Famous Symbols and Their Meaning – WIF Confidential

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Famous Symbols

(And What They Really Mean)

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Symbols are meant to stand for something. We see them every day, and without even thinking about them, we know what they mean… for the most part. They make our lives easier and we don’t give them enough credit for it. We don’t even know the origins for most of them, or what they really represent. For some of them, we may even have it completely wrong. We’ll now be taking a look of 10 of these symbols and their intended meaning, their origins, and maybe even some misconceptions we might have about them.

 10. The Heart Symbol

The heart shaped symbol is known throughout the world and it usually stands for love and romance. But why do we instinctively see it as a heart, since the symbol itself doesn’t even come close to its real counterpart? There are several theories of where it may have originated and how it got to where it is today. Firstly, there are some speculations whether the heart symbol may actually stand for some of our private parts, both male and female. If we are to invert the heart and look at it upside down, you can more clearly see where we’re trying to go with this. While this theory might hold some water, there are some older depictions of the symbol that stood for something else. For instance, some believe that the symbol is a representation of ivy leaves, since they both look kind of similar, and the ivy is associated with fidelity.

An even more plausible explanation comes in the form of the now-extinct plant of Silphium. This plant once grew in abundance over a small stretch of the North African coastline. It was acclaimed by both the Greeks and Romans for its medicinal properties, particularly for being a great form of birth control. The Greek colony of Cyrene, located in the area that’s now present-day Libya, became rich because of it and even stamped the plant and its seedpod on its coins. The seedpod depicted on the coins is identical to the heart symbol today. But because of the small distribution of Silphium and the great demand for it, the plant went extinct by the 1st century BC.

The third and final theory comes from the Middle Ages. Based on Aristotle’s writings where he describes the heart as having three chambers and a dent, the 14th century Italian physician Guido da Vigevano made a series of anatomical drawings where he portrayed the heart in this manner. This design grew more popular during the Renaissance with the heart symbol making appearances in religious art. From there it found it’s way in today’s world as a denotation of love and affection.

9. The Yin-Yang

The Yin-Yang symbol is deeply rooted in Chinese philosophy and a key element in the Taoist religion in China. You can find this one everywhere in the world, from T-shirts, tattoos, the South Korean flag, and Taoist temples. Its meaning is as straightforward as it is complex, but we’ll try to be as concise as possible. The concept of yin and yang took off during the 3rd century BC with an increased interest in philosophy. The two sides don’t represent the good and the bad, per se, but rather the two sides of the same coin. Yin can change into Yang and vice versa, with the little dots in the centers of each representing this potential; the seed of the opposite. Yin is the feminine side, shown with things like black, darkness, north, water, transformation, the moon, cold, softness, passivity, introspection, valleys, and it is what gives the spirit to everything.

Yang, on the other hand, stands for light, fire, mountains, warmth, the sun, action, movement, and offers form to all things. Taoism believes in the idea of embracing both of these aspects of life and “go with the flow” as it were, finding the balance in everything. To give you an example of yin and yang put into practice in China, we only need to look at some of the names they gave their settlements. Villages on the sunny side of valleys or mountains have names like Liuyang or Shiyang, whereas those located on the other side have names like Jiangyin.

An interesting fact about the Yin-Yang symbol is that China wasn’t the first place it actually appeared. The oldest example comes from a prehistoric culture located in Eastern Europe, over a territory now part of Moldova, southern Ukraine, and northeastern and central Romania. Known as the Cucuteni-Trypillian culture, this society existed between 5,400 and 2,700 BC, and several pottery objects have been discovered with the Yin-Yang as well as the Swastika symbols on them. Now, since they didn’t have a written language, we can’t know whether they saw the symbol the same way as the Chinese, or whether it is a mere coincidence.

8. The Bluetooth Symbol

At first glance, there isn’t any conceivable connection between this wireless technology and an actual blue tooth; nor with the symbol itself. But believe it or not, they are all connected – pun intended. This technology was invented back in 1994 by the Swedish telecom company Ericsson. And in accordance with Sweden’s Viking past, the symbol is made out of two runes pushed together. Firstly there’s the H rune, also known as Hagall, and then there’s the B rune known as Bjarkan. These two put together make the Bluetooth symbol. But what do H and B have to do with Bluetooth, you may ask? Well, they are the initials of Denmark’s first Viking King, Harald Blåtand. And the Swedish word Blåtand means Bluetooth in English.

Harald Blåtand lived from around 910 to 987 AD, and during his lifetime managed to unite (connect) all of the Danish tribes and later take over Norway, ruling over them as king until his death. He is also credited for Christianizing the Danes. He had done it more for political and economic reasons than anything else, so as to avoid invasion by the Holy Roman Empire to the south, as well as to keep their trading relations going. His byname, Bluetooth, is a mystery. Some presume that he may have had a fondness for blackberries that gave his teeth a bluish tone. A more plausible explanation is that Bluetooth was actually a misinterpretation medieval historians and his byname was actually something like “dark chieftain.”

