American Oddities – WIF Fun Facts

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Facts About

America

That Make

No Sense

to Foreigners

America. It’s one of the biggest countries on Earth, both in terms of population and sheer size. It’s the planet dominating superpower; the heaviest hitter where culture is concerned; a place known by nearly every single human on the planet… and, to all but the 4-5% of humanity who live there, it makes absolutely no gosh darn sense.

 See, despite its cultural clout, America still seems deeply weird to foreigners. And we don’t just mean people who come from repressive kingdoms and tin-pot dictatorships. Europeans, people from Southeast Asia, Australians and Brits all find yuge chunks of life in the good ol’ US-of-A beyond comprehension. If you were born stateside, the following might not seem super crazy to you. But trust us, every single foreigner is reading this with their jaw dangling open and their eyeballs popping out.

10. US Toddlers Shoot One Person a Week

Americans sure love guns. The US has the highest rate of gun-ownership on planet Earth, and the least-restrictive gun laws (only Switzerland comes close). That’s all thanks to the 2nd Amendment, which has been the subject of near-constant debate since being written.

But it’s not the sheer number of guns in America that really astounds foreigners. It’s the crazy things that leads to. Things like US toddlers shooting one person a week.

There’s literally no other country on Earth you could write that sentence about. Even countries that are swimming in guns, like Serbia, Norway, and Switzerland, don’t have toddlers blowing one another away. To be fair, they have tiny populations, but, to be even fairer, c’mon buddy. US toddlers have shot on average one person a week (including themselves) for the past two years. Even war zones don’t have numbers like that.

More bizarre still, America keeps on arming its toddlers. In 2016, Iowa made it legal for babies to handle loaded guns. That’s right. The guys in the Hawkeye State elected to arm the very babies that are trying to shoot them. How’s that for hubris?

9. Bestiality is Still Legal in 9 US States (but premarital sex is outlawed)

Despite this being 2017, plenty of US States still have sex laws on the books that are… unenlightened, to say the least. And by that, we mean they were seemingly written by two guys named Festus and Bubba while necking with their pet hog Clancy.

Incredible as it may seem, there are nearly ten US States where it is still legal to have sexual intercourse with animals. We say ‘nearly’ ten, because one’s the District of Columbia (not a state, kids!). The other nine are Hawaii, Kentucky, Nevada, New Mexico, Ohio, Texas, Vermont, West Virginia and Wyoming. In addition, plenty of states still only consider bestiality a misdemeanor.

This would be odd enough if the US was a spectacularly licentious place, but it’s not. In addition to allowing you to marry your best-est sow, four states still outlaw either premarital or extramarital sex, or co-habiting with your partner prior to marriage. While the laws are effectively never enforced, the fact they’re still on the statute books attests to America’s unique mix of religious piety and deep-seated desire to mimic the guys from Deliverance.

8. The Highest Paid Public Employee in 39 States is a Sports Coach

Go to any other country in the Western world – Canada, Germany, the Czech Republic, New Zealand, wherever – and the highest-paid public employee will be someone working in a selfless capacity. They’ll be the guys and gals running universities, or public hospitals, or the local council. America, though, laughs in the face of such devotion to the public good. Instead of rewarding headmasters or doctors or teachers, the highest public pay package in 39 states goes to sports coaches. Specifically, guys coaching football or men’s basketball.

We’re not talking comparatively small sums, either. The salaries involved would be enviable in the private sector. University of Alabama football coach Nick Saban, for example, rakes in over $7 million, plus bonuses, likely making him one of the highest-paid public employees not living in a corrupt dictatorship. For those from outside the states, this seems less extravagant, and more like an absolute inability to get priorities right.

Only Alaska, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, New York, Nevada, New Hampshire, Vermont and both Dakotas refuse to award their highest public pay packet to a football or men’s basketball coach. Interestingly, both Hawaii and Vermont, as you’ll remember from a second ago, still technically allow bestiality. We’re really not sure what to make of that.

7. Over Half of All Americans Don’t Hold a Valid Passport

In 2014, polling company YouGov revealed only 8% of Britons had never left their country of birth to travel abroad. While this is maybe not all that super-impressive (Britain is tiny and France is close), it puts the US to shame. The same poll found only 50% of Americans would admit to ever having left the country. That’s nearly 160 million people who have never been to Canada or Mexico, let alone Europe or Asia.

For people who were born in Europe, that’s almost like saying you’ve never seen a glass of water. The idea of not going abroad from time to time is alien. In places like Germany, over 90% of the population hold a valid passport, and you better believe they use it.

