“Food Crimes” – Shocking New Drama from WIF

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Astounding Facts

About

Food Waste

Climate change is a serious problem – probably the most dangerous predicament humanity has ever been in. And every second that goes by and we’re not doing anything about it, the more dangerous things are going to become, and the harder it will be to fix them. But let’s not kick off this list on such a gloomy note, and instead look at what can be done to change that. The answer is as simple as what caused all of this in the first place – namely, the little things. Slight tweaks in our habits can go a long way, without us having to revert to a pre-Industrial, 18th century-lifestyle to get there. And yes, we are on topic here, in case you were wondering.

 Some call this the Age of Efficiency, in which Mother Earth forces us to, in a manner of speaking, evolve or get out of the away. And one of the first and easiest ways to become more efficient as a species is to address food waste. Up until fairly recently in our history, we didn’t have to bother ourselves with waste of any kind. But in more recent decades, however (with the spread of consumerism), we can no longer afford this luxury. Luckily, in what some call “the world’s dumbest problem” many see an opportunity – and that is, of course, wasted food.

10. The Overwhelming Statistics

There is a tremendous amount of food being wasted around the world. In fact, roughly one third of all food goes to waste, either during production and retail, or thrown away by the consumers themselves. That’s about 1.3 billion tons per year, or about half of the world’s entire cereal production. In the already developed parts of the world, like Europe and North America, consumers’ behavior plays a bigger part in food squandering than in developing countries. Here, on the other hand, technical, managerial, or financial constraints have a much larger role. The lack of infrastructure, agricultural grants, advanced harvesting and transportation technology, or adequate cooling facilities, account for most of the food waste. In all, developing countries lose 40% of their discarded food during harvest and processing, while already developed countries waste 40% of their food at the retail and consumer levels.

On average, rich countries produce almost 2,000 pounds of food per person per year, whereas poorer regions produce slightly above half, or 1,014 pounds. Out of these, European and North American consumers alone squander some 230 pounds, whereas consumers from Sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia are responsible for 17 pounds each. Every year, consumers from these rich areas waste almost as much as the entire food production in Sub-Saharan Africa – 222 million and 230 million tons, respectively.

9. Food Equals Money – Wasting One Means Wasting the Other

Tax cuts seem to be a trending topic nowadays. Now, regardless of the fact that taxes are what make a middle class broad and stable, governments usually sell these tax cuts to us as a great way to save money. But we have a much better alternative for you. While the planned tax cuts are said to save low-income households some $40 per year, the average household of four can save around $2,000 just by being more conscious about their food management behavior. It is said that, on average, one American family throws away about a quarter of all the food they buy, which is the equivalent of anywhere in between $1,365 to $2,275 annually. In total, the United States wastes 35 million tons of food this way every year, which is the equivalent of $165 billion. Worldwide, this sum jumps to roughly $1 trillion.

In an estimate by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), food waste has risen in the United States by 50% since 1990 and is now three times as high as it was during the 1960s. One element that has exacerbated the problem, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), is the steep rise in portion sizes and calorie density. Over the past 20 years, hamburgers have expanded by 23%, soft drinks have increased by 52%, while chips and pretzels have grown by 60%. Pizza, on the other hand, remained more or less the same, but it now has 70% more calories than it had in the ’80s. An average Caesar salad doubled, and a chocolate chip cookie quadrupled their respective calorie counts. Supermarkets have also employed various psychological tricks and tactics to make their customers impulse-buy. From offering various product samples, to providing us with big shopping carts, and strategically placing products around the store, they make us buy more than we actually need. One great way of avoiding these traps is to make a shopping list and then stick to it.

8. Fridges, Plates and Food Trays

In general, humans love wide open spaces. Interestingly enough, however, the same thing doesn’t apply to food. Like portion sizes, plates have also grown over the years. Whether it was the larger food portion or the larger dinner plate that came first, we have no way of knowing, but since the 1960s, average plates have increased by around 36 percent. And when we have a big plate, we tend to pile on more food, regardless of whether we will be able to eat it or not. Color contrast also plays a role here. Scientists have discovered that people tend to add more food to their plate if their colors –the food’s and the plate’s – match. The opposite happens, however, if the plate is similar to the background (such as the tablecloth). So, in other words, if you want to eat more greens, you should do it on a green plate against a red tablecloth.

Something similar applies to food trays. A big tray will make people add more to it, with much of the food ending up going to waste. Jill Horst, the director of residential dining services at the University of California Santa Barbara, noticed this in her college dining hall. In 2009, Horst decided to eliminate food trays altogether, and food waste dropped by 50%. Students can still eat as much as they want, but they now have to manage their trips and portion sizes.

But when it comes to our homes, oversized fridges are the main cause for food going bad. Like the plate, fridges have also increased in size, especially in the United States, where we have 25 cubic feet (and larger) models. By contrast, most European fridges are around 10 cubic feet. We’re not comfortable with a seemingly empty fridge, and we tend to want to fill it. But a lot of food products can still spoil in a fridge after only a week, and a big one makes us buy more than we would be able to consume during that time. Refrigerators were also proven to decrease the value of food we put inside. Surveys have shown that we feel less guilty if we drop a carton of eggs that’s been sitting in the fridge for several days, as opposed to when we just got home with it from the supermarket.

7. Land, Water, and Biodiversity Simply Wasted Away

Another way of looking at our own inefficiency when it comes to food is to analyze the three criteria listed above. In 2007, the total land area used on food that eventually ended up at the dump was around 1.4 billion hectares. That’s more than Canada and India put together! The major contributors when it comes to food waste are meat and dairy. Now, even though these make up just 4 and 7 percent of all the wasted food, respectively, these squandered animal-based products take up a whopping 78% of the surface area mentioned above. To better understand this phenomenon, we should be aware that an area roughly the size of the entire African continent is made out of pasturelands, while a third of all arable land available is used for animal feed.

What’s more, roughly 10 million hectares of forest worldwide are being cleared annually. Food management inefficiency contributes to a large degree here – over 74% – with agricultural lands expanding into wild areas at an unprecedented rate. Overfishing is of serious concern, as well. It’s estimated that by 2048, there will no longer be any more commercially viable fish left in the oceans. This is in part because fishing is still seen as hunting, where fishermen catch as much as they possibly can – not because of demand, per se, but because other fishermen might catch them if they don’t. Secondly, size-selective fishing has cut the average size of fish in half over the past four decades, and has severely hindered their capacity to replenish their populations. Moreover, bycatch – or marine species caught unintentionally and then discarded – amounts to 27 million tons annually (since 1994). Over 300,000 whales, dolphins, sea turtles, and porpoises also die in fishnets every year.   

When it comes to our fresh water supply, 70% goes into agriculture, 20% is used in industry, while the remaining 10% is for everyday, domestic use. Wasted food accounts for a quarter of all available fresh water on the globe. That’s equal to 3.6 times the amount of total water used in the United States, the annual discharge of the Volga River (the largest in Europe), or about 60 cubic miles in total.

6. Just a Quarter of All Food Waste Can Feed All the World’s Hungry

Yes, this is the sad reality we are currently living in. On average, the United States throws away enough food to fill up 730 football stadiums to the brim every year – half of which is untouched, fresh, and completely edible food. That’s equal to 20 pounds for every man, woman, and child per month. In other words, the United States, like many European countries, has twice as much food stacked on supermarket shelves and in restaurants than it actually needs to feed the American people. If we were to take into account the amount of corn, oats, and other edible plants used as animal feed, the United States has four times as much food as its population needs. And yet, 1 in 7 Americans need to use food banks or are struggling to put food on the table. That’s nearly 50 million people.

Internationally, well over 800 million people endure regular hunger or are malnourished. The 1.3 billion tons of food discarded for various reasons worldwide is enough to feed more than 3 billion people, or 10 times the population of the United States. Now, if we were to save a quarter of all the food wasted, we would be able to feed over 870 million people – more that the world’s entire hungry population. When looking at these numbers, we can see why some people call this the world’s dumbest problem. This incredible amount of excess can only be characterized as a success story that started some 12,000 years ago with the Agricultural Revolution. But our incredibly poor management pushes the planet’s ecological limits to the brink of collapse, and this success is quickly turning into a tragedy. It is estimated that by 2050, there will be over 9 billion people on Earth. Will the other 1.5 billion people have enough to eat, or will they go hungry?

5. Unsustainable Beauty Standards

Over the past several decades, we’ve gotten so used to the food abundance all around us that we’ve begun to grade our food in terms of its appearance. Never mind the fact that ‘ugly’ foods are totally good to eat – if they don’t meet absolute perfection in terms of their shape, size, or coloring, we simply throw it away. And by we, we’re referring to the farmers who grow this food in the first place. They’re not really to blame here, however, as they are the ones who have to bear the financial cost of this wasted food. A slight bump, a variation in color, or any other simple imperfection can downgrade a piece of fruit or vegetable from a Class I to a Class II, with a price decrease of two thirds or more.

