fair share of controversy over the years -- but the 1904 Olympic marathon remains a tale of ridiculousness for the ages. In today's episode, Ben and Max dive into a madcap series of bizarre events, brazen cheating, and more in the humid heart of brutal St. Louis weather. Taking a cue from their pals at Ridiculous Crime, the guys want you to know everyone in this episode makes it out... OK. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
11/08/22·59m 24s

Andrew Jackson Beat the Snot Out of His Would-be Assassin

Known as Old Hickory to his fans, and King Andrew to his critics, Andrew Jackson was an outspoken, deeply divisive figure. When he was attacked by an assassin while leaving a funeral, the killer's gun miraculously misfired not once, but twice, and despite his old age Jackson retaliated by absolutely wailing on the guy, beating within an inch of his life. And, as it turns out, Andrew Jackson isn't the only president to survive an assassination attempt. Tune for more as Ben and Max explore the strange stories of Jackson, Taft and Roosevelt.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
09/08/22·57m 44s

CLASSIC: When (and why) did the US start calling its citizens consumers?

Today, the terms "citizen" and "consumer" are often used interchangeably by authors, journalists and politicians. To some experts, this shift has disturbing implications. But how important is a word? How did this switch occur, and why? In today's classic episode, Ben and Noel explore the implications of this strange, often unexamined, evolution.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
04/08/22·42m 17s

A Ridiculous History of Reality TV, Part Two: Reality Goes Global

As reality TV continued to grow across networks and genres, it also spread across the planet. In the second part of this two-part series, special guest Anna Hossnieh joins Ben, Noel and Max to break down the evolution of massive hits like The Bachelor, The Real Housewives empire, and more.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
02/08/22·40m 52s

A Ridiculous History of Reality TV, Part One: An Origin Story

However you define it, reality TV is a giant in the world of entertainment. From soap operas to game shows and the hazards of dating, it seems almost any genre can find a home in reality television. But how did we get here? How did this global phenomenon begin? In part one of this two-part series, special guest Anna Hossnieh joins Ben, Noel and Max to explore the evolution of unscripted programming -- and what it teaches us about humanity. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
28/07/22·41m 35s

Surprising Former Careers of the Famous

Did you know Abraham Lincoln was an infamous, trash-talking wrestler? Ronald Reagan spent his younger years saving people from drowning (and throwing rocks at them) as a lifeguard. And before Norma Jean became the iconic Marilyn Monroe, she built drones during World War II. In today's episode, the guys explore the little-known, surprising careers of some of America's most notable historical figures.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
26/07/22·48m 13s

A Humorous History of Genetics

What makes you... well, you? It's a question humanity has wrestled with since the dawn of recorded history all the way to the modern day. In today's special episode in partnership with 23andMe, Ben, Noel and Max dive into the history of genetic research from its ancient predecessors to great breakthroughs of the recent past, as well as learning a bit about their own genetic history along the way.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
21/07/22·49m 32s

Tsutomu Yamaguchi: The World's Only (Recognized) Double Atomic Bomb Victim

On August 6th, 1945, Mitsubishi engineer Tsutomu Yamaguchi was finally heading home from a three month assignment in Hiroshima... until the United States dropped an atomic bomb over the city. Miraculously, he survived the bombing and made his way home to Nagasaki -- where he once again witnessed, and survived, an atomic bomb. Tune in to learn more about Tsutomu Yamaguchi's harrowing journey, as well as his life after surviving not one, but two separate atomic bombs.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
19/07/22·36m 51s

Gods of Deception, Part II: Art, History, Fiction and War

As Ben and Noel continue their conversation with novelist and art historian David Adams Cleveland, the group finds themselves going far beyond the world of Alger Hiss. In the second part of this two-part series, the guys learn more about David's award-winning work as an art historian, the ways in which history, research and fiction converge -- and a little about the oft-ignored effects of history on geopolitics.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
14/07/22·30m 8s

Gods of Deception, Part I: Alger Hiss in the Halls of Power

Throughout the 1930s and 1940s, Alger Hiss was a mover and shaker in the political sphere. Highly educated and deeply connected, Hiss worked as a lawyer involved in everything from the Justice Department to the United Nations. Until, that is, he was accused of being a spy -- a prime character in a vast conspiracy stretching from DC to the Soviet Union. In the first part of this two-part series, Ben and Noel join special guest, novelist and art historian David Adams Cleveland, to learn more about how these events informed David's newest novel, God of Deception.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
12/07/22·31m 59s

Operation LAC: That Time Uncle Sam Sprayed Poison Across St. Louis

As the US government became increasingly concerned about the possibility of large-scale biological weapons, they decided something must be done: they needed to test— in secret. In today’s episode, the guys explore how the US Army conspired to spray an entire impoverished part of St. Louis with potentially dangerous chemicals… basically, to see what happened.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
07/07/22·39m 41s

CLASSIC - Does the US Confederacy Still Exist in Americana, Brazil?

The guys took a day off to celebrate the 4th of July -- and what better time to share a classic episode about another (very strange) form of patriotism? At the close the US Civil War, tens of thousands of former Confederate families fled the US for a small city in Brazil, where they sought to continue living as they had in the days before the war. Tune in to learn more about the strange history of Americana, Brazil.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
05/07/22·34m 56s

Millerism, Part II: The Great Disappointment (and the Aftermath)

As the alleged End of the World drew ever closer, William Miller and the Millerism movement became a pop culture phenomenon. Thousands of people quit their jobs, sold their possessions, and prepared to ascend into the afterlife. Yet when the predicted day came -- and passed -- without the return of Jesus Christ, many of these believers were at a loss. What should they do now? See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
30/06/22·41m 51s

CLASSIC - Did a Real-Life Rainmaker Almost Drown San Diego?

In today's episode we are revisiting a classic. Charles Mallory Hatfield considered himself a real-life rainmaker (or, as he preferred to describe himself, a 'moisture accelerator') and, when San Diego faced one of its most damaging droughts, Hatfield cracked a deal: He'd bring the water back to San Diego. City officials were skeptical, but desperate -- and, as ridiculous as it might sound -- they got more than they bargained for.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
28/06/22·29m 2s

Millerism: America’s First End Times Gospel

You might not have heard of William Miller, but in his time he was a pretty big deal. In the first part of this two-part series, Ben, Noel and Max dive into the origin of William Miller and Millerism, his spiritual movement predicated on the idea that, with some tricky math, you could indeed predict the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
23/06/22·46m 38s

Ben Franklin Faked a Rival's Death to Promote His Almanac

Benjamin Franklin was many things: an inventor, a Founding Father, a publisher... and, it turns out, a massive troll. In today's episode, Ben, Noel and Max dive into a strange story of absolute pettiness and out-the-box PR stunts. You see, when Ben Franklin wanted to up the sales of his almanac, he decided to predict the death of his longtime publishing rival, Titan Leeds. One problem: when the prediction didn't come to pass, Titan, who was very much alive, responded in kind. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
21/06/22·32m 58s

Why was Phrenology a Thing? Part II: A Pseudoscience (Sort of) Informs the Modern Day

While the credibility of phrenology inevitably deteriorated over time, it was neither a completely original concept, nor, in some respects, a completely useless one. In the second part of this two-part series, Ben, Noel and Max explore the ancient precedents of judging inner qualities based on outer appearance, as well as what modern scientists have to say about how phrenology, as imperfect as it was, helped establish some concepts that stay with the world of research today.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
16/06/22·53m 33s

Why was Phrenology a Thing? Part I: The Rise of Dr. Finger

Once upon a time, a young man named Franz Joseph Gall thought "That's weird... all my school chums with big eyes are good at memorizing things." Years later, he took this idea and ran with it, assuring people that bumps on their skulls held profound insights about both their flaws and their talents. Nowadays everyone agrees phrenology is bunk -- but in its heyday, folks across the US and Europe were convinced this quackery was the bleeding edge of scientific innovation. In part one of this two-part episode, Ben, Noel and Max dive into the origins of cranioscopy and phrenology. (We also fell in love with a side character named Dr. Finger.)See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
14/06/22·45m 21s

Nancy Wake, the White Mouse of the French Resistance

Although Nancy Wake began her career as a journalist, her first-hand experience with Nazis compelled her to a new calling: the French Resistance. In today's episode, Ben, Noel and Max explore the larger-than-life triumphs of the freedom fighter the Gestapo would come to call "the White Mouse," from her early days to her heroic (though, at times, murderous) work to save innocent lives during World War II.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
09/06/22·43m 49s

The US Boycotted the 1980 Moscow Olympics, and Puerto Rican Boxers Went Anyway

In a response to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the US, along with more than 60 other countries, boycotted the Olympics. Yet three Puerto Rican boxers refused to allow politics to stand in their way of their athletic ambitions. In today's episode, Ben, Noel and Max welcome Bijan Stephen and Layne Gerbig, the creators of the Eclipsed podcast, to learn what led them to create this show -- and what the 1980 Olympics can teach us about the larger context of history.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
07/06/22·41m 40s

Disco Demolition Night: How Disco Died at a White Sox Game

Cast your memory back to 1979. Tensions across the US are high, on multiple levels. Disco dominates the music scene, and, oh boy, rock fans are mad about it. Things come to a head at Comiskey Park, where White Sox owner Bill Veeck and a young anti-disco DJ named Steve Dahl decide to promote a doubleheader baseball event with a particular theme -- bring a disco record, and you get to watch it get blown up between games. Spoiler alert: things went wrong, almost immediately.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
02/06/22·50m 27s

Bolivia Fought -- And Lost -- A War For Bird Poop

Most people associate think of bird poop as an annoyance -- it can gunk up sidewalks and windshields, and, occasionally, even splat on an unlucky person walking by. But in the late 1800s, guano was a hugely important resource. In today's episode, Ben, Noel and Max take a closer look at the 'white gold' of guano... and how it led to one of 19th-century South America's deadliest wars.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
31/05/22·30m 13s

Why You Can't Say "MacBeth" in a Theater

As one of history's most well-known, highly-regarded writers, it's no secret that Shakespeare's life and work is full of strange stories -- but did you know one of his most famous plays is considered cursed? In today's episode, the guys are joined by special guest, award-winning playwright Will McFadden, as he breaks down to supposed origin of the curse, along with multiple disasters attributed to it. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
26/05/22·53m 51s

Operation Mincemeat: Britain's Ghoulish Plan to Fool the Nazis

As World War II raged on in 1943, both Allied and Axis forces knew they were riddled with spies. In a dizzying cavalcade of undercover, double, and even triple agents, both sides of the war sought to deceive their opponents -- and ethical concerns increasingly took a back seat in these pursuits. In today's episode, Ben, Noel and Max dive into the story of Operation Mincemeat, a macabre (and, ultimately, successful) plan to plant fake intel on a corpse. Inspired by Netflix's new film, Operation Mincemeat, the guys explore the facts behind the latest adaptation.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
24/05/22·44m 28s

Who the heck was Joseph Warren?

When it's time to study the American Revolution in grade school, US kids tend to learn the same few names -- Betsy Ross, George Washington, Benjamin Banneker, Jefferson, Revere and so on. But, were it not for a single gunshot, physician and revolutionary Joseph Warren just may have become one of the first presidents. Tune in to learn more.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
19/05/22·41m 47s

Chocolate Syrup: From Medicine to Dessert

Most people nowadays associate chocolate syrup with ice cream -- but back in the day, it was considered a legitimate medicine. In today's episode, Ben, Noel and Max explore the origins of chocolate from ancient Mesoamerica to the modern day. Ben and Max also try to save their pal Noel from the unpleasant experience of 'Beverly.'See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
17/05/22·42m 53s

Historical Hypocrisy: The Confederacy's Weird Stance on "Individual Rights"

While the Confederacy often portrayed itself as a champion of certain individual rights-- not applied to enslaved people, of course-- it didn't always practice what it preached. In today's episode, the guys explore how factions of the Confederate government used the chaos of war to confiscate all sorts of property and then, through a web of corruption, made themselves wealthy in the process.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
12/05/22·39m 52s

Juana Maria: The Real-life Story Behind "Island of the Blue Dolphins"

No one knew the real name of the woman living alone on San Nicolas Island, but when she returned to civilization after decades in solitude, she was a hit with the locals at the nearby mission. Known for her exuberance and friendliness, the religious authorities and townsfolk alike loved the woman they christened Juana Maria, but they knew next to nothing about her life -- because she spoke a language no one, from the missionaries to the native communities, could understand. Tune in to learn more.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
10/05/22·31m 19s

Curling: The Most Ridiculous Sport?

