Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 126

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Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 126

…“No, my mom was a big fan of that newest cleanser at the time, AJAX…

“And how about that girl of yours, she has been a real treat!” Willard Libby is a big fan.

“Like cotton candy in a cavity,” Ace attempts to head off her reaction to the scientist’s use of a possessive pronoun.

Too late, “I belong to no one, certainly not to someone who pretends I don’t exist for years at a time and then compares me to tooth decay.”

“Hey kids, it is my fault for making a false assumption,” intellectually speaking, “but I would be thrilled for you Connie, if it were true.”

She softens her knee-jerk reaction, “Ace and I have had some good times.”

“Then let’s raise a toast to more good times,” the sound of clinking glasses to the brim with Italian Nebbiolo fills the university basement hideaway.

“To good times,” Martin, Constance and Ace respond in unison. The newcomer is blending in quite well; the men are taken by his dynamic presence.

“Ace: That is quite a name. Is that your given name?” helplessly inquiring minds need to know.

“No my mother named me Ajax Aidan Bannion. Can you blame me for changing it?”

“Did she name you after the muscular mythical hero of the Trojan war?” educated people ask smart questions.

“No, mom was a big fan of that new cleaner AJAX.” He was kidding.

“STRONGER THAN DIRT!!!!!!” Constance makes an arm muscle, while singing the familiar advertising slogan. “Hey buddy, you really did need another syllable anyway; ‘Ajax Bannion, he can clean up the mess you make’.”

“Boy, I am going to regret letting that cat out of the bag,” he takes it like a man. “But can we not use that name in public?”

“Sure, but if you’re late for dinner I’m going to say, ‘Ajax Aidan Bannion, you better stop what you are doing and come inside’.”

His secret is safe… maybe.


 Constance Caraway P.I.

Forever Mastadon


page 111

Ancient Tools and Toys – Real Old

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Oldest Known Objects

Made by Man

(and his Ancestors)

Whenever something incredibly ancient and incredibly cool turns up, there’s always someone on hand to shout that it’s evidence of aliens. Awesome as it would be to know ET was hanging out here in 10,000 B.C. (or whenever), the truth is both much simpler and much more interesting. See, you don’t need aliens to explain away intricate ancient objects. We humans have been capable of creating incredible stuff since before there were even humans.

 The following objects are all man made in the sense that ‘a proto-human intelligence was responsible for their creation’. But not all of them came from the mind of homo sapiens. Instead, some come courtesy of our distant ancestors, the thinking apes who preceded us and helped us on our journey. Think the prehistoric world is dull? Think again.

10. Ice Age “Batons” (Approx. 28,000 years old)

Yes, we know what you’re thinking. Something along the lines of: “Gee, these ice age batons sure look like a certain part of the male anatomy.” So before we go any further, let us just categorically state that, yes, these batons do indeed look like a bunch of comedy-sized wangs. And there’s a good reason for that. Wanna guess what it is? That’s right, far from being immature, you’ve hit on what these probably were. You’re looking at an image of a stone age sex toy.

Known euphemistically as ‘batons’, these proto-Ann Summers toys have been found in a number of Ice Age sites, no doubt leading to many awkward conversations among archeologists. The oldest of all is from Germany, specifically a place known as Hohle Fels Cave. Now, pay attention, because you’re gonna be hearing that name again and again in this article. Hohle Fels contains one of our best-preserved collections of Ice Age artifacts anywhere in the world. In 2003, it also turned out to contain the oldest baton yet found. The one you see above dates from around 28,000-30,000 B.C.

Just think about that, for a second. This ancient – ahem – toy is older than Stonehenge, Machu Picchu and yo momma combined. Not that it was all dirty. According to those who found it, the tool was also used for “knapping flints” (whatever the heck that is).

9. Animal Figurines (30,000-40,000 years old)

Sometimes, the world just likes to drop something incredible in our laps, presumably just for the fun of watching us collectively freak out. The ancient figurines found at Hohle Fels (that place again) are one of those somethings. Among the oldest sculptures ever found, they depict miniture birds, horses’ heads, and half-animal humans in jaw-dropping detail. Did we mention the detail? When they were made public, in late 2003, archeology expert Dr Anthony Sinclair declared: “They are as good as anything you will see thousands of years later – from 3-4,000 BC.” Suck it, Ancient Greece.

