Run, Run, As Fast As You Can – You Can’t Catch Me, I’m the ____!

 

What to listen to while you’re reading this week’s post:

  1. The Gingerbread Man, A Song for Children
  2. Gingerbread Man by Melanie Martinez – (Official Audio)
  3. The Gingerbread Man Song (From a scratchy 78 rpm record.)

 

Now that Thanksgiving is over, (and you’ve eaten the last piece of leftover pie, turkey, stuffing, gravy, cranberry sauce et.), and you survived Black Friday and Cyberweek, it’s time to turn our attention to more goodies – Christmas cookies.  Now I do have a few (actually many) favorites, but for me nothing says “the holidays are here” quite like gingerbread and gingerbread cookies – (ok, I’ll admit it – I love almost all the cookies!!).  There’s something special about the aroma filling the house of gingerbread cooking in the oven.  Occasionally Jackie tolerates my decorating expertise, but only for a little while, and then it goes back to the female masters in my life. I am normally able to decorate a single cookie!  Someday I will share my special cookie decorating talent.  I did some digging, and found this great PBS article, (special thanks to ToniAvey.com) along with some tidbits found on the internet.  Enjoy, and be sure to try the recipe below (and then box some up and send them to me at KHT HQ). My team is always willing to try new things!

 

  • No confection symbolizes the holidays quite like gingerbread in its many forms, from edible houses to candy-studded gingerbread men to spiced loaves of cake-like bread.
  •  In Medieval England, the term gingerbread simply meant preserved ginger and wasn’t applied to the desserts we are familiar with until the 15th century. The term is now broadly used to describe any type of sweet treat that combines ginger with honey, treacle or molasses.
  •  Ginger root was first cultivated in ancient China, where it was commonly used as a medical treatment. From there it spread to Europe via the Silk Road. During the Middle Ages it was favored as a spice for its ability to disguise the taste of preserved meats. Henry VIII is said to have used a ginger concoction in hopes of building a resistance to the plague. Even today we use ginger as an effective remedy for nausea and other stomach ailments. In Sanskrit the root was known as srigavera, which translates to “root shaped like a horn” a fitting name for ginger’s unusual appearance.
  •  According to Rhonda Massingham Hart’s Making Gingerbread Houses, the first known recipe for gingerbread came from Greece in 2400 BC. Chinese recipes were developed during the 10th century and by the late Middle Ages, Europeans had their own version of gingerbread. The hard cookies, sometimes gilded with gold leaf and shaped like animals, kings and queens, were a staple at Medieval fairs in England, France, Holland and Germany.
  •  Queen Elizabeth I is credited with the idea of decorating the cookies in this fashion, after she had some made to resemble the dignitaries visiting her court. Over time some of these festivals came to be known as Gingerbread Fairs, and the gingerbread cookies served there were known as ‘fairings’.  The shapes of the gingerbread changed with the season, including flowers in the spring and birds in the fall.
  •  Elaborately decorated gingerbread became synonymous with all things fancy and elegant in England. The gold leaf that was often used to decorate gingerbread cookies led to the popular expression “to take the gilt off of gingerbread.”  The carved, white architectural details found on many colonial American seaside homes is sometimes referred to as gingerbread work.
  •  Gingerbread houses originated in Germany during the 16th century. The elaborate cookie-walled houses, decorated with foil in addition to gold leaf, became associated with Christmas tradition. Their popularity rose when the Brothers Grimm wrote the story of Hansel and Gretel, in which the main characters stumble upon a house made entirely of treats deep in the forest. It is unclear whether or not gingerbread houses were a result of the popular fairy tale, or vice versa.
  • Most gingerbread men share a roughly humanoid shape, with stubby feet and no fingers. Many gingerbread men have a face, though whether the features are indentations within the face itself or other candies stuck on with icing or chocolate varies from recipe to recipe. Other decorations are common; hair, shirt cuffs, and shoes are sometimes applied, but by far the most popular decoration is shirt buttons, which are traditionally represented by gum drops, icing, or raisins.
  • According to the Guinness Book of Records, the world’s largest gingerbread man was made by the staff of the IKEA Furuset store in Oslo, Norway, on 9 November 2009. The gingerbread man weighed 1,435.2 pounds. See it HERE.
  •  The newest “largest” winning gingerbread house, spanning nearly 40,000 cubic feet, was erected at Traditions Golf Club in Bryan, Texas. The house required a building permit and was built much like a traditional house. 4,000 gingerbread bricks were used during its construction. To put that in perspective, a recipe for a house this size would include 1,800 pounds of butter and 1,080 ounces of ground ginger. Sounds more like a gingerbread resort! See it HERE.
  •  Gingerbread arrived in the New World with English colonists. The cookies were sometimes used to sway Virginia voters to favor one candidate over another. The first American cookbook, American Cookery by Amelia Simmons, has recipes for three types of gingerbread including the soft variety baked in loaves.
  •  This softer version of gingerbread was more common in America. George Washington’s mother, Mary Ball Washington, served her recipe for gingerbread to the Marquis de Lafayette when he visited her Fredericksburg, Virginia home. Since then it was known as Gingerbread Lafayette. The confection was passed down through generations of Washington’s.

Gingerbread Cookies Recipe
You will need: medium saucepan, large mixing bowl, sifter, wax or parchment paper, rolling pin, cookie cutter(s) of your choice, baking sheet, nonstick cooking spray or silicone baking sheet.

  • ¾ cup unsulphured molasses
  • ¾ cup butter
  • ¾ cup dark brown sugar
  • 4 ½ cups flour, plus more for rolling surface
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 3 ½ tsp ground ginger
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • Royal icing (optional)
  • Sprinkles, cinnamon candies, or any other decorations of your choice (optional)

In a medium saucepan, heat the molasses to the simmering point. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter until it melts. Stir in the brown sugar. Allow to cool.  In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, baking soda, ginger and cinnamon. Add the cooled molasses and the egg to the flour mixture and mix very well until a dough forms. You may need to use your hands to really incorporate the wet mixture into the dry mixture.  Wrap dough in wax or parchment paper and chill for 1-2 hours, or until firm enough to roll.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Transfer chilled dough to a lightly floured rolling surface and roll out the dough to one-quarter inch thickness. Roll out a quarter of the dough at a time.  Cut cookies with your choice of cookie cutter. I chose a traditional gingerbread man, but you can get creative with any kind of cookie cutter you’d like.  Transfer cut dough to a baking sheet that has been lightly greased with nonstick cooking spray or lined with a silicone baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees F for 12-15 minutes. The cookies will puff up but won’t spread much.  Cool completely on a rack before decorating with royal icing, decorative sprinkles and candies.

 

 


 

First You Get the Ladder…

The fun of the season. Getting the house all lit up and glowing. It can be hazardous as those few pictures suggest so be careful out there. Below those images are a couple of really old ads for lights. That black & white ad is selling the safety of electric lights vs candles which may burn down your house. I’m sold. And a couple of old boxes of lights. Remember those bubble lights? I thought those were the greatest. Still do. Then there are the photos of some way over the top lighting displays. Love it!!!

Yep – it’s that time of year, my annual ritual of lighting up the house for the holidays.  Like you, I’m torn – my logical brain says I should take advantage of the warmer weather and hang the lights before Thanksgiving, cleaning out the gutters and avoiding the cold.  But my “do other chores or just watch football” brain says – oh, you can wait – and then I find myself outside in the freezing wind, shaking on the ladder as I hang half frozen bulbs across the gutters …  To be honest, my lovely wife Jackie helps me decide … 🙂  Now, although I love how our home looks all lit up,  I have reached a point where Jackie and I have agreed that I am not allowed to be climbing, crawling, kneeling, hanging on the roof any longer.  For some reason the downsides of falling off outweigh the upsides of hanging lights all over the roof-windows, etc!  With this in mind, I started to think about the design and manufacturing marvel those tiny little bulbs are.  Talk about a PIA (Pain in the @%$) Job – figuring out an efficient, low cost way to manufacture billions of bulbs to meet our ongoing desire to light up our homes both inside and out.  Here’s some cool history and info on the manufacturing of holiday lights. Thanks to the genius of Edison, and all those engineers who machined, (heat treated YEA!!) built the machines and make them go. Enjoy.  And special thanks to howmade.com and Business Insider for the videos.