7. The International Flag of Planet Earth

Each mission to space today uses different national flags, depending on which country is funding it. And while this is all fine and good, astronauts, regardless of their country of origin, stand for the planet as a whole, not just that particular country that’s funding them. This is why a flag for planet Earth was designed to be used when we ultimately (theoretically) travel to Mars and colonize the Red Planet. Made out of seven white interlocking rings over a blue field, they are meant to represent all life on Earth. But the symbol itself is much older than this flag and is more commonly known as “The Seed of Life.” Considered to be part of “Sacred Geometry”, a term used to represent universal geometrical patterns often times found in nature, the Seed of Life bears a striking resemblance to a cellular structure during embryonic development.

What’s really interesting about it is the fact that the Seed of Life, as well as the larger Flower of Life, was found throughout many places of the world. The oldest example was discovered in the Temple of Osiris in Abydos, Egypt and is dated back to about 5,000-6,000 years ago. But the design was also used in Buddhist temples in China and Japan, in present-day Turkey, in India, all throughout Europe, in Iraq, and many other places. The Seed of Life also plays an important role in various major religions. In old Slavic religions, the Seed of Life symbol stood for the sun.

6. The Great Seal of the United States

Here is a symbol, or rather a combination of symbols, that have sparked countless conspiracy theories over the years. This is in regard to the Great Seal of the United States. The seal first appeared in 1782 and is used by the government to authenticate certain documents, especially with regard to foreign affairs. But what many don’t know, especially those who’re not US citizens, is that the seal has two sides. Its front side is also the country’s national coat of arms and has served as inspiration for the President’s own seal, as well as other government agencies. The backside, however, is more commonly known from the one dollar bill. In fact, both sides of the seal appear on the reverse of the bill since 1935, but not that many people know that they’re actually two sides of the same thing.

The front, or obverse, is made out of the bald eagle; the country’s national bird. In its beak there’s a scroll inscribed in Latin with the words “one from many”, making a reference to one nation created from 13 colonies. The eagle also holds an olive branch in one of its talons and thirteen arrows in the other. These stand as symbols for power in both peace and war. Next there’s a shield supported by the eagle, which stands for the nation relying on its own virtue. Finally there’s a cloud above the eagle’s head, surrounding 13 stars on a blue field. These denote the US taking its place among the other nations of the world.

 The reverse side is the one with the many conspiracy theories. First there’s the 13-step pyramid with Roman numerals on its base. These stand for the original colonies, and the number 1776, which stands for the year of independence. On the pyramid’s top there’s the Eye of Providence, or the all-seeing eye of God. This symbol, which stands for God watching over mankind, became widespread in Europe during the Renaissance and made frequent appearances in religious art. Its inspiration probably comes from Ancient Egypt with the Eye of Horus. Freemasons also use it in their iconography with the same meaning as the US seal. The first time they used it, however, was in 1797. There’s also a Latin motto at the top, Annuit Coeptis, which means “favor our undertakings”, referring to God aiding the US. And lastly, there’s a scroll underneath the pyramid reading “New Order of the Ages.” This symbolizes 1776 as being the start of a new era for America.

5. Political Animals

While on the subject of American symbols, let’s take a look at the country’s two political “mascots”: the Republican elephant and the Democratic donkey. Both appeared during the 19th century, but the donkey was first with Andrew Jackson, the democratic presidential candidate in 1828, who was oftentimes called a “jackass” by his opponents. Knowing how to cleverly turn things around, Jackson used the jackass in his campaign posters. With it, he was able to win the elections and become the first Democratic president in the country’s history. During the 1870s, Thomas Nast, a famous cartoonist, popularized the donkey and made it a symbol for the entire Democratic Party.

Abraham Lincoln was the first Republican president in 1861, six years after the party’s creation. But the elephant didn’t start with him, even though “seeing the elephant” was a phrase commonly used by soldiers during his time to mean experiencing combat during the Civil War. In 1874, Thomas Nast made another political illustration entitled “The Third-Term Panic.” This was meant to satirize President Ulysses Grant’s rumored third bid at the presidential seat. In the cartoon, Nast portrayed various newspapers and interest groups as animals, including a scrambling elephant labeled “the Republican vote”, which was shown over a pit partially covered with broken planks called Inflation, Repudiation, Home Rule, and Re-construction. Over the following years, the cartoonist used the elephant to depict the Republican Party several more times, so that by 1880 it had become its symbol. Today the Democrats say the Donkey is smart and brave, while the Republicans say that their Elephant is strong and dignified.