The time has come! In this special episode, the one and only Super Producer Max Williams takes point on the research into one of his long-standing fascinations: the curious sport of curling. As Max schools the guys on everything from the basic rules to the surprisingly long history of this unique sport, they -- and you -- walk away with a deeper understanding of "The Spirit of Curling."See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
05/05/22·43m 32s

Nobuo Fujita Bombed Brookings, Oregon -- and Then Became a Town Hero

War is a brutal business, and it often leaves scars that last for generations. Two decades after he bombed Brookings, Oregon during World War II, former Imperial Japanese Navy pilot Nobuo Fujita returned to Brookings to give an official apology -- and the town essentially adopted him. Fujita would go on to visit Brookings multiple times, sponsoring student trips to Japan, and gifting the city his samurai sword, which had been in his family for more than 400 years.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
03/05/22·27m 39s

A Teetotaling Preacher Basically Invented Modern Tourism

When's the last time you had a vacation, just for fun? Regardless of where you went, you probably want to tip your hat to Thomas Cook. As a traveling Baptist preacher, Thomas Cook walked thousands of miles on foot warning people about the danger of alcohol -- it was a rough, demanding life, and people often ignored his message. But he was nothing if not a forward thinker. In today's episode, the guys explore how one man's determination to -- originally, at least -- spread the good word of Temperance led to the birth of the modern tourist industry.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
28/04/22·32m 37s

Ira Aldridge: Actor, Activist and Record-breaker

As an African-American actor in the 1800s, Ira Aldridge had the odds stacked against him. Yet despite systemic racism, as well as negative attitudes about Americans in general, Aldridge went on to become the darling of the London stage. In today's episode, the guys explore how Ira Aldridge used his tremendous fame as a way to advocate for equality, abolition and more -- and broke numerous records along the way.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
26/04/22·47m 18s

Lithuanian Book Smugglers Vs. The Russian Empire

When people think of rebellion, they often think of guerilla warfare, rousing speeches and protests. But what about books? When the Russian Empire sought to "Russify" much of what is now Lithuania, the Tsar's forces waged a war against culture, forcing children to learn a Cyrillic alphabet -- and even banning the pre-existing Lithuanian alphabet from printing presses. Native Lithuanians from all walks of life responded by becoming knygnešiaĩ, or book carriers. Tune in to learn how this vast smuggling ring preserved the Lithuanian alphabet, and eventually won the war for a country's hearts and minds.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
21/04/22·43m 17s

The Yule Lads Terrified Children Across Iceland

Many countries have their own, distinct Christmas traditions, but Iceland's Yule Lads are especially disturbing. Born of a monsterous giantess, these thirteen creatures each specialize in certain types of harassment or theft, leaving gifts for good children, and rotten potatoes for the rest. In today's episode, the guys explore the origin of this strange story -- and how, once upon a time, it was actually outlawed.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
19/04/22·33m 36s

The Infamous Aurora UFO Incident of 1897

In April of 1897, something crashed from the sky, destroying a local windmill. As rumors and speculation grew, strange reports emerged -- could there have been a pilot? What was this craft, exactly, and why were some observers convinced it was from beyond this world? Tune in to learn more.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
14/04/22·34m 40s

How The Evil May Day of 1517 Became the Perfect Propaganda Opportunity

London of the 1500s was a bustling center of commerce, finance and industry -- and it attracted a fair number of foreign-born professionals, who sought their fortune in the metropolis. However, as epidemics and economic downturns made life worse and worse for the average person, the native-born working class began to blame foreigners, whom they called 'strangers,' for their woes. In today's episode, the guys follow the escalating, xenophobic tensions that led to citywide riots -- and how the Crown leveraged this to further solidify state power.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
12/04/22·46m 45s

Day Drinkers (Sort of) Helped Stop Cholera in London

Dr. Jon Snow -- no relation to the guy from A Song of Ice and Fire -- was in a pickle. Cholera was ravaging London, particularly in the Soho area, and no one knew how to stop it from spreading like poisonous wildfire. As the crisis raged on, Snow was able to use his medical knowledge and amateur detective skills to figure out where the contagion was coming from. His big breakthrough? Folks at the local brewery, who were known for day drinking, seemed to avoid the infection almost entirely. Tune in to learn how beer (kind of) saved London.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
07/04/22·38m 27s

The Much-Maligned Reign of Swedish Queen Maria Eleonora

We often assume wealth can solve everything, but unfortunately that's not the case -- and there are few better examples of this than the life of Maria Eleonora of Brandenburg, German princess and Queen of Sweden. In today's episode, the gang explores the Queen's turbulent struggles in the realms of geopolitics, parenting, the patriarchy and romance. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
05/04/22·41m 16s

Weird Ways People Used to Communicate, Part II: Smoke Signals and Bottled Messages

People these days are, for better or worse, increasingly accustomed to living in an area of constant communication. But how did people communicate over long distances before the rise of things like telegraphs, telephones and the internet? In the second part of this week's special two-part episode, guests Bill Whorley and Mark Kendall, the creators of the hit new podcast Ridiculous News, join the guys to talk about some of the weirdest ways people used to communicate in days of yore.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
31/03/22·35m 19s

Weird Ways People Used to Communicate, Part I: Only a Pigeon Away

People these days are, for better or worse, increasingly accustomed to living in an area of constant communication. But how did people communicate over long distances before the rise of things like telegraphs, telephones and the internet? In this week's special two-part episode, guests Mark Kendall and Bill Whorley, the creators of the hit new podcast Ridiculous News, join the guys to talk about some of the weirdest ways people used to communicate in days of yore.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
29/03/22·30m 25s

That Time A Dead Guy Won an Olympic Medal

In his heyday, the story goes, Arrhichion of Phigalia was a renowned pankration champion, a brutal sport of the ancient Olympics. But he was getting on in years, and his days at the top seem numbered. In today's episode, the guys explore the strange series of circumstances that led to Arrhichion's final, fatal match -- and how, after death, he was declared victorious one last time. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
24/03/22·28m 38s

Julia Barnett Rice Waged an Elitist War on Noise

If you, like the majority of humans alive today, live in a city, you're more than familiar with noise -- sirens, construction, traffic and more. In today's episode, the guys explore how one woman's mission to silence the tugboats near her opulent Manhattan mansion led to a nation-wide, classist campaign against noise. Co-starring Ben's nemesis, the local leafblower (who somehow always knows when we're recording). Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
23/03/22·42m 26s

Ridiculous History Presents: A History of "Adult" Toys, Part 2

While it's a taboo subject in the modern day, it turns out people have been improvising ways to pleasure themselves since, well, the dawn of history. In the second part of this week's two-part takeover episode, Ben and Noel join Eli and Diana Banks, real-life spouses and creators of the hit podcast Ridiculous Romance, to discuss the strange, ridiculous (and at-times disturbing) history of sex toys across the planet. Heads-up, this one gets a little raunchy. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
17/03/22·1h 3m

Ridiculous History Presents: A History of "Adult" Toys, Part 1

While it's a taboo subject in the modern day, it turns out people have been improvising ways to pleasure themselves since, well, the dawn of history. In this week's two-part takeover episode, Ben and Noel join Eli and Diana Banks, real-life spouses and creators of the hit podcast Ridiculous Romance, to discuss the strange, ridiculous (and at-times disturbing) history of sex toys across the planet. Heads-up, this one gets a little raunchy. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
15/03/22·56m 35s

The Cobra Effect, Part 2: Four Pests and a Disastrous Success

The Cobra Effect - a particularly extreme form of unintended consequences - isn't limited to India and Vietnam. In China, the technically successful Four Pests eradication campaign led to tremendous ecological disaster, as the mass murder of sparrows led to a plague of ravenous locusts. In part two of this week's two part episode, Ben, Noel and Max explore what went wrong, how it affected later generations, and what the Cobra Effect can teach us about unforeseen consequences. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
10/03/22·41m 16s

The Cobra Effect, Part 1: Snakes, Rats, and Unintended Consequences

Back in the days of the British Raj, colonial leaders had a problem: Delhi was overrun with snakes. And not just any snakes -- cobras. These dangerous death noodles slithered through every nook and cranny in town. The solution? Put a bounty on cobras, and allow any citizen to receive payment for every cobra skin they bring in. While this seemed like a good idea at first, it quickly led to even more snakes pouring into town. So what happened? In part one of this week's two-part episode, Ben and Noel explore the strange series of missteps so ridiculous that it inspired a new, powerful concept: The Cobra Effect. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
08/03/22·41m 44s

British Suffragettes Knew Jūjitsu

As activists in the UK fought for the right to vote (and divorce, and inherit land), they ran into increasingly brutal actions on the part of police -- they were beaten, arrested, imprisoned, and even force fed when attempting hunger strikes. The police seemed confident that this abuse would silence the protestors... but that was before they were aware of Jūjitsu expert and dojo owner Edith Garrud. Edith didn't just conduct self-defense training for locals -- when she saw the increasing trend of violence against her fellow protestors, she trained an elite fighting force that went toe-to-toe with law enforcement, more than once, for the cause. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
04/03/22·52m 8s

A Tale of Two Hansons: Busting Myths About the 'First' US President

It's no secret that people in the US often tend to mythologize the Founding Fathers -- so it shouldn't come as a surprise that people also, often, claim George Washington wasn't actually the first US president. What gives? Tune in to learn more. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
02/03/22·39m 7s

Did Soldiers in World War I Really Team Up to Fight Wolves?

World War I was a bloody, terrifying conflict for everyone involved -- and not just humans. In today's episode, Ben, Noel and Max accidentally run into deep emotions, going one hundred percent Team Wolf as they explore the ecological consequences of massive human conflict. Ben remains resentful regarding the hot tub situation. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
25/02/22·43m 22s

Slum Tourists: When Wealthy People Toured Chinatown ‘For Fun’

It’s true — back in the day, wealthy residents of cities from London to Chicago would pay for tours of disadvantaged communities, the same way that you might take your friends to a zoo today. The communities responded, staging events meant to give the upper class an ersatz sense of authenticity. Spoiler, it was terrible. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
23/02/22·44m 58s

That Time Victorians Treated Seaweed like Pokemon

Europe's Victorian Era was, in many ways, a study in contradiction. While society in general championed independent scientific research, institutions of the day rejected women as members. Seaweed collections became a way for these scientists to circumvent the dumb ideas of their day. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
18/02/22·51m 11s

Valentine's Day Is So Much Weirder Than We Thought

Valentine's Day is a pretty normal holiday in the US and several other countries, and other parts of the world have similar holidays, focused on appreciating our loved ones. But as Ben, Noel and Max learn in today's special episode, a lot of the history behind Valentine's Day is just... incredibly weird. The boys join forces with returning special guests Eli and Diana Banks, the creators of the hit podcast Ridiculous Romance, to dive into some of the most bizarre -- dare we say ridiculous -- aspects of Valentine's Day throughout history. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
15/02/22·1h 16m

Weirdest Celebrity Busts, Part II: Mr. David Lee Roth and a Drunken John Wayne

What can Mr. David Lee Roth's run-ins with the law teach us about wholesomeness? Why did John Wayne have public, drunken beef with Harvard? In part two of this week's special two-part series, guests Zaron Burnett and Elizabeth Dutton, the creators and hosts of Ridiculous Crime, join the guys to explore some of history's strangest celebrity busts. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
10/02/22·1h 1m

Weirdest Celebrity Busts, Part I: Nixon Smuggled Weed, Arbuckle Was Innocent

Did Richard Nixon smuggle weed? What can the Fatty Arbuckle scandal tell us about American society? In this week's special two-part series, guests Zaron Burnett and Elizabeth Dutton, the creators and hosts of Ridiculous Crime, join the guys to explore some of history's strangest celebrity busts. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
09/02/22·1h 12m