This makes it completely unprofitable for the farmers to even pick them up – spending even more money, time, and energy in the process. Under normal circumstances, farmers throughout the entire agricultural industry have to leave more than a third of their harvest to rot on the ground because of these government-approved grades and standards. But these undesirable fruits and vegetables could easily find their way into the hands of people who actually need it, right? Yes, but unfortunately the cost of picking, packaging, storing, and shipping this produce is not covered by any reliable government grants or tax breaks, and farmers have to, first and foremost, look after their own bottom line.

And once these top grade foods do make it onto the shelves, supermarkets and grocery stores have to overstock so as to give the appearance of abundance. They are fully aware that if only a few items remain on display, people generally don’t want to buy them. This trend happens because we tend to assume that the last option is, more often than not, a bad option – which in this case is just false. And as a result, this overstocking leads to many items going bad, either on the shelves or in the store’s warehouse.

4. If It Was a Country, Food Waste Would Be the Third Largest Emitter of Greenhouse Gases

See? We told you that climate change stuff in the intro was on topic. Agriculture is, without a shadow of a doubt, humanity’s biggest impact on the planet. It takes, by far, the largest amount of land and water of any other activity. Soil degradation and water pollution are topics that we won’t even begin to touch on in this list, and instead, we’ll only try and focus on air pollution instead. After all, the change in the chemical composition of our atmosphere is what causes global warming and climate change in the first place. Worldwide, food waste accounts for 3.3 billion tons of CO2 and CO2 equivalents in the atmosphere. To put this into perspective, if it were a country, it would rank as the 3rd highest emitter after China and the United States – and that’s without actually subtracting these countries’ own share of wasted food. Nevertheless, these emissions can be broken down into two parts.

First, we have methane gas emissions coming from rotting food. If we were to throw away an apple core or a banana peel somewhere in the woods, it wouldn’t be a big deal. But when hundreds upon hundreds of tons of organic material are piled in landfills, this food waste begins to decompose in an air-depleted environment, which leads to the creation of methane gas. And as some of us know, methane gas is 25 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than CO2. American landfills are responsible for 17% of all the country’s methane emissions. Second, we have all the energy that’s used to produce this food in the first place. It is estimated that for every one kcal of food, farmers use 3 kcal of fossil fuel energy. And this is before taking into account food processing, transportation, or storage. In 2003 alone, the United States consumed over 300 million barrels of oil on food that made it straight to the dump, where it almost immediately began churning out methane gas.

3. Misleading Expiration Dates

We don’t know about you guys, but we here at TopTenz used to suffer mini heart attacks every time we realized that the yogurt we’ve been so feverously munching down on was two days past its expiration date. But if you are anything like us (and if you are, our sincere condolences), then rest assured because as it turns out, almost all of these dates are complete BS. The bad news here is that these expiration dates are at best an approximation, and at worst, a way for food manufacturers to make a quick buck by indirectly telling us to throw away perfectly edible food and then go out and buy more. To date, only baby formula has a federally-required expiration date stamped on it, while all the other ‘best-by’ labels are up to the manufacturers themselves.

Expiration dates began appearing around the early ’70s when much of the population stopped growing and making their own food and began buying it from grocery stores. These stores then came up with the idea of an ‘Open Dating’ system, which is when a manufacturer voluntarily stamps a date on its food product, loosely indicating when the item will reach peak freshness (not when it will go bad). This method was used by retail stores to determine for how long to display it on their shelves. The ‘Closed Dating’ system, on the other hand, shows the date when the item was produced. Though helpful at first, this system ended up being taken too literally by consumers and is now a much bigger problem than a solution. Even though it’s almost impossible to determine how much edible food is thrown away based on these dates, surveys have shown that 54% of consumers believe that eating food past their best-by date is a health risk. What’s more, 91% of consumers have said that they occasionally throw away food past their ‘sell-by’ date, while 37% said that they always toss their food after its ‘best-by’ date.

The US government had several pieces of legislation in the works regarding these expiration dates, but with the exception of baby formula, none of them went into law – except maybe in our heads. In any case, this is by far the fastest and easiest way for any government to begin tackling the problem of food waste. In the meantime, everyday consumers shouldn’t take them too seriously and only use them as a base of reference. Even though they look official, they’re not.

2. The Landfill Lunch

With all the facts presented here about food waste, it could be quite hard to understand why politicians don’t talk about this issue, let alone do anything about it. To be fair, governments are oftentimes nothing more than the ‘mirror-reflection’ of the people they represent, and only after enough citizens actively demand something will things begin to change. Nevertheless, it’s never a bad idea to bring up the topic of food waste with the world’s political society. This is everyone’s problem, after all, and we all need to find a solution. And what better way to make politicians start talking food waste than to serve it to them at lunch, right? Well, this is exactly what happened during a 2015 UN Summit, where over 30 world leaders, including France’s then-president François Hollande and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, were seated at the dinner table and catered to by some of the world’s most prestigious chefs.

Everything seemed normal until they were presented with the US-themed menu. Prepared by renowned New York chef Dan Barber and former White House chef Sam Kass, the meal was comprised of, for starters, the so-called ‘Landfill Salad’, made out of vegetable scraps and sub-par apples and pears. The veggie burger was made out of “pulp left over from juicing,” and a “repurposed bread bun.” The fries were actually a kind of starchy corn used in animal feed, which makes up 99% of all the corn produced in the United States. And as refreshment, the distinguished guests were served “Chickpea Water”… or the liquid that’s drained from a can of chickpeas. In an interview, Barber said, “It’s the prototypical American meal but turned on its head. Instead of the beef, we’re going to eat the corn that feeds the beef. The challenge is to create something truly delicious out of what we would otherwise throw away.”

1. The Awesome Power of the Individual

As average citizens of the world, living in the relative comforts of anonymity, we oftentimes find it daunting and feel almost helpless to do anything about the global state of affairs. Even if we were to do our best and waste little to no food whatsoever, it would still feel like a drop in the ocean. But never underestimate the power of leading by example. Instead of feeling down – or worse yet, being part of the problem – disregard your negative feelings and focus on the positive. Convince several of your friends of the benefits of not wasting food, and before you know it, you might start a chain reaction that can alter the face of the world.

But let’s tone down the inspirational talk for a moment and focus on a real-life example instead. Selina Juul, a graphic designer living in Denmark, has been credited by the Danish government for singlehandedly helping the country reduce its food waste by 25% in just five years. Today, Denmark is the leading country in the worldwhen it comes to managing its food waste. The whole thing started several years ago when Juul established a lobby group called Stop Spild Af Mad (Stop Wasting Food). As a Russian immigrant, she moved to Denmark when she was 13 and was shocked by the sheer amount of food people were wasting on a daily basis.

“Coming from a place where there were food shortages and people queued for bread, I was amazed at how much was wasted in Denmark, so I started a Facebook page,” she said in an interview. Juul then began offering tips like, “encouraging people to make a list before they go to the supermarket or take a picture of the inside of your fridge with your phone, if you have no time.”

Three months later, and based on her ideas, Denmark’s largest supermarket chain began replacing its quantity discounts like “buy two get the third free” with single item discounts to minimize food waste. An average supermarket wasted on average 100 bananas per day, but after they put up a sign saying “take me I’m single,” the number of discarded bananas dropped by 90%. Today, every supermarket in Denmark uses at least one food-saving strategy. “She basically changed the entire mentality in Denmark,”said Maria Noel, communication officer at a Danish retail company.


“Food Crimes”

– Shocking New Drama from WIF


 

Velcro, Aspirin, Frisbees and Dumpster – WIF Trademark Search

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“Generic” Product Names

You Didn’t Realize

Were Trademarks

A trademark usually presents itself in the form of a name, a logo, a design, or a phrase, with the purpose of distinguishing one manufacturer’s products from another. Sometimes, however, when business is really good for a particular brand, or it has a head start over the competition, then that particular brand might just become a proprietary eponym, or generic trademark. This means that if a product develops a substantial market share over the other manufacturers, or it becomes well ingrained into the public consciousness, then its brand could replace the name for the entire industry.

 Take Xerox, for instance. When it comes proprietary eponyms, Xerox may be the one most often given as an example. Xerox is actually a corporation that sells a variety of things, among which are photocopiers. But that ‘Xerox machine’ from your work may not, in fact, be a Xerox after all. And Xerox is not alone; Google, Pampers, and Tupperware are just a few other similar brands that have become proprietary eponyms. But while these are fairly well known as actual trademarks, there are a lot of others out there – so common and so widespread – that chances are that you might have never guessed them to be brand names in the first place. To be fair, though, some have since lost their legal protection as trademarks and are now considered to be part of the public domain.

10. Dry Ice

If you’re not familiar with the term, or even with what dry ice actually is, you may not be alone. Nevertheless, if you’ve ever been to a Halloween party, a nightclub, or a theatrical play, and there was some sort of ground-level mist involved, then there’s a chance you were close by to where dry ice was being submerged in hot water. There are several other means of producing that sort of fog (like liquid nitrogen, for example) but dry ice works almost equally as well. It’s cheaper, too, so there’s that. In any case, the entertainment industry isn’t the main business for dry ice – it’s refrigeration.