4. The Hammer and Sickle

The Soviet Hammer and Sickle are arguably the most recognizable political symbols, next to only the Nazi Swastika and American Stars and Stripes. And even though their meaning is seemingly straightforward, there may be some hidden messages attached that not even Lenin himself knew about. The obvious symbolism behind them is that they stand for the proletariat (blue collar workers) in the form of the hammer, and the peasantry in the form of the sickle. Together they represented unity and a symbol for the Soviet state. But coming up with the emblem wasn’t as easy as it might seem. The hammer was indeed easier since it was traditionally associated with workers all over Europe. But the sickle was harder, and there were a number of other variations before this one. A hammer with an anvil, a plough and a sword, or a scythe and a wrench were among them.

The intriguing part here is the designer himself, Yevgeny Kamzolkin. He reportedly wasn’t even a communist at heart and was a deeply religious man. He was a member of the Leonardo da Vinci Society and as an artist he was well versed in symbolism. It isn’t then so farfetched to think that Kamzolkin may have used the hammer and sickle to send a completely different message, even if nobody else would get it. For instance, in Hindu and Chinese culture, the hammer is oftentimes linked with the triumph of evil over good. The sickle, on the other hand, was commonly associated with death in various religions. Before the scythe was introduced, Death was pictured with a sickle in medieval Europe. Old Slavic religions, as well as Hindu religions portray their respective gods of death while holding a sickle in their left hand. Could  Kamzolkin have meant these when he designed the Soviet Hammer and Sickle? Probably not, but it’s still an intriguing notion.

All of this, of course, is mere speculation and we have no way of knowing whether it is right or wrong. Nobody asked Kamzolkin and the answer died with him back in 1957. But this can be seen as a great exercise when looking at other symbols, particularly older ones that we know very little about. Interpretation is the key here, and depending on the context and one’s point of view, a simple thing like this Soviet emblem can mean two completely different things.

3. The Jesus Fish

Officially known as vesica pisces, the Jesus Fish has a long history attached to it. Today, the Ichthys, as it is sometimes called, is primarily associated with the Christian faith, and you can occasionally find one either on someone’s porch or as a bumper sticker. The symbol is oftentimes accompanied by the ancient Greek letters IXOYE which stand for Ichthys, or Fish. The letters are an acrostic which represents “Jesus Christ, God’s son, savior” and early Christians used it as a way to symbolize their faith in a time when the religion was still an underground organization. But the symbol itself is much older and had another, totally different meaning, even to the early Christians themselves.

In previous religions, the glyph was associated with the goddess Venus and stood for fertility since it kinda resembles a lady’s private parts. Some early representations of Jesus show him as an infant within a vesica pisces, which in this context is known as the mandorla, meaning “shaped like an almond.” And the mandorla was said to represent the “doorway” between the heavens and the material world. In architecture, Gothic-style arches are based on the mandorla as a representation of passage between the two worlds. The symbol is created by intersecting two circles, which again signify the connection between the worlds. By adding a third circle, we get the triquetra, or three interlocking vesica pisces, which symbolizes the Holy Trinity. By adding a few more circles we get the before mentioned Seed of Life.

2. The Pentagram

It wouldn’t be fair to our fellow Satanists if we talked about the Ichthys but left out the infamous Pentagram. The symbol today is commonly associated with Wicca (contemporary witchcraft), Satanism, and Masonry. But unbeknownst to many is the fact that the Pentagram is far older than any of these practices and has been in use since ancient times. The five pointed star was found scratched on a cave wall in Babylonia, and in ancient Greece it was believed to hold magical properties. The Pentagram is thought to have originated from the path Venus takes on the night sky in relation the Earth, in an 8 year long cycle. The Pentagram was even the official seal of Jerusalem for a while and during medieval times it stood to represent the five wounds Jesus suffered during his crucifixion. It also stood for the proportions of the human body, as well as the five basic senses.

Only during the 20th century did the Pentagram begin being associated with Satanism, probably because it was used by the Wiccans. Here, the five points of the star represent the four elements: earth, water, air, and fire, plus spirit. But while for the Wiccans the Pentagram is pointing upwards, symbolizing the spirit’s triumph over the four material elements, in Satanism, the five-pointed star is oriented downwards. This stands for each individual’s victory over dissolution, being in fact a material being.