  • Festivals in a number of ancient civilizations were celebrated with lights; any and all of these may have been the inspiration for the lights we use to decorate Christmas trees and the exteriors of homes.
  • The Druids in both France and England believed that oak trees were sacred, and they ornamented them with candles and fruit in honor of their gods of light and harvest. The ancient Roman festival of Saturnalia included trees decorated with candles and small gifts. The worship of trees as the homes of spirits and gods may have led to the Christmas tree tradition and that tradition has long been accompanied by the companion custom of decking the tree with brilliant lights evoking stars, jewels, sparkling ice, and holiday cheer.
  • From the beginnings of Christianity to about 1500, trees were sometimes decorated outdoors, but they were not brought into homes. One legend has it that Martin Luther (1483-1546), the father of Protestantism, was walking through an evergreen forest on Christmas Eve. The beauty of the stars sparkling through the trees touched him, and he took a small tree home and put candles on its branches to recreate the effect for his family.
  • Similarly, German settlers brought the Christmas tree to America where the first tree was displayed in Pennsylvania in 1851. Candles were attached to the boughs of the trees with increasingly extravagant candle-holders, some with colored glass that made the lights appear colored. Of course, the practice of using candles was hazardous; many fire brigades were called to extinguish fires started by candles that had ignited the trees or the long hair or dresses of the ladies. Candles on trees were lit for several minutes only and sometimes only on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day; the custom of lighting trees for extended periods of time had to wait until the invention of the electric light bulb.
  • The first electric lights for Christmas debuted only three years after Thomas Alva Edison invented the lightbulb in 1879. Edward Johnson, a resident of New York and a colleague of Edison’s, was the first to have an electrically lighted Christmas tree in his home in 1882.
  • The tiny bulbs were hand blown and the lights were hand-wired to make this event possible, but it opened an avenue for Edison’s electric company that produced miniature, decorative bulbs for chandeliers and other uses from its earliest days. Electric lights appeared on the White House Christmas tree in 1895 when Grover Cleveland was President.
  • General Electric (GE) bought the rights to light-bulb production from Edison in 1890, but GE initially only made porcelain light bulbs. To light a tree, the family had to hire a “wireman” who cut lengths of rubber-coated wire, stripped the ends of the wires, fastened them to sockets with brass screws, fitted a larger socket to a power outlet or light fixture, and completed assembly of a string of lights. This was too expensive and impractical for the average family. This was a major PIA (Pain in the @%$) job!
  • In 1903, the Ever-Ready Company of New York recognized an opportunity and began manufacturing festoons of 28 lights. By 1907, Ever-Ready was making standard sets of eight series-wired lights; by connecting the sets or outfits, longer strings of lights could be made.
  • Ever-Ready did not have a patent on its series-wired strings of lights, and this basic wiring system was adapted by many other small companies. These sets were not always safe, and episodes of tree fires raised public alarm.
  • In 1921, Underwriters’ Laboratories (UL) established the first safety requirements for Christmas lights. A number of light manufacturers merged in 1927 to form the National Outfit Manufacturers Association (NOMA), which went on to dominate the Christmas light business, with GE and Westinghouse as the leading bulb makers. Also in 1927, GE introduced parallel wiring that permitted light bulbs to keep glowing when one on the string burned out.
  • Bulb shapes also evolved. In 1909, the Kremenetzky Electric Company of Vienna, Austria, began making miniature bulbs in the shapes of animals, birds, flowers, and fruit. Companies in the United States, Japan, and Germany also made figurative bulbs, but Kremenetzky consistently made the most beautiful glass that was hand-painted.
  • World War I ended the influx of Austrian lights. GE made machine-blown shapes beginning in 1919, and the Japanese light-bulb industry, then in its infancy, began filling the void left by the Austrians. The Japanese techniques continued to improve and were quite sophisticated by 1930, but this trade ended with World War II.
  • NOMA started to make tiny lampshades with Disney figures on them to fit over standard miniature bulbs in 1936. The most spectacular miniature bulb success was the bubble light. Carl Otis invented it in the late 1930s, but World War II also interrupted this development. Bubble lights were finally introduced in 1945, peaked in popularity in the mid-1950s, and declined by the mid 1960s. So-called midget lights, midget twinkle lights, or miniature Italian lights began arriving from Europe in the 1970s and became the best sellers of all time in the Christmas tree light business.
  • Today, holiday lights are made of three sets of materials. The strings are composed of 22-gauge copper wire that is coated in green or white polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic. Specialized manufacturers supply the wire on spools that hold 10,000 ft of wire. Two plugs begin and end each set of lights, and they are made of injection-molded plastic. The lights are held in lamp holders that are also injection-molded plastic and contain copper metal contacts.
  • The second set of materials goes into the making of light bulbs. The bulbs are made of blown glass, metal filaments, metal contact wires, and plastic bases. Bulbs are made in clear glass to produce white light, or they are painted to shine in assorted colors.
  • Finally, the finished sets of lights require packing materials. These include a molded plastic tray, a folded cardboard display box, and shipping cartons that hold multiple sets of boxed lights. The shipping cartons are made of corrugated cardboard. Each set is also packed with adhesive-backed safety labels and paper instruction and information sheets. All of the paper goods are made by outside suppliers and are produced from recyclable materials.
  • The basic design for holiday lights consists of a tried-and-true string of green plastic-covered wires with clear or colored light bulbs. Design aspects include the number of lights on the string (in multiples of 25 with 25, 50, 100, or 125 bulbs) and whether the string contains only clear bulbs, bulbs of a single color, or assorted colors of lights.
  • Green wires were made originally to blend in with the green branches of evergreens, either as indoor Christmas trees or outdoor shrubs. The tiny lights are used for many other holidays and for garden displays, so strings with white wires are made for other decorating uses. Plastic covers for the lights are also designed with Christmas and childhood themes as well as an extraordinary range for party decorating from aquarium fish to chili peppers.
  • The newest designs to take the decorating market by storm are nets of lights that can be spread over shrubs to save time in decorating, and icicle lights that look like long white icicles hanging from house eaves. Fiber-optic lights also became available in the 1990s; they are basic strings of wire and light bulbs, but each bulb is the source of light that passes through clusters of fiber-optic wire held in plastic covers that clip onto the bulb. Usually, they resemble flowers or other designs that take advantage of the cluster-like display of optic wires.

The Manufacturing Process – watch video or read the steps HERE

 

 


 

“Sunny Days, Chasin’ the Clouds Away…”

(top) The gang is 50?? They don’t look a day over 5. (row two) Jim Henson and Bert & Ernie. (row three left) There’s no shortage of Sesame Street gear like this Sesame Street Bert Face T-Shirt HERE; (row three right) Cookie Monster Plush Interactive 13 Inch Cookie Monster, Says Silly Phrases & Belly Laughs HERE; Saw these cookie Monster slippers on Nordstrom’s site, lost the link. Sorry; (row four) Cool Sesame Street gang t-shirt HERE; Nursery Rhyme Elmo reading stories HERE; (row five) “K” is for Kowalski Heat Treating; And Make an Elmo birthday cake instructions HERE; (bottom) Okay, kids break out your red crayons and color Elmo!

Go ahead.  Sing it.  I know it’s a part of your memory bank.  All of us can remember growing up with the main characters, episodes, songs and awesome music of our beloved Sesame Street – an American gem for sure – celebrating 50 years this week. I spent some time online finding some history on the early days and a few “tidbits” I hope you will enjoy – Hats off to the visionaries and creative efforts behind the show, its mission and those lovable characters Bert, Ernie, Elmo, The Grouch, Big Bird, Snuffy, the Count and of course my favorite Cookie Monster (we both love to eat) – what fun!  Here’s to another 50 great years ahead.  The history is fascinating! Enjoy the tidbits!

  • The preschool educational television program Sesame Street was first aired on public broadcasting television stations November 10, 1969, and reaches its 50th season this year.
  • The history of Sesame Street mirrors changing attitudes in developmental psychology, early childhood education, and cultural diversity. Featuring Jim Henson’s Muppets, animation, live shorts, humor and celebrity appearances, it was the first television program of its kind to base its content and production values on laboratory and formative research, and the first to include a curriculum “detailed or stated in terms of measurable outcomes”, a term not commonplace when all this began.
  • Initial responses to the show included adulatory reviews, some controversy and high ratings. By its 40th anniversary in 2009, Sesame Street was broadcast in over 120 countries, and 20 independent international versions had been produced. To date, it’s won eleven Grammys and over 150 Emmys – more than any other children’s show.
  • The show was conceived in 1966 during discussions between television producer Joan Ganz Cooney and Carnegie Corporation vice president Lloyd Morrisett. Their goal was to create a children’s television show that would “master the addictive qualities of television and do something good with them”,such as helping young children prepare for school. After two years of research, the newly formed Children’s Television Workshop (CTW) received a combined grant of $8 million from the Carnegie Corporation, the Ford Foundation and the U.S. federal government to create and produce a new children’s television show.
  • By the show’s tenth anniversary in 1979, nine million American children under the age of six were watching Sesame Street daily, and several studies showed it was having a positive educational impact. The cast and crew expanded during this time, including the hiring of women in the crew and additional minorities in the cast.
  • Because of the popularity of the Muppet Elmo, the show incorporated a popular segment known as “Elmo’s World”. In late 2015, in response to “sweeping changes in the media business”, HBO began airing first-run episodes.  Episodes became available on PBS stations and websites nine months after they aired on HBO.
  • As of its 50th anniversary in 2019, Sesame Street has produced over 4,500 episodes, 35 TV specials, 200 home videos, and 180 albums. Its YouTube channel had almost 5 million subscribers, and the show had 24 million followers on social media.

Development Genius & The Early Days – A Real PIA (pain in the @%$) Job!