But even these works of genius have nothing on the oldest figurine we’ve yet found. Discovered in the same cave of wonders as the figurines was the Venus of Hohle Fels. A tiny carving of a woman, the Venus may also be the earliest extant work of erotica. The carving has improbably large breasts, a big backside, and exaggerated genitals. She’s also a lot fatter than we’re guessing any Ice Age human ever was, unless there’s a prehistoric McDonalds waiting to be found in Hohle Fels somewhere. This suggests she may have been a fantasy, an example of Ice Age man’s longing for a well-stacked, fleshy woman. Nice to see some things never change.

8. Neanderthal Cave Art (40,800 years ago)

Yeah, Neanderthals aren’t human. Well, get used to it. We’re gonna be leaving homo sapiens for good in a little while to go gallivanting around the world of Homo erectus and all his extinct pals. But first, let’s just pause and take a breather, and admire the view of one of the oldest expressions of abstract art ever found. Discovered in a Spanish cave in 2012, this image dates back a staggering 40,800 years in time.

Imagine the incredible amount of time that exists between you and Julius Caesar or Jesus Christ. Now times that unimaginable distance by ten. Now double it, and then give up and throw the whole concept of picturing this away, because you’re never gonna be able to really grasp just how stupidly long ago this was. Back then, ‘popping out for a bite’ meant stepping outside and being swallowed by a sabretooth tiger. It was a world so unimaginably different from ours as to be… well, unimaginable. Yet the not-quite-humans who inhabited this space still felt moved to do something uniquely human. They created art, using the only things they had: their hands and some plant pigment. And we think that’s just swell.

7. Ancient Flutes (42,000 years old)

The Aurignacian culture is the coolest thing you’ve probably never heard of. A bunch of early humans who started doing their thing in the Upper Paleolithic era, the Aurignacians mark the point where art and music and specialized tools began to emerge. So, yeah, pretty much everything you take for granted today started here. At one point, scientists thought this period of intense change started no earlier than 40,000 years ago. Then someone stumbled across a 42,000 year old bone flute in yetanother German cave and the dates had to be revised upwards.

 If the thought of an ancient flute doesn’t send a chill down your spine, you may want to quickly double check and make sure you’re not in traction. These finds mean the earliest European humans were creating music from almost the moment they arrived on the continent. Just imagine. It’s dark. You’ve just come back from a long day’s woolly mammoth punching, or whatever the heck Stone Age man used to do. The only light in your cave is from the flickering of the fire. You sit around, staring into its shifting flames. And then, slowly, someone pulls out a flute and starts to play…

See what we mean? Magical. This is the dawn of human emotion we’re witnessing here, and we’ve still got well over a million years of history left to go.

6. Aterian Beads (110,000 years old)

Grotte des Pigeons is a cave in Eastern Morocco that for ages wanted nothing more than for people to forget it had such a stupid name. Then, sometime in the mid-20thCentury, some archeology guys came along and decided, hey, this looks like a pretty good spot to dig. So they dug and they dug and they dug until suddenly everyone was too busy exclaiming over all the crazy awesomeness in Grotte des Pigeons to concentrate on its stupid name. There were ashes and tools and carved rocks and all sorts of treasures. But the biggest treasure of all may have been the beads.

 Made of shells with perforated holes, some still with traces of red ochre on them, the beads were likely the earliest examples of jewelry we have. The researchers dated them to an impossibly-distant 110,000 years ago, a time when the wheel was a far-off dream, and the concept of agriculture was like witchcraft. Yet our ancestors were still making jewelry. Even in a world of unrelenting danger, bear attacks and lifespans of under 30 years, we still just wanted to look good. We can’t tell if that’s shameful or the coolest thing ever.

5. Bone Awls (200,000-400,000 years old)

OK, from here on in, the dates get vague and the periods of time involved become utterly incomprehensible. If you’re cool with that then stick with us, because this is also where we’re gonna find the coolest stuff. For this entry, that means bone awls. A feature of the Middle Stone Age (MSA), bone awls were little sharpened bits of bone, probably used for piercing holes in hide and making clothes. As such, they show our ancestors moving on from just wrapping themselves in the skin of a dead zebra to actually creating their own garments.