CLASSIC: X-Rays, Songs and Soviets: The Stilyagi Story

Caught between the conflicting ideologies of the Cold War, Soviet teens were banned from collecting Western music -- smuggled records could be both rare and expensive. The solution? Discarded X-rays, also known as 'bone recordings'. Join the guys as they explore the strange story of the Stilyagi in this classic episode. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
03/02/22·35m 28s

Tossed Popcorn, Part 2: Chaplin was a Jerk, Brando was Insane

Don’t let the charming slapstick fool you — Charlie Chaplin was a monster to his lovers, coworkers and family. His former collaborator, Marlon Brando was even weirder and could be just as cruel. In the second part of this two-part episode, the hosts of Tossed Popcorn return to explore more bizarre stories behind the scenes of cinema. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
02/02/22·1h 7m

Tossed Popcorn, Part 1: The Wizard of Oz and the Titanic

It's no secret that Hollywood has been home to numerous lurid, disturbing -- and, sometimes, ridiculous -- tales over the decades. In the first part of this two-part series, the guys are joined with Lianna and Sienna, the creators of Tossed Popcorn, for an exploration of bizarre behind-the-scenes stories from some of film's most iconic movies, celebrities and eras. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
28/01/22·59m 0s

Peter Freuchen: Explorer, Raconteur, Movie Star and War Hero

You may not have heard of Peter Freuchen, but in his day he was one of the world's most well-known polar explorers. He also wrote prolifically about his adventures, including his numerous brushes with death. And that's just the beginning of his story -- he later went to Hollywood, fought against the Nazis in Europe, had some brushes with celebrity scandal and more. Tune in to learn more about the amazing (and occasionally gruesome) adventures of Peter Freuchen. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
25/01/22·49m 54s

Did Honduras and El Salvador Really Go to War over Soccer?

If you read the international headlines in 1969, you'd think the Central American countries of Honduras and El Salvador loved football (soccer, for the US folks in the crowd) so much that they actually went to war over it. But does this story actually hold up? That's the question for today's episode, as the guys dive into the true events leading to the infamous, short-lived 'Football War.' Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
20/01/22·42m 31s

The US Literally Had Nazi Summer Camps

For many adults, the idea of 'summer camp' conjures up fond, nostalgic memories of childhood. And most folks see these outfits as great opportunities for children to learn, play and connect with their peers. Yet as the Nazi party rose to power in Germany, multiple communities in the US created their own kinds of summer camp -- camps dedicated entirely to indoctrinating children with Nazi propaganda, all under the guise of popularizing 'German virtues.' Tune in to learn more.  Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
19/01/22·41m 2s

The Emperor of the United States

When San Franciscan businessman Joshua Norton lost his fortune in a Peruvian rice deal gone sour, he temporarily disappeared from the public eye. Not long after, he reemerged as Norton I, the self-proclaimed Emperor of the United States (and, later, Protector of Mexico). In today's episode, Ben and Noel explore the life and times of Norton, and the surprising legacy he left behind. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
13/01/22·51m 55s

The Trans-Saharan Ostrich Expedition of 1911

Most people haven't met an ostrich in person, but everyone knows what they are: the large, flightless birds have been around since before the rise of humanity, and throughout history people have admired their long, luxurious feathers. Back in the day, any self-respecting socialite absolutely had to have ostrich feathers festooning their hats, creating an international trade market that led a small army of South Africans to launch a harrowing, dangerous heist to steal the legendary Barbary ostrich. Tune in to learn more about one of the strangest heists in history. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
12/01/22·50m 52s

That Time Everyone Tried To Outlaw War

War is ugly, horrific and, according to some, a necessary part of human civilization. Yet in the 1920s, world powers recovering from World War I sought to make the planet a safer (or, at least, less unsafe) place. Their solution? The Paris Peace Pact, which aimed to, through an international agreement, outlaw war. Spoiler: it didn't work. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
07/01/22·46m 29s

CLASSIC: Who Solves Murders in Antarctica?

Antarctica is home to one of the most brutal climates on the planet, and the few humans living on this continent face profound isolation and cramped quarters. Often, tension rises as the months between supply runs pile up -- so what happens when something goes wrong? Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
04/01/22·31m 24s

The Lil Ice Age Was Way Less Cute Than It Sounds

You've probably heard of the Ice Ages -- long periods of reduction in Earth's temperature, triggering massive expansion of glaciers and so on -- but you may not have heard of the "Little Ice Age," a time of regional cooling that, from the 14th to the 19th centuries, dramatically affected weather and society across Europe and abroad. Tune in to learn more. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
30/12/21·36m 39s

Nub City: Florida's Infamous Amputation Scam

As towns go, Vernon, Florida is pretty tiny -- it has a small population, has struggled with economic depression, and doesn't get a ton of tourists. But that all changed several decades ago, when Vernon became a subject of national interest as insurance investigators discovered a grisly scam. You may not have heard of Vernon, but you may know it by its other, unofficial name: Nub City. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
28/12/21·44m 25s

London's Tiger King, Part Two: Charles Jamrach Becomes a Problematic Hero

By 1857, London's exotic animal trade was in full swing. Animals arrived at the city from across the world (often not surviving the journey), and Charles Jamrach was one of the most prominent animal dealers on the planet. At the height of his fame, he gained public attention by saving a child from a tiger. One problem: it was Jamrach's fault the tiger was in London in the first place. Learn more about London's exotic animal trade in part two of this two-part episode. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
23/12/21·31m 56s

London's Tiger King, Part One: When Exotic Animal's Were The Hottest Flex

Walking through London today, you'll doubtlessly hear cacophonous traffic, sirens, construction, countless languages -- all the noises familiar to big cities... but, not too long ago, it would also have been normal to hear the roars of large animals in certain neighborhoods. In the first part of this two-part series, the guys explore the factors that led London to become a world-class hub for the exotic animal trade, often to the detriment of the animals (and the occasional spectator). Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
21/12/21·33m 20s

The Atlantropa Project, Part Two: What Happened to the Supercontinent?

While the idea of draining (most of) the Mediterranean sounds... ambitious, to say the least, Herman Sörgel's vision met with a surprising amount of popular support. In the second part of this two-part episode, the gang explores the dark side of Atlantropa, from its roots in colonialism to the potentially disastrous ecological and social consequences involved. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
16/12/21·29m 35s

The Atlantropa Project, Part One: Saving Europe via Supercontinent

Like everyone in post-World War I Europe, Herman Sörgel was horrified by the devastation of a continent-wide conflict. He saw raging poverty, crippling unemployment, overpopulation and burgeoning geopolitical tensions, all of which led him to believe new conflicts were on the horizon. His solution? To drain the Mediterranean and create a new supercontinent. Tune in to learn more in the first part of this two-part episode. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
14/12/21·29m 44s

People Used Bed Bugs as Medicine for Thousands of Years

When you think of bed bugs, you probably think of dirty mattresses, irritating rashes and bites, and the dubious joy of calling an exterminator. However, in millennia past, people were convinced bed bugs, properly prepared, could cure everything from cataracts to the common cold. Tune in to learn more. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
10/12/21·34m 30s

The US Literally Threw Pianos From Planes During World War II

As musical instruments go, pianos are pretty amazing -- they're also not particularly easy to move. Clunkiness aside, pianos provide endless hours of entertainment, lightening the mood in even the darkest of times. In today's episode, Ben and Noel explore how the US government and the Steinway company sought to boost wartime morale by literally dropping pianos into the front lines (along with, thankfully, instructions on how to tune them). Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
07/12/21·29m 47s

The Sinister Side of Little Orphan Annie, Part Two: Drink Your Ovaltine

Once the Little Orphan Annie comic strip was adapted to a radio program, it wasn't just a hit show -- it was a marketing coup for the good folks at Ovaltine. The company underwrote the program, riddled it with advertising, and worked like mad to convince every child in the US that they must drink as much Ovaltine as possible. Tune in and learn more in the second part of this two-part series. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
02/12/21·36m 51s

The Sinister Side of Little Orphan Annie, Part One: Parents Were Terrified

These days, most folks think of Little Orphan Annie as a folksy, wholesome slice of nostalgia -- but during its heyday as a radio program, parents across the US became increasingly concerned. The show, they thought, had a deep, dangerous hold on the minds of children. In the first part of this two-part series, Ben and Noel dive into the surprising controversy surrounding Little Orphan Annie. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
01/12/21·41m 30s

CLASSIC: How White America Tried To Destroy Chinese Restaurants

Today Chinese restaurants serve some of the most popular cuisine in the United States, with more than 41,000 restaurants scattered around the country. Yet in the 1900s these restaurants were so controversial that labor unions, hate groups and even politicians joined forces in an attempt to wipe the businesses out. Tune in to hear the whole story (which, luckily, has a delicious and happy ending). Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
25/11/21·36m 19s

Russia’s Real-life Ice Queen, Part 2: Weird, Brutal Flexes

As rulers go, Anna of Russia was considered pretty bad news. In the second part of this two-part series, the guys explore how Anna (aka Anna the Terrible)'s traumatic life experience may have contributed to her later, profoundly cruel punishments -- things like forcing a disgraced prince to behave like a chicken, or die in the halls of a real-life 'ice palace.' Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
24/11/21·32m 47s

Russia’s Real-life Ice Queen, Part 1: The Tsar is a Jerk

“Despite being born into royalty, Anna Ioannovna didn’t have the easiest life. Her uncle publicly ridiculed her marriage, and the cruelty she experienced growing up may have had lasting emotional damage, leading her to eventually build an actual ice palace.” Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
18/11/21·25m 41s

That Time a Baboon Worked for the Railroad

When a horrific accident left railroad signalman James Wide without the use of his legs, he was desperate to maintain his livelihood -- an effort that may well have been futile were it not for a chance encounter with a highly intelligent baboon named Jack. Jack began by assisting James with simple tasks, and gradually became competent enough do James Wide's job for him. In today's episode, the guys explore the strange circumstances that led to Signalman Jack becoming an actual railroad employee. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
16/11/21·33m 1s

Austin and the Texas Archives War

After its formation in 1836, the new Republic of Texas had some problems -- multiple people wanted the capital in different places. The Republic's archives were seen as a stamp of legitimacy to any city's claim, and by 1842, this led to what what we now call the Texas Archives War. Tune in to learn more. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
11/11/21·37m 49s

King for a Week: The Strange Story of Otto I

For most people, the old saying "it's good to be king" is just a cool phrase -- but for magician and noted spinner of tall tales Otto Witte, this sounded like an idea to take literally. In today's episode, the guys explore how one man (maybe) managed to con the entire nation of Albania into believing he was their king... and got away with it for a week. If, in fact, it actually happened. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
10/11/21·38m 11s

The Bloody Tale of the Sausage War

The Battle of Varolampi Pond has another, less formal name: the Sausage War. Don't let the funny moniker fool you -- the 1939 conflict between Finland and Russia remains one of the most brutal moments of the Winter War. Tune in to learn how horrific conditions and the threat of starvation led the outnumbered Finnish forces to a temporary victory against the massive Red Army. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
04/11/21·40m 30s

Modern Thanksgiving, Part Two: Sarah Josepha Hale Finally Gets Her Wish

As the Civil War broke out, Sarah Josepha Hale found politicians were, understandably, more occupied with country-wide chaos than the creation of a national, unified Thanksgiving. After the close of the war, Thanksgiving became, to Northern politicians, a way to bring the once-divided population together -- and, still, some Southerners disagreed. Tune in to learn more in part two of this two-part series. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
02/11/21·38m 13s

Modern Thanksgiving, Part One: A Culture War

Today Thanksgiving is considered a largely innocuous holiday, centered on food and family. In the US, people across the country get together on the same Thursday in November every year, breaking bread, practicing thankfulness -- and, sometimes, suffering through awkward conversations with family. But this wasn't always the case. In part one of this two-part series, Ben and Noel explore how the modern Thanksgiving came to be, and why some in the south genuinely believed it was a foray in a larger culture war. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
28/10/21·33m 46s