1. The Anarchy Symbol

To properly understand the Anarchy symbol, we must first look at what Anarchy is and what it actually stands for. Anarchy is a political ideology just like democracy, monarchy, oligarchy, communism, or liberalism. It evolved alongside democracy in ancient Greece and derives from the ancient Greek word anarchia, which translates to “without a ruler.” What this means is that Anarchy doesn’t cite lawlessness or chaos; rather, a society with proper rules and regulations put in place, but without an authoritarian ruler over everyone else. Anarchy was further developed and improved upon during the French Revolution period at the end of the 18th century. This was also the time when Anarchy got its negative connotations, as the ruling elites obviously didn’t what it to happen.

On a standard political chart, besides the usual economic left and right, there is also an authoritarian up and a libertarian down. All famed dictators like Stalin, Mao, or Hitler, are all found at the very top of the chart, either on the left or the right, depending on their economic principles. On the bottom of the chart is anarchy in various forms like Anarcho-communism, Syndicalism, Mutualism, Anarcho-capitalism or Anarcho-socialism, among others. In fact, Karl Marx envisioned Communism as being a form of Anarchism with a state and class-free society. Problems arose, however, when it was put into practice. While fellow anarchist Mikhail Bakunin argued that the state should be abolished from the start, Marx preferred a Big Government first to act as a provisional intermediary that would put everything in order and ensure eventual Anarchy in the end. But as we all know, once in power, people rarely relinquish it and thus Communism ended up being the exact opposite of what was intended. Striving towards a form of Anarchy applies, in principle, to all modern political systems that state to uphold and promote liberty or equality.

 Now, the symbol itself was designed by Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, a French journalist and libertarian socialist from the 19th century. The symbol is made out of the letter A which obviously stands for Anarchy, and a circle around it that is actually the letter O for order. It’s quite often to see this symbol spray-painted on walls, or people waving an Anarchy flag while wreaking havoc on a city street. But you can be sure that these people have no idea what Anarchy really is, and all that they end up doing is enforcing the idea instilled by the ruling classes from the 18th and 19th centuries; the idea that Anarchy is chaos. Civic duty and volunteerism are the driving forces behind Anarchy, not violence, as so many believe.

Famous Symbols and Their Meaning

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– WIF Confidential

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

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 224

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 224

…If it is possible to reverse immortality, I am positive that you have knocked at least a few years off of Ekcello’s life…

Mortality And Immortality by William Michael Harnett

Like it or not, the McKinneys were there to stay and now interest in that little blue dot nearer the middle of this galaxy has renewed, by necessity, if not their preoccupation. Akin to their more physical predecessors from eons past, they have renewed their consuming quest to understand that planet known as them as ĞŁŒŠ {Earth}.

“Sam, you have to realize that at one time these people traveled to all parts of the Universe,” explains Celeste, who through osmosis gathered the reasoning behind the Eridanus’ distracted abstractness. “Of all the worlds they may have encountered, the endless variety of life forms thereabout, we of Earth may well be as close to blood relatives that they have. I think that we are so much like the Eridanians of 4000 years ago that it scared the voice right out of them.”

“You mean we are a mirror image?” asks Sampson.

“Yes and when it is YOUR reflection they see, oh my…”

“It’s not my fault we do not exactly see eye-to-eye.”

You have hit it on the head Sam! If it is possible to reverse immortality, I am positive that you have knocked at least a few years off of Ekcello’s life!

 

Sampson laughs loudly at that notion, to the point of tears and side ache. He is quite aware that he has singlehandedly reintroduced some long-dead emotions to Eridanian culture. And he is in no small way very proud of it.

“Do you know that I think that the youngsters, you know the 300-400 year-olds, can understand me? I told them about opening day at the new Yankee Stadium in 2017, 70,000 screaming fans watching a ball being pitched-and-hit on manicured green grass. I even showed them that Mickey Mantle Topps rookie card I carry. They love it!”

“Somewhere, deep in their youthful existentiality, they must have a basal need for an outlet for buried emotion.” Celeste attempts to explain any possible fascination with her husband.


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 224


page 265

Contents TRT

 

Hallucinating Handbook – WIF Altered States

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Strange Facts

About Hallucinations

Around the World

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Most people think of hallucinations as something only experienced by the extremely mentally ill, such as those with schizophrenia, or the realm of those who are using a lot of very powerful drugs. However, while hallucinations can happen for those reasons, there are many other ways that they can happen as well.

 We also tend to think of them as something to be entirely feared, or something at the very least to be ignored, but some cultures around the world actually have a more positive view of these experiences. Hallucinations are a very strange experience where our brains confuse the location of sensory input, and there is still much to learn about them.

10. Phantom Phone Vibrations Are Becoming an Incredibly Common Hallucination

  Most people tend to think of hallucinations solely as something that you see, or hear. Most people really give no mind to the idea of a tactile hallucination, or one that is entirely a feel based hallucination. However, this type has become incredibly common in recent years, due to the rise of cell phones. Ever since the “vibrate” function has existed in order to allow us to know we are being messaged without making noise, the problem has begun and started to worsen.