Sometimes known as Cardice, especially by the British, dry ice is actually solid CO2. Because it’s much cooler than regular ice, dry ice makes for a great refrigerant, especially when mechanical cooling isn’t possible or required. This means that you’ll oftentimes come across it when dealing with ice cream street vendors, or people carrying around organs or other biological samples. Because it doesn’t alter quality or taste, dry ice is frequently used to instantly freeze various foods and oils. Firefighters sometimes use it to extinguish fires and plumbers utilize it to flash freeze some water pipes. You’ll find some in school labs on occasion, or when people try to preserve ice sculptures. You can also use it as bait for mosquitoes and bedbugs, since these insects are drawn to CO2. Just sayin’.

Dry ice was discovered back in 1835 by the French inventor Adrien-Jean-Pierre Thilorier, who described it in one of his works. In 1897, an Englishman by the name of Herbert Samuel Elworthy received a patent for solid CO2 and used it to create soda water for his whiskey. But the device he invented was so big and cumbersome that people rarely used it. It was Thomas Benton Slate, an American businessman, who really took advantage and in 1924 applied for a patent in the US. One year later, he founded the DryIce Corporation of America and began selling solid CO2 under the trademark of “Dry Ice.” The other name,Cardice, short for carbon dioxide ice (the one the British are more familiar with) is also a registered trademark of Air Liquide Ltd. in the UK.

9. Band-Aid

By the 1920s, Johnson & Johnson was already a well-established company that manufactured ready-to-use surgical dressings. They made large, sterile gauzes that were sealed against germs and sold in various hospitals. The fabric itself originated in Palestine, and the name gauze is said to derive from the city of Gaza, an important center of weaving in the region back in medieval times. Nevertheless, Johnson & Johnson’s gauzes, which were used solely as dressings, were the first of their kind. An employee by the name of Earl Dickson, who was a cotton buyer at the company, was also recently married to a woman by the name of Josephine. And as it turns out, Josephine was a bit of a klutz, constantly getting burnt or injured around the house – nothing serious, mind you, but enough to become a constant nuisance for the newlyweds. Her husband, being in the industry, decided to help, but the surgical dressings Johnson & Johnson were providing were too big for the minor injuries Josephine was suffering on an almost daily basis.

In a moment of pure inspiration, Earl Dickson cut out a small square from one of the gauzes and stuck it to one of his wife’s fingers with a piece of adhesive tape. Knowing full well that this would not be a one-time thing, he began his own small-scale production of these… well, “Band-Aids”… to have ready around the house whenever his wife needed one. In order to keep the two adhesive parts from sticking together, as well as to keep the dressing sterile, Earl lined them with some crinoline fabric. The two soon realized that their invention had a potentially huge market, and Earl presented his idea to his boss, James Johnson. In 1924, Johnson & Johnson introduced their adhesive bandages under the Band-Aid trademark. After several more improvements, and after a genius marketing campaign of giving out an unlimited supply of free Band-Aids to all the Boy Scouts in the country, the adhesive bandage became a common household item across America. To date, Johnson & Johnson estimates that they’ve sold over 100 billion around the globe. And as thanks for his invention, Earl Dickson was given the position of Vice President at the company until his retirement in 1957.

8. Frisbee

Who would’ve guessed that the 1970s Frisbee craze began with apple pies? Well, not just apple pies, but pies in general. The story begins in 1871 in Bridgeport, Connecticut, when a man by the name of William Frisbie opened the Frisbie Pie Company. His pies became an instant hit with the students from all the universities nearby. These pies came in tin plates which the students then began flinging at each other while yelling “Frisbie!” Fast forward to 1948 and we have the “Flying Saucer,” a plastic version of those tin plates, reinvented by Walter Frederick Morrison and Warren Franscioni. The new name was aptly chosen as it was less than one year after the famed Roswell UFO incident. After the two parted ways in 1955, Morrison sold the renamed “Pluto Platter” to the Wham-O toy company. Wham-O, the company behind another well-known trademark, the Hula-Hoop, changed the flying disc’s name once again, this time to Frisbee – misspelling its original name in the process.

Then in 1967, Ed Headrick, the company’s designer, added a series of raised, concentric rings on its surface, along with several other features, in order to stabilize its flight, and the modern Frisbee was born. Thanks to an aggressive marketing campaign during the late ’60s and early ’70s, when the company advertised disc-throwing as a sport, Frisbees began flying off the shelves, and Wham-O sold over 100 million units by 1977. Headrick himself came up with Frisbee Golf, while some high school students from Maplewood, New Jersey, invented Ultimate Frisbee. Today, millions of people worldwide throw flying discs around – not all of them being original Frisbees, of course. As of 1994, Mattel Toy Manufacturers are the owners of the trademark, after buying it from Wham-O.

7. Velcro

According to a 2002 episode from the live-action TV series Star Trek: Enterprise, it was actually the Vulcans – an extraterrestrial species – who, during the 1950s, anonymously introduced humanity to the wonder of technology that is Velcro. Now, after some thorough investigation on our part, it seems that there are some inconsistencies with that particular story. As it turns out, the trademark brand ‘Velcro’, as well as the product it represents, the hook-and-loop fastener, is actually the creation of a Swiss electrical engineer by the name of George de Mestral. And apparently, Star Trek was a work of fiction. Who knew? Anyway, in 1948, while on a hike through the woods, de Mestral began wondering how and why so many burrs clung to his pants and his dog’s fur. On closer examination under the microscope, these burrs revealed their secret. As a means of dispersing their seed, they make use of many tiny hooks that get attached to all sorts of furs and fabrics belonging to unaware passersby, and hitch a ride to another place. Nature is truly amazing in its ingenuity, isn’t it?

Probably after coming to the same conclusion about nature, de Mestral began working on a fabric that would be able to mimic the same properties as burrs. Initially made from cotton, the fabric proved vastly more effective with the arrival of nylon, and de Mestral patented his invention in 1955. The word itself, Velcro, is a combination of the French “velours” and “crochet,” which in English translate to “velvet” and “hook.” He then began advertising it as the “zipperless zipper,” but his idea didn’t really catch on with the public at the time. Help finally arrived from the unlikeliest of places – NASA, to be more exact. NASA used Velcro during the 1960s as part of their space program. Thanks to the positive press it received, Velcro began being seen as the ‘space-age fabric’ and various fashion designers started using it. De Mestral sold the rights to his Velcro Company once it became successful, and even though the original patent expired in 1978, the term is still a trademark controlled by the Dutch Velcro company.

6. Aspirin

As one of the oldest and most commonly used drugs around the world, aspirin is still one of the most studied even to this day. It is estimated that between 700 and 1,000 clinical trials are performed on it every year. Aspirin is also the first ever anti-inflammatory and pain reliever mentioned in history. While not technically aspirin, its active ingredient, salicylic acid, was used as early as antiquity. Various medicines derived from willow and other salicylate-rich plants were found described on scrolls in Egypt, as well as on clay tablets in Sumer, more than 5,000 years ago. Even Hippocrates used to prescribe willow leaf tea to women undergoing childbirth. During the 18th and early 19th centuries, various chemists experiment with willow bark and other plants, slowly but surely narrowing down the active ingredient. Then in 1828, a professor of pharmacy at Munich University in Germany was successful in extracting it, and called it salicin. Over the following several decades, other chemists discovered that the Spiraea ulmaria(Meadowsweet) plant also contained salicylic acid, as well as coming up with better ways of synthesizing it.

While working at the German pharmaceutical company Bayer, chemist Felix Hoffmann added an acetyl group to salicylic acid and created acetylsalicylic acid. This addition reduced the acid’s previous irritant properties, and Bayer patented the process. The company then renamed this acetylsalicylic acid Aspirin and began selling it worldwide. Bayer later sold off or lost the trademark for Aspirin in many countries. The origin of the name Aspirin comes from the letter A, which stands for acetyl, and Spir, which comes fromSpiraea ulmaria (Meadowsweet). The in was a common suffix used at the time for medicine. In 1950, Aspirin entered the Guinness Book of World Records as the most commonly sold painkiller in the world. In the many trials it was subjected to since its invention, Aspirin was proven to be a great cancer and heart-attack prevention drug, if taken regularly.

5. Jet Ski

Do you, or someone you know, own a Jet Ski? Well, is it a Kawasaki? If it is, then yes, you have a Jet Ski. If not, then what you, or your friend, have is a personal motorized watercraft. Yes, Jet Ski is a trademark belonging to the Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd. from Japan, and all other similar products are commonly known as personal watercrafts, even though most other manufacturers have their own trademark names for them. Now, the history behind these personal watercrafts goes back to Europe during the 1950s, when various motorcycle manufacturers were looking to expand their markets into other areas. The first name ever given to these vehicles was water scooters, and the British company Vincent produced roughly 2,000 Amanda water scooters. Unfortunately for them, however, the trend didn’t really catch on. Over the following two decades, other companies like Mival introduced its Nautical Pleasure Cruiser, but with a similar lack of success.