How Haunted Houses Became A Thing

Haunted houses are a big deal in the United States -- like Spirit stores, they seem to spring up every October -- but whence did they originate? When did people start paying to be scared? Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
27/10/21·46m 24s

New England versus Vampires, Part Two: Desperation and Desecration

In part two of this two-part series, Ben is joined once again with guest host Alex Williams to explore the harrowing tale of the New England Vampire Panic, tracing how increasingly desperate communities resorted to ritualistic desecration of graves to combat the horrors of what some believed to be a supernatural affliction. (And how the rest of the world branded it a 'vampire panic' when the locals probably didn't use that word.) Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
21/10/21·35m 17s

New England versus Vampires, Part One: The Brutal, Terrifying Life of Early Colonists

While historians continue to explore the details of the infamous Salem witch trials, another, earlier panic swept through New England -- something modern historians often refer to as the "Vampire Panic." In part one of this two-part series, Ben is joined again with guest host Alex Williams, creator of the Ephemeral podcast, to explore the brutal realities of daily life in New England, and how the everpresent threat of disease led some communities to take increasingly desperate (and gruesome) actions to save themselves. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
20/10/21·37m 21s

Ada Lovelace, Part Two: The Analytical Engine

After marrying and having three children, Ada dove back into the world of poetical science, continuing her correspondence with Charles Babbage as he tried to garner support for his ambitious, expensive analytical engine. In the second part of this two-part series, the guys explore how Ada's work -- and prescience -- created a profound legacy that remains with us in the modern day. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
15/10/21·39m 22s

Ada Lovelace, Part One: How Lord Byron’s Daughter Became a Tech Visionary

Today Ada Lovelace is hailed as one of the most important figures in the early history of computing -- but, during her childhood, her mother was worried she might take after her father, the famous poet (and infamous philanderer) Lord Byron. Learn more about Ada's childhood in part one of this two-part series. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
12/10/21·34m 26s

The King of Scotland Got Real Weird with Language Experiments

Scottish King James IV was, by all accounts, a learned man. As a polyglot, he was especially interested in the origin of language -- so much so, in fact, that he allegedly conducted an experiment that would scandalize modern scientists: James had two children spirited off to the remote island of Inchkeith, where they were raised without language by a mute caretaker. While historians still debate whether this actually occurred, James wasn't the first guy to try it out. He, like his predecessors, wanted to see whether the kids would speak a 'natural' or 'original' language on their own. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
07/10/21·50m 1s

The Rum Riot of Portland, Maine

On June 2nd, 1855, the good people of Portland Maine had reached a breaking point. The Mayor, an infamous hardline teetotaler, had just been caught approving the purchase of alcohol after making it illegal throughout town. In today's episode, the guys explore what led to the riot, what happened after, and how this strange episode in Portland influence the later Prohibition movement. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
05/10/21·42m 22s

The Love of Candy Almost Drove a Cactus Extinct

You might not associate cacti with candy -- on the surface, they seem to have very little in common, mainly because candy is sold in stores around the world, and cacti have a well-deserved, literally prickly reputation. Yet not too long ago the US was in the midst of a genuine cactus candy craze, one that almost drove the poor barrel cactus to extinction. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
30/09/21·32m 54s

The Australian Prison Break of 1876, Part 2

In the second part of this two-part series, the guys return to the astonishing story of the Catalpa, exploring how the men prepared for and committed the actual jailbreak -- and how they got away. Listen in to learn more. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
28/09/21·31m 34s

The Australian Prison Break of 1876 Part 1

It sounds like something straight out of a heist film: a motley crew bands together in an international conspiracy to rescue six Irishmen from a jail in western Australia -- via whaling ship. Tune in to learn more about the most infamous prison break in Australian history. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
23/09/21·31m 49s

37 Days of Peril, with Alex Williams

Imagine you live in 1870, traipsing the wild frontier of North America with little more than an opera glass, a few friends and an arguably ill-informed sense of adventure. What happens when you get lost? This is the story of Truman Everts, a hapless tax assessor who found himself at the mercy of the wilderness, hopelessly lost for a full 37 days before, miraculously, returning to civilization. In today's episode, Ben, Noel and Max hold off on their heist phase to welcome Max's brother, returning guest and creator of Ephemeral, Alex Williams, for a discussion of his latest episode, "37 Days of Peril." Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
21/09/21·57m 43s

Robert Smalls Stole A Confederate Ship and Sailed to Freedom, Part Two: From Slavery to Congress

In the second part of this series, the guys continue the story of Robert Smalls, from his daring Confederate steamer heist to his later, life-long activism and Congressional career. Listen in to learn more. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
16/09/21·26m 39s

Robert Smalls Stole A Confederate Ship and Sailed to Freedom, Part One: Planning the Heist

Born into slavery, Robert Smalls dreamed of freedom for not just himself and his family, but all oppressed people. As the US became consumed in the Civil War, he hatched a daredevil plan to make this dream a reality -- by stealing a Confederate ship and sailing straight past the southern authorities all the way to the Union. In part one of this episode, the guys explore the origin of Robert Smalls, the genesis of his plan, and the moment he knew there was no turning back. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
14/09/21·25m 12s

Sky Pilot: The Man Who Brought Religion to Lumberjacks

Life was tough for lumberjacks in the 1800s. Stuck in the middle of nowhere, often in brutal living conditions, the men of Minnesota's logging camps often had little relief from the dangerous, daily grind of logging season. Frank Higgins spent decades traveling to these isolated camps, bringing sermons, hymns and inspiration. In today's episode, the guys dive into the story of the world's first sky pilot. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
09/09/21·48m 14s

CLASSIC: Butter: Protestantism's Secret Ingredient?

The Protestant Reformation remains one of the most significant cultural events in the Western world. Martin Luther's 95 Theses addressed numerous concerns with the Catholic church, including corruption and the practice of granting dispensations -- allowing people to, essentially, pay their way out of sin. So what was it about butter that spurred Martin Luther into action? The story might surprise you. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
07/09/21·35m 13s

Ridiculous Live: The Humor and the Heavy

Recently, Ben and Noel traveled to Podcast Movement to explore a fascinating, at-times difficult subject: How do you explore a heavy story in an approachable way, while still being honest, accurate and human? They're joined once again with Eli and Diana Banks, the hosts of Ridiculous Romance, as well as their favorite moderator and longtime friend, Lauren Vogelbaum. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
02/09/21·57m 15s

Flu Julia: The Con Artist Nurse That Made Bank Off Of Misery

During the flu pandemic of 1918, Julia Lyons saw opportunity amid chaos. Posing a visiting nurse in Chicago, she successfully swindled numerous desperate people through a variety of cons, always seeming to escape the long arm of the law. In today's episode, the guys explore the ins and outs of Julia's criminal career -- including how it compares to the current pandemic. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
31/08/21·44m 1s

History's Dumbest Criminals, Part 2

In the second part of this series, the guys are joined once again by Pod Yourself A Gun's Vince Mancini and Matt Lieb to explore the startling story behind the infamous 1976 Chowchilla kidnapping, where a trio of young men planned to get rich by kidnapping a school bus full of children (spoiler: it didn't work out). Tune in to learn more. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
27/08/21·1h 2m

History's Dumbest Criminals, Part 1

Mobsters are often romanticized in film and fiction -- but that doesn't mean they're always geniuses. In the first part of this series, Ben and Noel are joined by Matt Lieb and Vince Mancini, the hosts of Pod Yourself A Gun, to explore some of history's dumbest mobsters. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
24/08/21·1h 2m

That Time People Were Terrified of Libraries

Today, libraries across the US and the rest of the world are seen as centers of free learning, presenting enormous opportunities for children and adults alike. However, not too long ago, people in the US and the UK were absolutely terrified by the idea that libraries were dens of disease. In today's episode, the guys explore how fears of tuberculosis, scarlet fever and more led to public hysteria over sharing books -- and how this panic put the concept of libraries as we know them in serious danger. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
19/08/21·38m 6s

Ostracism: How Ancient Greeks Handled Uncool Politicians

What if you could put troublesome citizens into time out for a decade? That's what ancient Athenians did through the practice of ostracism. This vote, which wasn't the same thing as a trial, resulted in a surprisingly progressive ten-year exile for the ostracized. In today's episode, the guys take a closer look at the system, and wonder whether something like it could work in the modern day. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
17/08/21·36m 42s

Military Cats, Part 2: Simon Saves the British

When 17-year old British seaman George Hickenbottom saw an undernourished, ailing stray wandering the dockyards of Hong Kong, his heart melted. He smuggled the cat about the HMS Amethyst and named him Simon. Simon soon won over the captain and crew, partially due to his winning personality, but mainly due to his astonishing prowess as a rat-catcher. And when disaster struck the Amethyst, the gravely-wounded Simon soldiered on, protecting food stores as the crew struggled to escape enemy forces. Learn more about Simon's adventures at sea in the second part of this two-part series on military cats. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
12/08/21·30m 43s

Military Cats, Part 1: Spies and Mascots

When you think of military animals, you might imagine horses, dogs and elephants — but what about cats? As it turns out, humanity’s feline friends have walked side by side with soldiers since the days of ancient empires. In part one of this special two-part episode, the guys explore some of history’s most memorable military cats. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
10/08/21·39m 47s

That Time People Rioted Over a Hot Air Balloon

These days hot air balloons are often thought of as anachronistic novelties -- but in the early days of aeronautics, they were considered fascinating, dangerous and deadly. In today's episode, the guys explore a strange story about a genuine riot during the dawn of ballooning, when an angry crowd protested the balloon they came to see... by literally tearing the balloon apart. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
05/08/21·34m 0s

An Alabama Town Built a Statue Honoring the Insect that Almost Destroyed It

Enterprise, Alabama is home to a fascinating statue honoring the boll weevil, a tiny creature that once wreaked havoc across cotton country. So what inspired the good people of Enterprise to erect a statue honoring the insect that almost destroyed their town? Learn more in today's episode. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
03/08/21·34m 54s

A Prince and His Poodle: The Supernatural Adventures of Rupert and Boy

When the Earl of Rundel learned his acquaintance Prince Rupert was languishing in an Austrian prison during the Thirty Years' War, he gifted the prince a rare white hunting poodle as a companion. Rupert named his new pooch "Boy" and the two became inseparable. Boy accompanied Rupert into multiple conflicts and became a mascot of sorts -- and, in an odd twist, people across England started to believe Boy was no ordinary dog. Instead, they argued, both Boy and Rupert had occult, supernatural powers. In today's episode, the guys explore the story of a Prince, his pooch, and the effectiveness of propaganda. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
29/07/21·42m 39s

How One Guy Made Europe Fall In Love With Potatoes

Today, the humble potato can be found in restaurants and dinner tables across the world -- but this wasn't always the case. In today's episode, Ben and Noel dive into the story of one spud-loving, potato-proselytizing man named Antoine-Augustin Parmentier, and his ambitious life's mission to get an entire continent onboard with the idea of an obscure, Peruvian tuber that would go on to fundamentally change the world. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
27/07/21·1h 2m

Weird Courtship Rituals, Part Two

What exactly is Bhutanese "Night Hunting," and how does it work? How do some rural Cambodian communities navigate the tricky world of dating while living in communal homes? It's often said the course of true love never did run smooth -- and it sure takes some odd turns on the path from courtship to marriage. In the second part of this special two-part series, Ben and Noel welcome special guests Eli and Diana banks, the hosts of Ridiculous Romance, to explore some of history's strangest courtship rituals. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
22/07/21·51m 58s

Weird Courtship Rituals, Part One

Would you whisper sweet nothings to your sweeheart through a six-foot tube with your Puritan grandmother in the room? Would you force feed your children to make them more attractive for a potential groom? It's often said the course of true love never did run smooth -- and it sure takes some odd turns on the path from courtship to marriage. In part one of this special two-part series, Ben and Noel welcome special guests Eli and Diana banks, the hosts of Ridiculous Romance, to explore some of history's strangest courtship rituals. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
20/07/21·1h

A Brief History of Underwear

Underwear! Whether we're talking boxers, briefs, loincloths, brassieres or even lingerie, undergarments have a storied history in cultures across the planet. It's a tale touching on everything from shifting attitudes about morality to scientific innovations, fashion and more. In today's episode, Ben and Noel take a closer look at the ancient origins of underwear, tracing its evolution to the modern day. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
15/07/21·1h 2m

One Guy Was Certain Telepathic Snails Would Replace Telegraphs

Since before the dawn of recorded history, human beings have been obsessed with talking to each other. This primal impulse inspired French occultist Jacques-Toussaint Benoît to propose a new, global communication system in the mid-1800s, a system he was certain would replace the telegraph: collections of snails. Benoît was certain snails, after mating, remained in constant, non-physical contact, meaning pushing one would affect the other, regardless of their physical locations. So, did it work? Tune in to learn more. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
13/07/21·30m 13s

The Duke of Portland Hated People and Loved Tunnels

We've all had those days where we just need a little solitude, a quiet place away from the clamor and chatter of other people. However, William John Cavensidh-Scott-Bentinck, the 5th Duke of Portland, took this to an extreme. He spent the majority of his life minimizing the chance that he might have to run into other people, and eventually honeycombed his estate with an elaborate network of tunnels, including a secret passage to the nearby train station. Tune in to learn more. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
08/07/21·43m 51s

Where do Lemonade Stands Come From?