Many people who have never had any reports of mental illness have reported feeling phantom cell phone vibrations, and it is now a widespread phenomenon. In a study at the Georgia Institute of Technology, 90% of students reported feeling phantom cell phone vibrations, where they frantically checked their phone only to realize the vibration hadn’t actually occurred. The professor in charge of the study, Dr. Robert Rosenberger, believes that this hallucination occurs because people become so attached to their phones that mentally, it essentially becomes part of their body.

9. PTSD Can Cause Hallucinations Even With No Other Mental Illnesses

PTSD, short for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, was once known as shell shock and considered by most people to be something that was only obtained by soldiers fighting in wars. Now, most people understand that PTSD can occur in anyone who has a really serious, traumatizing experience, especially if the trauma is not properly dealt with at the time. Many people will also talk about PTSD sufferers dealing with something called “flashbacks,” and media will use this for plots where the person with PTSD doesn’t recognize the people around them, because they are supposedly so caught up in the past memory. This kind of inability to have any clue what your surroundings are is pretty rare and likely involves other underlying mental illnesses.

What most people with PTSD are often dealing with is a sort of hallucination often referred to as a flashbulb memory. These are intrusive memories, often visual, that will pop into the sufferers head and remind them of their experience. These memories can be triggered by all kinds of random things, and then can be difficult to get back out of the mind again. If triggered at a bad time, especially because of a bad dream, the experience can feel insanely real, as if it just happened again. This can cause extreme anxiety in those with PTSD, which is often the main symptom they have to deal with.

8. Being Tired Alone Can Make You Hallucinate

Some people will simply never be interested in taking any mind altering drugs, and they are also perfectly mentally healthy. They might imagine that they would never hallucinate in their lives, but the truth is that it is far easier to hallucinate than people might think. What it comes down to is the nature of hallucinations. In essence, they are your brain confusing itself into thinking that something coming from inside is actually coming from outside. When you think about it, simply wearing your brain out and making it more tired is going to make it far easier to get confused.

This is why some people who are completely drug free will often take several days with very little sleep and start occasionally seeing things, or having other altered perception. In fact, for those who have stayed up for multiple days at a time while they were young, most have probably reported a surreal feeling where the world doesn’t seem quite right. Of course, it’s not necessarily good for you to stay up in order to hallucinate – your brain needs to regularly rest and recover. If you are hallucinating from lack of sleep, your brain is probably tired.

7. Some People Around the World Have a Positive View of Hallucinations

In a study in the British Journal of Psychiatry, 60 adults with schizophrenia were interviewed across three countries: the United States, Ghana, and India. The idea behind the study was to learn how different cultures viewed their experiences with hallucinations – they picked sufferers of schizophrenia because it was an easy way to get a group of people guaranteed to have regular hallucinations. The interviews gave an interesting insight into how different cultural thinking changes how hallucinations are not only thought of, but how they are actually experienced.

Those interviewed from the United States tended to have very negative and gross hallucinations – stuff about blood and torture; really nasty stuff. However, those from India and Ghana reported their hallucinations as positive. Instead of viewing them as evidence of demons, they thought of them as friends or deceased family members talking to them and giving them advice. One of them even suggested that he needed no friends because he already had a great companion to talk to.

6. Peyote is Used Almost Entirely for Religious Purposes in Reverential Settings

When most people hear someone talking about using a drug for “religious purposes” they tend to laugh and shrug it off, because it is usually some stoner trying to justify the fact that he drops huge amounts of acid, and then eats Cheetos while watching TV all day and not moving from the couch. This should be no surprise, then, that when many people are informed of the fact that Peyote – a hallucinatory substance – is legal on Native American reservations, they think that the natives are just using it to get high all the time.

 However, the truth is that while some Native Americans have developed a regrettably dangerous alcohol habit, Peyote is not and was never a drug of vice. In fact, the Native Americans went to great lengths to keep the use of Peyote approved on reservations because it truly was part of religious ceremonies. A ceremony involving Peyote could have the tribe members in attendance ingest it and then pray and focus on an altar, taking part in a religious ceremony all the way from dusk till dawn. It is an aid for very long bouts of worship – not a way to casually get high.

5. There’s a Hallucinogenic Fish Swimming Around in the Oceans Right Now

Some may have heard of a fish that was once used to cause hallucinations, and just figured it was overfished… or otherwise people would be using it all the time. However, there is a reason that people don’t tend to try to use Sarpa Salpa in order to see the universe. The problem is that while ingesting this fish can cause you to hallucinate, the hallucinations are known to be almost universally unpleasant, come with awful nightmares attached, that last for days at a time.