  • In the late 1960s, 97% of American households owned a television set, and preschool children watched an average of 27 hours of television per week.  Programs created for them were widely criticized for being too violent and for reflecting commercial values. Producer Joan Ganz Cooney called children’s programming a “wasteland” as many children’s television programs were produced by local stations, with little regard for educational goals, or cultural diversity.
  • Early childhood educational research had shown that when children were prepared to succeed in school, they earned higher grades and learned more effectively. Children from low-income families had fewer resources than children from higher-income families to prepare them for school. These trends in education, along with the great societal changes occurring in the United States during this era, the time was ripe for the creation of a show like Sesame Street.
  • Since 1962, Cooney had been producing talk shows and documentaries at educational television station WNDT, and in 1966 had won an Emmy for a documentary about poverty in America. In early 1966, Cooney and her husband Tim hosted a dinner party at their apartment in New York; experimental psychologist Lloyd Morrisett, who has been called Sesame Street’s “financial godfather”, and his wife Mary were among the guests. Cooney’s boss, Lewis Freedman, whom Cooney called “the grandfather of Sesame Street“, also attended the party, as did their colleague Anne Bower. As a vice-president at the Carnegie Corporation, Morrisett had awarded several million dollars in grants to organizations that educated poor and minority preschool children.
  • Morrisett and the other guests felt that even with limited resources, television could be an effective way to reach millions of children.  Morrisett hired her to conduct research on childhood development, education and media, and she visited experts in these fields across the United States and Canada. She researched their ideas about the viewing habits of young children and wrote a report on her findings.
  • Cooney’s study, titled “Television for Preschool Education”, spelled out how television could be used to help young children, especially from low-income families, prepare for school. The focus on the new show was on children from disadvantaged backgrounds, but Cooney and the show’s creators recognized that in order to achieve the kind of success they wanted, it had to be equally accessible to children of all socio-economic and ethnic backgrounds.
  • As a result of Cooney’s proposal, the Carnegie Corporation awarded her a $1 million grant in 1968 to establish the Children’s Television Workshop (CTW) to provide support to the creative staff of the new show. Morrisett, who was responsible for fundraising, procured additional grants from the United States federal government, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and the Ford Foundation for the CTW’s initial budget, which totaled $8 million; obtaining funding from this combination of government agencies and private foundations protected the CTW from economic pressures experienced by commercial networks. Sesame Street was an expensive program to produce because the creators decided they needed to compete with other programs that invested in high quality professional production.
  • After being named executive director of the CTW, Cooney began to assemble a team of producers: Jon Stone was responsible for writing, casting, and format; David Connell took over animation and volume; and Samuel Gibbon served as the show’s chief liaison between the production staff and the research team.
  • The CTW hired Harvard University professor Gerald S. Lesser to design the show’s educational objectives and establish and lead a National Board of Advisers. Instead of providing what Lesser called “window dressing”, the Board actively participated in the construction of educational goals and creative methods. At the Board’s direction, Lesser conducted five three-day curriculum planning seminars in Boston and New York City in summer 1968. The purpose of the seminars was to ascertain which school-preparation skills to emphasize in the new show. The producers gathered professionals with diverse backgrounds to obtain ideas for educational content. They reported that the seminars were “widely successful”,and resulted in long and detailed lists of possible topics for inclusion in the Sesame Street curriculum.
  • Instead of focusing on the social and emotional aspects of development, the producers decided to follow the suggestions of the seminar participants and emphasize cognitive skills, a decision they felt was warranted by the demands of school and the wishes of parents. The objectives developed during the seminars were condensed into key categories: symbolic representation, cognitive processes, and the physical and social environment. The seminars set forth the new show’s policy about race and social issuesand provided the show’s production and creative team with “a crash course” in psychology, child development, and early childhood education. They also marked the beginning of Jim Henson’s involvement in Sesame Street. Cooney met Henson at one of the seminars; Stone, who was familiar with Henson’s work, felt that if they could not bring him on board, they should “make do without puppets”.
  • The producers and writers decided to build the new show around a brownstone or an inner-city street, a choice Davis called “unprecedented”.  Stone was convinced that in order for inner-city children to relate to Sesame Street, it needed to be set in a familiar place. Despite its urban setting, the producers decided to avoid depicting more negativity than what was already present in the child’s environment. Lesser commented, “[despite] all its raucousness and slapstick humor, Sesame Street became a sweet show, and its staff maintains that there is nothing wrong in that”.
  • The new show was called the “Preschool Educational Television Show” in promotional materials; the producers were unable to agree on a name they liked and waited until the last minute to make a decision. In a short, irreverent promotional film shown to public television executives, the producers parodied their “naming dilemma”. The producers were reportedly “frantic for a title”;  they finally settled on the name that they least disliked: Sesame Street, inspired by Ali Baba’s magical phrase, although there were concerns that it would be too difficult for young children to pronounce. Stone was one of the producers who disliked the name, but, he said, “I was outvoted, for which I’m deeply grateful”.
  • The responsibility of casting for Sesame Street fell to Jon Stone, who set out to form a cast where white actors were in the minority. He did not begin auditions until spring 1969, several weeks before five test shows were due to be produced. He filmed the auditions, and Palmer took them into the field to test children’s reactions. The actors who received the “most enthusiastic thumbs up” were cast. For example, Loretta Long was chosen to play Susan when the children who saw her audition stood up and sang along with her rendition of “I’m a Little Teapot”. Stone reported that casting was the only aspect that was “just completely haphazard”. Most of the cast and crew found jobs on Sesame Street through personal relationships with Stone and the other producers.  Stone hired Bob McGrath (an actor and singer best known at the time for his appearances on Mitch Miller’s sing-along show on NBC) to play Bob, Will Lee to play Mr. Hooper, and Garrett Saunders to play Gordon.
  • The producers of Sesame Street believed education through television was possible if they captured and sustained children’s attention; this meant the show needed a strong appeal. Edward Palmer, the CTW’s first Director of Research and the man Cooney credited with building the CTW’s foundation of research, was one of the few academics in the late 1960s researching children’s television. His research was so crucial to Sesame Street that Gladwell asserted, “… without Ed Palmer, the show would have never lasted through the first season”.

Bet you didn’t know …
1. THE IDEA FOR SESAME STREET CAME FROM ONE VERY SIMPLE QUESTION – According to The Hollywood Reporter, the original idea for Sesame Street came about during a 1966 dinner party hosted by Joan Ganz Cooney, who was a producer at New York City’s Channel 13, a public television station. Lloyd Morrisett, an experimental educator at the Carnegie Corporation, was one of Cooney’s guests and asked her the question: “Do you think [television] can teach anything?” That query was all it took to get the ball rolling on what would become Sesame Street.
2. SESAME STREET ALMOST WASN’T SESAME STREET AT ALL – When the idea for Sesame Street was first being talked about, the original title being discussed was 123 Avenue B. Eventually, that title was nixed for both being a real location in New York City that would place the show right across from Tompkins Square Park, and also for being too specific to New York City.
3. KERMIT THE FROG WAS AN ORIGINAL CAST MEMBER – Before he became the star of The Muppet Show (and the various Muppet movies), Kermit the Frog got his start as a main character on Sesame Street.
4. KERMIT WAS VERY SIMILAR TO HIS CREATOR – Most people considered Kermit the Frog to be an alter ego of creator Jim Henson.
5. CAROL BURNETT APPEARED ON SESAME STREET’S FIRST EPISODE – Guest stars have always been a part of the Sesame Street recipe, beginning with the very first episode. “I didn’t know anything about [Sesame Street] when they asked me to be on,” Carol Burnett told The Hollywood Reporter. “All I knew was that Jim Henson was involved and I thought he was a genius—I’d have gone skydiving with him if he’d asked. But it was a marvelous show. I kept going back for more. I think one time I was an asparagus.”
6. OSCAR THE GROUCH USED TO BE ORANGE – Jim Henson decided to make him green before season two. How did the show explain the color change? Oscar said he went on vacation to the very damp Swamp Mushy Muddy and turned green overnight.
7. COOKIE MONSTER ISN’T COOKIE MONSTER’S REAL NAME – During a 2004 episode, Cookie Monster said that before he started eating cookies, his name was Sid.
8. C-3P0 AND R2-D2 PAID A MEMORABLE VISIT TO SESAME STREET – In 1980, C-3PO and R2-D2 visited Sesame Street. They played games, sang songs, and R2-D2 fell in love with a fire hydrant.
9. MR. SNUFFLEUPAGUS HAS A FIRST NAME – It’s Aloysius. Aloysius Snuffleupagus.
10. RALPH NADER APPEARED IN AN EPISODE – Ralph Nader stopped by in 1988 and sang “a consumer advocate is a person in your neighborhood.”
11. OSCAR THE GROUCH IS PARTLY MODELED AFTER A TAXI DRIVER – Caroll Spinney said he based Oscar’s voice on a cab driver from the Bronx who brought him to the audition.
12. IN 1970, ERNIE BECAME A MUSIC STAR – Ernie reached #16 on the Billboard Hot 100 with the timeless hit “Rubber Duckie.”
13. COUNT VON COUNT ISN’T THE ONLY COUNT ON SESAME STREET – One of Count von Count’s lady friends is Countess von Backwards, who’s also obsessed with counting but likes to do it backwards.
14. AFGHANISTAN HAS ITS OWN VERSION OF SESAME STREET – Sesame Street made its Afghanistan debut in 2011 with Baghch-e-Simsim (Sesame Garden). Big Bird, Grover, and Elmo are involved.
15. CULTURAL TABOOS PREVENTED OSCAR AND THE COUNT FROM BEING A MAJOR PART OF BAGHCH-E-SIMSIM – According to Muppet Wiki, Oscar the Grouch and Count von Count were minimized on Baghch-e-Simsim “due to cultural taboos against trash and vampirism.”
16. BREAKING BAD AND BETTER CALL SAUL’S GUS FRING PLAYED BIG BIRD’S CAMP COUNSELOR – Before Giancarlo Esposito was Breaking Bad’s super intense Gus Fring, he played Big Bird’s camp counselor Mickey in 1982. Thankfully, those episodes are available on YouTube.
17. THE BIG IN BIRD BIRD’S NAME ISN’T A MISNOMER – How big is Big Bird? 8’2″.
18. BEING THAT BIG OF A BIRD REQUIRES A LOT OF FEATHERS – In order to craft Big Bird’s iconic yellow suit, approximately 4000 feathers are needed.
19. COOKIE MONSTER HAS AN BRITISH COUSIN – His name, appropriately, is Biscuit Monster.
20. “GUY SMILEY” IS JUST A STAGE NAME – Sesame Street’s resident game show host Guy Smiley was using a pseudonym. His real name was Bernie Liederkrantz.
21. THE COUNT IS REALLY, REALLY OLD – The Count was born on October 9, 1,830,653 BCE—making him nearly 2 million years old. Try putting that many candles on a birthday cake!
22. SESAME STREET’S FIRST SEASON HAD A FEW SUPERHERO GUEST STARS – In the first season, both Superman and Batman appeared in short cartoons produced by Filmation. In one clip, Batman told Bert and Ernie to stop arguing and take turns choosing what to watch on TV. In another segment, Superman battled a giant chimp.
23. TELLY WASN’T ALWAYS TELLY – Telly was originally “Television Monster,” a TV-obsessed Muppet whose eyes whirled around as he watched.
24. SESAME STREET IS HOME TO THE ONLY NON-HUMAN WHO HAS TESTIFIED BEFORE CONGRESS – According to Sesame Workshop, Elmo is the only non-human to testify before Congress. He lobbied for more funding for music education, so that “when Elmo goes to school, there will be the instruments to play.”
25. MOST MUPPETS ONLY HAVE FOUR FINGERS – According to Sesame Workshop, all Sesame Street’s main Muppets have four fingers except Cookie Monster, who has five.
26. THERE WERE NEVER ANY PLANS TO TURN COOKIE MONSTER INTO VEGGIE MONSTER – In 2005, Sesame Street made healthy eating one of its main themes for the season—which led to some speculation that Cookie Monster might be trading in his cookies for something a bit more green and healthy. But these rumors were just that: rumors!
27. THERE ARE VERSIONS OF SESAME STREET ALL OVER THE WORLD – According to Sesame Workshop, there are currently more than 150 different version of Sesame Street—in 70 different languages—being produced around the world.
28. SESAME STREET IS ABOUT TO MAKE HISTORY AT THE KENNEDY CENTER HONORS – In December 2019, Sesame Street will receive a Kennedy Center Honor—making it the first TV show ever to earn the distinction.
29. SESAME STREET IS NOW A REAL STREET IN NEW YORK CITY – In early 2019, Sesame Street finally became a place in the real world. In honor of the show’s 50th anniversary, and its impact on New York City in particular, the intersection of West 63rd Street and Broadway in Manhattan was rechristened as “Sesame Street.”
30. WHAT ABOUT MISS PIGGY? – Despite misconceptions and rumors to the contrary, Miss Piggy has never appeared on Sesame Street.  While Kermit the Frog is well-known for his many appearances on Sesame Street, Miss Piggy (and her Muppet Show co-stars Fozzie Bear, Gonzo, Bunsen & Beaker, Animal, and others) have not appeared.

 

 


 

 

Hello – is Anybody Listening?