Today, most Americans think of lemonade stands with nostalgia. In decades past, this could be an enterprising kid's first brush with the world of business as they set out to make a fortune, one cup at a time. But where did these stands come from, and how did they become so ingrained in American cultural identity? Tune in to learn more. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
07/07/21·41m 18s

Painless Parker and the Dental Circus

Edgar Parker, later better known as "Painless Parker," wasn't your ordinary dentist. When his first practice was struggling in 1892, he began to think outside of the figurative box, combining dentistry, showbiz and public spectacle in a way that'd never been done before, including making dentistry part of an actual traveling circus. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
01/07/21·48m 23s

The Rise and Fall of Curative Plane Flights

In the early 1920s, the still-new technology of powered aircraft amazed folks across the planet. People weren't quite sure what this technology could do, so when a plane flight appeared to restore Henry A. Renz, Jr's voice, experts and the public alike wondered whether plane flights might have medical benefits. In today's episode, the guys explore how this came about -- and whether any of these 'cures' were effective.  Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
29/06/21·46m 51s

That Time People Paid Rent With Eels

Nowadays, most people pay rent with the currency of their given nation — but for a time in England, your rent might have been paid with eels (yes, literal eels). In today’s episode, Ben, Max and returning guest host Matt Frederick explore the strange story of the Medieval eel economy, from the financial constraints that inspired it, to the religious beliefs that sustained it, to explain exactly how owning thousands of eels became a massive economic flex. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
28/06/21·48m 4s

The Miracle of the Gulls: A Cricket War

In 1848, times were dire for the Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake Valley. Massive swarms of crickets laid waste to everything in their path, destroying crops and endangering the community's chances of survival. The threat of starvation loomed. According to the legend the community was saved by the miraculous arrival of gulls with a craving for crickets -- but how much of this story is fact, and how much fiction? Tune in to learn more. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
22/06/21·38m 44s

A History of Pregnancy Cravings, Part 2: Stereotypes, Superstitions and Science

In earlier centuries, when science and spirituality were considered one and the same, the world was full of advice and warnings surrounding pregnancy cravings. In the second part of this two-part series, Ben and Noel explore how humans perceived these cravings: as superstition, stereotype and, eventually, science. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
17/06/21·43m 39s

A History of Pregnancy Cravings, Part 1: Pickles and Ice Cream

Pregnancy is amazing — and scary, and beautiful, and a thousand other things. The modern world has stereotypes and tropes aplenty about pregnancy, especially including the phenomena known as pregnancy cravings. But how far back does this go? In the first part of this series, Ben and Noel explore the history of cravings, along with beliefs about how too much — or too little — of a given food was believed to affect children later in life. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
15/06/21·41m 12s

The Carrington Event, Part II: Attack of the Sun!

Less than 18 hours after Richard Carrington noticed something screwy on the sun’s surface, chaos erupted. Telegraph operators found their machines literally aflame. The Northern Lights were visible from Cuba. People and plants across the globe became convinced it was daytime. Centuries later, Ben and Noel explore the consequences of the Carrington event and — perhaps most importantly — what this may mean for the future. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
10/06/21·22m 58s

The Carrington Event, Part I: The Sun is Acting Strange

When amateur astronomer Richard Carrington gazed through his telescope on the morning of September 1st, 1859, he noticed something weird about the surface of the sun -- it seemed to have clusters of dark spots. Later historians would recognize this as the earliest observation of a solar flare -- and a little less than 18 hours later, the associated coronal mass ejection would wreak havoc on Earth, setting telegraphs aflame, lighting up the night sky and causing many to wonder whether it was the end of the world. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
08/06/21·25m 55s

Loveday: Henry VI's Well-intentioned, Terrible Attempt at Making Peace

In an effort to prevent further conflicts in what would become known as the Wars of the Roses, King Henry VI called the warring parties to London, with a weird pitch -- they would resolve their disputes through diplomacy, culminating in a parade where these sworn enemies would have to literally walk around town holding hands. Tune in to see how it all played out. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
03/06/21·50m 30s

Classic: Why do British lawyers wear wigs?

In today’s Classic episode, the guys travel back to their early days.For centuries some lawyers and judges in the U.K. have worn distinctive wigs during court proceedings. But why? Join Ben and Noel as they explore the strange history of the peruke. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
01/06/21·33m 11s

That Time Al Capone Ran A Soup Kitchen

Al Capone is rightly remembered as of the most notorious gangsters in US history -- but for a time residents of Chicago also thought of him as a benefactor. As people struggled to survive the Great Depression, Capone, in an apparent act of benevolence, founded a free, no-questions-asked soup kitchen to feed the hungry. In today's episode, Ben and Noel explore how the kitchen came to be, how it functioned -- and what Capone's true motivations might have been. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
27/05/21·33m 33s

The Phantom Barber of Pascagoula

For a brief period in 1942, the town of Pascagoula, Mississippi was terrorized by a strange criminal -- he would sneak into people's houses as they slept and cut off locks of their hair. In today's episode, Ben and Noel explore this bizarre series of events (which may remain unsolved in the modern day). Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
26/05/21·39m 45s

Joseph Bonaparte, Cryptid Hunter

Napoleon’s lesser-known, older brother Joseph was, at times, the polar opposite of his conqueror sibling. Yet by merely being related to Napoleon, Joseph often found himself embroiled in geopolitical intrigue. In this episode, Ben and Noel explore Joseph’s rollercoaster of a life — along with his later obsession: Hunting down the infamous Jersey Devil. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
20/05/21·54m 4s

The Mystery of the Devonshire Colic

For centuries, people around the world were baffled by a bizarre serious of symptoms that seemed to wax and wane in certain regions over time. Various researchers proposed any number of explanations for these regional afflictions, everything from the actions of an angry god to, true story, cider. Eventually, scientists found the answer: lead. Tune in to learn more. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
18/05/21·45m 53s

The Troubling, Hidden History of Turpentine

Today turpentine is a substance with any number of industrial uses -- but most people don't know much about it, and even fewer people know its history in the early days of the US. In today's episode, Ben welcomes returning guest Yves Jeffcoat as they dive into the largely forgotten story of turpentine camps, from how they began to how they ended and, perhaps most importantly, how the effects of this industry have reprecussions in the modern day. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
13/05/21·1h

A Race Across the World: From New York to Paris in 1908

In February of 1908, racing teams from multiple nations assembled for an unusual and ambitious race -- they planned to drive from Times Square across the planet to France. These were the early days of the automobile, and success was anything but guaranteed. In today's special 3D episode, Ben and Noel trace the highs (and, mostly, lows) of the men who vied for what they saw as the ultimate prize: A 1,400-pound trophy and lifelong bragging rights. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
11/05/21·1h 3m

The Age of the Crakow, Part 2: A Fashion Arms Race, But For Your Feet

In the second part of this episode, Ben and special guest Matt Frederick continue exploring the bizarre heyday of the poulaine. Tune in to learn more about the fickle, sometimes ridiculous, cycles of fashionable footware throughout history. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
06/05/21·31m 58s

The Age of the Crakow, Part 1: Medieval Europe Went Nuts For Pointy Shoes

It appears many eras in history have their own version of sneakerheads. In 15th-century Europe, nobles and commoners alike went absolutely nuts for a type of pointy shoe called the Crakow -- and people desperately wanted the longest, pointiest shoes possible. In this episode, Ben and special guest Matt Frederick, co-creator of Stuff They Don't Want You To Know, explore the origin of the Crakow (and how, eventually, governments made laws dictating how long a given person's pointy shoes could be). Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
04/05/21·33m 38s

How Pie in the Face Became a Comedy Classic, Part 2: The Fall (of the Pie)

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29/04/21·29m 29s

How Pie in the Face Became a Comedy Classic, Part 1: Rise of the Pie

Today the old pie-in-the-face gag is a well-worn comedy trope — but how did it become so famous? In part one of this two-part series, Ben and Noel explore the surprising history of pies, cinema and comedy. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
27/04/21·24m 58s

The Great Panjandrum: A Hilariously Terrible Idea

As the British military brainstormed ways to break the German-built Atlantic Wall during World War II, desperation drove them to unorthodox ideas -- one of those, the Great Panjandrum, was a literal rocket-powered, rolling bomb. Tune in to learn how the Panjandrum came to be, what went wrong with it, and how amazing it is that no one actually died during testing. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
22/04/21·28m 42s

Dr. T. W. Stallings: One Man's Corvid-Hating Quest to Make Oklahoma Literally Eat Crow

Times were tough during the Great Depression. Economic unrest, massive migration and falling crops left many people struggling to survive -- even the simple task of finding food from one day to the next became increasingly challenging. Amid this chaos Dr. T. W. Stallings saw an opportunity: If he could convince the good people of Oklahoma to start eating crows the way they ate other birds like ducks or chickens, he could save some lives (and, perhaps more importantly, finally have his revenge on crows). Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
20/04/21·42m 14s

Pineapples In Europe, Part 2: People Literally Rented Pineapples to Impress their Friends

As the pineapple craze swept through Europe's upper class, aristocrats worked tirelessly to grow their own pineapples. This was no small feat, since pineapples aren't suited to the European climate. Still, some clever inventors and gardeners figured it out -- and, along the way, non-aristocrats also got into the trend. Since most people couldn't afford a pineapple, they did the next best thing and rented them as a display of status for dinner parties and important gatherings. Tune in to learn more in the second part of this two-part series. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
15/04/21·52m 9s

Pineapples In Europe, Part 1: A Weird, Cartoonishly Expensive Flex

Today, pineapples are a common (and delicious) produce item found in grocery stores and markets across the world -- but not too many centuries ago, a single pineapple could cost the equivalent of over $8,000. In the first part of this two-part episode, the guys delve into the bizarre story of Europe's pineapple mania, attempting to discover just what made this fruit so insanely popular... and why they're so insanely cheap today. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
14/04/21·46m 14s

The Mysterious Dark Day That Terrified New England

As New Englanders woke on the morning of May 19th, 1780, they realized something was... off. The sunrise looked oddly colored and dim. As the day wore on, the sky grew increasingly dark. Soon, it appeared midnight had come early. Animals and humans alike panicked -- cows ran to their stalls, people flocked to churches and taverns, many certain the end of the world was upon them. Eventually, things returned to normal, but in the centuries that followed numerous researchers attempted to figure out exactly what happened. Tune in to learn more. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
08/04/21·33m 45s

The Windham Frog Fight of 1754

As the French and Indian War escalated, the residents of Windham, Connecticut lived in constant fear of possible attacks, crop-ruining weather, disease and more. One late night in the summer of 1754, a loud, continual noise roused the entire town as people feared they may be under siege. It wasn't until near dawn that the noises died down, and a small scouting party discovered the culprits of the cacophony -- a massive population of desperate bullfrogs, screaming at each other for territory in the last dregs of a nearby dried-out pond. Although the townsfolk became the laughingstock of the area after the story came out, they leaned into the image -- and you can see traces of the story in the modern day. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
06/04/21·42m 11s