Like most of the stuff in the MSA, bone awls were likely invented in Africa and then taken to Europe along with the first early humans. Good job, too, as Europe back then was likely freezing. Honestly, we complain if we get stuck without heating for half a day during a mild winter. Imagine having to huddle round a fire in a cave for warmth AND design your own clothes using only sharpened bits of bone and the flesh of whatever you’d killed. There are residents of Jersey Shore who live more-fulfilling lives than that (kidding. No they don’t).

4. Projectile Points (200,000-400,000 years old)

This is where the MSA really hit its stride. Before early humans perfected projectile points, killing an animal meant charging at it with a kamikaze yell, waving an axe above your head and hoping it didn’t eat you (it frequently did). With the advent of sharpenedprojectile points, the equation changed dramatically. Now you didn’t have to get within eating-distance to kill your dinner. Humanity’s time at the top of the food chain had survived.

Stop and think about this for a second, about all the stuff we take for granted. Before projectile points were invented, the only time you got to eat a fast moving animal like a bird was when it dropped dead of kidney failure right in front of you. Suddenly having spears and arrows allowed humans to expand their diets. It allowed them to create small stockpiles of food and defend themselves from a distance. Some have even suggested formulating complicated hunting plans using these tools helped us develop modern human intelligence.

Of course, our ancestors did plenty of hunting before the invention of spears and arrows. But, still. Their coming was a gamechanger that reorganized our entire species.

3. Hand Axe (1.76m years old)

Long before the Aurignacian came along with their music and painting and liberal hippy art stuff, the hottest culture in human history was the Acheulian. Occurring sometime around 1.76 million years ago, this stone age revolution saw our ancestors discard the simplistic tools they’d been using up until then, and start crafting complex weapons unlike anything ever seen before. Stones with specially-sharpened ends that were wielded by hand, these ‘hand axes’ saw early humans able to easily kill other animals for the first time in history.

For a long time, scientists thought the Acheulian revolution started around 1.4 million years ago, the period a number of hand axes found in Ethiopia dated from. Then 2011 came along and turned all that on its head. That was the year that archeologists digging on the muddy banks of Lake Turkana in Kenya uncovered hand axes dating from 1.76 million years ago. That’s a difference of 360,000 years; equivalent to the distance in time between you reading this on your tablet and our ancestors’ creation of stone projectile points.

Those who created and used these hand axes, by the way, definitely weren’t human. They were probably Homo Erectus, the guys who decided walking on two legs was the way to go.

2. Oldowan Tools (Around 2.5m years ago)

Unlike the hand axes of the Acheulian revolution, no non-experts today would be able to recognize Oldowan Tools as even being tools. They were pebbles and rocks that had been crudely chipped to give one serrated edge, likely for cutting, chopping and scraping. We’re talking the absolute most basic of basic implements, here. This was the dawn of the Paleolithic era, the point in time when hominids realized you could get more done with implements than you could with your teeth. It sounds simple to us now, but back then no-one had ever even thought of it. How could they? They were little more than apes at this point.

Despite the mind-blowing chasms of time between us and the first Oldowan tools, they’ve been found all over the world. At least, all over the world as it would have been back then, which basically means ‘Africa’. At this point, Europe and Asia were as alien to these tool makers as planet Weezigg-Cloop is to you (we’re gonna discover it in about 4,000 years. It’s gonna be awesome).

Interestingly, some scholars think those using these tools may have been vegetarian, hence their being content with not developing better tools for like 700,000 years. Who needs an animal-killing hand axe when you don’t eat animals?

1. Contents of the Lake Turkana Toolbox (3.3m years old)

And then we have the Lake Turkana Toolbox.