(top to bottom) Voyager 2 Factoids; Where the Voyager twins are now; Two awesome artist renderings of the probes in space; Get those cool his/hers black Ts being modeled HERE; The Voyager 40th anniversary logo T HERE; And the Voyager 2 Neptune black T HERE; Then get the coolest model of the Voyager—all steel, no glue required HERE; Humans certainly are amazing to have figured out how to do this. But I guess once we’ve applied ourselves to a problem, any problem, solutions keep coming. Kind of like what we do with your impossible PIA jobs, eh?

Space travel.  The stuff of Buck Rodgers, Neil Armstrong and Captain Kirk.  As a kid, I was fascinated by space and space travel. In full complete disclosure, I fully believe there is life out THERE!  Somewhere!  I’ll admit, I still struggle with the concept of distance in space, especially when coming across terms like “light years” and “billions of miles”.  Recently I read an article about Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 “still going” and wanted to share some of the cool info.  Talk about a PIA (Pain in the #%$) Jobs! – yikes!  Let’s see.  Design and build a never before done/long lasting spacecraft.  Check.  Make it power itself.  Check.  Put it inside a rocket.  Check.  Launch it into space.  Check.  And then release it, so it travels through space “forever”, transmitting back to earth for the next 50 years or more.  What?  Who does this stuff?  (rocket scientists?).  Any who, one year ago, this week, NASA’s Voyager 2 became only the second spacecraft in history (think Voyager 1 as the other) to reach interstellar space, the region between our suns reach and the stars (wrap your head around that tidbit.  And this week, several new research papers in Nature Astronomy Journal described what scientists observed during and since Voyager 2’s historic crossing.  According to Ed Stone, project scientist for Voyager and a professor of physics at Caltech, “The new findings help paint a picture of the “cosmic shoreline” where the environment created by our sun ends and the vast ocean of interstellar space begins. The Voyager probes are showing us how our sun interacts with the stuff that fills most of the space between stars in the Milky Way galaxy.” Now that’s cool!  Enjoy the info and images – special thanks to Doyle Rice of USA Today and my trusty Wikipedia to fill in the holes. (or should I say empty space 🙂 )

  • Studies say Voyager 2 has left the heliosphere – the protective bubble of particles and magnetic fields created by our sun – at a distance of about 11 billion miles from Earth, well beyond the orbit of Pluto. (Voyager 1 headed into interstellar space in 2012)
  • The heliosphere can be thought of as a cosmic weather front – a distinct boundary where charged particles rushing outward from the sun at supersonic speed meet a cooler, interstellar wind blowing in from supernovae that exploded millions of years ago.
  • “In a historical sense, the old idea that the solar wind will just be gradually whittled away as you go further into interstellar space is simply not true,” said the University of Iowa’s Don Gurnett, corresponding author on one of the studies. “We show with Voyager 2 – and previously with Voyager 1 – that there’s a distinct boundary out there.”
  • Voyager 2 is only the second spacecraft to travel this far out into the solar system. The craft was launched slightly ahead of its twin, Voyager 1, in 1977 and has been traveling through space for the past 42 years.
  • “We certainly didn’t know that a spacecraft could live long enough to leave the bubble and enter interstellar space,” Stone said at a media teleconference to announce the findings. “We had no good quantitative idea of how big this bubble is.”
  • Even though the spacecraft are out of the sun’s bubble, the Voyagers are still technically in our solar system, NASA said. Scientists maintain that the solar system stretches to the outer edge of the Oort Cloud. It will take about 30,000 years for the spacecraft to get that far. (please help me grasp this…)
  • Voyager 2 is a space probe launched by NASA on August 20, 1977, to study the outer planets. Part of the Voyager program, it was launched 16 days before its twin, Voyager 1, on a trajectory that took longer to reach Jupiter and Saturn but enabled further encounters with Uranus and Neptune.[4] It is the only spacecraft to have visited either of these two ice giant planets.
  • Its primary mission ended with the exploration of the Neptunian system on October 2, 1989, after having visited the Uranian system in 1986, the Saturnian system in 1981, and the Jovian system in 1979. Voyager 2 is now in its extended mission to study the outer reaches of the Solar System and has been operating for 42 years, 2 months and 16 days as of November 6, 2019. It remains in contact through the NASA Deep Space Network.[5]
  • At a distance of 122 AU (1.83×1010 km) (about 16:58 light-hours) from the Sun as of November 4, 2019, moving at a velocity of 15.341 km/s (55,230 km/h) relative to the Sun, Voyager 2 is the fourth of five spacecraft to achieve the escape velocity that will allow them to leave the Solar System. The probe left the heliosphere for interstellar space on November 5, 2018, becoming the second artificial object to do so, and has begun to provide the first direct measurements of the density and temperature of the interstellar plasma.
  • Constructed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Voyager 2 included 16 hydrazine thrusters, three-axis stabilization, gyroscopes and celestial referencing instruments (Sun sensor/Canopus Star Tracker) to maintain pointing of the high-gain antenna toward Earth. Collectively these instruments are part of the Attitude and Articulation Control Subsystem (AACS) along with redundant units of most instruments and 8 backup thrusters. The spacecraft also included 11 scientific instruments to study celestial objects as it traveled through space.
  • Built with the intent for eventual interstellar travel, Voyager 2 included a large, 3.7 m (12 ft) parabolic, high-gain antenna to transceive data via the Deep Space Network on the Earth. Communications are conducted over the S-band (about 13 cm wavelength) and X-band (about 3.6 cm wavelength) providing data rates as high as 115.2 kilobits per second at the distance of Jupiter, and then ever-decreasing as the distance increased, because of the inverse-square law. When the spacecraft is unable to communicate with Earth, the Digital Tape Recorder (DTR) can record about 64 megabytes of data for transmission at another time.
  • Voyager 2 is equipped with 3 Multihundred-Watt radioisotope thermoelectric generators (MHW RTG). Each RTG includes 24 pressed plutonium oxide spheres and provided enough heat to generate approximately 157 W of electrical power at launch. Collectively, the RTGs supplied the spacecraft with 470 watts at launch (halving every 87.7 years) and allows operations to continue until at least 2020.

 

 


 

“Chicken Feed”

Candy Corn…I’m not a fan but a lot of people are. And I have to say, they are THE iconic candy of Halloween. You can even get that plush toy at the bottom left for your kids HERE. Or the one on the right for your dog HERE.

 

Now that Halloween is over, the odds are you have sorted your candy and have some “not my favorite” sitting around the house – that Halloween favorite Candy Corn – loose in bowls, in tiny plastic bags, or in half used bags tucked in the back of the pantry.  You know all about it – that white, orange and yellow treat that’s intriguing to eat, but not quite what your stomach can take.  Seems like all of us like to eat them in stages – bite the white tip, then the orange center, then the yellow bottoms – (silly traditional, much like unscrewing Oreo’s and teeth-scaping the frosting).  At my house we purchase a few bags of these each year to set out in some of Jackie’s favorite Halloween bowls. All I can say is that we only eat them because they are sitting out! After that I will actually silently judge myself….again and again!

Anyway, here is some trivia about this iconic Halloween (and now other holidays) treat.  Special thanks Wikipedia and National Confections Association for the info. Enjoy.

Chicken Feed (Candy Corn as we know it today) has been around for more than 100 years. According to oral history, George Renninger, an employee of the Wunderlee Candy Company, invented the popular confection in the 1880s and Wunderlee became the first to produce the candy. The Goelitz Candy Company (now Jelly Belly Candy Company) started producing the confection around the turn of the century and still produces the popular Halloween candy today.

Candy corn first appeared when America was largely an agrarian society. The tri-color design was considered revolutionary and the public went crazy for it. We don’t know if the fact that so many Americans had farm experience at that time, if urban dwellers found it charming or if it was some combination of the two that made it so popular. Lack of machinery meant that candy corn was only made seasonally, probably gearing up in late August and continuing through the fall. It has remained unchanged for more than 100 years and is a favorite at Halloween.

The taste of candy corn can be described as somewhat polarizing and has been a subject of wide debate.

Originally the candy was made by hand.  Manufacturers first combined sugar, corn syrup, carnauba wax, and water and cooked them to form a slurry. Fondant was added for texture and marshmallows were added to provide a soft bite.  The final mixture was then heated and poured into shaped molds. Three passes, one for each colored section, were required during the pouring process.

In 1900, it was the job of many men to produce candy corn several months of the year.  Sugar, corn syrup and other ingredients were cooked into a slurry in large kettles. Fondant and marshmallow were added to give a smooth texture and bite. The 45 pounds of warm candy was poured into buckets called runners. Men dubbed stringers walked backwards pouring the candy into cornstarch trays imprinted with the kernel shape. Originally, it was delivered by wagon in wooden boxes, tubs and cartons.

The recipe remains basically the same today. The production method, called “corn starch modeling,” likewise remains the same, though tasks initially performed by hand were soon taken over by machines invented for the purpose.

A popular variation called “Indian corn” features a chocolate brown wide end, orange center and pointed white tip, often available around Thanksgiving.  During the Halloween season, blackberry cobbler candy corn can be found in eastern Canada.

Confectioners have introduced additional color variations suited to other holidays.

  • The Christmas variant (sometimes called “Reindeer Corn”) typically has a red end and a green center.
  • the Valentine’s Day variant (sometimes called “Cupid Corn”) typically has a red end and a pink center.
  • In the United States during Independence Day celebrations, corn with a blue end, white center, and red tip (named “Freedom Corn”) can be found at celebratory cook outs and patriotic celebrations.
  • the Easter variant (sometimes called “Bunny Corn”) is typically only a two-color candy and comes with a variety of pastel bases (pink, green, yellow, and purple) with white tips all in one package. In 2014, carrot corn was also introduced for the Easter season, typically being green and orange, and having a carrot cake type flavor.
  • In 2011, there were caramel apple and green apple candy corn variants.
  • In 2013 there were s’mores and pumpkin spice variants.
  • In 2015, birthday cake and “Celebration” candy corn was introduced for the Independence Day season.

The National Confectioners Association estimates that 35 million pounds (over 9000 metric tons) of candy corn are sold annually.

 

 


 

Poor Old Jack

It’s that time, folks! Get out your tools and start carving your pumpkins. Doing it outside is a good idea but the weather might keep you in. There’s one couple in the third photo at the top who thought it’d be a good idea to carve theirs under water. Makes for easy clean-up. No matter what your skill level, it’s really fun to create your very own jack-o-lantern. I have to say, there are some really clever and talented pumpkin carvers out there.