But that’s Europe, we hear you cry, it’s a small continent with, like, a bazillion countries. Well, first, we’re pretty sure you’re exaggerating there, bud. Secondly, look at Australia, a country nearly as big as the US, and more cut-off from the rest of the world. According to official data, one third of the population goes abroad every single year. That compares to 50% of Americans over their entire lifetimes. Clearly, the US is a travel-averse country.

6. 30% of Americans Prefer Saving Money to Vital Medical Treatment

Compared to other developed nations, healthcare in the US is expensive. You can blame that on too much Obamacare, or not enough of it, but the fact remains that public systems, private systems, and public-private systems elsewhere in the world all deliver better service at lower cost. This alone can seem staggering to foreigners. Then there’s the American attitude to health. Faced with a serious illness or injury, around 30 percent of Americans would rather walk it off than pay for treatment.

 This… simply doesn’t happen elsewhere. Norway has the second most-expensive healthcare in the world, and pretty much no-one there avoids necessary treatment. Japan has an insurance-based, private system with payments often covered by employers, just like the US, and people don’t skip out on medical care. To find other people choosing money over hospitalization, you have to leave the developed world behind and start poking around in poorer countries where wages are low and healthcare unaffordable.

We’re not trying to rag on American healthcare here. America has some of the best doctors and hospitals going. But the idea that you’d choose money over health (or that you’d have to choose)? To non-Americans, that’s insane.

5. 7 States Have Custody Rights for Rapists

OK, let’s turn to some really, really dark stuff now. There exists a certain subsection of guys who like to rape women. Occasionally, this results in their victims getting pregnant. Depending on where they live and their religious convictions, the women may then decide to carry the baby to term. Now, here’s where it gets creepy. In around 7 states, it’s perfectly legal for the rapist-father to sue for custody of his newborn child.

Imagine that for a second. You’ve been violently assaulted, gone through the hell of guilt and self-recrimination, been courageous enough to bring the resulting baby into the world… and now you’re forced to watch as the D-bag who hurt you decides he wants to be a father to your son/daughter. Well, if you live in Alabama, Mississippi, Maryland, New Mexico, North Dakota, Wyoming or Minnesota, that can totally happen.

In addition, there are 20 more states where it might be legal. In Indiana, for example, you can only block the rapist from seeking custody if you remember to do so within 3 months of your baby being born. This is some seriously dark stuff, and we guarantee that if you mention it to anyone from elsewhere in the developed world, their jaws will drop so low they hit the ground. Sure, some Middle East states may have even-worse laws, but that’s not really a benchmark to aspire to.

4. America Has More Self-Identified Patriots than Anywhere Else on Earth

In July 2016, Gallup released the results of their yearly patriotism poll. They found 52% of Americans call themselves “extremely patriotic”, the lowest level in polling history. The news triggered a slew of introspective articles by American writers, wondering what had gone wrong. For those reading elsewhere in the world, it felt like stepping through the looking glass. 52% is such a good score it leaves other countries eating the USA’s dust.

Such levels of patriotism simply don’t exist in the rest of the developed world. In a similar survey by YouGov, only 13% of Brits thought their country was “the best in the world.” That was the highest score in the EU. Germany and France got only 5% each. The second and third highest-ranking countries globally, India and Australia, scored 34% and 36%. But the US? The US busted through the 40% mark, with an additional 32% claiming America was at the very least “better than most other countries.”

For the majority of foreigners, the idea of showing US-levels of patriotism is simply alien. You will never see a flag in every yard in any other country on Earth. But that’s the US public for you: optimistic to a tee. Even if they’re unhappy with their current government, folks still believe that the idea of America itself is worth believing in.

3. Americans are More Likely to Get Bitten by Other Americans than Rats

The stereotype is that Americans likes three things: football, fast food, and violence (often all at once). It’s true that America’s murder rate is crazy-high. It’s also true that the national sport is getting drunk and starting bar-fights. But surely it’s not as bad as all that?

Well, we hate to break it to you, but this arresting statistic says otherwise. If you live in America, you are more likely to be bitten by another American than you are by a rat.

To be clear, this isn’t because US rats are particularly docile or rare on the ground. Cities like New York are completely infested, and people get bitten all the freakin’ time. There are over 40,000 rat bites recorded in America each year. The only trouble is, there are at least 45,000 human bites recorded right alongside them.

Again, this is a freaky fact for Americans, too. But, also again, it’s just something that doesn’t happen in most other countries. Sure, drunks in Britain like to hit each other, and Italian soccer hooligans are violent as heck, but biting enough people to outstrip rats? It’s something we can’t imagine happening anywhere else.