These fish are actually fairly popular in the Mediterranean, where they are served carefully to avoid giving you the slightly poisonous parts that make you see strange things and have horrible dreams. However, if you were to come across the fish in the ocean and eat the wrong parts without knowing, you might be in for a big surprise. The fish has been found in waters far from its usual native source, and people have been hospitalized in the past after ingesting the fish, followed by days of horror.

4. Bread With a Natural Substance Similar to LSD May Have Created Some Witch Hysteria

Many people look back at the Salem Witch Trials and think of them as an example of the problem when religious extremism goes too far. Even today the town is a thriving center of commerce that now welcomes witchcraft as a sort of permanent apology for what occurred so many years ago. However, a Behavioral Psychologist named Linnda Caporael, of New York’s Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, has been studying the trials of Salem and the history behind it and is convinced that there is a completely different cause.

A certain kind of rye bread that was incredibly popular and a staple grain in the part of Salem where those who were making the accusations hailed from, can easily create a substance similar to LSD when the right molds are formed. According to Caporael, the conditions for this mold were perfect during the time of the Salem Witch Trials. She also notes that many of the symptoms the accused were reporting were very similar to those of Ergot poisoning – the natural hallucinatory similar to LSD. This included symptoms like hallucinations, vomiting, crawling sensations, muscle spasms and other things that fit the mold almost perfectly. It is quite possible that the Salem Witch Trials were not a case of religious fervor, but of very extreme food poisoning.

3. Migraine Sufferers Are Hallucinating When They See Auras and Other Colors

Migraine sufferers are rarely thought of as people who would hallucinate, but it is very common for those with a migraine to see something known as an aura, often shortly before a migraine attack actually begins. While it doesn’t occur to all those who have migraines, it does seem to occur the same way to all those who suffer from them. Those who see auras before a migraine usually report seeing a sort of jagged shape of light obscuring part of their field of vision. The strength of the aura usually fades fairly quickly, but something called a scotoma often lingers for a while.

This scotoma is where, for a brief time after the aura, your field of view will be partially obscured in a shape similar to the jagged shape seen when you saw the aura itself. While scientists have come a long way in understanding the brain, they still do not entirely understand the mechanisms behind these hallucinations, or for that matter entirely why migraines happen in the first place. Scientists are mostly convinced that migraines start from the brain, and many think they may have some connection to epilepsy, but there is still much to learn.

2. The Strange Condition Known as Alice in Wonderland Syndrome

Alice in Wonderland Syndrome, also known as AWS, is a strange neurological disorder where people will distort the shapes of things around them. This can cause them to think their hand is huge, or their foot very small. They could think that the wall is very far away, or the bookcase is gigantic – very much like how Alice’s perception is quite confused while she is in Wonderland. Scientists have long been baffled by this condition because they have had trouble finding any kind of direct answer as to why some people suffer from this. Finding a genetic link has been difficult and some people seem to grow out of it over time, with some even obtaining the disorder again years later.

Some have posited that it may have something to do with epilepsy, and have tried to find a genetic link, but with so few people with the disorder, it has been impossible thus far to put together any compelling evidence. Right now the best guess researchers have is that AWS, migraines and epilepsy are all connected, but the subject of brain disorders is still a very mysterious field in many ways.

1. The Bizarre Doppelganger Illusion That Some People Suffer From

When many people hear the word doppelganger they think of something akin to an evil twin, or a clone. However, the term was originally coined to describe people who see themselves, and cannot realize that what they are seeing is actually just an illusion, and not another version of their own person. In fact, some scientists believe that many self-portraits back in the day were drawn by artists suffering from doppelganger illusions.

 These autoscopic phenomenon can take many different forms, such as when someone sees themselves in the mirror, but recognizes it as another similar looking person instead of their own reflection. The phenomenon can range from full on out of body experiences, where people don’t see themselves as themselves, and can even include feeling a presence that convinces you another person is in the room with you. While many people may think this type of hallucination is only something that those with mental illnesses will have to worry about, that isn’t entirely the case. Under cases of sensory deprivation, these illusions have been found in even mentally healthy people.

Hallucinating Handbook

– WIF Altered States

Facebook Turns 13 – WIF Facts and Figures

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Facts About

Facebook

Facebook was launched on February 4, 2004 as TheFacebook.com by Mark Zuckerberg, who was studying psychology at Harvard at the time. 24 hours later,1,200 students at Harvard had registered and then within a month, over half of the undergraduate students were signed up.

 From there, Facebook expanded to other universities throughout the United States and in August 2005, they became Facebook.com, after purchasing the domain for $200,000.