 

Traditions. Memories and family fun.  Does it get much better than everyone around the table carving pumpkins?  It’s one of my favorites! Growing up, all of my brothers and sisters would be working on carving the pumpkins together, you can only imagine the amount of pumpkin goo and seeds flying around everywhere. It took us as long to clean up the kitchen and dining room as it did to carve the pumpkins. As my own daughters got older, they all came to appreciate my sense of style, especially when using the power tools to REALLY carve the pumpkins. For some unknown reason I have never won any best pumpkin carving awards!   I went on line to get some really fun images and ideas to inspire you – for more, just type in great pumpkin carving ideas, and dozens of websites will pop up.  Here’s just a bit of trivia on Old Jack himself, and some practical guidelines to make your carving time fun, efficient and not too messy.  Thanks to kitchn.com, pumpkinnook.com and jessicagavin for the info.  Enjoy, and send me photos of your masterpieces!

 

The Irish brought the tradition of carving pumpkins into Jack O’Lantern to America. But, the original Jack O’Lantern was not a pumpkin. Pumpkins did not exist in Ireland. Ancient Celtic cultures in Ireland carved turnips on All Hallow’s Eve, and placed an ember in them, to ward off evil spirits.

The Tale of Stingy Jack and the Jack O’ Lantern goes back hundreds of years in Irish History. Many of the stories, center round Stingy Jack. Here’s the most popular story:

Stingy Jack was a miserable, old man who took pleasure in playing tricks on just about everyone: family, friends, his mother and even the Devil himself. One day, he tricked the Devil into climbing up an apple tree. After the Devil climbed up the tree, Stingy Jack hurriedly placed crosses around the trunk of the tree. Unable to touch a cross, the Devil was stuck in the tree. Stingy Jack made the Devil promise him not to take his soul when he died. Once the devil promised not to take his soul, Stingy Jack removed the crosses, and the Devil climbed down out of the apple tree.

Many years later, Jack died, he went to the pearly gates of Heaven and was told by Saint Peter that he was mean and cruel, and had led a miserable, worthless life on earth. Stingy Jack was not allowed to enter heaven. He then went down to Hell and the Devil. The Devil kept his promise and would not allow him to enter Hell. Now Jack was scared. He had nowhere to go, but to wander about forever in the dark Netherworld between heaven and hell. He asked the Devil how he could leave, as there was no light. The Devil tossed him an ember from the flames of Hell, to help Stingy Jack light his way. Jack had a Turnip with him. It was one of his favorite foods, and he always carried one with him. Jack hollowed out the Turnip, and placed the ember the Devil had given him, inside the turnip. From that day onward, Stingy Jack roamed the earth without a resting place, lighting his way as he went with his “Jack O’Lantern”.

On all Hallow’s eve, the Irish hollowed out Turnips, rutabagas, gourds, potatoes and beets. They placed a light in them to ward off evil spirits and keep Stingy Jack away. These were the original Jack O’Lanterns. In the 1800’s a couple of waves of Irish immigrants came to America. The Irish immigrants quickly discovered that Pumpkins were bigger and easier to carve out. So they used pumpkins for Jack O’Lanterns.

What Variety of Pumpkin Should I Choose?
If you’re looking for specific varieties to hunt for, the ladies of The Peterson Sisters Pumpkin Patch suggest the Hobbit pumpkin, especially popular on the West Coast, or the Autumn Gold. Hobbits are 10- to 12-pound pumpkins and are considered a medium-sized variety. Autumn Golds are a very manageable variety, weighing between seven and 10 pounds. They turn a beautiful golden-orange color before fully ripe and are easy to carve, compared to other varieties.

Christy Lehner of Lehner’s Pumpkin Farm in Radnor, OH, says that the Gold Rush and Wolf varieties are popular for people who want larger jack-o’-lanterns. Both of these types of pumpkins weigh between 15 to 35 pounds, although they’re not necessarily the easiest to carve. If you’re looking for a statement-making pumpkin and aren’t afraid of using a little elbow grease, give one of these a try.

How to Pick a Pumpkin for Carving:
1. Pick it up and tap it: It should feel sturdy. When you tap it, you should hear a hollow sound.
2. Check the coloring: Choose one that has consistent coloring throughout.
3. Look for bad spots: Try to choose a pumpkin without any scratches, bruises, or dark spots.
4. Apply pressure: Flip the pumpkin upside down and apply pressure with your thumbs. If it’s not completely sturdy, the pumpkin isn’t fresh and will rot quickly.
5. Set it down: Make sure it sits flat! (Unless you want your jack-o’-lantern to sit a little crooked.) Imagine which side will be the front facing one with your decoration.
6. Be sure to carry it from the bottom: Don’t carry it by the stem — instead, cradle it from the bottom or tote it home in a bag.

Foolproof Method to Carve a Pumpkin
Carving a pumpkin isn’t rocket science, but it’s still wise to have a game plan. Before you lop off the top of that pumpkin and grab a handful of gooey squash guts, take a look through our basic guide to carving the best Halloween pumpkin.  Follow these steps and you’ll end up with a cute and classic jack-o’-lantern with easy, no-fuss cleanup afterwards.
1. First rule of pumpkin carving: Do it somewhere you don’t mind getting messy, ideally outdoors. Line your work surface (a sturdy table or the ground) with something you’ll throw away later — like butcher paper, newsprint, or flattened brown paper grocery bags. If using the latter, simply cut down one side of the grocery bag, then cut off the base of the bag so you have a big rectangle of brown paper. Layer a few of these on the table and you’re good to go.
2.  Once you’ve got your work surface ready, it’s time to assemble the proper tools. You can totally get a pumpkin carving kit from your local drugstore, supermarket, or Halloween pop-up shop. Or you can use a few tools from your kitchen. Make sure you have everything ready so you don’t have to traipse back through your kitchen with pumpkin-gut-covered hands. Two key tools for carving include a good cook 4.5-Inch vegetable knife and a strong ladle/spoon for scooping.  For more elaborate carvings, many creative designers add in an electric drill and multiple smaller carving knives and an X-ACTO knife.
3. Draw Before You Carve – In addition to your carving tools, you’ll need a pen for drawing your design onto the pumpkin, and couple big bowls — one for the seeds (the best part of pumpkin carving!) and one for the rest of the pumpkin goo and throwaway bits leftover from carving.

Whatever you do, save those pumpkin seeds! They’re so, so good roasted simply with oil and salt. It’s not hard, but here’s a link to a simple recipe.

Step By Step Instructions:

  • Set up your workspace: Line a sturdy table with flattened grocery bags, newsprint, or butcher paper. Have your permanent marker, carving tools, and bowls nearby.
  • Draw your design: After you’ve determined the best side of your pumpkin for a face, use the permanent marker to sketch out eyes, a nose, and a toothy grin.
  • Draw your lid: Outline a circular lid around the pumpkin stem, about 5 to 6 inches in diameter. Add a notch in the back if you like — this makes it easier to line up.
  • Cut out the pumpkin lid: With a slim pumpkin carving knife (the carving tool with a toothed blade like a mini-saw) or serrated knife, cut along the outline of your pumpkin lid. Make sure you slice through the pumpkin at a 45-degree inward angle, so you’ll be able to replace the lid without it falling in.
  • Remove the pumpkin seeds: The seeds are all attached to the pumpkin and each other by thin strings. Grab the big bunches of seeds with your hands and place them in one of the bowls, to be cleaned later.
  • Scoop out the insides of the pumpkin: Using a ladle or the scraper that came with your kit (or a metal spoon if you don’t have this tool), clean out the inside of the pumpkin until no stringy bits remain. Discard the pumpkin guts in the second bowl.
  • Wipe off the pumpkin: Use the kitchen towel to wipe off the outside of the pumpkin so that it will be easier and safer to carve.
  • Cut out the design: Make straight cuts into your pumpkin along the lines of your design, removing the pieces and discarding them in the refuse bowl.
  • Clean up the details: Go back in and scrape out any stringy pieces or jagged lines with an X-ACTO knife or the wire tool from your carving kit. You can also scrape off the marker lines while you’re at it, though they won’t be visible in the darkness of night.
  • Light your pumpkin: Insert a tea light candle in the bottom of your pumpkin. Use a long match or lighter to light the pumpkin and replace the lid. Tip: If you’re having trouble lighting the candle, try going through the mouth of the jack-o’-lantern instead of the top.
  • Make roasted pumpkin seeds: Clean and dry the pumpkin seeds, then toss with oil, salt, and any desired seasonings, and roast in a low oven until golden brown.

 

 


 

Joe Info

(top row l to r) Believe it or not, today is National Crush a Can Day. Tomorrow is National Ask a Stupid Question Day. (row two) And Sunday is National Coffee Day, one of my all-time favorites! (row three) Coffee gets me going! They used to call it the think drink. It really is that…and more. (row four l to r) The ripe coffee fruit waiting to be picked. And the fruit of the roasted coffee bean waiting to be drunk. (row five) The anatomy of the coffee fruit. (row six l to r) Some things to shop for like this really cute “Good to the Last Drop” cup, $16.60 HERE. And God’s nectar of the coffee fruit. (This one ounce bottle goes for $38 on Amazon) It’s derived from the thin, juicy coating on the outside of the bean and is packed with antioxidants. More than any other source on earth. “Coffee fruit has the power to boost the immune system, protect against free radicals and act as an anti-inflammatory.” Read more HERE. And HERE’s an interesting interview with superfood hunter, Darin Olien. (row seven) Love these coffee lover cups. Probably on Amazon, too. (bottom) Ahhhh, coffee. A simple pleasure with super benefits. Cheers!!

 

Checking my “What National Day Falls on Today’s Calendar”, while drinking my morning cup of coffee, (I’m on my first, fourth cup), I noticed that this Sunday is National Coffee Day (today is National Crush A Can Day, Saturday is National Ask A Stupid Question Day for those who just had to know).  It’s a fun day, where across the country many retailers are giving away free coffee (or discounted coffee) to those of us who crave the morning, or afternoon, sweetness of a cup of Joe.  I scoured the internet to find some fun and random trivia – so when you are sitting across the table from your significant other, you can say, “honey, did you know…” a lot this weekend (if you were to ask Jackie or my girls, that is something that I say all the time!)  Enjoy, and thanks to Buzz Feed, Good Housekeeping and Express.co in the UK.  Enjoy, and go easy on the sugar.