2. Americans Take ‘Fast Food’ Extremely Literally

The US is the birthplace of fast food. It’s the nation that brought the world the drive-thru, perfected the snack, and coined the phrase “lunch is for wimps.” Foreigners know all this intellectually. But confront them with a statistic like the following, and it’ll still blow their minds. Americans, you see, are the 3rd fastest eaters on Earth. On an average day, Americans spend only 74 minutes eating, nearly the lowest in the world.

That’s only slightly over 20 minutes each for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and far less if you include time put aside for eating snacks. If you live in the USA, this probably doesn’t seem so weird to you (the working lunch is an American specialty), but if you live elsewhere… man, you’re probably wondering how the heck they do it. In France, the average eating time is 135 minutes a day. In Turkey, it’s 162 minutes. Even in Japan, where people work far longer hours than in the US, they still manage to put aside 117 minutes a day for chow. The only other countries to spend as little time eating are Canada (72 minutes) and Mexico (under 70 minutes).

This is probably to do with both the American hard work ethic and fast food culture, which prioritizes productivity over relaxation. The same can be seen in a related statistic on cooking times. Nowhere else on Earth do people spend as little time cooking each day as in America.

1. Government Departments Have Official Advice for Reporting Elvis Sightings

One of the things foreigners know about the US is that it’s full of wackos seeing wacko things. There’s a reason The X-Files was so popular 20 years ago. But it’s one thing to hear about guys filming shaky footage of Bigfoot on their cell phone. It’s another entirely to hear that actual US government departments have official advice for reporting Elvis sightings.

Here, for example, is a link to the Federal government’s official website for copyright. Hover your mouse over the link. See that it ends .gov? It’s impossible for anyone not representing a government entity to register a .gov address. This site is legit. It’s part of the Federal government, and paid for by taxpayers’ money. And it includes official advice on how to copyright your sighting of Elvis.

 This isn’t a joke section put up by some lighthearted bureaucrat indulging a whim. It’s completely, mind-bogglingly serious. Which means the government was getting deluged with enough requests about Elvis sightings that they went to the trouble to post official advice about it. OK, say it with me now, altogether: only in America.

American Oddities

wif-fun-facts-001

– WIF Fun Facts

Game Changing Archaeology – WABAC Discoveries

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Archaeological Discoveries

That Change Our

View of History

History is far more complicated that we would like to believe. Even in our schools today, different versions of events are being taught to students, depending on the country they’re in and how those events in history affected that country. “Who controls the past controls the future: who controls the present controls the past,” right? Nevertheless, we also have archaeology, which sometimes helps us to better understand what happened regardless of what was written down in centuries past. And sometimes, some such discoveries turn the way we saw history right on its head.

 10. Ancient Fast Food

We generally tend to think that fast food came about fairly recently, right? And it does make sense, after all, given the faster pace the world is moving nowadays as opposed to the slower ancient times. In fact, the first such shops, which were serving fish and chips, opened in Britain during the 1860s. Then, in the 1950s in the US, the drive-through restaurants became popular, and… well, you know the rest.

But taking a quick snack for lunch and then hurrying on your way is not something new and has been going on since ancient times. This place was the so-called thermopolium, or “place where (something) hot is sold,” and it was a common sight all throughout the Greco-Roman world; particularly in larger towns and cities. These thermopoliaare, in fact, the forerunners of all present-day restaurants. They usually consisted of a small room that opened onto the street and specialized in two or three items such as spiced wine, meats, cheese, or lentils. These establishments were quite tiny and almost never had tables for people to sit at. There was only a counter with several embedded earthenware jars called doliawhere the food was stored.

These places were frequented mostly by slaves or people who did not have the means or facilities to cook for themselves. And as it so happens, these thermopolia were also frequent hangouts for all sorts of shady characters. These places were even abolished on several occasions for this exact reason, since they harbored all sorts of effeminate Greeks and thieving slaves,” as Plautus, a Roman playwright from the 3rd century BC, once said. There were, however, some fancier establishments too, with some tables inside and even some frescoes painted on the walls. One such ornate restaurant called the “Thermopolium of Asellina” was discovered in Pompeii and is one of the best preserved in the world.

9. War is Older Than We Thought

War was commonly believed to have originated alongside the advent of civilization. This, of course, doesn’t mean that people weren’t killing each other even before that. After all, the reptilian part of the brain, which we all have and which pushes us towards things like hate, envy, aggression, dominance, and territoriality among others, was also found in people more than 10,000 years ago. This means that before the discovery of agriculture and animal husbandry, people were only able to kill each other through the occasional murder or small family skirmishes. But after people began settling down and growing in number, more organized and coordinated forms of battle were invented; things like raids or wars, for instance. The fact that structured hierarchies and slavery also appeared during this time also helped wars along.