In September 2005, high school students in the United States could sign up, and then it moved overseas to universities in the United Kingdom in October. After originally only being available to people with a “.edu” email account, Facebook finally started to allow anyone with any email address to sign up in September 2006. Since then, it’s grown to be an indelible part of world culture, to the point where the point where rumors persist that Zuckerberg may eventually run for president. Yes, of the United States.

Of course, things didn’t exactly go smoothly for Zuckerberg and Facebook, but there is a whole movie dedicated to their problems. These are 10 facts about Facebook that you won’t find in The Social Network.

10. Crazy Language Settings

If someone leaves their Facebook open and you want to prank them, don’t pose as them and post something stupid on their wall, because that could lead to some unintended problems. Instead, we recommend changing their language settings.

For people who speak English, there are two fun options that allows the person to use Facebook as normal, but things will seem a bit… off.

The first is the Pirate setting, which it changes things around to be more of a pirate theme. Duh. For example, your wall is called the Captain’s Log, the post box asks “What’s troublin’ ye?” and the smiley emoji says “Yo ho ho,” while the shocked face is “Shiver Me Timbers.”

However, if that prank is a bit too lighthearted and you really want to mess with someone, there is another language setting that turns all the text upside down. We tried it, and it can make you dizzy.

To change the languages, go to Settings, Language, and then “What language do you want to use Facebook in?” And you’re all set.

9. The Most Popular People on Facebook

The most popular person on Facebook is Cristiano Ronaldo, who is the star player of Real Madrid. But since he’s so popular, we figure you already knew that.

Ronaldo also became the first athlete to break 100 million likes, and he is currently at 119.57 million likes. In second place is Colombian pop singer Shakira, who has 104.49 likes, then in third it’s the bald headed star of The Fast and the Furious series. Oh wait, you say that nearly all the male stars of The Fast and the Furious are bald? Well, it’s Vin Diesel. He has 101.22 million likes.

8. Someone Will Always Have More Friends Than You

Do you ever get the feeling that your Facebook friends have more friends than you? Well, according to statistics, nearly everybody has a friend who has more friends than themselves.

The reason everyone has a friend who has more friends is because of a strange thing that happens in statistics called the Friendship Paradox. How it works: let’s say you have a small amount of Facebook friends. You’re bound to have at least one friend who is popular, because people with lots of friends are more likely to be your friend. Secondly, popular people are misrepresented when it comes to averages. By being popular, they spread themselves out when it comes to averages, and this effects probability.

While this concept might be a little hard to wrap your head around, you can check it yourself by seeing if any of your Facebook friends have more friends than you. Except you, Larry. We both know it’d be a waste of your time to check, because we already know the answer, don’t we.

7. The Yellow Facebook

One thing that made Facebook different from MySpace and other social media sites at the time was its uniformity. Everyone’s Facebook page layout was similar, and you couldn’t change the coding on it to add media, like music or pictures, which you could on MySpace. That uniformity is still prevalent today and everyone has very similar looking Facebook layouts. Well, nearly everyone.

The employees of Facebook have a more advanced version of the application that has a yellow icon instead of Facebook’s famous blue color. Mark Zuckerberg gave people a glimpse at the employee version in 2016, when he announced that live video streaming was heading to Facebook. In the video, Zuckerberg shows some features that have yet to be added, like being able to post slideshows and music from their music service. However, Zuckerberg said that some of the features on the yellow Facebook may never be made public.

Besides that video, not a whole lot is known about the yellow Facebook, but it is thought that it’s used by the upper echelon of Facebook to test new features.

6. Facebook Friends

According to a study from Oxford University, the average amount of friends a Facebook user has is 155. The same study, which looked at a group of 3,300 students, also found that they only had four real friends.

Why people have so many Facebook friends, but very few real, close friends, is explained by Dr. Robin Dunbar, who authored the study. He said:

“Social media certainly helps to slow down the natural rate of decay in relationship quality that would set in once we cannot readily meet friends face-to-face but no amount of social media will prevent a friend eventually becoming ‘just another acquaintance’ if you don’t meet face-to-face from time to time.”

These findings are consistent with other studies on close friendships, like an American study from 2011 that found that people, on average, only have two close friends. Another study from Dunbar found that, on average, people know up to 150 people, but they are only intimate with 15, and only five of those 15 are trustworthy.

5. It Can Wreak Havoc on Your Romantic Relationship

Saying that things that happen on Facebook can wreak havoc on your real life shouldn’t be a surprise. Perhaps you’ve experienced it yourself, or you may have witnessed it happen to one of your friends on your news feed. If you haven’t, humor websites have massive collections of them.

Besides anecdotal evidence, there are studies that show that Facebook can add more stress to a romantic relationship. One study that was conducted on 2,000 married people in Britain found that one-in-seven had thought about divorcebecause of something that happened on Facebook. In another British study, a quarter of the people surveyed said Facebook led to a fight once a week with their romantic partner, and 17 percent said a fight happened every day because of Facebook.