To be clear, the Lake Turkana Toolbox shouldn’t exist. Digging it up and dating it to 3.3m years ago is like opening Tutankhamun’s Tomb to find a Boeing 747 inside. In fact, scratch that. The distance of time is so vast that it would be like opening Tutankhamun’s Tomb to find a Sci-fi device that won’t be invented for another 796,000 years. One that does stuff we in backward old 2017 can’t even imagine. 3.3m years ago is meant to be a time when no species existed that was capable of making tools. And yet, in 2015, scientists discovered that this was exactly what the apes hanging around Lake Turkanahad been doing.

 To be sure, they don’t look like tools. They look like sharp rocks. But, like the Oldowan Tools above, the point is that someone – or something – made them sharp. Whatever that pre-human creature was, it was starting Earth’s sentient species down a path that would eventually lead to hand axes, then projectile points, then beads, then art, then music, then sculpture… and so-on right the way up to the tablets and spacecraft and 3D printers of today. When you look at it like that, you gotta admit these dull old rocks are secretly kinda cool.

Ancient Tools and Toys

– Real Old

Indestructible Products – Try as You Might

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Amazing Indestructible

Products

You Can Buy

Today

If only we could bid for a Clark Kent-esque supersuit on eBay — life would be pretty awesome if we were invincible. Ridiculous daydreams aside, some people are hard at working developing indestructible materials. No one has succeeded yet,  but while we’re waiting there are a few things you can get your hands on today that come pretty close.

1. Embassy Tactical Pen

2. Kaventsmann Triggerfish Watch

3. Tungsten Ring

4. Yachiyo Metal Rug

5. Hurricane Proof Monolithic Dome Home

6. Bulletproof Suit

7. Bulletproof Public Toilet

8. ioSafe N2 Indestructible Hard Dive

9. Toyota Hilux

10. Indestructible Tires

This video was written by Mike Brown for TopTenz.net and reproduced by Writing Is Fun-damental


Indestructible Products

– Try as You Might

 

The NULL Solution = Episode 26

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The NULL Solution = Episode 26

…In the earnestness of the moment, Skaldic inadvertently runs his hand across one of the instrument panels…

Instrument Panels

“That’s it!”

The timestem on the replay screen then advances in increment of cycles, while Skaldic considers the possibilities. In a short while, he glances back at the monitor, where he witnesses the cinematic version of Defender’s previous escape from this very Expository.

He turns to his 2nd, his most trusted compatriot, Offingga, who for better or worse happens to be a female of the Null variety. “Did you see that, Offingga?”

“It appears that one of these ships has gone off-world.” None Null has ever gotten a close look at this spaceship museum of sort.

Skaldic has studied all he could about it. He has also paid attention to the rumor that some aliens had stowed away on that fifth starship on the right. The legend of the Explorer {NEWFOUNDLANDER} bounces off the lofty towers of Eridanus. It has always fascinated him, yet the facts are illusive.

“It may take one-quarter of a cycle, but I think we should do a census of the Gifted. Perhaps one or more of them may be on the ship they call Defender.”

“They will not be going anywhere,” Offingga fails to connect the dots.

“If there is a Gifted who was spared the light, we must know. If it is the strangers of which I have heard, we should know that as well. It would take me one hundred cycles to learn how to make one of these ships fly.” Skaldic is seriously solemn in resolve. “We are currently the hope for all of Eridanus.”

In his earnestness, he inadvertently runs his hand across one of the instrument panels.

“I’m receiving a signal from home,” Sampson formerly of Earth, must be confused. Home is where your heart resides. “I mean Eridanus guys… don’t mean to confuse anyone.”

The collection of explorers from Eridanus has decided to stay aboard what they know {Defender} as opposed to what they do not {Seljuk home world}, for now.

Cerella is the one with the most at stake on this mission: Ekcello is her father. Her father, her people are out-of-order. If they have snapped out of their funk, that would be the best news. She rushes to the communication area to lend her translation skill. #njfurhwwgqfqloda#

She is disappointed and shows it.

“This comes from the Spaceflight Expository. It looks like device-to-device nonsense.”

“Wait a minute Cerella. It may be garbled, but wouldn’t someone have had to initiate it?” Celeste asks a pertinent question.

Cerella goes to doing what she does best – she thinks.

“On the off-chance that it’s intergalactic crapola, why not return the signal, just in case.” Sampson is an expert in dispensing crapola. “And why not make it an audio daily-double?”