Ancient Mesopotamian Societies Sacrificed Substitute Kings to Eclipses

Thousands of years before the current day, ancient civilizations accurately predicted both lunar and solar eclipses. They often believed these events were spiritual omens. When an eclipse came at an inauspicious time, multiple priestly classes scrambled to find a substitute king. In the interest of preserving society, these substitute kings would reign during an eclipse, only to be swiftly murdered afterward. Ben defends early humans, asking what we sacrifice today. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
02/04/21·35m 26s

The Mad Gasser of Mattoon, Part 2

As the small town of Mattoon captured national attention during the reign of the Mad Gasser, the investigation took a turn. Authorities were baffled by the deluge of reports -- and their inability to find any physical evidence other than a soiled rag at a doorstep. As researchers and historians looked back on the events, they became increasingly convinced the was a different culprit behind the panic... and though the story was a gas, they were certain there had never been a real Mad Gasser in the first place. Learn more in the second part of this two part episode. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
30/03/21·45m 58s

The Mad Gasser of Mattoon, Part 1

As wartime fears peaked across the US during World War II, people throughout the nation were overwhelmed with fears of invading Nazis, secret biological weapons and more. For the residents of Mattoon, Illinois, these fears took a brief back seat to a new neighborhood menace -- a Mad Gasser who would sneak beside people's windows and pipe in a paralytic gas for reasons no one could understand. But who was this Mad Gasser? What on earth did this criminal want? Tune in to learn more. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
25/03/21·26m 55s

A Currency for Colonies: The Strange Story of "Leprosy Money"

For thousands of years people across the planet lived in fear of leprosy (now known as ‘Hansen's Disease). In many cases, people infected with the disease, or even just suspected of having it, were carted off to isolated colonies where they would be doomed to live the rest of their lives without any access to the outside world. These colonies became their own active communities -- there were blacksmiths, traders, cooks, merchants and more. And this meant the residents of these communities needed some sort of currency. However, they weren't allowed to use 'outside' cash for fear of contaminating it. This led to the rise of something known as "Leprosy Money." Tune in to learn how we got here, and what happened to this currency in the modern day. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
23/03/21·37m 5s

Wyoming Tales, Part 2: Absaroka, the State That Almost Was

Back in the 1930s, the residents of Wyoming, Montana and South Dakota felt the federal government— and the state legislatures— ignored them. They felt unheard, unheeded and, most importantly, moved to find solutions of their own. In this episode, Ben and Noel return to the story of Absaroka to ask: Was this meant to be the 49th state, or was it a publicity stunt? Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
19/03/21·45m 3s

Wyoming Tales, Part 1: Walking in the Shoes of Big Nose George

George Parrott was a career outlaw -- a known thief, murderer and would-be train robber. When justice finally caught up with him and his game, he was destined for the hangman's noose. Yet George's demise was only the beginning of a bizarre posthumous tale. Tune in to learn why it's technically possible, even today, to walk in Big Nose George's shoes (and not, perhaps, in the way you might assume). Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
17/03/21·39m 15s

The Rise and Fall of the Flea Circus, Part 2

In the second part of this two-part episode, Ben, Noel and special guest Gabe Luzier drill down into the nuts and bolts of flea circuses -- how did they actually work? Is it true that some flea circuses did not, in fact, have fleas? Is there any way to see a real flea circus in the modern day? Tune in to learn more about one of history's strangest novelty performances. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
11/03/21·45m 14s

The Rise and Fall of the Flea Circus, Part 1

Fleas -- they're one of the only animals Ben actually doesn't like! Yet, once upon a time, these bloodsucking nuisances were star performers in novelty acts across Europe and, later, North America. But what were they, exactly? Can you really train fleas to do tricks and play instruments? Who even came up with this weird idea? In this episode, the guys welcome special guest and researcher extraordinaire Gabe Luzier to dive into the origin of that bizarre novelty time largely forgot: the flea circus. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
09/03/21·31m 38s

History's Most Ridiculous (and Deadly) Beauty Trends

It's a Ridiculous History takeover! In honor of International Women's Day, join the hosts of the podcast Stuff Mom Never Told You for this very special episode diving into the depths of history's most ridiculous beauty and fashion trends. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
08/03/21·56m 36s

Billy Cottrell, the Tyrant Mayor of Cedar Key, Florida

The politically-connected, cartoonishly belligerent Billy Cottrell was a terrible Mayor, hated and feared by the locals of Cedar Key, Florida -- and no one was sure what to do. At least, that is, until the Federal government got word of the situation. Tune in to learn how the US President eventually pled with Congress to allow for military intervention. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
04/03/21·45m 4s

The US and the UK Almost Went to War over a Pig

In 1859, a dispute between neighbors in the San Juan Islands of the Pacific Northwest led to the untimely death of a local (and very unlucky) pig. What could have been an easily resolved situation quickly ignited simmering tensions between the US and the UK, both of whom claimed the islands as their own territory. In the days and weeks after, soldiers from both nations traveled to the area... each waiting for the other side to make the first move in what almost became a full-on war. Tune in to learn more. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
02/03/21·51m 44s

The 1973 Michigan Pizza Funeral

Illario 'Mario' Fabbrini was true American success story: An immigrant who built his own pizza empire just as this iconic food was becoming a normalized, nation-wide delicacy. When the business was brought low by allegations of tainted mushrooms, he did something few people would have been brave enough to consider -- he made the disposal of these so-called 'tainted' pizzas a public event, holding a mass burial for an estimated 30,000 frozen pizzas. The funeral was attended by numerous notable individuals, including the Governor of Michigan. Tune in to learn more about the inspiring, bittersweet story of one man in love with pizza, and how he learned to say goodbye. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
25/02/21·35m 44s

Elagabalus The Raunchy, Racy High Priest Who Became a Roman Emperor

Born Varius Avitus Bassianus, the emperor now known as Elagabalus scandalized ancient Rome with his constant displays of extravagance, his numerous sexual escapades -- and his insistence that all people worship the sun god Elagabal (represented by a mysterious black stone he brought to town). Tune in to learn how everyday Romans reacted to this larger-than-life character, and how his over-the-top behaviors eventually led to his downfall. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
23/02/21·53m 4s

John Wilkins Started a 17th-century Astronaut Program, Part 2: Wilkins (Tries to) Start a Space Program

As John Wilkins began to put more serious thought into the idea of sending people to the moon, he reached out to fellow intellectuals in hopes of exploring the problem. So: How did they go about planning this ambitious endeavor, and how far did they get? Tune in to learn more in the second chapter of this two-part episode. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
19/02/21·24m 50s

John Wilkins Started a 17th-century Astronaut Program, Part 1: Why not aim for the Moon?

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17/02/21·34m 42s

Turtle Soup, Part 2: Rise of the Mock Turtle

In the second part of this series, the guys dive deeper into the story of turtle soup -- and how it soon gave rise to the more affordable, equally delicious 'mock turtle' soup. But what exactly is a mock turtle? Tune in to learn more. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
12/02/21·24m 4s

Turtle Soup, Part 1: A Delicacy of Yesteryear

Today it's uncommon to see turtle soup on most restaurant menus-- but, not too long ago, this was considered a top-notch delicacy, praised for its flavor, enjoyed by world leaders, and widely praised for its deep, unique flavor. In the first part of this series, the guys explore the heyday of turtle soup... and how it eventually led to the rise of mock turtle soup. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
09/02/21·37m 42s

Stab Yourself to Health and Happiness: The Bizarre Rise of the Lebensweker

When a bug bit German inventor Carl Baunscheidt, he was struck with an epiphany of sorts -- could 'venting' the human body through the creation of artificial pores (today known as puncture wounds) allow a person to rid themselves of various diseases and medical infections? Tune in to learn more about the runaway success of Carl's handy, weirdly popular Lebensweker, or Life Awakener. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
04/02/21·46m 33s

The Hatpin Peril

Nowadays, hatpins are a somewhat archaic fashion accessory--but at the turn of the century, they were often used as weapons to deter ne'er-do-wells and scoundrels. Tune in to learn how hatpins became a symbol of women's rights (and an international controversy). Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
03/02/21·45m 36s

It's a Cat's World, Part 2: The Rise of the Cat Show

In the second part of this series, the guys explore the story of Harrison Weir, "The Father of the Cat Fancy." Learn how Weir led the charge to save the reputation of felines in Europe and abroad through the creation of high-class cat shows--and how these otherwise wholesome displays of quality cats became increasingly classist. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
29/01/21·27m 30s

It's a Cat's World, Part 1: The Sacred and the Suspicious

Whether you love them or hate them, there's no denying that cats hold a unique position in human society. They're (in)famous for making their own way -- "I tolerate you," the cat seems to say to its owner, "but I do not need you." While modern civilization is pretty pro-cat, this wasn't always the case. In the first part of this series, the guys explore the waxing and waning reputation of felines throughout history, from ancient Egypt to the Middle Ages and beyond. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
26/01/21·33m 54s

Dan Sickles, American Scoundrel, Part 2: The Civil War

After literally getting away with murder, Dan Sickles joined the military, later leveraging the dubious events of his military career to reinvent himself as a war hero. Not everyone was convinced he was quite the paragon he purported to be. Learn more in the second part of this two-part series. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
22/01/21·28m 45s

Dan Sickles, American Scoundrel, Part 1: How to Get Away with Murder

Daniel Sickles was a real pill. For a time, the wealthy New Yorker was famous for his philandering -- and then he became famous for not only murdering a man in broad daylight... but getting away with it by pleading temporary insanity. Learn more about this American scoundrel in part one of this two-part series. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
20/01/21·33m 23s

That Time New York Banned Spitting

As tuberculosis spread throughout the US, New York City banned spitting. Learn how the Ladies’ Health Protective Association saved the Big Apple from a pandemic--and paved the way for the vote. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
14/01/21·52m 26s

Admiral Byrd and the Polar Dairy

In 1933, on his second expedition to Antarctica, Richard E. Byrd took the unusual, highly-publicized step of bringing some non-human crew along: Klondike Gay Nira, Deerfoot Guernsey Maid and Foremost Southern Girl. These three cows--four, if you count the one born in the course of the journey--were darlings of the US press both during and after the journey. But why did Byrd bring them to Antarctica in the first place? Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
12/01/21·32m 31s

Weird 21st Century Predictions from Ages Past, Part 2: Your Personal Plane, A World Without Disaster and Retiring on the Moon

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07/01/21·50m 21s

Weird 21st Century Predictions from Ages Past, Part 1: Tesla, Square Tomatoes and Pseudosteak

It's the first Ridiculous History episode of the New Year! Ben, Noel and Casey are ringing it in with some predictions--not their own predictions, mind you. Instead the guys are diving into the predictions of luminaries from ages past, exploring how much (or how little) these historical figures got right about the 21st century. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
05/01/21·37m 41s

The Old Rituals of New Years, Part 2: Neuroscience, Resolutions and the Rick Steves Fan Club

What a year, right? If you're listening to today's episode, you have (almost) officially survived. I'm ringing in 2021 with Noel, Casey and the rest of our Ridiculous Historians in this, the second part of our exploration into the very old roots of very New Years. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
31/12/20·30m 17s

Holiday Classic: When the Puritans Canceled Christmas

Nowadays Christmas is a globally-recognized holiday celebrated by millions of people, but in the past this wasn't the case. In fact, some groups of Christians detested the holiday, going so far as to ban it completely. So what led Puritans to ban one of the most prominent celebrations in the Christian faith? Join Ben and Noel as they take a closer look at the strange story of Puritans and Christmas in this classic episode. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
24/12/20·28m 51s

Holiday Classic: The Strange History of Antarctic Fruitcake

Nowadays fruitcake is considered a stereotypical, often comical holiday punchline, but even in the modern day people across the planet can agree on at least one fruitcake fact: Those things are pretty darn durable! So how long could a fruitcake really last before it becomes inedible? Join Ben and Noel as they travel to Antarctica to find out in this classic episode. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
22/12/20·29m 24s

Goodyear and the Mystery of the Ghost Blimp

In 1942, a U.S. Navy airship flew out over the Pacific to search for Japanese submarines. It lost radio contact and, hours later, slowly crashed in the San Franciscan suburbs. Inside the gondola, everything seemed to be in order -- the parachutes were there, the instrumentation was functioning... but two-person crew was missing. To this day, no one knows exactly what happened aboard the L-8 Ghost Blimp. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
18/12/20·39m 4s

Benito Mussolini was Super into Wearable Milk

Today Benito Mussolini is probably best known as the founder of Italy's National Fascist Party, but he was also very, very into milk. So much so, in fact, that he funneled tons of funding into a strange new process: the creation of wearable milk. Lanital, as it was known, was wool-like in appearance, and, for a time, quite successful! So where are all our milk skirts and milk trousers now? Listen in to learn more. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
15/12/20·41m 13s

Snowmen as Protest: The Miracle of 1511

During the brutal winter of 1511, residents of Brussels built more than one hundred snowmen... and these sculptures weren't the type of snow sculpture you see in the modern day. Instead, the city was filled with satirical, often lewd displays critiquing the city's rulers, its poor and its working class alike. Tune in to learn more about that time snowmen became something like a citywide protest and widespread insult comedy. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
11/12/20·29m 52s

Why are Chimney Sweeps good luck at weddings?