Nevertheless, an archaeological discovery made in 2012 in Kenya seems to indicate that small scale wars were also taking place even before agriculture appeared there. On the banks of the Lake Turkana, archaeologists came across 27 skeletons dating back to somewhere in between 9,500 to 10,500 years ago. These skeletons once belonged to men, women, and children which archeologists believe were members of a semi-nomadic tribe that settled close to the lake. All of the skeletons showed signs of blunt force trauma or wounds from projectile weapons.One of the women had both of her knees shattered and showed signs that her hands were bound when she died. Who attacked them, or what really happened is not known, but no other massacre on this scale has ever been discovered from so long ago.

8. Europeans and America

Christopher Columbus and his men are no longer believed to be the first Europeans to discover the American continent. Today it is fairly common knowledge that Leif Ericsson, an Icelandic Viking explorer, was the first European to come across to North America when he was blown off course on his way to Greenland from Norway almost 500 years before Columbus. In the Saga of the Greenlanders which talks about Leif Ericsson and his travels to Vinland, present-day Newfoundland, there is mention of a Bjarni Herjólfsson, who also made it to a land west of Greenland when he too was blown off course by the wind, even before Leif Ericsson himself. But whatever the case may be here, some newer archaeological evidence points to the fact that the Europeans made it to North America even before Europe had a name, or at least the name of “Europe.”

Several dozen stone tools have been found along the East Coast in six distinct locations. One in Pennsylvania, three from the Delmarva Peninsula in Maryland, one in Virginia, and another one was discovered by a scallop trawler some 60 miles off the Virginian coast. All of these tools bear a striking resemblance to the stone tools used by the prehistoric Solutrean tribes from present-day western France and northern Spain. What’s more, all of them were dated somewhere in between 19,000 to 26,000 years ago. Because of this time period, most archaeologists have rejected the idea of being just a simple case of coincidence based on the too-similar design. Furthermore, one of the stone knives discovered in Virginia revealed under chemical analysis that it actually originated in France.

The reason for the relatively small number of tools found on the East Coast dating from that period also explains how those Stone Age Europeans got to America in the first place. Back in those times, the planet was going through an Ice Age, and like the Native Americans who crossed into America from Asia over the Bering land bridge, so did these Solutreans cross over what is now the north Atlantic, Iceland, and Greenland. As shown by that knife found by the scallop trawler 60 miles off the coast of Virginia, the sea level was far lower than it is today. And since these people stayed mostly around the coast, many of their tools are also underwater. Another archaeological discovery that places Europeans in North America longer ago than previously believed is an 8,000-year-old skeleton found in Florida. When subjected to a genetic marker test, this man’s remains revealed high levels of European markers, not found in Asians.

7. Australians and America

Another archaeological discovery, this time from Brazil, points to the fact that Australians also made it to the Americas long ago. Several human skulls discovered there match the characteristics of those from places like Australia and Melanesia. Similarly, some 33 skulls found on the Baja California peninsula in Mexico also point to this theory. And according to the stone tools and charcoal discovered at the site in Brazil, these people could have inhabited the area for nearly 50,000 years. The theory is that they arrived in the Americas by boat across the Pacific. Though seemingly impossible for people from 50,000 years ago, cave paintings in Australia have shown some boats that were actually built to withstand the ocean. Moreover, in 1947 Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl and a few others made it across on a balsa wood raft.

Archaeologists also believe that these people died out with the appearance of the Asian peoples coming in from the north via the Bering land bridge. This is because the shape of the skulls changes from those with an Australian appearance to those with a Mongoloid appearance between 9,000 to 7,000 years ago. The only survivors could be tribes of people who lived in the Terra del Fuego region of South America. This is the southernmost tip of the continent, and the people who still live there show hybrid skull features of both mongoloid and negroid ancestry. If proven true then Native Australians could be the first Americans ever.

6. How Old is Our Friendship with Dogs?

There is no debating that wolves were the first animals ever to be domesticated by humans. Even before animal husbandry became a thing, man and wolves (which then turned into dogs) were hunting together in a sort of synergy that benefited both species. But how old is this interspecies collaboration, really? Common theories place the beginning of this relationship somewhere around 15,000 to 18,000 years ago and it happened separately in both China and the Middle East. This is without a doubt far older than any other domesticated animal in the world. Dogs were well established as part of human society around 10,000 years ago, and in Germany for instance, humans and dogs were sometimes buried together as long as 14,000 years ago.