“I will do that Sammy Mac.” She is fond of the Earthiest man she knows. She has even learned the subtlety of his euphemisms.

In a fashion all her own, she fires back the following: DEFENDER RESPONDING ERIDANUS#

It is all Greek to Sam. After several minutes, “It must have been nothing after all.”


The NULL Solution =

Episode 26


page 30

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.


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Soda Pop Backstory – WIF Consumer Corner

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Origin Stories of

Famous Soft Drinks

 Whether you call it soda, pop, or soda pop, carbonated water with lots of sugar in it has been a staple of the beverage world since about 1867. That’s when it was first sold at druggists and pharmacists across America. At first, it was thought to have remedial effects. But of course, in the new millennium, they are actually having a really negative effect on the health of millions of people.

Nevertheless, soft drinks are still some of the most consumed liquids in the world. This is how 10 of the biggest soft drinks got their start.

10. Mountain Dew

mountaindew

We thought we’d start off this list with one of the most unhealthy soft drinks on the market, and that is the one and only Mountain Dew. Often associated with EXTREME sports like the X-Games, it’s the third most popular soft drink in the world. In 2014, the bright neon yellow drink that is chock full of sugar and caffeine was responsible for a hefty chunk of the $125 billion non-alcoholic beverage market. One interesting thing that we want to add is that you may not like Mountain Dew yourself, but you probably know someone who drinks gallons of it a week. Well, it turns out that about 20% of drinkers are responsible for 70% of their sales.

 Mountain Dew has rather humble beginnings. It was invented by some hillbillies living in the Appalachian Mountains in Tennessee who were looking for something to chase down their homemade whiskey. In 1948, brothers Barney and Ally Hartman, who ran a bottling company in Knoxville, Tennessee, started bottling the recipe, calling it Mountain Dew. That was slang for moonshine, and they sold it in a green bottle. The drink didn’t sell well while the brothers were owners, so they sold it to another bottling company, who in turn were acquired by PepsiCo in 1964. Since then, it has grown to the international brand we know today and a favorite of teenage boys throughout the world.

9. Red Bull

red-bull

Many people will be quick to point out that Red Bull is an energy drink, which it is. But, it’s still carbonated sugar water, so that makes it a soft drink. So welcome to the list, Red Bull!

The company was co-founded by an Austrian man named Dietrich Mateschitz. Mateschitz, who earned a degree in marketing, worked for Unilever, Jacob’s Coffee, and Blendax as a marketer. Due to his work, he travelled around a lot and one of his trips led him to Thailand. While there, he drank what was being hailed as a cure for jetlag. And thanks to the amount of caffeine and taurine in it, the syrupy tonic drink did cure his jetlag.

The drink was already popular across Asia and Mateschitz saw the potential. He met with the brewer, Chaleo Yoovidhya, and they made a deal where they would each receive 48% of the company for $500,000 (Yoovidhya’s son owned the other 2%). Over the next severeal years, Mateschitz tinkered with the project. He changed the recipe to appeal more to people in the West, and he carbonated it. He also designed the now recognizable blue and silver can, and a friend gave him their famous slogan: “Red Bull gives you wings.”

 With the drink ready for production in 1987, Mateschitz used his years of marketing experience to push the energy drink, the first of its kind. Of course, Red Bull has grown since those early days and both owners became multi-billionaires. According to Forbes, Red Bull is worth $7.7 billion.

8. Hires Root Beer

hires

Drinks made from roots have been around for centuries, so it wasn’t a new invention when Charles Hires tried root tea while on his honeymoon in New Jersey in the second half of the 19th century. He loved the root tea and when he returned home, the young pharmacy owner set to work making his own. His first concoction was called Hires Root Tea. At first, he sold it as packets of dry extracts of Sarsaparilla, Ginger, Sassafras, and Hops, and it was blended with roots, barks, and berries. People would then take it home, add sugar and yeast and let it ferment, then they bottle it themselves.

At first, it didn’t sell well. To boost sales, Hires changed the name to Hires Root Beer for the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia. He thought the beer label would appeal to men. The name change worked and Hires Root Beer grew in popularity. It was during this time that Hires tried to trademark the name “root beer,” but was denied because it was too generic.