It seems odd, at first - the idea that a random chimney cleaner might pass by a wedding, then be brought into the party, shake sooty hands with the couple, and bless random people on the street. Yet the profession of cleaning chimneys carries generations of tradition, superstition and belief. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
09/12/20·39m 15s

People Have Been Convinced Robots Will Take Their Jobs For Centuries

Nowadays automation is affecting almost every industry on the planet, and numerous experts are raising alarms: AI, robotics and automation, they say, may well spell doom for millions of jobs held by humans. This is a valid concern... but by no means a new one. Join Ben and Noel as they dive into humanity's strange, inspiring, disturbing and, of course, ridiculous relationship with robots. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
04/12/20·43m 54s

That Time the US was Terrified of Tomatoes

Nowadays the tomato is an ubiquitous foodstuff in households across the planet - but in the US, this humble staple was once considered downright poisonous... and, later, it was touted as a miracle cure. In today's episode, Ben and Noel explore the origin of the tomato, its rocky rise to modern fame, and how a few small historical misunderstandings may have led people to believe this beautiful fruit was a symbol of everything from lycanthropy to witchcraft. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
02/12/20·39m 46s

How the Pandemic Helped (and Hurt) the Struggle for Women's Rights

The 1918 epidemic played a massive, sometimes unacknowledged role in the struggle for women's rights. Tune in and learn more in today's episode. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
26/11/20·29m 7s

How a German Prince Built his own Artificial Volcano

Like many nobles of his day, Leopold III Friedrich Franz traveled widely in his youth, taking in the ancient wonders of Europe. A stunning experience witnessing an eruption at Mount Vesuvius transformed the young prince's life. As he headed home to Germany, he vowed he would create a volcano of his own -- and, weirdly enough, he did just that. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
24/11/20·36m 23s

The Weird Origin of Pink Lemonade, Part 2: The Rise of Clown Pants

As historians dove into the evolution of pink lemonade, one theory about its origin seemed particularly compelling (if gross): Pink lemonade, they argued, owes its existence to a circus, a washtub, and an unscrupulous carnie in a hurry. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
19/11/20·27m 28s

The Weird Origin of Pink Lemonade, Part 1: A Humble Citrus

Nowadays, lemonade is a pretty popular drink -- and its counterpart, pink lemonade, occupies a space all its own. But where did this drink come from? Join the guys as they explore the surprisingly ancient origins of lemonade, as well as the dubious series of events that may have led to what we call pink lemonade today. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
18/11/20·26m 56s

An Elephant in the Vatican, Part 2: An Elephant in the Reformation

As Pope Leo X's favorite pal, Hanno enjoyed a unique position in the Vatican -- he was the star of multiple gatherings and celebrations (which didn't always go as planned). Eventually, Hanno became a talking point for the Protestant Reformation. Join the guys as they explore the fate of Hanno and the gold enema that brought him to an untimely end in the second part of this two-part episode. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
13/11/20·41m 56s

An Elephant in the Vatican, Part 1: The Discovery of Hanno

In February of 1962, HVAC workers discovered the remains of an elephant beneath the Cortile del Belvedere -- and a mystery was ahoof. The story begins in 1513, when Portugese king Manuel I sought to give Pope Leo X an extraordinary gift: Hanno, an elephant from distant shores. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
11/11/20·30m 43s

S T O V E G O B L I N

Today's setting: Zaragoza, Spain. The time: September of 1934. The problem? A stove goblin. At least, that's what the hapless Palazón thought as they tried to solve the mystery of a strange, disembodied voice that appeared to mischievously trash talk people from somewhere near the stove of their apartment. The case garnered attention from the police and other investigators, and ultimately disappeared. And, even today, the official explanation leaves a lot to be desired. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
05/11/20·29m 54s

The US Didn't Always Have Secret Ballots

Nowadays, voters in the US consider secret ballots a fundamental part of any election. Yet -- perhaps surprisingly -- this wasn't always the case. The road to secret ballots was long and fraught with absolutely ridiculous, and, at times, dangerous shenanigans. Tune in to learn more. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
03/11/20·48m 55s

The Case of the Greenbrier Ghost, Part 2: The Court

When the defense called Mary Jane Heaster to the stand, they likely meant to discredit her. However, she maintained that her daughter, Elva, had visited her -- from beyond the grave -- with proof that she was murdered. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
29/10/20·38m 29s

Ridiculous History Presents: Criminalia

If you like Ridiculous History, check out this iHeartRadio & Shondaland Audio podcast – Criminalia. On Criminalia, hosts Holly Frey and Maria Trimarchi explroe the intersection of history and true crime. This season is all about lady poisoners. During the time that Chicago’s most visible criminal element was organized crime, Tillie Klimek was quietly becoming the city’s most prolific female serial killer. She allegedly killed between six and 20 people, all through arsenic poisoning.We hoped you liked this episode of Criminalia. If you want to hear more, listen to Criminalia every Tuesday on the iHeartRadio App, Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
28/10/20·38m 41s

The Case of the Greenbrier Ghost, Part 1: An 'Everlasting Faint'

When Elva Zona Heaster passed away, the town doctor attributed the death to a heart attack. Elva's mother disagreed. Convinced that her daughter visited her from beyond the grave, Mary Jane Heaster brought the case into court - and the jury would consider the second-hand testimony of a ghost. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
28/10/20·37m 49s

The Hand of Glory, Part 2: Recipes, Necropants and Toes

Like any recipe, instructions for creating a Hand of Glory often varied - which one was considered legitimate? Also, the guys explore the odd, morbid magical item known as 'necropants,' and discuss the specifics of drinking beverages containing a severed human toe. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
22/10/20·17m 59s

The Hand of Glory, Part 1: A Thief's Theme

If you were an enterprising thief in the days of yore, there were few legendary tools as valuable as the grisly Hand of Glory -- the severed hand of a criminal, magically treated to create a macabre, powerful talisman. Join the guys as they delve into the dubious origins of this strange creation in the first part of this two-part series. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
20/10/20·32m 31s

Brooms and Witchcraft, Part 2: Inquisitions and Iniquity

Could the stereotype of witches on broomsticks actually be a drug reference? Join Ben, Noel and Casey as they continue digging through the history and folklore of witchcraft -- and how it affected pop culture in the modern day -- in the conclusion of this 2-part series. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
15/10/20·28m 14s

Brooms and Witchcraft, Part 1: A Killer in the Rye?

Most people are familiar with the stereotypical image of a witch: a haggard, often older individual with a peaked hat, black robes, a demonic familiar and, oddly enough, a penchant for cruising around on broomsticks. But where did that last, weirdly specific, trope of flying on a broomstick actually come from? Join the guys as they explore the bizarre (and racy) theories behind the story in part one of this two-part episode. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
14/10/20·28m 56s

The Beast of Gévaudan, Part 2: The Birth of a Grisly Legend

As the investigation into the Beast became a national obsession, the French monarchy stepped in, offering rewards (and threats) in their attempt to capture the murderous creature. In part two of this episode, Ben, Noel and Casey explore the end of the tale (tail? Nevermind.) and the mystery of the case that remains unsolved in the modern day. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
09/10/20·23m 37s

The Beast of Gévaudan, Part 1: Murders In France

For three years, a monster terrified the backwater region of Gévaudan. From 1764 - 1767, people found the mutilated corpses, one by one, across the countryside. The press of the time, unable to cover political stories, brought the story of The Beast to France at large. A legend was born. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
07/10/20·33m 28s

The BBC Convinced People Spaghetti Grows on Trees

On the first of April in 1957, cameraman Charles de Jaeger's childhood dream came true: Panorama, Britain's most popular news program, aired a segment describing the traditional method of harvesting spaghetti from trees. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
02/10/20·45m 42s

The US Waged War on Pinball for Decades

Today, pinball is seen as a sort of retro novelty -- it's enjoyable, kitschy and wholesome. Yet for decades, political officials in cities across the United States worried pinball might lead to the downfall of the nation's children, become a driving force for organized crime, and dissolve the moral fabric of the US. So what led to this odd war on pinball -- and why aren't people worried about these games in the modern day? Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
29/09/20·46m 43s

The Misadventures of Wade Boggs, Part 2

Wade Boggs is a legendary, larger-than-life figure in the world of sports -- but one of his strangest achievements has nothing to do with baseball. Join the guys and special guest, Matthew Waxman, the creator of Trickeration, as they delve into the legend of Wade's 107 beer airplane flight... and walk through some very boozy math to discover whether the legend is true. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
25/09/20·33m 43s

The Misadventures of Wade Boggs, Part 1

Wade Boggs has always been regarded as a legend, both on and off the ballfield. However, some of his strangest experiences have very little to do with baseball. Join Ben, Noel, and special guest Matthew Waxman, the creator of Trickeration, as they explore the bizarre story of the Wade Boggs sex scandal. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
22/09/20·48m 32s

The Tragic Tale of the 'Turnspit Dog'

Before the rise of household automation, British elites struggled to find the perfect method for cooking meat. They preferred it roasted, slowly, turning continually on a spit to evenly distribute heat. Yet this backbreaking labor proved too difficult for even the most spry peasant child, and so they turned to an innovative (if cruel) alternative: Breeding dogs specifically to turn meat spits. These 'Turnspit Dogs' occupied one of the lowest rungs in the hierarchy of any noble kitchen, living brutal lives of endless toil on what were essentially hamster wheels. Listen in to learn the tragic tale of the 'Turnspit Dog.' Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
17/09/20·36m 42s

Knocker-Uppers: The Human Alarm Clocks of the Industrial Age

When adapting to life as factory employees, members of the British and Irish public confronted a new, unexpected obstacle -- how do you make sure you wake up in time for your shift? While predecessors of the alarm clock existed, they were unreliable (and incredibly expensive). And so enterprising people across the land started their own wake-up service, becoming the human alarm clocks affectionately known as 'Knocker-Uppers.' Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
15/09/20·32m 10s

That Time New York City Rioted Over Shakespeare

Don't let reality television and wrestling fool you -- celebrity rivalries are a tale as old as entertainment itself. In 1849, the rivalry between two Shakespearean actors culminated in a massive riot that would leave more than 20 people dead in the street. Listen in to learn more about the infamous Shakespeare riot... as well as the sociocultural tensions that actually drove the fray. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
10/09/20·49m 57s

Babies in Incubators were Once a Sideshow Attraction

Nowadays, incubators are a common sight in hospitals across the US -- but, once upon a time, this life-saving technology was treated like a sideshow attraction. Hundreds of thousands of people flocked to 'Infantoriums' to marvel at how incubators were able to keep babies born prematurely both healthy and safe. And, the publicity generated by these side shows may be, in part, the reason this technology is in hospitals today. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
08/09/20·41m 45s

The Rise of the US Camel Corps

In the years leading to the US Civil War, Uncle Sam searched for some way to safely traverse the desert. Horses, mules and humans alike often died of thirst in the unforgiving climate. Jefferson Davis, the the Secretary of War, proposed the military consider an ancient solution: Camels. Tune in to learn more about the rise (and fall) of the US Camel Corps. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
03/09/20·43m 10s

The United Kingdom Has A Weird Thing With Swans

In the days before London found itself riddled with Rolodexes and Lamborghinis, the Crown controlled a now-obscure status symbol: the swan. Every single unmarked swan was the property of the Crown -- and woe betide those who touched a swan without express permission. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
02/09/20·42m 15s

The Nazi Super Horse Program, Part 2: A Horse-filled Heist

As the tide of war turns toward the inevitable defeat of the Nazis, the staff of the secret horse farm fear the oncoming, starving Russian forces will consume their prized Lippizaner horses. In desperation, the farm turns to an unlikely source for help -- the US Army. Tune in as Ben and Noel explore the strange story of the Nazi super horse program. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
27/08/20·28m 10s

The Nazi Super Horse Program, Part 1: Equine Eugenics

Adolf Hitler was inarguably a terrible person. He was also weirdly focused on resurrecting Germany's horse industry. Tune in as Ben and Noel explore the strange story of the Nazi super horse program. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
25/08/20·30m 36s

Railroad Tycoons Decided What Time It Is Now

Nowadays the world is divided into a series of 'time zones.' Yet before the 1880s, towns across the United States ran on a sort of local time -- when you left one town, you often traveled slowly enough to adjust, without much hassle, to the new time in the next community. So, where did this concept of standardized time come from? Spoiler alert: Desperate railroad companies. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
21/08/20·37m 19s

Why do people 'christen' ships with champagne?