But the discovery of a canine skull in the Altai Mountains in Siberia pushes this timeline by at least another 15,000 years. Radiocarbon dating has placed the skull somewhere around 33,000 years old, and its genetic markers indicate that it more closely resembled modern-day dogs than actual wolves. The similarity between modern dogs and this particular skull was also evident thanks to its shape and size. Another old canine fossil dates back to around 31,000 years ago and was discovered in Goyet Cave in Belgium. And even though its mtDNA (mitochondrial DNA) indicates that it does not share its matriline with any extant wolves or dogs, its skull morphology is more similar to a dog than an actual wolf.

5. The Oldest Writing in the World

Three inscribed tablets that were found in what is now present day Romania may contain the oldest writing system in the world. Each of them is about two and a half inches wide, each has markings on it, and all of them are dated back to around 5300 BC. They were found in 1961 in a ritual pit, alongside other clay and stone offerings and the bones of an elderly woman, probably a sort of priestess. The Tartaria Tablets, as they are known, are thought to have belonged to theTurdas-Vinca culture that inhabited the area during that period. But despite the importance of the discovery and what they stand to represent if proven to be the real deal, the tablets are still shrouded in some controversy. For instance, Mesopotamian experts disregard the Tartaria Tablets by saying that the symbols on them are not actually writing, but only decorations. Other experts believe that these tablets actually contain an early form of Sumerian script since some of the symbols found here are identical to pictograms found in Jemdet Nasr in Iraq.

A German linguist and Mesopotamian script specialist by the name of Harald Haarmann strongly believes that the symbols on the tablets are an early form of writing. He bases his assumptions on the many other symbols that are part of the so-called Danube script found throughout the region on various other ceramic objects and which number roughly the same as the Egyptian hieroglyphs. A more recent discovery from 2009 has brought to light a Neolithic workshop that was once manufacturing clay tablets. Another 120 similar tablets were found at the site, some containing symbols similar to the ones at Tartaria. If these symbols are ever proven to be authentic and part of an actual ancient script, then the cradle of civilization could be moved from the Middle East to Eastern Europe.

4. The City of the Sun in North America

Native Americans usually lived in tepees, right? Well, yes… at least, some of them did. But in fact, many Native North Americans lived in large cities before the arrival of the Europeans to the continent. One notable example is Cahokia, or the City of the Sun. It is located in in the state of Illinois, close where the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers merge. This area is one of the most fertile on the continent and here one Native American culture, the Mississippians, made it their home. But they didn’t just live in tepees, but rather in grand cities of some 20,000 people strong. Cahokia was at its peak between 1050 and 1200 AD, and during this time, it was bigger than any other European counterpart.

And here is where this tepee misconception comes into play. It was so ingrained into white people’s imaginations that when they came across some earthen mounds in the region, they initially attributed them to retreating glaciers. When they did eventually realize that these were actually man-made, they attributed their construction to Phoenicians, Vikings, and even a lost tribe of Israel. Pretty much anyone other than the Native Americans themselves. And Cahokia is big. It spans over an area of about six square miles and had a total of 120 earth mounds. The city was carefully planned and organized, with plazas, residential areas, and elite compounds. The largest of the earth mounds found here is about 100 feet tall and contains more than 25 million cubic feet of earth, carried here in willow baskets 50 pounds at a time. Known as the Monks Mound, this is the largest earthen structure in the Western Hemisphere.

Fairly little is known about the civilization that built it, however. We do know that their trade network was vast, reaching from the Rocky Mountains to the Appalachians and from the Great Lakes to Florida. They practiced human sacrifice and relied heavily on corn for nourishment. Today, however, only 70 of the original 120 earth mounds have survived and there is a four lane highway running right through the historic site.

3. Cambodia’s Medieval Cities

The Khmer Empire was one of the most powerful in Southeast Asia, and probably in the world at the time. It existed in between 802 AD to 1431 AD and extended over what are now Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam. They ruled over the region including where the temple complex of Angkor Wat is located. The temple complex itself is one of the most important archaeological sites in Southeast Asia and consists of many architectural marvels besides the obvious temples found there. Back in 2012, a team of archaeologists made use of state of the art laser technology called LiDAR. This technology has the ability to see through dense vegetation and map the topography under the jungle canopy. What they discovered was amazing, to say the least. They used LiDAR again in 2015, in a project that became the most extensive airborne survey used for archaeological purposes ever. Some 734 square miles of terrain was scanned and it revealed an unimaginable network of roads, water ways, and densely populated cities, unrivaled anywhere in the world at the time.