This is when an Australian motocross enthusiast by the name of Clayton Jacobsen II designed and created his own version – but a model that would require the rider to stand up. His real breakthrough here, though, was to replace the previous outboard motor with an internal pump-jet. During the mid-’60s, he sold his idea to the snowmobile manufacturer Bombardier, but after it, too, failed to gather momentum, the company gave it up. Jacobsen then sold his patent to Kawasaki, which produced its first model in 1973 and named it the Jet Ski.

But because it was a stand-up personal watercraft, the Jet Ski didn’t manage to draw in the masses since it was somewhat difficult to maneuver, especially in choppy waters. The breakthrough came several years later when newer models were designed so as to let pilots sit, thus drastically increasing its stability. Furthermore, it was now possible for two people to enjoy the ride instead of one, and thus the social element was added into the mix. Bombardier later got back into the game by creating their own line of personal watercrafts known as Sea-Doo. In fact, these Sea-Doos are the best-selling watercrafts in the world, surpassing even the Jet Ski. Yamaha is on the market with its own WaveRunners,while Honda entered the business in 2002 with the AquaTrax.

4. Bubble Wrap

This might come as a surprise to many – it certainly did for us – but Bubble Wrap was originally invented to be some sort of high-end wallpaper. Yes, back in 1957, two New Jersey engineers by the name of Alfred Fielding and Marc Chavannes began by sealing two shower curtains together and trapping air bubbles inside – thus giving their new wallpaper idea its unique texture. Unfortunately (or not), their wallpaper business didn’t take off, and they began looking for other possible uses for their idea, including looking into greenhouse insulation. And while Bubble Wrap does, in fact, have some insulating properties, this new venture didn’t pan out well either. Not wanting to give up, Sealed Air Corporation’s marketer, Frederick W. Bowers, struck a deal with IBM in 1959 to package their new 1401 computers, and they’ve been making millions of dollars annually ever since.

Recently, however, in a move reminiscent of a Bond villain, the Sealed Air Corporation has decided to renounce the original Bubble Wrap and begin producing the unpoppable iBubble Wrap. But even though this move might seem like something done just for the sake of making the world a little less entertaining and fun, there’s some logic behind it. As it turns out, Bubble Wrap takes up a lot of space when it’s in storage – something that’s a big problem for many of their customers. The new iBubble Wrap is shipped and stored completely deflated, thus taking up just 1/15th the space. Companies that use it can now inflate their iBubble Wrap on their own when they need it, but because it no longer has individual air bubbles, but rather rows of bubbles connected to each other, they are no longer poppable.

3. Dumpster

Without the humble dumpster, our towns and cities would probably be a lot messier than they are today. Over the past 80 years, the dumpster has become a common sight throughout the United States, and many other designs of these frontloader containers, as they are called, have been in use throughout the world. The first time the word ‘dumpster’was used commercially was back in 1936, when the Dempster Brothers Company from Knoxville, Tennessee, trademarked the term. The word itself is a combination of those brothers’ name, Dempster, with the word ‘dump’ – being used for their most successful front-loading container.

The novelty of these garbage containers were their side arms that allowed another of this company’s inventions, the Dempster-Dumpmaster garbage truck, to lift them up and dump their contents directly inside. This streamlined the whole garbage disposal process by up to 75% of the original time, when garbage was usually being collected by horse-drawn carts. Now, even though this idea spread throughout most of the world, the actual trademark Dumpster didn’t. The British and Australians do sometimes call their ownfrontloader containers dumpsters, but the wheelie bin and skip terms are more commonly used.

2. Mace

When it comes to personal defense, pepper spray, more commonly known as Mace, is among the best weapons to have on your person. It incapacities without killing or seriously injuring someone, and its backstory is based on the same idea. Chemical Macecame into existence in 1965, after Allan Lee Litman, an inventor living in Pittsburgh, alongside his wife, Doris, came up with the chemical formula and means of dispersal. It’s important to mention that other similar pepper sprays existed before the Litmans got into it, but they oftentimes fell short, either by accidentally afflicting the sprayer, or taking too long to activate and deter the attacker. Prior to starting work on Chemical Mace, Allan Litman was working on such inventions such as the “waterless egg cooker” and the “bacon cooker,” but with very limited success. Nevertheless, after one of his wife’s friends told them about how she got mugged while coming home from work, they began discussing what self-defense weapons a woman could have at her disposal in such a situation.

The two then began experimenting around the house with various chemicals such as kerosene, Freon, and sulfuric acid as propellants for aerosol spray cans, as well as a wide array of irritants. They finally settled on chloroacetophenone – a chemical highlighted by the military as being a potent tear gas during WWII. Initially calling it Tear Gas Aerosol Spray Instrument, or TGASI, they eventually decided on Chemical Mace – in reference to the spiked club of medieval times and the effects it had on a person’s face; though without the actual physical harm and, y’know… crushed skull. The two inventors then opened a business known as the General Ordnance Equipment Corporation and began selling their Mace to the public. Now, its active ingredient wasn’t something new, but the fact that the Litmans managed to repackage a chemical weapon as a civilian product was – and its success was almost instantaneous. In 1987, Litman accepted an offer from the gun manufacturer Smith & Wesson to buy the company, and he became director of their nonlethal weaponry research. The active ingredient has since changed to oleoresin capsicum, which is less toxic and has a faster incapacitating property.  

1. Heroin

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it,” and this rings especially true in reference to today’s opiate epidemic and the appearance of heroin on the world stage. As most of us know, heroin is a Schedule I controlled substance, known in the pharmaceutical industry as morphine diacetate, or simply, Diamorphine. Diamorphine was first synthetized in 1874 in England, but it took another 23 years before it became popular. Chemist Felix Hoffmann, working at the pharmaceutical company Bayer and the aforementioned inventor of Aspirin, was looking for a safer and less addictive alternative to morphine in 1897. It, uh… didn’t work out like he planned. He was hoping to produce codeine by acetylating morphine, but instead ended up with diacetylmorphine, which is two times more potent. The head of Bayer’s research department reportedly came up with its name of Heroin from the German word “heroisch” – meaning ‘heroic’ in English and implying the drug’s strong effects on its user. Bayer then began sellingdiacetylmorphine under the trademark Heroin and marketing it as a safer and non-addictive substitute to morphine, as well as a cough suppressant.

Its primary consumers were middle and upper-class women, who bought it for their medicine cabinets. It took 17 years before the US government began regulating it, and yet another 10 years before people realized Heroin’s actual effects and the United States banned its sale, importation, and manufacture. One year after that, in 1925, the Health Committee of the League of Nations also banned it, but it was in 1930 when all of its other derivate analogues were also banned. After WWI, Bayer lost its trademark rights over Heroin as part of the 1919 Treaty of Versailles. The US went through two major heroin epidemics after that: the first after WWII, and the second during the Vietnam War. Today, however, with various opioids being loosely prescribed by doctors around the country, heroin use has also seen a fivefold increase over the past decade.


Velcro, Aspirin, Frisbees and Dumpster –

WIF Trademark Search


How Beer Changed the World – WIF Fun Historical Facts

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How Did Beer

Change the World?

Beer Video Below

Hybrid cars, computers, those terrible smartphone games everyone’s hooked on: humanity has come a long way since our cave-dwelling, hunting-and-gathering, Quasimodo-looking forefathers. But why? What drove all of these fantastic exhibitions of human achievement?

But first please indulge me.

I have featured beer in other articles over the years:

This would suggest that I am a consumer of said product. To support my claim of partaking in this addictive amber alcohol bubbly beverage, I spent the first 40 years of my life in Wisconsin. That should be ample proof in itself.

Whether it is because of the brutal winters or the proximity to hops & Barley or the immigration of German brew masters to Milwaukee, WI is a beer hotbed.

True Confessions

If I could reach back into time and speak sound advice to a younger meI would recommend abstaining from acquiring a taste for it.

But the ability to change the past is currently unknown or unavailable to us here in 2017 and the horses are already out of the barn.

The key to drinking is not to get drunk. Moderation is a highly underrated state-of-mind.

  1. Sip – don’t Guzzle
  2. Savor the Flavor
  3. Consider the Consequences

This did not start out to be an advice column. Please feel free to chime in & direct your comments to Gwendolyn Hoff c/o Writing Is Fun-damental (the blog you are reading). Perhaps I have missed my calling.

Or perhaps I have changed the course of someone’s life somewhere out there. “Dear younger you.”

–  Gwenny


How Beer Changed the World –

WIF Fun Historical Facts

Advertising HOF – WIF Consumer Corner

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Advertising Campaign

Hall Of Fame

It might seem hard to believe for many people, but commercials are a cherished part of the pop culture landscape. As much as viewers are willing to pay extra fees to stream movies and television shows without ad breaks, commercial compilations are still extremely popular on YouTube and catchphrases from them are as likely to enter the zeitgeist (“Where’s the beef?”) as anything from the best programming. The sheer amount of market share or public interest that they can generate when they’re done right is staggering. The commercials here might not be some of your favorites, but for the companies behind their creation, they were golden geese. Sometimes that was the case for years, or even decades.