 

  1. Coffee was originally chewed – Sipping may be your preferred method of java consumption, but coffee has not always been a liquid treat. According to a number of historians, the first African tribes to consume coffee did so by grinding the berries together, adding in some animal fat, and rolling these caffeinated treats into tiny edible energy balls.
  2. Legend has it a 9th-century Ethiopian goat herder discovered coffee by accident when he noticed how crazy the beans were making his goats.
  3. New Yorkers drink almost 7 times more coffee than other cities in the US. – which as we all know is why they are crazier than goats.
  4. Drinking decaf fuels the soda industry – After coffee beans are decaffeinated, several coffee manufacturers sell the caffeine to soda and pharmaceutical companies. (click here to learn how decaffeinated coffee is made – thanks Scientific American!)
  5. Instant coffee has been around for nearly 250 years – Instant coffee has been around for a while, making its first appearance in England in 1771. But it would take another 139 years for the first mass-produced instant coffee to be introduced (and patented) in the U.S. in 1910. (see further down for more instant coffee info)
  6. The average American spends more than $1000 on coffee each year – You’d think that spending an average of $1,092 on coffee each year would be enough to make America the world’s most caffeinated nation. You would be wrong.
  7. Finland is the world’s coffee capital – Though Finland does not produce any beans of its own, its citizens drink a lot of the brown stuff—the most of any country in the world.
  8. Beethoven was a barista’s worst nightmare – Beethoven enjoyed a cup of coffee, and was extremely particular about its preparation; he insisted that each cup he consumed be made with exactly 60 beans. Da da da dumb!
  9. Coffee beans sent Brazilian athletes to the Olympics – In 1932, Brazil couldn’t afford to send its athletes to the Olympics in Los Angeles. So they loaded their ship with coffee and sold it along the way. Imagine how Starbucks could help the US teams.
  10. There have been several attempts to ban the beverage entirely – As recently as the 18th century, governments were trying to eradicate coffee. Among the many reasons for outlawing the beverage were its tendency to stimulate “radical thinking.” In 1746 Sweden took things to an extreme when it banned both coffee and coffee paraphernalia (i.e. cups and saucers).
  11. Drinking coffee could extend your cat’s life – Maybe it’s a coincidence, but the Guinness World Record holder for “Oldest Cat Ever”—a 38-year-old kitty named Creme Puff—drank coffee every morning of her furry little life (plus enjoying bacon, eggs, and broccoli). Before you dismiss that outright, consider this: The cat that Creme Puff beat out for the record (a 34-year-old cat, appropriately named Grandpa Rex Allen) had the same owner, and was fed the exact same diet.
  12. 7th-century women thought it was turning their men into “useless corpses.” In 1674, the Women’s Petition Against Coffee claimed the beverage was turning British men into “useless corpses” and proposed a ban on it for anyone under the age of 60. I’ve been called lazy, but …
  13. Chock full O’Nuts coffee contains no nuts – It’s named for a chain of nut stores the founder converted into coffee shops.
  14. The world’s most expensive coffee comes from animal poop – Kopi Luwak, the world’s most expensive coffee, earns its pricey distinction thanks to a surprising step in its production: digestion. In Indonesia, a wild animal known as the Asian palm civet (a small critter similar to the weasel) cannot resist the bright red coffee cherries that abound, even though they can’t digest the actual coffee beans. The beans pass through the civets’ systems without being fully digested. At which point, some brave coffee farmer collects the beans from the civets’ droppings, (hopefully) thoroughly washes them, and sells them for up to $600 per pound. (I have some if you’d like to try it)
  15. The first webcam watched a coffee pot – Though it was hardly what one might described as “action-packed,” it allowed researchers at Cambridge to monitor the coffee pot volume situation in the Trojan Room without ever leaving their desks. After the webcam portion of the coffee pot experiment was pulled, the pot itself—a non-working Krups proaroma pot that would normally retail for about $50—was put up for auction on ebay, where it sold for just under $5000. (I have one in the garage you can have for $20 bucks).
  16. There’s a Starbucks at CIA headquarters – Some officers at the Central Intelligence Agency call it “Stealthy Starbucks,” but employees at the Langley, Virginia location definitely aren’t your typical Starbucks employees. For one, they must undergo extensive background checks and they cannot leave their post without a CIA escort. On the positive side: They don’t have to write down or shout out their customers’ names!
  17. Coffee could one day fuel your car – Researchers have had great success in converting coffee into biodiesel. Best of all, used grounds work just as well.  Better yet, just sit back in your electric car, brew a cup or two inside and let the car drive you.
  18. Coffee is a psychoactive. And at high doses it can make you see things… It can also kill you… And, the lethal dose of caffeine is roughly 100 cups of coffee. – what an odd way to go.
  19. A French doctor in the 1600s suggested Cafe Au Laits for patients, inspiring people to begin adding milk to coffee – very wise man.
  20. The French philosopher Voltaire is said to have drunk 50 cups of coffee a day – Because he ruled and had others to do his dishes.
  21. Espresso is regulated by the Italian government because it is considered an essential part of their daily life. – this makes perfect sense to me – good to have the government behind such an important ritual.
  22. Hawaii is the only state that commercially grows coffee. – and if you’ve had it – yum!
  23. In the ancient Arab culture, there was only one way a woman could legally divorce: If her husband didn’t provide enough coffee. – again, makes perfect sense to me.
  24. Coffee beans are actually the pit of a berry, which makes them a fruit. 
  25. Brewed espresso has 2.5% fat, while filtered coffee contains 0.6% fat. –and I thought fruits are good for you.
  26. Johan Sebastian Bach wrote an opera about a woman who was addicted to coffee. – when she sang, you could hear her five blocks away.
  27. Unlike the hip 20-something Baristas in the US, in Italy the average Barista age is 48, and it is a very respected profession.
  28. Want to know the history of the word “coffee”? Well here it is: Arabic: qahhwat al-bun (or “wine of the bean”), shortened to qahwa, borrowed by Turkish: kahve, borrowed by Dutch: koffie, then English: coffee
  29. In the 1600s there was a controversy over whether or not Catholics could drink coffee, luckily Pope Clement VIII said it was okay. (nice call – likely saved the world too!)
  30. No matter what people tell you, caffeine cannot help you sober up. – but for some reason, it’s in every movie made in the 50’s.
  31. There is a spa in Japan that lets you bathe in coffee, tea, or wine.EEEWWW – I wouldn’t drink it though…
  32. Before coffee caught on in the US in the 1700s, beer was breakfast drink of choice – Which is only slightly less awesome.
  33. Irish coffee was actually invented to warm up cold American plane passengers leaving from Ireland now it’s served at restaurants to get you to leave a bigger tip.
  34. Teddy Roosevelt is and was the greatest American coffee drinker,consuming a gallon a day. – But you probably shouldn’t attempt to do that.
  35. Instant coffee accounts for 13 per cent of all coffee drunk worldwide,more than $30billion on instant coffee last year.
  36. A form of instant coffee had been developed in England in 1771 but it had the problem of going rancid after a relatively short time.
  37. The first mass-produced instant coffee, called Red E Coffee, (get it??) was produced in 1909 by Belgian-American George Constant Louis Washington.
  38. During the First World War, US soldiers called their coffee “a cup of George”, but US military adopted the phrase cup of Joe for GI Joe.
  39. Nescafe, the first truly successful instant coffee, was launched by Nestlé in 1938.  Today, Most instant coffee is made from Robusta beans grown in Vietnam.
  40. In 2012, Canadian Masen Kankula claimed a world record by eating a tablespoon of Maxwell House granules in 8.61 seconds.  There is no information on how much powered creamer he ate that day.

 


 

Da Da Da Dahhhhhhh

(top) This Jan. 1972, photo provided by ABC, shows, from left, Don Meredith, Howard Cosell and Frank Gifford, the broadcast team of “Monday Night Football.” (the next nine photos) The very first Monday Night football game in Cleveland! Look at that hulk of a video camera!  The Browns kept scoring, the fans loved it and Joe Namath left depressed.  (the last three photos) This year’s MNF game saw the new Browns beating the Jets again!!!  So, crank-up the sound and  click here   for what is probably the most iconic theme song for a show in American television history, “Heavy Action” written by British composer, Johnny Pearson. If you want a Monday Night Football music history lesson click HERE. You’ll hear the very first MNF theme music.

 

I think it’s imbedded in my brain – forever.  The opening theme music to Monday Night Football.  This past Monday, Cleveland fans enjoyed a real treat – seeing their beloved Brownies play …. and ready for it …. WIN – on Monday Night Football. They actually scored touchdowns that were not called back, made some nice running plays, threw a couple long passes and even sacked the opposing quarterback. (it’s been about 20 years since I’ve witnessed this).  Some Steve trivia – did you know, the first Monday Night Football game was between Cleveland and the Jets … and Cleveland won, beating the famous Broadway Joe Namath – remember Homer Jones and Billy Andrews?  As I reflect back, I don’t remember a time when MNF wasn’t a part of my Fall ritual. So, I jumped online and dug up some fun information and trivia for you on how it got started (talk about solving a PIA (Pain In The @%$) Job! Can you believe it – it’s been on TV for almost 50 years – Wow.  Special thanks to Wikipedia for the “early days” insights.  (see how many guys from the shows you remember).  My Browns will be on MNF and SNF a few times this Fall – go Baker and OBJ – IT’S ABOUT @$%$&%^%$@^%$ TIME!!!!!!!!!!!  GO BROWNS!