Lead archaeologist on the project Damian Evans had this to say about the discovery: “We have entire cities discovered beneath the forest that no one knew were there – at Preah Khan of Kompong Svay and, it turns out, we uncovered only a part of Mahendraparvata on Phnom Kulen [in the 2012 survey] … this time we got the whole deal and it’s big, the size of Phnom Penh big.”

Phnom Penh is the current capital city of Cambodia. This survey has shown that the Khmer Empire was able to design and implement an elaborate water system on a grand scale, centuries before archaeologists believed the technology even existed. This new discovery also disproves the theory on how the Khmer Empire eventually collapsed. Up until 2015, it was believed that they were invaded from the north and people fled south. But the lack of any cities in that direction disproves this theory. In any case, Angkor is now, without a shadow of a doubt, the most extensive urban settlement in the world prior to the Industrial Revolution. This is, of course, if LiDAR technology doesn’t discover any others.

2. The Gold Crucifix of Denmark

One beautiful afternoon in 2016, an amateur metal detector in Denmark came across a gold crucifix in a field near the town of Aunslev, Østfyn. After he posted his discovery on social media, some people advised him to take it to a local museum, which he did. Here, the curator dated the Birka crucifix to somewhere in the first half of the 10th century AD. It is made out of finely articulated goldthreads and small filigree pellets, and has a loop through which a chain once went. What is really interesting about this find is that it’s dated between 900 and 950 AD, leading historians to believe that the Danes were converted to Christianity earlier than previously believed.

Prior to this discovery, the earliest representation of Jesus on a cross in Denmark came in the form of the Jelling Stones – two large rune stones dated to 965 AD, and which are located in Jutland. These stones commemorate Harald Blåtand, or Harald Bluetooth, for his role in converting the Danes to Christianity. What this tiny cross does is push back the period when these Vikings became Christians by several decades, at a minimum.

1. The Appearance of Agriculture

It’s a common belief that agriculture started off in what are now Armenia, eastern Turkey, Syria, Palestine, Israel, Jordan, and Iran around 11,000 years ago. Then it spread to the rest of the Old World. And while this is still true, new archaeological evidence shows that agriculture actually developed in two distinct parts of this particular region, known as the Fertile Crescent, and each then spread to different parts of the world independently. Genetic evidence has proven that there are stark differences between people living in the southern Levant, like Israel and Jordan, and those from across the Zagros Mountains in western Iran. Each of these groups of people developed their own style of agriculture and animal husbandry, favoring different plants and animals for domestication. They lived in complete isolation from each other for centuries or even millennia before they actually met.

And it is believed that they only came in contact in eastern Turkey when both groups were in search of obsidian needed for all sorts of tools. It’s also believed that these people met, intermingled, exchanged agricultural techniques and ideas, and then migrated westward into Europe. Those who remained behind, however, went their own separate ways, spreading their distinct forms of agriculture to other parts of the world. Those living in the southern Levant eventually traveled to East Africa, going through present-day Egypt and down the Nile and the Red Sea coast, while those living in western Iran made their way north into the Eurasian steppe and then eastward into present day India and Pakistan. While this discovery doesn’t seem like much given that both of these populations emerged from the Fertile Crescent region, it does change our perspective of how history and the start of civilization actually played out.


Game Changing Archaeology

“Where is the WABAC Machine going to take us this time, Mr. Peabody?

– WABAC Discoveries

Burger King Confidential – WIF Fast Food

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WIF Fast Food-001

Things You Didn’t Know

About Burger King

Burger King has become an almost ubiquitous feature of the global landscape. With more than 13,000 locations across more than 70 countries, it’s hard to visit many cities, especially within the United States, which houses the majority of its outlets, without seeing at least one Burger King. However, despite its constant presence on roadsides worldwide, Burger King is still hiding some surprises, including the 10 shockers listed below.

10. BK Ended Over 200,000 Friendships

whopper sacrifice

Burger King has created buzz with its unusual marketing tactics. One of its most original was 2009’s “Whopper Sacrifice” promotion. The promotion, offered via a Facebook application, offered users a free Whopper in exchange for unfriending 10 of their Facebook friends. In contrast to a normal Facebook unfriending, in which the “dumped” friend is not notified, Burger King’s application sent notifications to the 10 rejected friends, alerting them that their online friendship had been traded for (part of) a hamburger.

The app was wildly successful, with more than 80,000 users deleting more than 200,000 friends in a week. Facebook, however, was not amused. The company disabled the app after 10 days, claiming that the notification feature violated its privacy standards, stopping the promise of a free Whopper from ending any additional Facebook friendships.