 10. GEICO Cavemen

In 2004 the auto insurance giant GEICO aired a commercial where the joke was that an announcer said saving money with their insurance was “so easy a caveman could do it!” This offended the caveman that was working with the crew for the shoot as a boom operator, causing him to yell “not cool!” and storm off the set. As the concept of political correctness was at the time, and continues to be, a hot button issue, the small joke struck such a chord with audiences that variations on the premise of easily offended, urbane cavemen were made by GEICO for the next three years even though the initial plan for the campaign was to only make three commercials about offended cavemen.They became such runaway successes that in 2007 Joe Lawson, the writer that started the whole phenomenon, joined forces with directors Josh Gordon and Will Speck to sell ABC on a series for the cavemen. The series was not a hit with critics or audiences, but it was still much more than a one-off joke that you’d expect to be skipped or fast-forwarded through could ever reasonably hope for.

9. Erin – Esurance

In 2004, with a fairly meager budget of $60,000 (in an industry where commercials average about$350,000), a marketer named Kimberly Brewe hired three independent animators to create a female agent for auto insurance who fought thugs on rooftops and infiltrated secret headquarters. Within five years she had been featured in 30 commercials on national television and made the up and coming Esurance a household name even though there’d been no brand awareness of Esurance before that ad campaign.

Esurance received actual fan mail for the character almost immediately after test broadcasts were made in Sacramento. It was a strong indication of just how much the cartoon character connected with audiences since, in 2004, action heroines were more of a novelty. Unfortunately, some would argue that she ended up connecting with audiences a bit too much. Foremost among those making that argument would be Esurance itself, whose management cancelled the character in 2010 when it was learned that she was a popular character in online pornography.

8. “It’s Only a Movie…”

Wes Craven’s 1972 debut film Last House on the Left is one of the most influential, if not really celebrated, horror films ever made. It was a mainstream success with more graphic, disturbing content than almost any film from its time and ushered in a wave of more intense horror movies, even though it’s so badly made that Craven disowned it after moving on to hits like
Nightmare on Elm Street and Scream. What really made Last House on the Left a hit was its memorable ad campaign, with a trailer that told the audience that to avoid fainting they would have to tell themselves, “It’s only a movie, only a movie, only a movie, only a movie” while showing relatively little footage.As film critic Joe Reid explained, it was an especially effective ad because of a combination of sheer confidence in telling the audience that they’d need to “distance” themselves from the action onscreen to be able to keep watching it at all, and the lack of information about the plot left audiences more intrigued. Shame it couldn’t have been used in the service of promoting a better movie.

7. Carl’s Jr.’s Racy Ads

In one of the highest profile examples of the notion that there’s no bad publicity in advertising, Carl’s Jr.’s sexually provocative Super Bowl ads began in 2006 with an ad featuring Paris Hiltonwashing a car and quickly got more ridiculous. This promotional campaign has been a boon for supermodels such as Kate Upton and Charlotte McKinney, who owed much of their subsequent careers to pretending to eat burgers in a suggestive manner or while dressed in very revealing ways. It’s also been a source of considerable irritation for people who believe the ads demean women.

CEO Andy Puzder claimed that the publicity brought by the commercials saved a fast food companythat, before the sexual ad campaign, was on the brink of bankruptcy. Puzder also pointed out that the ads are no more graphic than the covers of magazines. Whatever the truth of that, in March 2017 Carl’s Jr. so completely changed their marketing campaign that they made a commercial explicitly denouncing their previous advertisements. Allegedly the change in direction was because Millennials are more concerned by the healthiness of their food than they are titillated by relatively tame commercials when the internet exists.

6. Verizon’s Test Man

There may be no statement that seems less likely to launch someone to fame than, “Can you hear me now? Good.” Still, in 2002, cell phone coverage was limited enough that being unsure about getting reception depending on where you were standing was a sentiment the average telecommunications customer understood. So when Verizon began airing commercials that year featuring Paul Marcarelli just repeating that same question and answer over and over in a variety of locations to illustrate how thoroughly Verizon was allegedly expanding its coverage, people responded to it in a big way. USA Today reported in 2004 that the campaign had aided in a 10% boost to Verizon’s customers the first year and a 15% one on the second. It even was credited with dropping their customer turnover rate by over 25%.

For all that, it was a very mixed blessing for Marcarelli himself. Since he was famous almost exclusively for asking the same question over and over (despite being a successful screenwriter) inevitably people on the street hounded him over it for years, even at a funeral. In 2016 he went over to the rival telecommunications company Sprint in commercials that claimed that basically all carriers offered equally good services. It must have been very gratifying for him to be allowed to say anything other than the same six words.

5. Maytag Repairman

It’s amazing how long a simple joke can play out in the world of television commercials with very minor variations. In 1967, Jesse White played a senior repairman for Maytag appliances dressing down his trainees. The joke of the commercial was that they never got any work in their jobs because Maytag products never needed to be repaired. It’s at least good for a smirk, but audiences so enjoyed it that White played the part 60 times over the next 22 years. The role later went to Gordon Jump, famous for his role on WKRP in Cincinnati and that one episode of Diff’rent Strokes in which he played a pedophile. Yeah, that happened. Jump played the role of the Maytag Repairman from 1989 until 2003.

Somehow, interest in the Maytag Repairman built back up until the character was resurrected, played now by Colin Ferguson, who you may recognize as the star of Eureka or from his role on The Vampire Diaries, and who took up the mantle in 2014. A study by the Maytag company found in 2011 that 85% of those surveyed recognized the character and 18% considered him one of their favorite characters, demonstrating just how much the simplest ideas can be the most successful.

4. The Most Interesting Man in the World

In 2006, Jonathan Goldsmith was hired to promote Dos Equis brand beer. He didn’t so much play a character as he embodied a persona: A man who was the embodiment of worldliness, sophistication, and experience to such an absurd degree that his life experiences became wordplay (e.g. the commercial’s narrator saying that “his two cents is worth $37.”) He went truly viral on sites such as Reddit. Thousands of posts were made of an image of him with text superimposed over it that paraphrased his catchphrase “I don’t always drink beer, but when I do, I prefer Dos Equis.” The campaign meant four straight years of growth for Dos Equis, including one year where it shot up 26%.

Touchingly, Goldsmith was able to parlay his internet appeal for very noble causes. In 2014, he reached out to Reddit, among other sites, to promote efforts to remove landmines from Cambodia. Other charities he has supported include Free Art for Abused Children and the tiger protection group the Sabre Foundation. Maybe this doesn’t make him the most interesting man in the world, but it sure doesn’t hurt.

3. Speedy the Alka Seltzer Boy

You might think an anthropomorphic Alka-Seltzer tablet or a customer with indigestion would be the ideal mascot for the antacid. Indeed, one commercial featuring a man yelling “Mamma mia! That’s a spicy meatball!” spawned an enduring catchphrase. But Alka-Seltzer’s first approach was to make a cherub-faced, red-headed child named Speedy in 1952. By the time the character’s initial run ended in 1964, he had been featured in 212 commercials and appeared opposite such stars as silent film legend Buster Keaton, rendered both in 2D and in stop motion.

But the character seemed to keep coming back. In 1980 he was featured in a commercial for the Winter Olympics. Then the character was rebooted in 2008 because he was “retro cool.” Oddly, the publications the ads were featured in were skin magazines Maxim and Playboy, which don’t feel like the most natural fit for this kind of character.

2. How Many Licks

If you are a television viewer of a certain age, it’s pretty much impossible for you to have not seen this cartoon commercial that first aired in 1969. In the initial, minute long version, a human boy walks up to three animals and asks them how many licks to get to the center of a Tootsie Roll Tootsie Pop before being told to ask the owl. As you know, the owl licks it three times, then bites it before concluding the answer is “three.”

Instead of being remade or having spinoff commercials, the cartoon itself was so popular that rather than remake it or do variations, it was merely shortened to just a turtle and the owl and then rerun for decades. The silly central question was so firmly imprinted on the public consciousness that several colleges, such as New York University, and independent study groups found time to determine the answer for themselves. The current accepted answer is approximately one thousand.

1. Honda’s Cog Commercial

Not many commercials have ever instilled a sense of wonder in viewers. In 2003 Honda pulled it off with an elaborate commercial for their Accord model that featured a very elaborate Rube Goldberg machine that had audiences everywhere saying, “that had to be fake.” But the truth was that aside from digitally cutting two takes together, it was completely live action. It just happened to take six months of planning and a week-long shoot with a staggering six hundred takes to get every extremely precise reaction right.

The doubtless extremely frustrating work paid off handsomely when the commercial quadrupled Honda’s web traffic and tripled outreach to their contact center. This was in no small part because there was so much controversy over whether the commercial was done for real or not that Snopeshad to write an article vouching for it. But good luck convincing any company to not do something like this with CGI today.


Advertising HOF

– WIF Consumer Corner

Man Eats Mars – WIF Candy

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Fascinating Facts

About the

Mars Candy Company

Young or old, we all love candy and the Mars Company has been making some of the most popular and beloved candy bars and confections for as long as most of us can remember. They are known around the world for beloved items like the Mars Bar, Snickers, M&M’s and so many others. However, they are also suppliers of more than just candy. Mars also owns multiple popular pet food brands, as well as the Wrigley Company and several other brands. The history of the Mars Company and their products is a fascinating journey through the land of sweets.