In 1880, Hires made the root beer into a liquid extract. By 1892, they were selling three million bottles of extract a year. The liquid extract was available all the way into the 1920s before it was discontinued. A bottle with a finished product was introduced in 1893 and it has been on sale ever since. However the recipe has changed. It is now carbonated, and has more sugar.

 At 140 years old, Hires is the oldest soft drink brand that is still sold today.

7. Barq’s Root Beer

barqs

The convoluted history of Barq’s Root Beer started in 1890, when chemist Edward Charles Edmond Barq Sr. opened Barq Brothers Bottling Co. in the French Quarter of New Orleans. In 1897, he moved to Biloxi, Mississippi, and opened the Biloxi Artesian Bottling Works in 1899. Two years later, he started selling a drink he called Barq’s, which was a sarsaparilla-based libation.

Where the story gets a little bit more complicated is that Barq had an affair, which resulted in a child named Jasper “Jesse” Louis Robinson. Robinson lived with the Barqs, which we’re sure wasn’t awkward at all, and as an adult, at his father’s urging, Robinson opened his own bottling plant in New Orleans where he sold Barq’s. The father and son had a deal where Robinson could sell anywhere in Louisiana, except Washington Parish, and Barq would have Mississippi.

Throughout the years, the two companies ran completely separate from each other and each used their own processes for making root beer. By 1937, Barq had passed away and there were 62 franchises bottling root beer from Robinson’s leg of the business. At the time of Robinson’s death in 1949, there were close to 200 bottling franchises spread throughout the country. Robinson left half the company to his wife, and then the other half was split between his three children. His wife then named their son Jesse Robinson Jr. as the president of the Company.

In 1971, Jesse was ousted as president, and upon leaving that position, he sold his inheritance he would get when his mother died to his two sisters. After Jesse left, the two Barq’s bottling companies merged and in 1991 they were purchased by the Coca-Cola company for $91 million.

However, that wasn’t the end of it for the second Jesse Robinson. In 2010, his childrensued Coca-Cola for one-third of Barq’s profits contending that, in Louisiana, you cannot sell your inheritance. Coca-Cola said the suit had no merit and the result of the suit could not be found.

6. Canada Dry

canadadry

The creator of Canada Dry Ginger Ale, John James McLaughlin, was born in Enniskillen, Ontario, on March 2, 1865. He studied pharmacy at school and in 1885, set up a small carbonating bottling plant in Toronto. There, he developed mixes and carbonated water. One mixture that he made, called McLaughlin’s Belfast Style Ginger Ale, found popularity in the United Kingdom. He decided to develop a similar drink that was dry and sparkling, like champagne. He spent 10 years working on it and in 1904, he had perfected the recipe. A patent was filed on it in 1905 and two years later, he trademarked the name Canada Dry Pale Ginger Ale.

McLaughlin died in 1914, just as the company was starting to get off the ground, and his brother took over. Canada Dry was able to set themselves apart because they focused on selling it in ready to drink bottles, which was unusual for soft drinks at the time.

A few things helped make Canada Dry so popular. The first was that since it was ready to drink, it was sold at places like the beach and baseball games. The second was prohibition. When Canada Dry was introduced in the 1920s in the United States, the 18th Amendment prohibiting alcohol was being enforced. Canada Dry became popular in speakeasies because it made illegal Canadian whiskey much smoother and easier to drink.

From there, the company grew and changed hands multiple times. In 1953, they were the first soft drink to come in a can. The Dr. Pepper Snapple Group Inc. owns the company today, and it’s the third most produced soft drink in the world.

5. 7-Up

7up

Originally called Bib-Label Lithiated Lemon-Lime (we can’t fathom why they’d ever change that gem of a name), 7-Up was introduced just two weeks before the Stock Market Crash of 1929. The owner of the drink, Charles L. Grigg, worked as a soft drinks advertiser and changed the name to 7-Up shortly after its release. As for why the name change, no one is really sure why Grigg chose the name or what it means. Grigg ultimately took the secret to his grave, so there is a good chance we will never know. But one belief, probably the most logical, is that 7-Up has seven ingredients. Another theory is related to the original 7-Up’s special ingredient, the mood altering drug lithium, which has an atomic mass close to seven. Lithium is a salt that is found in groundwater. It’s used to treat bipolar disorder and depression.