9. BK Tried to Make Nice with McDonald’s

whopper mac

In 2015, in recognition of the United Nations’ International Peace Day on September 21, Burger King made a bold proposal to archrival McDonald’s. In full-page ads in the New York Times and the Chicago Tribune, Burger King askedMcDonald’s to join it in a one-day truce in the “Burger Wars” between the two chains. Burger King proposed selling a “McWhopper,” a combo of both chain’s signature burgers in a one day pop-up location in Atlanta located between the two restaurants, staffed with employees of both chains. Proceeds would support Peace One Day, a non-profit organization that seeks to raise awareness of the International Day of Peace.

McDonald’s CEO Steve Easterbrook was unimpressed with the gesture and quickly dismissed the possibility of a McWhopper. He further noted that the “friendly business competition” between the two companies in no way resembled “the real pain and suffering of war.” Burger King took its rejection in stride, partnering with other chains, including Denny’s, on its Peace Burger popup. McDonald’s, meanwhile, launched a separate ad campaign in support of the UN’s World Food Program.

8. The Whopper has a Hard to Find “Perfect Wine Pairing”

whopper wine

When Burger King sought to celebrate the 40th anniversary of its 1975 entry into Spain, it did so with a classy touch. The chain produced a limited edition wine, designed to pair perfectly with the Whopper. “Whopper wine,” as Burger King dubbed it, was produced in Spain, and aged in flame-grilled (by a Burger King broiler) barrels, to produce a flavor that would complement its burgers.

Unfortunately, this ideal beverage companion to the Whopper will remain unknown to most. Bottles of Whopper wine, which included a matching box (perhaps for ease of carrying into one’s local Burger King), were available only in Spain, and then only to forty winners of a contest to share your “Best Burger King story.” Which, in retrospect, is a contest they should have saved until after they started plying their customers with wine.

7. BK has a Secret Menu

suicide burger

Several quick-service restaurants offer items that aren’t on the menu, but that they will make if in-the-know customers request them. For example, In-N-Out’ssecret menu includes “Animal Style fries,” which are topped with a mix of grilled onions, cheese and Thousand Island spread. And though there are no quesadillason the menu at Chipotle, you can get one if you know to order it.

Burger King also has a secret menu of items that are available as long as the ingredients are there and the employees are game (It’s best not to try your luck during the lunch hour rush). Offerings include the BK Ham & Cheese (served hot or cold on a sesame seed bun), “Frings”—a half order of fries, half order of onion rings, certain to settle any marital squabble, and the Rodeo Burger, which features the addition of BBQ sauce and onion rings. However, the title for “most intense secret menu item” at Burger King goes to the aptly named “Suicide Burger.” Also known as the “Quad Stacker,” this monster burger includes 4 patties, 4 slices of cheese, bacon, and special sauce. If you know about the secret menu and have a death wish, about $4, and a patient local Burger King employee, this giant ball of meat can be yours.

6. BK Briefly Offered Table Service

table service

Table service? At Burger King? The idea of sitting down and having your food brought to your table at Burger King is hard to imagine. But if you missed the three-month period in 1992 when the chain rolled out table service, the only way that you will have this experience is in your imagination.

The idea behind table service was to attract new customers during the evening, traditionally a slow time of day for fast food restaurants. After ordering at the counter, guests were offered free baskets of popcorn to snack on while they awaited the arrival of their food, which could include choices from an upgraded dinner menu including steak sandwiches and fried shrimp, at their tables. Some locations even offered mood lighting and music.

Rival restaurant Wendy’s took a tongue-in-cheek approach to the upgraded experience offered by Burger King. Noting that Wendy’s did not plan to offer similar service, a Wendy’s spokesman said of Burger King’s table service (we’re sure with no hint of sarcasm at all) , “We think it’s fabulous. We hope Burger King spends millions of dollars on it.” That assessment would prove prophetic. Table service slowed down Burger King’s operations so much that the company lost millions of dollars, abandoning the foray into offering more upgraded service just a few months after it was launched.

5. BK Footed the Bill for One Lucky Couple’s Wedding

king burger

Ashley and Joel’s relationship has its roots in a history that will sound familiar to many couples. Friends since grade school, the two attended prom and homecoming together, but insisted to those around them that they were “just friends.” However, the two started dating in college and in 2015, Joel proposed.

This sounds like an ordinary love story, until you hear that Ashley’s last name is King, and Joel’s is Burger. After a guest speaker at their elementary school pointed out that together, they were “Burger-King,” the moniker stuck with the couple. When they got engaged, they took photos at a local Burger King, which soon went viral. The couple, who had hoped Burger King would provide some branded party favors or let them use the logo on wedding swag were in for a real treat. Burger King offered to pick up the whole tab for their Jacksonville, Illinois ceremony and reception—offering them “a whopper of a wedding,” delighting the stunned, and fortunately named, pair.