 

  1. During the early 1960s, NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle envisioned the possibility of playing at least one game weekly during prime time that could be viewed by a greater television audience. An early bid by the league in 1964 to play on Friday nights was soundly defeated, with critics charging that such telecasts would damage the attendance at high school footballgames. Undaunted, Rozelle decided to experiment with the concept of playing on Monday night, scheduling the Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions for a game on September 28, 1964. While the game was not televised, it drew a sellout crowd of 59,203 spectators to Tiger Stadium, the largest crowd ever to watch a professional football game in Detroit up to that point.
  2. Two years later, Rozelle would build on this success as the NFL began a four-year experiment of playing on Monday night, scheduling one game in prime time on CBS during the 1966 and 1967seasons, and two contests during each of the next two years. NBC followed suit in 1968 and 1969 with games involving American Football League teams.
  3. During subsequent negotiations on a new television contract that would begin in 1970 (coinciding with a merger between the NFL and AFL), Rozelle concentrated on signing a weekly Monday night deal with one of the three major networks. After sensing reluctance from both NBC and CBS in disturbing their regular programming schedules, Rozelle spoke with ABC.
  4. Despite the network’s status at the time as the lowest-rated of the three major broadcast networks, ABC was also reluctant to enter the risky venture. It was only after Rozelle used the threat of signing a deal with the independent Hughes Sports Network, an entity bankrolled by reclusive businessman Howard Hughes, did ABC sign a contract for the scheduled games. Speculation was that had Rozelle signed with Hughes, many ABC affiliates would have pre-empted the network’s Monday lineup in favor of the games, severely damaging potential ratings.
  5. After the final contract for Monday Night Football was signed, ABC Sports producer Roone Arledge immediately saw possibilities for the new program. Setting out to create an entertainment “spectacle” as much as a simple sports broadcast, Arledge hired Chet Forte, who would serve as director of the program for over 22 years. Arledge also ordered twice the usual number of cameras to cover the game, expanded the regular two-man broadcasting booth to three, and used extensive graphic design within the show as well as instant replay.
  6. Looking for a lightning rod to garner attention, Arledge hired controversial New York City sportscaster Howard Cosell as a commentator, along with veteran football play-by-play announcer Keith Jackson. Arledge had tried to lure Curt Gowdy and then Vin Scully to ABC for the MNF play-by-play role, but settled for Jackson after they proved unable to break their respective existing contracts with NBC Sports and the Los Angeles Dodgers. Jack Buck was also considered, but when Arledge assistant Chuck Howard telephoned Buck with the job offer, Buck refused to respond due to anger at his treatment by ABC during an earlier stint with the network. Arledge’s original choice for the third member of the trio, Frank Gifford, was unavailable since he was still under contract to CBS Sports. However, Gifford suggested former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Don Meredith, setting the stage for years of fireworks between the often-pompous Cosell and the laid-back Meredith.
  7. Monday Night Football first aired on ABC on September 21, 1970, with a game between the New York Jets and the Browns in Cleveland. Advertisers were charged US$65,000 per minute by ABC during the clash, a cost that proved to be a bargain when the contest collected 33% of the viewing audience. The Browns defeated the Jets, 31-21 in a game which featured a 94-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by the Browns’ Homer Jones to open the second half, and was punctuated when Billy Andrewsintercepted Joe Namath late in the fourth quarter and returned it 25 yards for the clinching touchdown. However, Cleveland viewers saw different programming on WEWS-TV, because of the NFL’s blackout rules of the time (this would apply for all games through the end of the 1972 season; beginning in 1973, home games could be televised if tickets were sold out 72 hours before kickoff).
  8. One of the trademarks of Monday Night Football is a music cue used during the opening teasers of each program, a Johnny Pearson-composition titled “Heavy Action”, originally a KPM production library cue (and also used as the theme music for the BBC program Superstars), which MNF began using in 1975.
  9. That success would continue over the course of the season, helping establish a phenomenon on Monday nights in the fall: movie attendance dropped, bowling leagues shifted to Tuesday nights and a Seattle hospital established an unwritten rule of no births during games.
  10. Cosell’s presence initially caused Henry Ford II, chairman of the Ford Motor Company, the program’s main sponsor, to ask for his removal. ABC refused, and Ford had a change of heart once the show’s ratings were made public.
  11. In 1971, Frank Gifford became available after his contract with CBS Sports concluded; Arledge brought him to ABC to serve as play-by-play announcer, replacing Jackson (who returned to broadcasting college football for the network, which he continued to do for the next 35 seasons). The former New York Giant had been an NFL analyst for CBS during the 1960s but had never called play-by-play prior to joining Monday Night Football. In that capacity for Monday Night Football from 1971 to 1985, Gifford was often criticized for his see-no-evil approach in regard to discussing the NFL, earning him the dubious nickname “Faultless Frank.” Regardless, Gifford would have the longest tenure of any broadcaster on the show, lasting until 1998.
  12. Cosell’s abrasive personality gave him enough recognition to host a live variety show on ABC in the fall of 1975. That show is remembered today only as a trivia question, as its title, Saturday Night Live, prevented a new late-night sketch comedy program on NBC from using that title until the ABC show was canceled. That seeming popularity was in contrast to the repeated criticisms in the media, as well as bar room contests in which winners were allowed to throw a brick through a television image of Cosell.
  13. ABC Broadcast teams: Play-by-play announcersKeith Jackson (1970),Frank Gifford (1971–1985),Al Michaels (1986–2005,Gary Bender (1987),Mike Patrick (1997 and 2005)  Color commentatorsHoward Cosell (1970–1983),Don Meredith (1970–1973, 1977–1984), Fred Williamson (1974), Alex Karras (1974–1976),Fran Tarkenton (1979–1982), O. J. Simpson (1983–1985),Joe Namath (1985),Frank Gifford (1986–1997),Dan Dierdorf (1987–1998),Lynn Swann (1987),Joe Theismann (1997 and 2005), Dan Fouts (2000–2001),Boomer Esiason (1998–1999), Dennis Miller (2000–2001),John Madden (2002–2005), Paul Maguire (2005)
  14. Monday Night Football moved to ESPN in 2006 – for its debut on ESPN, (see trailer link:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=01hLEJ7sn44) Hank Williams, Jr. re-recorded the MNF opening theme with an all-star jam band that included among others Brian Setzer, Little Richard, Questlove, Joe Perry, Clarence Clemons, Rick Nielsen, Bootsy Collins, Charlie Daniels and Steven Van Zandt.

 

 


 

Let me try the…

Mmmm, Beer…

“Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. That’s good. Thanks!” For those of us who enjoy “a cold one” after a long work week, (or taking a break after cutting the grass, or after writing an especially spectacular blog, or as a reward for a run well done or sometimes just because you can) …  the list is endless – but we can all agree, there’s not much to compare to that first taste!  Given the meteoric rise in craft beer making and specialty breweries in Cleveland, I thought I’d share some beer history, insights into the industry and provide a list of some of my favorite stops.  Talk about a PIA (Pain in the @%$) Job! – trying to pare the list down, but… that is what I am here for! Enjoy, and thanks to craftbeer.com for the insights.

  • Native Americans made a corn beer long before Europeans found their way to America, bringing with them their own version of beer. Although most of that was brewed in the home during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, a fledgling industry began to develop from 1612, when the first known New World brewery opened in New Amsterdam (now Manhattan).
  • The “modern era” of American beer began in the nineteenth century. In 1810 only 132 breweries operated, and per capita consumption of commercially brewed beer amounted to less than a gallon. By 1873 the country had 4,131 breweries, a high-water mark only surpassed again in 2015. In 1914, per capita consumption had grown to 20 gallons (compared to about 21.5 today). Then came national Prohibition.
  • American beer was already changing before Prohibition. When German immigrants began arriving in the middle of the nineteenth century, they brought with them a thirst for all-malt lagers and the knowledge to brew them. But by the end of the century, drinkers showed a preference for lighter-tasting lagers — ones that included corn or rice in the recipe — and consolidation began to eliminate many small, independently operated breweries. In 1918, the country had only one quarter the number of brewers that operated 45 years before.
  • National Prohibition (individual states had Prohibition as early as 1848) began January 16, 1920, when the 18th Amendment, also known as the Volstead Act, went into effect. (watch video HERE. It effectively ended in April of 1933 with the return of 3.2% beer (for those of us old enough to remember those days when at 18 you could legally drink 3.2 beer!), and in December the 21st Amendment officially repealed the 18th Amendment.
  • Within a year, 756 breweries were making beer, but the biggest companies remained intent on expansion, using production efficiencies and marketing to squeeze out smaller breweries.
  • The number of breweries shrunk quickly, to 407 in 1950 and 230 in 1961. By 1983 one source counted only 80 breweries, run by only 51 independent companies, making beer. As British beer writer Michael Jackson observed at the time, most produced the same style: “They are pale lager beers vaguely of the pilsner style but lighter in body, notably lacking hop character, and generally bland in palate. They do not all taste exactly the same but the differences between them are often of minor consequence.”
  • As regional breweries closed, small breweries popped up – but people didn’t know what to call them. When Fritz Maytag bought Anchor Brewing in 1965 in San Francisco and Jack McAuliffe opened the short-lived New Albion Brewing Company in 1976, an entrepreneurial spirit began, and was repeated a thousand times over and in every state in the country.
  • A democratization of beer began in earnest during the late 1970s by homebrewers. It was then that better beer began its journey, championed by individuals and not corporate strategies. Homebrewers began learning how to make the beer styles they could no longer buy. A few homebrewers started their own small breweries, the first new breweries to open since prohibition began in 1923. A revival had begun. Beer drinkers learned to appreciate these new “microbrews.” The term microbrews has since evolved to “craft beer;” particularly from small and independent brewers.
  • Breweries popped up in every state. Soon beer lovers would covet new and different brewed beer.  In 1982, the Hilton Harvest House in Boulder, Colorado hosts a modest 20 breweries serving only 35 beers for the first Great American Beer Festival. The annual event now features approximately 8-10,000 beers.
  • By the end of the century, more breweries operated in the United States than any country in the world, the number climbing past 7,000 in 2018. Taking inspiration from brewing cultures around the world, Americans also started to brew a wider variety of beer than anywhere.
  • The revival of American beer of the past 30 years is a phenomenon attributable to one of the first (if not the first) “open-source” collaborative experiences in modern history. The community of homebrewers, beer enthusiasts and craft brewers made the pioneers of the democratization of process. The fact is, homebrewers were already fashioning their own revolution before a communication technology emerged that would later enhance the means by which revolutionary ideas and the process of democratizing innovation would be accelerated.
  • The professional craft brewing, homebrewing and beer enthusiast community continues to be on the unequivocal cutting edge of beer’s creative destiny. If you look back at the last 30-year history of better beer, beer economics, beer enthusiasm and the beer marketplace, it is a mirror image of how the rest of the world has embraced, reacted and adjusted to the pace of all that it is involved in. Choice, diversity, information, education, grassroots activism, quality, personality, passion, flavor (both in the real and metamorphic sense), etc.
  • Craft brewers and craft beer enthusiasts have been and continue to be pioneers in developing a world that contributes to the pleasure of our everyday life, in more ways than beer. CraftBeer.com is a reflection of those who seek the world of better beer.
  • The unique beer history of the Brewers Association combines a large brew-cauldron of activities and heritage. The result is a legacy that has helped change the world of beer both in the United States and abroad.
  • The Brewers Association, the trade association representing small and independentAmerican craft brewers, released annual growth figures for the U.S. craft brewing industry. In 2018, small and independent brewers collectively produced 25.9 million barrels and realized 4 percent total growth, increasing craft’s overall beer market share by volume to 13.2 percent.
  • Retail dollar value was estimated at $27.6 billion, representing 24.1 percent market share and 7 percent growth over 2017. Growth for small and independent brewers occurred in an overall down beer market, which dropped 1 percent by volume in 2018.
  • The 50 fastest growing breweries delivered 10 percent of craft brewer growth. Craft brewers provided more than 150,000 jobs, an increase of 11 percent over 2017.  These brewers are vital small businesses in communities across the country, typically employing 10 to 50 employees.
  • As American beer enthusiasts are fond of saying, there may never have been a better time to be a beer drinker, at least until tomorrow.