 10. The Milky Way in the US is the Mars Bar in the United Kingdom

Those who live in the United States are very familiar with a candy bar known as the Milky Way. It is made up of nougat and caramel coated in chocolate and is incredibly delicious. The name is actually inspired by the fact that the creator was trying to mimic the popular malted milkshakes of the day, and not really inspired by our galaxy as some imagine. Many of us who love this candy bar may take it for granted when traveling, only to find that it doesn’t exist in quite the same form in other parts of the world.

In the United Kingdom and almost everywhere else it is sold besides the USA, there is a very similar bar – although not made with the exact same ingredients – known as the Mars Bar, that replaces the traditional Milky Way in those regions. To make matters more confusing, you may actually see a candy bar called the Milky Way when traveling abroad, but that version of the Milky Way is actually the European version of our current 3 Musketeers bar. And yes, all of these are produced, sold and marketed by the Mars Candy Company.

9. The 3 Musketeers Has its Name Because it was Once Three Flavors Packaged Together

Many people have wondered why in the world the 3 Musketeers bar has the name that it does. It is a chocolate bar filled with a nougat fairly similar to that in a Milky Way, except airier and fluffier. It enjoys a certain strong popularity of its own in the United States, but that doesn’t bring most people any closer to an explanation. Most people cannot be blamed for not knowing either – the package no longer has any three musketeers on the logo, and it has been a very long time since the product namesake made since.

The reason it has its name is because originally, the candy bar was packaged to share with three separate pieces, and each piece was a different flavor – chocolate, vanilla and strawberry. Not long ago some of you may remember the Mars Company releasing a set of promotional mini 3 Musketeers candies with the flavors of Cappuccino, French Vanilla, and Strawberry, as a throwback to their roots. It would certainly be interesting if they brought back the original 3 Musketeers with all three bars wrapped in the same package, it would probably be a huge hit.

8. The Mars Company Also Owns Pet Food Brands Pedigree And Whiskas

When most people think of a candy company pet food is not something that immediately jumps to mind. However, the Mars Company has owned several pet food brands for many years now, including the well known Pedigree dog foodbrand and Whiskas cat food brand. Some might imagine that this was simply part of some strategic acquisition or deal, but Mars is very serious about their pet food business and has been going to great lengths to increase their market share and dominance in that sector.

Just a few years ago in 2014 Mars coughed up almost three billion in cash toProctor and Gamble to buy up most of their existing pet food business, which includes the brands Iams, Natura and Eukanuba. The president of their petcare division was excited about the deal and had this to say “the deal reinforces our leadership in pet nutrition and veterinary science”. We are not saying the Mars Company doesn’t own good pet food brands, but we don’t think what most people know Mars for is pet food. Most people aren’t even aware they own pet food brands at all and know them mainly for their popular candy products such as M&M’s or Snickers.

7. During WW2 M&M’s Were Only For Soldier Rations

M&M’s have a very fascinating history indeed that is steeped in the lore of wartime. It is said that originally Forrest Mars Sr. had witnessed troops in the Spanish Civil War eating chocolate that was encased in a hard candy shell. He noticed that the chocolate was managing to avoid entirely melting in the hot temperatures, and he decided he wanted to perfect the idea into a perfect candy. He approached a man named Murrie who worked as an executive for Hershey’s and struck up a partnership – incidentally their two names are what the two M’s stand for.

With World War II starting Mars saw an opportunity and started selling the candy exclusively for use in soldier rations for the duration of the war. The troops found it very convenient as it was easily packaged in small tubes, and didn’t melt easily in the heat, making it easy to preserve and transport in the thick of troop movements. Eventually the war ended and all the veterans were already big fans of the product. With chocolate no longer being rationed and the veterans introducing it to their family and friends, M&M’s became the runaway success that they are known for today.

6. The Snickers Bar Was Actually Named After a Horse

The Snickers bar is easily the most iconic candy in the United States of America. No one really needs an introduction to this perfect candy bar. Not only great tasting, but filling enough and with real peanuts which could make it feel more like a real snack. It has enjoyed incredible popularity in the United States since its inception, but most people never stop to think where the name comes from. Many candy bars have rather odd fanciful names that we never take the time to stop and think about. Probably in the case of the Snickers we don’t think about it too much because it sounds rather strange and doesn’t seem like it has much to do with the candy at all.

The reason for this is because the Snickers was named after the Mars families’ favorite horse at the time, and they thought it would be fun to name the candy bar after him. There really is nothing connecting the candy and the horse besides a flight of whimsy. Strangely though, the name was once again different when it was marketed in the United Kingdom, where it was originally known as the Marathon Bar and enjoyed popularity at the top spot for many years. However, for continuity sake Mars changed the name worldwide to the

Snickers Bar and the sales in the UK dropped significantly. Generally consumers don’t take well to a products name being changed out of the blue after so many years.

5. Mars Got Into a Dustup With Vegetarians in the United Kingdom

Back in 2007 vegetarians got angry over a very small amount of potential animal rennet in their confections. Mars had told the public that they were switching from a form of whey that came from microorganisms to a form of whey that comes from rennet – an animal byproduct taken from the stomach of calves. After a week of criticism Mars agreed to back down on using it in some of their products, but was also unwilling to pull it from all of their products entirely. This left many people who were following a strict vegetarian lifestyle angry with the company. They felt that Mars was not entirely backing down, and also that there was still confusion over what did and not did include animal rennet.

The reason for this is that there was no recall, as too many products had already gone out and there wasn’t any health risk with them – most people, even vegetarians, will not freak out about a small amount of potential animal byproduct in an already unhealthy candy bar. So many vegetarians complained that even though the company was leaving a few product lines without the whey with animal rennet, that there was no way to know for quite some time if they might be eating one of the vegetarian unsuitable versions that had already shipped out. Mars argued in return that their hadn’t been any boycott or noticeable effect on their sales, and that they were already bending over backward to please a small minority.

4. Mars Owns Uncle Ben’s Rice and Has Tried to Smooth Over the Controversially Racial Roots

Another brand many may be surprised to know is owned by Mars is the Uncle Ben’s instant rice company. An incredibly famous product ubiquitous in grocery stores around the United States and likely other parts of the world as well. Everyone knows the image and many of us feel a little strange knowing the likely origin of the image. Similar to Aunt Jemima’s pancake syrup brand, it pictures an African American in a role that depicts them as a servant preparing food for white people. The clothes worn by both of them and the title used, as well as the lack of a last name, tends to give a lot of people misgivings and wonder about what the creators were thinking when the brand was first designed.

When Mars acquired Uncle Ben’s rice not that many years ago they decided that they wanted to try to change the image to uplift the brand from its controversially racial origins. They put together a marketing campaign where Uncle Ben was depicted as the chairman of the board of his company, in a fancy office overseeing all decisions regarding the product. The advertising campaign depicted him as a wise leader who always knows best, while still leaving him with the bow tie he was known for. The reactions from many African Americans were mixed. Some people felt that it was a good step that helped rehabilitate the image of the brand, but others said it felt like it was glossing over the past and trying to hold onto something they would prefer to go away. To Mars credit, most people seemed to feel that an honest effort was being made to overcome the racially charged past of the brand.

3. The Reese’s Pieces in E.T. Were Supposed to be M&M’s, but the Mars Company Declined

E.T. is an iconic movie, and once of the most well known scenes, as well as the most famous product placements ever in movies, was the scene with the Reese’s pieces. We all know it well, and someone at Hershey’s is probably still gloating over the acquisition of a lifetime. See, the original candy intended to be used in the film were M&M’s and Mars was approached about doing a tie-in deal with the movie. In a move that someone may still be kicking themselves for, the Mars Company declined to have M&M’s in the movie or do any kind of marketing deal. Some people claim that the executive who made the decision didn’t want their product in a movie with a strange alien being, others say that they simply didn’t think the movie was going to be successful and didn’t want to tie their brand to it. Whatever the reason, the Mars Company declined, and the filmmakers were stuck looking for an alternative.

Realizing there was a similar, but not as popular candy made by Hershey’s, they struck up a deal to use Reese’s Pieces instead. The movie was successful beyond anyone’s wildest dreams, Hershey’s was able to use E.T. in their advertising to create a very successful association in the minds of consumers and sales of Reese’s Pieces shot up by a huge margin, gaining a strong share in the market that they had never had before.

2. Mars Has Been Criticized in the Past For Their Chocolate Buying Practices

Mars and all the other major chocolate giants have a huge problem that is hard to ignore – the fact that their chocolate, and essentially all chocolate, comes from countries where child labor, abuse and oftentimes what amounts to outright slavery are incredibly common. This has been the subject of many documentaries and lawmakers have tried to force the chocolate industry into self-policing and helping to end the child labor practices. After all, the chocolate industry is so rich it dwarfs the economies of the countries it buys chocolate from, so the power is mainly in their hands. Many of the chocolate makers have pledged to try to end child labor, but the goalposts keep shifting.