7-Up continued to use lithium in its recipe until 1948, when it was banned by the US Food and Drug Administration. In 1950, the new formula, without the special side effects, was released. The soda maintained its popularity. It was purchased in 1978 by cigarette giant Phillip Morris, and then the Dr. Pepper Snapple Group bought it in 1986 for $240 million.

4. Fanta

fanta

One story you made of heard about Fanta was that it was invented by the Nazis. The good news for those of you who love Fanta, but feel guilty about the Nazi connection, is that the myth isn’t true. That being said, Hitler and the Nazis did influence its creation.

Prior to the outbreak of World War II, Coca-Cola was having amazing success in Germany. They had record sales there, and by 1939, the country was home to 43 bottling plants and more than 600 distributors. The problem was that the atmosphere in Europe was changing. That meant that German Coca-Cola plants were having a hard time getting all the ingredients needed to produce Coca-Cola.

In 1938, Ray Powers, the American-born overseer of Coke’s operations in Germany, died in a car accident. The German government chose Max Keith, Powers’ German-born right hand man, to be his replacement. Keith, who was not associated with the Nazis, got a message to Coca-Cola distributors in Switzerland and told them he would try to keep operations going.

Since Keith couldn’t get all the ingredients, he had to stop selling Coca-Cola because he simply had no way to make it. Instead, he used the Coca-Cola plants to produce Fanta, which was a pale drink made from whatever was available at the time. This included whey, and apple fiber from cider presses. As for where the name came from, Keith told his salesman to use their “Fantasie” (imagination in German) to come up with a name and a veteran salesman blurted out “Fanta.” The drink sold well during the war. In 1943, three million cases were sold.

During the war, Coca-Cola’s head office in Atlanta had no idea if Keith was working for them or the Nazis. When the war came to an end, they found out Keith had kept operations going and protected Coca-Cola’s interests. As a result, Coca-Cola were one of the first companies to restart operations in post-war Germany. They also looked into Keith’s involvement with the Nazis and it turned out that although he was pressured to join, he never became a member of the Nazi party.

Coca-Cola discontinued Fanta after the war, but in the 1950s, Pepsi-Cola started to release more flavors. To compete, Fanta was reintroduced in 1955. The first flavor was orange, and now there are more than 100 flavors. Every day, 130 million people consume one of those flavors.

3. Dr. Pepper

dr-pepper

Dr. Pepper is famous for combining 23 different flavors. It even says it on the label. Perhaps that’s why it’s so surprising that it’s actually the oldest carbonated flavored drink that is still sold today. Of course, Hires was priorly created, but it was more of a tea drink that wasn’t carbonated.

In 1885, Waco, Texas was a frontier town that held the ominous nickname, “six-shooter junction.” In Waco, there was a pharmacy called The Old Corner Drug Store and it was owned by Wade Morrison. At the pharmacy, people would buy drinks from the soda fountain. That’s when pharmacy employee Charles Alderton noticed that people liked the smell of the mixed fruits from different flavored drinks. Customers were also getting bored with the usual flavors. So that is when Alderton started to mix the syrups until he came up with a recipe he liked.

After serving it to a few customers, he got feedback and perfected the famous soft drink. Soon Morrison started selling it, and it became popular enough that other stores purchased the syrup, which didn’t have a name. Instead, people just called it “a Waco.”

The name was chosen by the owner of the pharmacy. It’s not exactly clear why Morrison chose it, but it’s believed to be in honor of his friend Dr. Charles Pepper, whom Morrison knew when he lived in Virginia. Supposedly, Morrison was in love with Pepper’s daughter. However, when Morrison left Virginia to move to Waco, Pepper’s daughter would have been eight-years-old and he wouldn’t have seen her since his move. Yet, that is the official story from Dr. Pepper.

Soon the drink became so popular that they had problems making syrup. That’s when they met Sam Houston, a man who owned a bottling plant in Dublin, Texas. From there, the business grew to be one of the bestselling soft drinks in the world. And some of its bottling is still done in Dublin, Texas, where you can buy the original Dr. Pepper formula.