We've all heard about the practice of smashing a champagne bottle against the hull of a ship before launching it -- but where does this practice come from? Join the guys as they delve into the surprisingly ancient practice of commemorating ship launches, from ancient Babylon to the modern day. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
19/08/20·40m 10s

The Hidden History of Jewish Pirates, Part 2: Famous Privateers

During the age of European expansion, members of the Jewish diaspora traveled to Caribbean and the continents of North and South America, often escaping the intense persecution of the Inquisition. Some became merchants, others explorers -- and some became pirates. Join Ben and Noel as they explore the little-known stories of specific Jewish pirates and privateers that changed the course of history as we know it in the second part of this two-part series. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
14/08/20·40m 0s

The Hidden History of Jewish Pirates, Part 1: Escaping Europe

During the age of European expansion, members of the Jewish diaspora traveled to Caribbean and the continents of North and South America, often escaping the intense persecution of the Inquisition. Some became merchants, others explorers -- and some became pirates. Join Ben and Noel as they explore the little-known stories of these pirates and privateers, and why Jamaica became known as a haven for those fleeing European persecution. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
11/08/20·21m 0s

Ridiculous "Remedies" of the Spanish Flu: The Rise of the Lemon

Have you ever used a home remedy when under the weather? Some, like honey and lemon (and whiskey) for a sore throat, remain common today. In 2020, other treatments people once swore by seem -- I hesitate to say it -- ridiculous. In the early 20th century, people were desperate to find a cure or treatment for the flu. They tried any number of things that may seem bizarre today, and part of that panic led to the lemon becoming a household staple across the United States. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
07/08/20·43m 46s

That Time Rebellious Freemasons Starting Kissing Porcelain Pug Butts

We've all heard about Freemasons -- but what about the Order of the Pug? Join the guys as they explore the strange series of events that led German Masons to create their own secret society, embodied by a porcelain sculpture of a pug. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
04/08/20·45m 58s

Clever Hans, Part 2: The Rise and Fall of Hans

Unconvinced by claims of this horse's mathematical acumen, psychologist Oskar Pfungst conducted a series of experiments to determine whether Clever Hans was actually solving problems. Pfungst discovered there were serious issues with Hans's 'performance' ... but he also, in a roundabout way, ended up proving Hans was, in some ways, more clever than the average person. Ben also pitches a stunning conclusion to a (fake) movie about Hans's life post-fame. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
30/07/20·26m 35s

Clever Hans, Part 1: The Equine Mathematician

Back in the early 20th century, retired teacher Wilhelm von Osten had a dream -- to exhibit the gifts of his brilliant horse, Clever Hans, to the world. Wilhelm believed Hans was capable of solving pretty advanced math problems, working out the sums in his head and communicating them to humans through a system of hooftaps. And Clever Hans took the German public by storm -- what could this mean? If animals like Hans were this intelligent, could they also have a consciousness or a soul? Some people were over the moon about Hans... and others remained unconvinced. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
28/07/20·30m 56s

Henry VIII and That English Sweat, Part 2: A Disease and a King

While history often only remembers Henry VIII as a real pill, he was also a profound hypochondriac -- and, rightly terrified of contracting the English Sweats, Henry hightailed it to a series of safehouses as he sought to isolate himself from any possible infection. Join the guys as they continue exploring the long-term consequences of the mysterious English Sweats. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
23/07/20·25m 25s

Henry VIII and That English Sweat, Part 1: A Pandemic

Beginning in 1485, a mysterious disease swept in waves across England. No one was sure how it spread, no treatment existed, and the disease took the name of its most memorable symptom. The English sweating sickness seemed to have a taste for the wealthy, and the bulk of fatalities were English. The last widespread outbreak of sweating sickness was reported in 1551 -- after that, the disease vanished. Along the way, it made a king of Henry VIII. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
22/07/20·33m 15s

The Hobo King: Leon Ray Livingston, Chapter Two

As the Great Depression devastates the nation, roughly 2 million people find themselves out of home and hope, migrating toward distant promises of jobs, distant family members -- some distant idea of a better life. The concept of the 'hobo' becomes a mainstream concern. Leon Ray Livingston warns about living a life "on the road." Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
17/07/20·38m 35s

The Hobo King: Leon Ray Livingston, Chapter One

Born in San Francisco, an 11-year-old ran away from home, living and writing about his travels. Hailed as a self-coronated 'Hobo King,' Livingston made his own mythology, creating tropes that survive in the modern day. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
15/07/20·33m 12s

The Vikings Made a Fortune in the 'Unicorn' Trade

Nowadays, experts and equestrians alike largely agree: unicorns are creatures of myth. But, not too long ago, the wealthiest people in Europe would pay top dollar for everything from powdered 'unicorn' dust, to fragments or full specimens of 'unicorn' horn, convinced these supernatural relics had curative powers, capable of saving them from poison. So what was really going on here? Join the guys as they delve into the strange story of the unicorn trade, bust some Viking myths and shoutout the excellent, underrated film The Last Unicorn (Ben here: I swear it still holds up). Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
09/07/20·45m 25s

Did People Really Throw Tar And Feathers On Each Other?

It's true -- people used to throw tar on other people, then shake feathers on them as a specific form of legally-sanctioned punishment. Where did the concept of tarring and feathering a person actually come from, and how did it spread throughout the world? Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
07/07/20·38m 43s

Kate Warne, the Pinkerton Detective Who Saved Abe Lincoln, Part 2: To Rescue A President

While Kate Warne had numerous adventures (and brilliantly solved multiple high-profile cases), her most well-known work with pinkerton involved none other than Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States. In the conclusion of special two-part series, the guys continue exploring Kate Warne's adventures with Jo Piazza, the award-winning author, journalist, and host of the new podcast, Fierce. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
02/07/20·39m 33s

Kate Warne, the Pinkerton Detective Who Saved Abe Lincoln, Part 1: The Origin Story

Kate Warne wasn't just the first female private investigator in the US -- she was also one of the best Pinkerton detectives in the history of the agency. In this special two-part series, the guys join forces with award-winning author and journalist, Jo Piazza, the host of Fierce, to learn more about the mysterious origins of the one and only Kate Warne. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
01/07/20·34m 19s

What is Fudge, Part 2: The Rebellion

The students of Vassar thrived despite a system of Victorian -- near Orwellian -- control. In a time when these college students were not allowed to have agency over their own diet, they rebelled, popularizing the confection known as fudge today. Other students at elite institutions joined in, and soon contemporaneous newspapers noted fudge as both a desert and a rebellion against prevailing social norms. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
25/06/20·25m 22s

What is Fudge, Part 1: The Science, The Curious Name

Nowadays, most people in the global West associate fudge with the idea of a homemade, homely confection. Yet once upon a time, this dangerously delightful, sugar-laden snack was the domain of the elite. Learn more about the origin of fudge here -- and tune in for part two of our series: Fudge As Rebellion. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
23/06/20·26m 8s

The North Pole, Part 2: The Chase To The North

The Mercator Projection continues to inform explorers, many of whom send their own appropriative versions of the Mythical North. Join Ben, Casey and Noel as they ask: Who actually discovered the North Pole? Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
19/06/20·43m 54s

The North Pole, Part 1: Maps and Legends

In 1569, Gerardus Mercator creates the first world map. It's the predecessor of the cartoonishly inaccurate Mercator projection, and this math guides people toward what they believe to be the North Pole. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
17/06/20·29m 48s

The Mysterious Origin of (and Disturbing Problems with) the "Wolf Whistle"

It's one of those iconic 'you know it when you hear it' sounds - the two-note whistle made famous in old Tex Avery cartoons and multiple films of yesteryear. But what is the wolf whistle? Where did it actually come from, and how did it go from being such a popular trope to something (thankfully) so rare in the modern day? Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
12/06/20·35m 42s

World War I and the Rise of the Peat Moss Bandage

War often drives innovation — often out of desperation. In World War I, doctors were overwhelmed and dangerously short on supplies, especially bandages. With no end in sight for the cotton shortage, ingenious doctors found an unlikely (and superior) alternative: peat moss. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
10/06/20·35m 4s

Flashback: Unforeseen Consequences Throughout History: Part 2

How did air conditioning fundamentally change the course of U.S. politics? What does the Y.M.C.A. have to do with cigarettes? Join Ben and Casey as they welcome special guest, Sean Braswell, to learn more about the strange stories of everything from air conditioning to kudzu in part two of this two-part series. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
05/06/20·28m 28s

Flashback: Unforeseen Consequences Throughout History: Part 1

How did air conditioning fundamentally change the course of U.S. politics? What does the Y.M.C.A. have to do with cigarettes? Join Ben and Casey as they welcome special guest, Sean Braswell, to learn more about the strange stories of everything from air conditioning to kudzu in part one of this two-part series. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
03/06/20·39m 21s

Louis Wain, the Godfather of Cat Memes: Part 2

Before the days of WiFi, Reddit, nyan cat and grumpy cat alike, one man set the art world on fire with his increasingly bizarre paintings and sketches of cats. Join Ben, Noel and Casey as they welcome special guest Gabe Luzier on air (finally!) to explore the strange story of Louis Wain in the conclusion of this special two-part series. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
29/05/20·44m 9s

Louis Wain, the Godfather of Cat Memes: Part 1

If you're listening to this podcast, you definitely know about cat memes. At this point, they're almost like an internet currency all their own. But far before the days of WiFi, Reddit, nyan cat and grumpy cat alike, one man set the art world on fire with his increasingly bizarre paintings and sketches of cats. Join Ben, Noel and Casey as they welcome special guest Gabe Luzier on air (finally!) to explore the strange story of Louis Wain. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
27/05/20·31m 28s

Feedsack Fashion: How Thrifty Inventiveness Transformed America

In the early 20th century, rural US residents were all-too-accustomed to scraping by, often by any means necessary. Families without the means to buy what they wanted invented ingenious ways of recycling or reusing as much as they possibly could -- you mended the tools you could not replace, you worked with what little food you had -- and, in this spirit, you made the clothes you couldn't afford to buy. Thus was the feedsack dress born. Bags of livestock feed and flour sacks were reused to create everything from undergarments to dresses and bedsheets. Join the guys as they explore how this reinventive strategy of using commercial packaging for clothing was first mocked, then lionized, then emulated by the nation overall. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
22/05/20·36m 39s
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