For many people the major chocolate makers such as Mars, Nestle, and Hershey’s are not doing nearly enough to deal with the issue. One of the original deadlines to majorly curb child labor was back in 2005, but the deadline was then extended to 2008 and then 2010. When 2010 came around the major manufacturers of chocolate candy made a new pledge to reduce child labor in the Ivory Coast by 70% by 2020. Not only is that another ten years away, but that isn’t even three quarters of the child labor reduced. It would seem that companies that have more money than the economies they are buying from could do more to prevent child labor and exploitation if they really wanted to.

1. Mars and Other Companies Have Moved Recently to Remove Artificial Dyes From Their Products

Recently many companies in the food industry have moved to start removing artificial dyes. One of the most famous examples is the move by Kraft to use only natural coloring in their famous instant macaroni and cheese products. What may be more surprising is that candy companies are starting to follow suit, despite not being generally known for trying to appeal to the health conscious. This shows that consumers today are increasingly concerned about artificial ingredients, even when indulging in less than healthy snacks.

Mars specifically made the news in 2016 when they promised to remove all artificial dyes from their human products and move to natural options. They did add the caveat that this will not happen right away. They expect to finish removing all artificial dyes in five years, but they are still looking for some of the best natural alternatives and it will take time to cycle old inventory out and bring in the new. This includes any Wrigley products such as Starburst and any other food lines, but does not include pet products at this time. While this may not seem huge, moving toward natural dyes can only be a good thing. More and more studies seem to suggest that many artificial dyes are dubious in terms of whether they are truly safe to be consuming on any kind of regular basis. A natural alternative that is proven safe would make people feel better about what they are eating in a world with increasingly processed foods and ingredients.


Man Eats Mars

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– WIF Candy

A Little Skittle-butt – WIF I Candy

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Tasty Facts

About Skittles

Unless, like us, you always have a bag of them ready to rock in your freezer (seriously, try Skittles straight from the freezer, they taste amazing), you probably don’t spare much thought for the rainbow colored candy snack unless you’re eating them. Well, we do. So we compiled this list of stories and facts about the candy. Partly because it’s interesting, but mostly because we really want them to sponsor us so we can live our dream of Scrooge McDuck-ing our way into a giant pile of these delicious treats.

 10. They once drained all of the color from their packaging and product during Pride Week

One of the most visually distinctive aspects of Skittles is that each bag contains more colors than a blender full of Marvel comics. Mars (Skittles’ parent company) has played up to the smattering of color each bag of their product contains by coining the tagline “taste the rainbow” and it’s hard to imagine the company would ever abandon their distinctly fabulous design and color scheme.

In fact, the company has only ever dropped the rainbow colored profile of their brand once, in 2016, in celebration of London Pride Week.

As Skittles detailed in a PR letter, they wanted the only rainbow that week to be the Pride flag and to that end released an unsettlingly boring special edition bag of Skittles totally devoid of any color. In addition, the Skittles inside the bag were similarly Spartan, being entirely white (though they were still flavored). The company then handed out thousands of these nega-Skittles from a giant, colorless float in the Pride parade. Speaking of being pelted with Skittles…

9. There’s a band who love them so much they get showered with them every time they play

Relient K is a Christian rock band that has enjoyed moderate mainstream success and has toured extensively since the late ’90s. The author of this piece is actually a big fan of the band and highly recommends their cover of Africa, his favorite song. Moving on, the band, along with loving them some Jesus, adores Skittles, going so far as to release a hidden song on one of their albums (a thing people owned before MP3s became a thing) talking about how great they are. Prior to this the band would often eat entire bags of Skittles between songs while performing, and made sure to mention on their rider for each performance that they needed their green room to contain a near infinite amount of the candy.

This love of Skittles saw it become a tradition of sorts for fans to pelt the band with bags of Skittles while playing. Amusingly, years later, the lead singer of the band admitted that he wasn’t a big a fan of the candy as his bandmates and was getting kind of annoyed with being beaned on the head 3 times per show by a large bag of flavorful delights. Information that just encouraged fans to throw even more, because of course it did.

8. They have one of the few non-embarrassing corporate Facebook pages

Skittles are a brand noted as being one of the earliest to recognize the marketing potential of social media, and have been consistently praised for their genuine understanding of the platform strengths and limitations and humor while interacting with fans. In particular, the Skittles Facebook page has often been singled out as one of the best corporate fan pages out there because it’s actually kind of entertaining.

Along with doing boring corporate stuff like responding to complaints and sharing fan photos, the brand seemed to have hired whoever runs Ryan Reynolds’ social media accounts, sharing irreverent observations that have both bemused and entertained fans for years. Gems dropped by the Skittles Facebook page (which, remember, is an official arm of the brand) include:

“If chinchillas ever lost their cool they’d have to change their name.”

“Everytime you like this a turtle learns kung-fu”

“Marshmallows don’t dissolve, they just use hot cocoa to teleport to their homeworld”

All of which we think we can all agree are infinitely better to read than the sterile corporate doublespeak touted on other, lesser official Facebook pages. Then again, it’s not like Skittles didn’t have some early missteps while using social media. For example, consider the time they…

7. Brought down Twitter, with fisting

Early in 2009, when Twitter wasn’t yet the massive, globally recognized force it is today, Skittles tried to dip their toes into the world of tweeting by changing the front page of their official website to display the feeds from their various official social media platforms. In specific regard to the Twitter bit, the brand decided it would be a good idea to display any tweets people sent to the company. You can probably guess what happened next.

Fisting happened. Or rather, thousands of people tweeted the brand with a deluge of profanity that was then proudly displayed on their official website. So many thousands of people tried flooding Skittles’ homepage with profane content that, for a brief moment, they actually brought down Twitter. In other words, Skittles once actually broke (a small part of) the internet, by inviting people to have the most offensive things they could squeeze into a 140 character long tweet displayed for millions of people (and Mars’ shareholders) to see. Take that, Kim Kardashian. And while we’re on the subject of viral tweets…

6. Their response to a Donald Trump Jr. tweet is considered a textbook example of how to respond to controversy

In 2016, Donald Trump Jr. tweeted an image comparing refugees fleeing ISIS with a bowl of poisoned Skittles. You probably heard about it. It was pretty big news and for a moment, everyone was looking kind of awkwardly at Skittles, wondering how in the hell they were supposed to respond to something like that. Think about it: not commenting on the statement would look like tacit endorsement of the sentiment of the comment, whereas addressing it could be misconstrued as trying to capitalize on the controversy. Skittles were, in most people’s eyes, kind of screwed no matter what they did.

With all eyes turned to them and a public waiting for the brand to slip up, a few hours after the tweet going viral, Skittles issued a frank statement through an official from Mars to a newspaper simply saying that Skittles are candy and refugees are people and that they didn’t wish to comment further. This astonishingly classy way of handling what could have been a minefield of controversy for the brand has been cited by experts on PR as a sterling example of how a company should operate online. In other words, the same company that talks online about chinchillas losing their cool also somehow managed to smoothly shut down controversy about their brand being used to dehumanize people fleeing an active warzone. Say what you want about the controversy, this just shows that Skittles has some amazing people working for its PR department.

5. A pack of Skittles somehow contains a decent percentage of your daily recommended amount of Vitamin C

Moving away from politics and Donald Trump, which we’re sure has already got some people arguing in the comments, let’s discuss the fact that Skittles are one of the only a handful of candies that could technically be part of a balanced diet.

This is because unlike most every other kind of candy that have less health benefits than the wrapper they’re packaged in, a small bag of Skittles supposedly contains about 50% of the daily recommended amount of Vitamin C for an 8 year old (which is about 49% more than we assumed when we started researching this), and 25% for an adult. This means that unlike, well, any other candy, there’s a quantifiable benefit to eating Skittles rather than, say, M&M’S or Jolly Ranchers, which have no real nutritional value. While we’re not saying that you should shovel these things into your mouth by the handful, it’s quite nice to know that at the very least, you’re getting something from them to make you feel ever so slightly less guilty.

4. If you leave them in water the trademark S will mysteriously float off

One of the last things Mars does before they send off Skittles to be bought and consumed by the public is add the little S you can find on every candy. This little S is written using a non-water soluble ink that is attached using an apparently delicious kind of edible glue we’re annoyed you can’t buy in stores.

When you submerge Skittles inside any kind of liquid, this S will magically float off and rise to the surface and sit there, waiting for you to either drink it or try to pull it out using your fingers, only to watch it do that annoying thing where it moves just out of the way every single time you pinch your digits together. There’s no real reason to do this, but it’s something to keep in mind if you’re ever at a party, have a few on hand, and want to make someone think their drink is being haunted by an angry snake. And you always know it’s going to work because…

3. They destroy any Skittle that doesn’t have an S on it

Like any brand, Skittles are subjected to strict quality control measures that see them being checked against perfect examples of the candy we assume are kept in a comically well guarded vault. Since so many millions of Skittles are produced every single day, people in charge of quality control simply check one Skittle out of every so many thousand produced, and if it doesn’t look right, all of them will be destroyed.  