Here’s a list of some of my favorite breweries in NE Ohio – go exploring and find the new ones, opening up almost monthly here on the north coast.
Platform Beer Co
4125 Lorain Ave, Cleveland, OH
Butcher and the Brewer
2043 E 4th St, Cleveland, OH
Noble Beast Brewing
1470 Lakeside Ave E (E. 13th St.), Cleveland, OH
Nano Brew Cleveland
1859 W 25th St (at Bridge Ave), Cleveland, OH
Market Garden Brewery & Restaurant
1947 W 25th St (at Market Ave), Cleveland, OH
TownHall
1909 W 25th St, Cleveland, OH
Masthead Brewing Co
1261 Superior Ave E, Cleveland, OH
The Tremont Tap House
2572 Scranton Rd (at Starkweather Ave), Cleveland, OH
Great Lakes Brewing Company
2516 Market Ave, Cleveland, OH
Terrestrial Brewing Company
7524 Father Frascati Dr, Cleveland, OH
Working Class Brewery
17448 Lorain Ave (Rocky River DR.), Cleveland, OH
Brick & Barrel
1844 Columbus Rd, Cleveland, OH

AND A LITTLE MUSIC TO END YOUR WEEK ON A HIGH NOTE…
Luke Combs – Beer Never Broke My Heart (Official Video)

 

 

 

 


 

“16, 24, 9 – Ready, Set….”

(top) Cleveland Brown Stadium; (row two) The Ancient Greek’s version of football called Episkyros. Hmmm, not much padding on THAT uniform; An 1878 photo of Walter Camp, the “Father of American Football” was the captain of the Yale University football team; And a 1930s Spalding Leather Football Helmet. Not much padding there either. (row three) The great quarterback Otto Graham signed this football. And the great Jim Brown signed this helmet. (row four) This 1893 Harper’s Weekly illustration by Frederic Remington shows the early idea of blocking for the runner. What a concept! (row five) The 1904 Vanderbilt football team suited-up and ready to play. I wonder how many head injuries there were that year? (row six) Otto Graham took Browns to league championships every year between 1946 and 1955, winning seven of them; Bernie Kosar was with the Browns from 1985 to 1993 finishing his career with Dallas and Miami. He won Super Bowl XXVIII with Dallas (DARN, DARN, DARN!!!), beating the Buffalo Bills, on January 30, 1994 (DARN!!!); And Baker Mayfield waiting his turn. (row seven) Here’s a couple ideas I had to spruce-up the ball and the Browns helmets. What do you think? (bottom) Go Get ‘Em, Baker!!!!!!!

Yep, it’s that time of the year when we put away the sunscreen and trunks and pull out the face paint and jerseys.  Football season.  Kids are running around fields all over Northeast Ohio – (love the little ones with the giant helmets and shoulder pads).  Two-a-days, Friday night fever, tailgating, marching bands and get-togethers on Saturdays for our favorite pastime.  I saw on television that this year marks the 100thanniversary of professional football, which started not long from here in Canton Ohio.  Going back in history, I wanted to see what’s been captured on the early days of the game since we  all know the current status of the game. Here’s some fun trivia and knowledge about this great game – enjoy, and of course, Go Browns,(it has been decades since we can say that!  Go, Bucs, and Go Rockets!

  1. In Ancient Greece, men played a similar sport called Episkyros where they tried to throw a ball over a scrimmage while avoiding tackles. Forms of traditional football have been played throughout Europe and beyond since antiquity. Many of these involved handling of the ball and scrummage-like formations.
  2. These archaic forms of football, typically classified as mob football, would be played between neighboring towns and villages, involving an unlimited number of players on opposing teams, who would clash in a heaving mass of people struggling to drag an inflated pig’s bladder by any means possible to markers at each end of a town. By some accounts, in some such events any means could be used to move the ball towards the goal, as long as it did not lead to manslaughter or murder. These antiquated games went into sharp decline in the 19th century when the Highway Act 1835 was passed banning the playing of football on public highways -penalty was forty shillings.
  3. Each school played its own variety of football. Princeton University students played a game called “ballown” as early as 1820. A Harvard tradition known as “Bloody Monday” began in 1827, which consisted of a mass ballgame between the freshman and sophomore classes, played at The Delta, the space where Memorial Hall now stands. (A poem, “The Battle of the Delta,” was written about the first match: “The Freshmen’s wrath, to Sophs the direful spring / Of shins unnumbered bruised, great goddess sing!” In 1860, both the town police and the college authorities agreed that Bloody Monday had to go. The Harvard students responded by going into mourning for a mock figure called “Football Fightum”, for whom they conducted funeral rites. The authorities held firm and it was a dozen years before football was once again played at Harvard.
  4.  Dartmouthplayed its own version called “Old division football“, the rules of which were first published in 1871, though the game dates to at least the 1830s. All of these games, and others, shared certain commonalities. They remained largely “mob” style games, with huge numbers of players attempting to advance the ball into a goal area, often by any means necessary. Rules were simple, and violence and injury were common. The violence of these mob-style games led to widespread protests and a decision to abandon them. Yale, under pressure from the city of New Haven, banned the play of all forms of football in 1860.
  5. The game began to return to college campuses by the late 1860s. Yale, Princeton, Rutgers University, and Brown Universitybegan playing the popular “kicking” game during this time. In 1867, Princeton used rules based on those of the London Football Association. A “running game”, resembling rugby football, was taken up by the Montreal Football Club in Canada in 1868.
  6. Walter Camp is widely considered to be the most important figure in the development of American football.
  7. Following the introduction of rugby-style rules to American football, Camp became a fixture at the Massasoit House conventions where rules were debated and changed. Dissatisfied with what seemed to him to be a disorganized mob, he proposed his first rule change at the first meeting he attended in 1878: a reduction from fifteen players to eleven. The motion was rejected at that time but passed in 1880. The effect was to open up the game and emphasize speed over strength. Camp’s most famous change, the establishment of the line of scrimmage and the snap from center to quarterback, was also passed in 1880. Originally, the snap was executed with the foot of the center. Later changes made it possible to snap the ball with the hands, either through the air or by a direct hand-to-hand pass.
  8. Camp was central to several more significant rule changes that came to define American football. In 1881, the field was reduced in size to its modern dimensions of 120 by 53​ 1/3 yards (109.7 by 48.8 meters). Several times in 1883, Camp tinkered with the scoring rules, finally arriving at four points for a touchdown, two points for kicks after touchdowns, two points for safeties, and five for field goals. Camp’s innovations in the area of point scoring influenced rugby union’s move to point scoring in 1890. In 1887, game time was set at two halves of 45 minutes each. Also in 1887, two paid officials—a referee and an umpire—were mandated for each game. A year later, the rules were changed to allow tackling below the waist, and in 1889, the officials were given whistles and stopwatches.
  9. The last, and arguably most important innovation, which would at last make American football uniquely “American”, was the legalization of interference, or blocking, a tactic which was highly illegal under the rugby-style rules. Interference remains strictly illegal in both rugby codes. The prohibition of interference in the rugby game stems from the game’s strict enforcement of its offside rule, which prohibited any player on the team with possession of the ball to loiter between the ball and the goal.
  10. At first, American players would find creative ways of aiding the runner by pretending to accidentally knock into defenders trying to tackle the runner. When Walter Camp witnessed this tactic being employed against his Yale team, he was at first appalled, but the next year had adopted the blocking tactics for his own team. During the 1880s and 1890s, teams developed increasingly complex blocking tactics including the interlocking interference technique known as the Flying wedge or “V-trick formation”, which was developed by Lorin F. Deland and first introduced by Harvard in a collegiate gameagainst Yale in 1892. Despite its effectiveness, it was outlawed two seasons later in 1894 through the efforts of the rule committee led by Parke H. Davis, because of its contribution to serious injury.
  11. From its earliest days as a mob game, football was a very violent sport. The 1894 Harvard-Yale game, known as the “Hampden Park Blood Bath”, resulted in crippling injuries for four players; the contest was suspended until 1897. The annual Army-Navy game was suspended from 1894 to 1898 for similar reasons. One of the major problems was the popularity of mass-formations like the flying wedge, in which a large number of offensive players charged as a unit against a similarly arranged defense. The resultant collisions often led to serious injuries and sometimes even death.
  12. Meanwhile, John H. Outland held an experimental game in Wichita, Kansas that reduced the number of scrimmage plays to earn a first down from four to three in an attempt to reduce injuries. The Los Angeles Times reported an increase in punts and considered the game much safer than regular play but that the new rule was not “conducive to the sport.  Finally, on December 28, 1905, 62 schools met in New York City to discuss rule changes to make the game safer. As a result of this meeting, the Intercollegiate Athletic Association of the United States, later named the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), was formed. One rule change introduced in 1906, devised to open up the game and reduce injury, was the introduction of the legal forward pass. Though it was underutilized for years, this proved to be one of the most important rule changes in the establishment of the modern game.
  13. As a result of the 1905–1906 reforms, mass formation plays became illegal and forward passes legal. Bradbury Robinson, playing for visionary coach Eddie Cochems at St. Louis University, threw the first legal pass in a September 5, 1906, game against Several coaches emerged who took advantage of these sweeping changes. Amos Alonzo Stagg introduced such innovations as the huddle, the tackling dummy, and the pre-snap shift. The division III championship game si called the “Stagg Bowl” today.  Other coaches, such as Pop Warner and Knute Rockne, introduced new strategies that still remain part of the game.
  14. Besides these coaching innovations, several rules changes during the first third of the 20th century had a profound impact on the game, mostly in opening up the passing game. In 1914, the first roughing-the-passer penalty was implemented. In 1918, the rules on eligible receivers were loosened to allow eligible players to catch the ball anywhere on the field—previously strict rules were in place only allowing passes to certain areas of the field. Scoring rules also changed during this time: field goals were lowered to three points in 1909and touchdowns raised to six points in 1912.