The Burger-King wedding, attended by approximately 400 guests, took place July 17, 2015. The couple, and their wedding party, donned cardboard Burger King crowns for some of their photos and the groom and groomsmen wore Burger King t-shirts hidden under their formalwear. The guests sipped out of custom Mason jars bearing the Burger King logo during the reception. The sign in front of the local Burger King celebrated the Burger-King wedding as well, reading “Congratulations Ashley and Joel.”

4. BK is Owned by a Canadian Donut Shop

tim horton

Burger King seems as American as, well, the hamburger, which was invented in the US around the turn of the century. But as of 2014, Burger King is actually aCanadian company. How did this happen? Burger King merged with Tim Hortons, an iconic Canadian coffee and donut shop, and both companies were consolidated under the Restaurant Brands International holding company, headquartered in Canada.

The deal was controversial on both sides of the border. Americans protested the relocation of a highly symbolic company as part of a tax inversion transaction, a move which some said could save the company more than $1 billion in US tax payments over the next several years. Meanwhile, Canadians and their lawmakers weren’t thrilled about the American takeover of their iconic brand, fearing job losses and a negative impact to national identity. The company, which denies that tax considerations were central to the merger decision, defends its merger decision as part of a larger strategy to aggressively pursue global expansion opportunities for both brands.

3. BK Had to Recall “Religiously Offensive” Ice Cream Desserts in the UK

BK ice cream

When you think of controversial Burger King desserts, if anything comes to mind at all, it may be Burger King’s bacon sundae, which debuted to mixed reviews in 2012. But Burger King’s UK operations faced an entirely different controversy in 2005 over its ice cream desserts. In that case, it wasn’t even the dessert that caused the dustup—it was the packaging it came in.

The lid on the ice cream treat depicted a rotating ice cream cone. But at least onehorrified customer—Rashad Akthar of High Wycombe—saw something else entirely. Akthar claimed that the design resembled the Arabic inscription for Allah, causing offense to Muslims. He urged a boycott of Burger King, calling the issue, “my jihad.” Burger King promptly recalled the questionable cones, apologizing and redesigning the lid in concert with the backing of the Muslim Council of Britain. At the same time, the chain insisted that the original design, “simply represents a spinning ice-cream cone.”

2. BK’s “Black Whopper” Has an…Unusual…Side Effect

black whopper

Health experts have long warned of the negative consequences of a long-term diet heavy in fast food. But Burger King’s A1 Halloween Whopper, which appeared as a limited-time holiday menu item in the US in October of 2015 had a more immediate, and colorful, impact on the digestive systems of those who consumed it, producing bright green poop.

The A1 Halloween Whopper, a burger in a black bun, is the American version of a similar item sold in Burger King’s Japanese locations. The company indicates that the black bun of this burger comes from having A1 steak sauce baked in. But it’s clear to at least one medical professional that that deep color didn’t come just from A1, but rather, from food coloring—and a lot of it. The dye used on the bun of the Black Whopper travels through your system, emerging with a jaunty green hue. Luckily, this spooky side effect, much like the A1 Halloween Whopper that produces it, exists only on a temporary basis.

1. BK has a Special Crown Gold Card Available Only to Celebrities

BK Card

Ahhh, the perks of being famous: private jets, deluxe hotel suites, personal assistants to cater to your every whim. But there’s one perk that a small subset of the rich and famous enjoy that you may not have anticipated: unlimited free Burger King food.

Burger King has offered its “Crown Card” since 2006. For ordinary folks, this works just like any other prepaid gift card (the one pictured above is an ordinary Crown Card, if you were curious). But some celebrities, at least 12 that we know of, have been given an upgraded Burger King gold crown card. Why is this card special? It entitles the bearer to unlimited free food from Burger King…for life. We’ll leave it to you to determine if this is a reward, or a punishment.

How do you get one of these coveted cards? Even for top-tier celebrities, getting the gold crown card is a rare achievement, with fewer in circulation than, say, Oscar statuettes. Chris Koster, who manages the program for Burger King, notes, “We’ve been extremely thoughtful about who receives them for life.”

Some celebrity cardholders, including Jennifer Hudson and My Name is Earlcreator Greg Garcia, got theirs because, at one point in their careers, they worked at Burger King. George Lucas earned his by always partnering with Burger King on releases of his blockbuster movies. Hugh Laurie of House fame, got his after joking that he had one in an interview; the claim garnered so much free PR for Burger King that the company happily added him the 12th celebrity gold crown card holder.

Burger King Confidential

– WIF Fast Food