CHARLOTTE, NC, February 17, 2016 – The trivia problem today is whether to put the best item first or save it as the grand finale.
1 – History of the lollipop: Last week we reported that lollipops had not yet been invented when the Chicago Cubs won their last World Series, which led to additional research about the popular confection.
The first lollipops as we know them today were claimed by George Smith as the inventor, though some observers say that a form of the candy had been around since the early 1800s.
Smith introduced his idea in 1908 but did not trademark the product until 1931. Reportedly it was named after a well known race horse of the day, “Lolly Pop.”
It is believed the “Lolly Pop’s” name derived from the British use of the word “lolly” or tongue, and “pop” which meant slap, however the first recorded use of the term “lollipop” goes back as far as 1796.
In Smith’s earliest iterations, the candy was soft rather than hard. Oddly enough, a form of lollipops date to the Middle Ages when nobility would lick boiled sugar using sticks as handles.
Thus endeth today’s version of “pop” culture.
2 – Sliced bread: We’ve all heard the expression that something is “the greatest thing since sliced bread.” Naturally that begs the question about when sliced bread came into use.
American inventor Otto Rohwedder gets credit for building the first machine that could slice one loaf of bread at a time, but he met resistance from bakers who were concerned that sliced bread would go stale too quickly.
At first Rohwedder solved the problem by using pins to hold the bread in place, but that proved unwieldy so he then packaged his loaves in wax paper.
Eventually Rohwedder’s idea was accepted as an experimental project by the Chillicothe Baking Company in Missouri. A full page ad on the back of the local paper claimed that the new product represented “a fine loaf sold a better way.”
It was the headline at the top of the page however, which may have led to the popular expression we know today. It read: “the greatest step in the baking industry since bread was wrapped.” There is no actual proof that statement evolved into the contemporary slogan, but it does seem.
As an interesting side note, sliced bread actually disappeared briefly during World War II because it was deemed more important to manufacture weapons for the war effort.
Even so, Rohwedder’s creation proved to be so popular that Wonder Bread began using its own slicing machines and distributing their product in 1930, less than two years after the inventor demonstrated his idea.
All of which means that when sliced bread was introduced in 1929 it was seven years after America’s grandmother, Betty White, was born. Thus, Betty White is indeed “older than sliced bread.”
One other note – There is no truth that someone later came up with a machine that could slice four loaves of bread at once the creating the world’s first “four loaf cleaver.”
3 – President John Tyler has living grandchildren: Yes, you read that correctly. As of 2013, the tenth president of the United States still had two living grandchildren. Not great grandchildren or great-great grandchildren, but relatives that are only once removed from the president himself.
Tyler was born in 1790 and died in 1862. Though not common today, in Tyler’s era it was not unusual for men, especially widowers, to marry women much younger than themselves. Tyler had more offspring than any other president with a grand total of 15 children.
His first wife, Letitia Christian Tyler, who was the same age, had eight children. Two years after Letitia’s death, wife number two, Julia Gardiner Tyler, who was 30 years younger than her husband, added seven more to the clan. Of those fifteen children, five lived into the 20th century.
The youngest of Tyler’s offspring, Pearl died in 1947, two years after the end of World War II.
But it was the thirteenth child, Lyon Gardiner Tyler, who became the catalyst for this amazing bit of trivia.
Following in his father’s footsteps, Lyon had three heirs with his first wife and three more with his second wife who was 35-years younger than himself.
Lyon Gardiner Tyler, Jr. And Harrison Ruffin Tyler were both born in the 1920s and, as verifed by Snopes, as of December 2013, they were still living.
In 2012 New York Magazine interviewed Harrison Tyler. When Dan Amira asked him how people responded when they found out he is the grandson of the 10th President John Tyler, Harrison laughingly replied, “I don’t, I don’t bring it up.”
And so in our relentless pursuit of all things trivial we have once again “tipped the canoe with Tyler too.”
Bob Taylor has been traveling the world for more than 30 years as a writer and award winning television producer focusing on international events, people and cultures around the globe.
Taylor is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com)
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