Since there’s not exactly many things that can really go wrong with producing a small, spherical candy with an S on it, that’s really the only thing they check for. In other words, Mars will happily destroy thousands of perfectly edible Skittles just because they don’t have that thing on it nobody really cares about. For anyone curious about what happens to these imperfect Skittles, the company crushes them and sells them as animal feed, meaning somewhere out there is a cow that eats nothing but Skittles all day. And now, we’re jealous of that cow, even if it does have to eat those awful yellow ones. Speaking of which…

2. There are always more yellow Skittles in a bag, for some reason

Millions of Skittles are made every day in roughly equal amounts, which are then sorted into the bags you can buy in stores. However, if you’ve ever actually opened up a bag and counted how many of each color are in there, you may notice that there are way more yellow ones.

Nobody is really quite sure why this is the case and Skittles won’t answer our emails, but if you take a look at videos of the candy being made you’ll notice that for some reason, yellow Skittles seem to end up in the same vats as other colors. Exactly why this happens isn’t clear but a theory is that since yellow is the cheapest color to produce, it’s the one made in the highest quantities. The theory continues that the plentiful yellow Skittles are then accidentally sorted along with other colors, explaining why you always seem to find more of them. Again, we have no idea if this is true but it’s for sure a better explanation than Skittles just like messing with us.

1. There’s a terrible film where they tried to be the next Reese’s Pieces

There’s a scene in E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial where the eponymous E.T. is lured out of a closet by a trail of Reese’s Pieces. This scene is noted as being one of the singular most successful cases of product placement ever, resulting in a sales increase of nearly 300% for Reese’s Pieces. As it turns out, Mars were originally offered that lucrative deal for M&M’S, but turned it down.

Not wanting to pass up this kind of chance twice, Mars jumped at the chance to have Skittles appear in an almost identical movie called Mac and Me. If you’ve never seen it, Mac and Me is often referred to as one of the worst movies ever made, mostly because it’s an unapologetic cash grab full of shameless product placement for Skittles, Coke, and McDonald’s. As an example of how utterly flagrant this film is in promoting the brands, it features: a break-dancing scene set entirely inside a McDonald’s; Coke as the only thing the aliens in the film will drink; and a character who wears a McDonald’s uniform in every scene they appear in. Unsurprisingly, Skittles didn’t suddenly notice a 300% boost in sales after the movie was released because nobody went and saw this movie. In fact, we’ll bet more people have seen that clip where a kid in a wheelchair falls off a cliff. Particularly since Paul Rudd shows it literally every time he ever appears on Conan O’Brien’s show.


A Little Skittle-butt

– WIF I Candy

Coca-Cola Confidential

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5 Dark Secrets

About Coca-Cola

Coca-Cola was invented in 1886 by a pharmacist named Dr. John Stith Pemberton, who was also a Civil War vet and morphine addict. Coke is based on a drink called Vin Marine, which was brewed by Parisian chemist Angelo Mariani. Today, Coca-Cola is the most popular soft drink in the world. These are its five darkest secrets.

 5. Actively Worked To Make Sure Kids Drank Coca-Cola Instead of Healthy Choices

In the 1990s, many soft drink companies were trying to attract consumers in a very saturated market. Coca-Cola’s plan was to go after high school students and hopefully get them to choose their brand for life, which is pretty much the same way that tobacco companies used to lure customers.

In the mid-1990s, Coca-Cola started to sign “pouring contracts” with schools. In exchange for premiums that were paid to the schools, Coca-Cola wanted exclusive rights to sell their products in vending machines and in the cafeteria. The schools, who often worked with tight budgets, usually agreed to do it. In some cases, Coca-Cola gave many schools around $30,000 up front and then a commission for the exclusive rights to sell Coke products in their schools for 10 years. In one case, Coca-Cola gave $90,000 to a school in Syracuse, New York, to build a stadium that had a big Coca-Cola sign on it.

While that may not seem super sinister, where it gets into the shady territory is that schools were then encouraged to sell Coke and given bonuses if they sold more product. They were also told that they would make less money if they sold healthier options, like milk or fruit juices, instead of soft drinks. In some cases, healthier options weren’t available at all because Coca-Cola didn’t approve them to be sold in the schools.

Now, 20 years later, there is an obesity epidemic in America. Of course, Coca-Cola has contributed to this problem and they have even acknowledged this in their own reports. For the past 10 years, the single biggest threat to Coca’s Cola profit has been obesity.

4. Their Water Problems

While the recipe for Coca-Cola is a closely guarded secret, one main ingredient that they need to produce the sugary drink is water. It takes 0.71 gallons of water to make 0.26 gallons of Coca-Cola. This becomes a major headache when Coca-Cola decides to set up bottling factories in places that don’t have a lot of water to begin with. Examples of where this has happened are in several states in India, and several places in Latin America.

What happens is that Coca-Cola sets up a bottling plant, they use up too much ground water. That causes water shortages in the area, which means there isn’t enough water to drink or to irrigate crops, which then leads to food shortages. After a decade of protesting, one plant in India was shut down in 2015, but Coca-Cola plants using up too much local water is still a problem in India, Latin America, and in developing countries around the world.

3. Coca-Cola No Longer Contains Cocaine (For a Pretty Racist Reason)

One of the most famous rumors about Coca-Cola is that the original recipe used cocaine… and it’s totally true. They used coca leaves which contained the cocaine alkaloid, which is used to make powdered cocaine.

 It’s tough to say exactly how much cocaine the original drink contained, but there was a little bit in it. Also, the original Coca-Cola was alcoholic as well. However, in 1886, Atlanta (where Coke was bottled) enacted prohibition. So the alcohol was removed and more sugar was added, but the cocaine remained an ingredient in the drink for the next decade.

In 1899, Coca-Cola started selling their drinks in bottles. The bottles were popular among African-Americans because they didn’t have access to fountain pop due to segregation laws. However, this started a panic among some white middle and upper class people. Some very vocal members of those communities were terrified that black people who were empowered by a cocaine drink might start attacking them, and they wouldn’t be able to stop them. In response to the fears, Coca-Cola started to phase out cocaine from the recipe in 1903, and replaced it with caffeine and even more sugar.

2. Coca-Cola and The Colombian Unions

On December 5, 1986, a right-wing paramilitary unit showed up at a Coca-Cola bottling plant in Carepa, Colombia. One of the plant’s union executives, Isidro Segundo Gil, went to ask what the squad wanted and they opened fire on him, killing him. Later that night, the paramilitary group went to the union’s headquarters, where they destroyed their equipment and then burned the place to destroy all the records inside.

The next day, the paramilitary went into the bottling plant and gave the union workers a choice: quit, or die like Gil. Obviously, many of the employees, who were earning $380 to $400 a month, quit their jobs. After they quit, the paramilitary shacked up in the bottling plant for two months. When the plant reopened, the union workers were replaced with workers who were paid $130 a month.

While there is no conclusive evidence that anyone from Coca-Cola’s main office ordered any of the murders, critics point out that Coca-Cola did very little to investigate the murders. In fact, they didn’t complain to the Colombian government that the paramilitary killed their workers or that they were squatting in their facility for two months.

Also, at the time of the assassination, the union workers were trying to negotiate better working conditions with the bottling company Bebidas y Alimentos, which was contracted by Coca-Cola to bottle their product in South America. In the years after the murder, Bebidas has refused to negotiate anything with their workers.

Finally, this wasn’t the only Coca-Cola union to be targeted. At least five other union members working with Coca-Cola were killed in Colombia and the union members were told to quit or die themselves.

In 2001, the Sinaltrainal union brought a lawsuit against Bebidas and Coca-Cola, but the motion against Coca-Cola was dismissed in 2003.

1. Coca-Cola and Peruvian Farmers

As we’ve mentioned, the original Coca-Cola formula contained a small amount of cocaine. When they changed the formula, they had a company called Maywood Chemical Works, which is now the Stepan Company, import coca leaves into the United States from Peru.

Once in the United States, Stepan, who still imports the coca leaves for Coca-Cola, removes the alkaloid that is the key component in powdered cocaine and then they send Coca-Cola the decocainized coca leaf extract. As for what Stepan does with the cocaine alkaloid? Well, they sell it under government supervision for medical use.

For over a century, when drug laws were enacted like the Harrison Narcotics Act of 1914 and the Jones-Miller Act of 1922, they made special exemptions to allow Coca-Cola to keep importing coca plants; making them one of the few American companies that were allowed to import the coca plant. As time went on, Coca-Cola’s popularity increased and Stepan couldn’t sell all the cocaine alkaloid it extracted. This led to special legislation being passed so that Stepan could destroy the excess cocaine alkaloid under government supervision.

 The problem is that coca leaves can be used to make many other products besides Coca-Cola and cocaine like tea, candies, and flour, but the coca farmers in Peru, called cocaleros, can only access the American market through Coca-Cola because of the drug laws that were enacted to stop cocaine from getting into America. With only one purchaser of their product, the cocaleros can do little more than accept Coca-Cola’s terms. As a result, the farmers stay poor, while Coca-Cola made $41 billion in 2016.

Coca-Cola

Confidential