2. Pepsi

pepsi

 Much like Burger King to McDonald’s, Pepsi was developed as an imitator with the hopes of replicating the success of a company in the same space. It was first brewed in 1898 by pharmacist Caleb D. Bradham of New Bern, North Carolina. It was a sweet carbonated drink made with kola nut extract, and its name came from another of its main ingredients, pepsin. That’s an enzyme that helps with digestion. It was patented in 1903, and in 1905, they were selling franchises.

Pepsi-Cola sold well at first, but during the first World War, they ran into some financial trouble and filed for bankruptcy. In 1931, it was purchased by Charles G. Guth, who was the owner of Loft, a candy and fountain pop distributor. This started the modern era of the Pepsi-Cola Company. The first thing they did was get a chemist to develop a better drink. They set up bottling operations, and then began selling 12-ounce bottles for a nickel, which proved to be immensely popular.

Guth lost controlling interest in Pepsi in 1941. Nine years later, a former vice president of Coca-Cola company became CEO of Pepsi. He focused on massive advertising campaigns and sales promotions, which increased Pepsi’s earnings 11-fold during the 1950s. That’s when Pepsi officially became the rival to the biggest soft drink company of all-time.

In 1966, Pepsi-Cola, now called PepsiCo, merged with Frito Lay. Then in 1976, they purchased Pizza Hut. In 1978, they bought Taco Bell, and finally they acquired KFC and 7-Up in 1986. Pepsi also owns Tropicana, Dole, Quaker Oats, and Gatorade, making them the second largest producer of food and beverages, just behind…

1. Coca-Cola

coke

One thing most people have probably heard about the creation of Coca-Cola is that the original recipe had cocaine in it. Well, that is 100 percent accurate. In fact, it was cocaine and alcohol mixed together.

The story of Coca-Cola can be traced back to Parisian chemist Angelo Mariani. He made a drink called Vin Marine, that mixed wine and cocaine. It was incredibly popular, because mixing cocaine and alcohol actually creates a third drug called cocaethylene. Cocaethylene acts like cocaine, except that it is more euphoric.

Seeing the popularity of the drink and hoping to siphon off some for himself, Dr. John Stith Pemberton, a pharmacist living in Atlanta, worked on developing his own Cocoa French Wine. Pemberton, who had a morphine addiction stemming from an injury he received during the Civil War, made a concoction he called Pemberton’s French Wine Coca, which was marketed as a cure all that would help “invigorate sexual organs.”

The drink sold well, as one would expect from a drink that mixed cocaine and alcohol. But then in 1886, Pemberton ran into a problem because one of his wine’s main components became illegal in Atlanta. And no, it wasn’t the cocaine. 34 years before the rest of the country, Atlanta enacted a prohibition law that meant alcoholic drinks could no longer be sold.

To get around the law, Pemberton replaced the alcohol with sugar syrup and called the drink “Coca-Cola: The temperance drink.” Without much else to drink, Coca-Cola became incredibly popular. However, Pemberton didn’t live long enough to see the fruits of his labor. In 1888, the maker of America’s bestselling cocaine-wine died of stomach cancer. We’re sure his product (or that pesky morphine addiction) had nothing to do with his illness.

 After Pemberton’s death, Coca-Cola continued to grow in popularity. In 1899, they introduced Coke in bottles, and it became very popular with African Americans, who didn’t have access to fountain pop because of segregation laws. This led to fear among middle class white people that cocaine drinking black people might start attacking white people, and the police would be powerless to stop them. So in 1903, cocaine was removed from the recipe and it was replaced with more sugar and caffeine.

Since then, Coca-Cola has had a long and storied history with many ups and downs. In May 2016, the company (built from an alcoholic drink made with cocaine that was developed by a morphine addicted Civil War vet who ripped off a French chemist) celebrated its 130th anniversary.

Currently, Coca-Cola is the third most valuable brand, just behind Apple and Microsoft. It’s the biggest food and beverage company in the history of civilization.


Soda Pop Backstory

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– WIF Consumer Corner