Meanwhile, between 2005 and 2010, divorce courts in the United States saw a dramatic increase in Facebook being used as evidence. Finally, a study from the Loyola University Health System found that 20 percent of all cases cited problems stemming from Facebook as part of the reason for divorce.

4. MySpace Had Two Chances to Buy Facebook

In the mid 2000s, the monster of social media was MySpace. Facebook was started essentially as an imitator; it was just better organized and more uniform, and at the time, it was more exclusive because you needed to have a university email address to get an account. These two aspects proved to be popular and Facebook started to gain a lot of traction. As they started to amass users, MySpace had the opportunity to buy Facebook… twice.

In the spring of 2005, MySpace CEO Chris DeWolfe visited Zuckerberg and company. At the meeting, Zuckerberg offered to sell him Facebook for $75 million and DeWolfe turned him down. They met again later in 2005, and this time Zuckerberg wanted 10 times his original offer, $750 million. DeWolfe turned Zuckerberg down again.

Just two years later, Microsoft purchased 1.6% of Facebook for $240 million, giving Facebook a $15 billion valuation. By 2009, Facebook was getting twice as many visitors as MySpace. Today, well, Facebook is the thing that everyone uses and MySpace is something you have to Google to see if it’s still online (it is).

At the time of this posting, Facebook market capitalization is over $400 billion and some people think it could grow to be worth a trillion dollars in the next few years.

3. What Happens to Your Facebook When You Die?

Before 2015, when someone died, their family could contact Facebook with proof, like a death certificate, and request that the deceased’s Facebook profile be memorialized.

Memorializing the profile removed the deceased from public searches and notifications, like for their birthdays. Their memorialized profile could also only be viewed by people who were Facebook friends with the deceased before it was memorialized. Nothing else could be done with the account and some people found this upsetting. A notable example was Hollie Gazzard, who lived in Gloucester, United Kingdom. She was stabbed to death by her boyfriend Asher Maslin in February 2014. Her family had her Facebook memorialized and this included memorializing pictures of Gazzard and her murderer. Obviously, the family was upset by this and repeatedly asked Facebook to remove the pictures. For months, Facebook refused to take the pictures down and finally only removed them because of copyright infringements.

This type of dilemma prompted Facebook to allow users to pick a “legacy contact.” The legacy contact is able to pin a notice to your wall with information like funeral services. It also allows the contact to respond to new friend requests, change your cover and profile photos, and archive your Facebook posts and photos. The one thing that the legacy contact will not be able to do is read your private messages. So don’t worry about your loved ones finding Facebook messages expressing your profound love for Nickelback after you pass away.

To add a legacy contact, go to your security settings and it should be there. When you set the legacy contact, it will send a message, which you can edit, to the friend with information about the policy.

2. Every Minute Facebook Goes Down Costs Them $52,583

One of Facebook’s best qualities is that it is reliable. When was the last time you remember Facebook not being available when you tried logging on? It’s so rare that when Facebook went down in 2014, people called 9-1-1.

When it did go down in 2014, The Atlantic figured out how much money Facebook lost per minute by looking at their profits. They concluded that every minute the site was down, it cost them $24,420. This is over $1.4 million an hour and over $35.1 million a day.

But that was three years ago. Since then, Facebook’s revenues have gone up and in 2016, they made $27.638 billion. If the crash were to happen in early 2017, it would cost them $52,583 a minute, which is $3.1 million an hour and $75 million a day.

1. Everyone is Connected by 3.57 People

The theory of six degrees of separation was put forth in 1929 by Hungarian writer Frigyes Karinthy, in his 1929 short story “Chains.” In the story, the characters came up with a game, where:

“We should select any person from the 1.5 billion inhabitants of the Earth – anyone, anywhere at all. He bet us that, using no more than five individuals, one of whom is a personal acquaintance, he could contact the selected individual using nothing except the network of personal acquaintances.”

There have been several attempts to prove the theory over the years, including one by famed psychologist Stanley Milgram, and all the tests have resulted in varying degrees of success. The jury is still out on whether or not we’re connected to Kevin Bacon, as well.

In 2016, on its 12th anniversary, Facebook released some data that shows that everyone on Facebook is separated by 3.57 degrees. This, however, does not pertain to the real world, and it is just the world of Facebook. That being said, even if someone doesn’t use Facebook, they just have to know a Facebook user to be connected with the rest of the world. And really, there are good odds nearly everyone on the planet knows someone who uses Facebook. As of April 2017, Facebook has 1.86 billion monthly active users; that is almost a quarter of the entire population of the world.


Facebook Turns 13

– WIF Facts and Figures

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

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