Monday, October 16, 2017

10 Fact about Hot Air Balloons.

Hot Air Balloons, Blue, Sky, Sunshine  One morning, many years ago when I lived in New Mexico, I was fortunate enough to crest a hill, just in time to see numerous hot air balloons silently gliding across the sky.  I will never forget the breath taking site.

I can assure you, I will never be up in one.  I love the videos of the view but I am extremely scared of heights.  I can't even step on a chair without trembling.

I have no idea why I'm scared of heights, I just am.  On the other hand, I love watching balloons from the ground and yes I wish I had the guts to take a ride.  Maybe someday, I'll get the guts up to do it.

Did you know, hot air balloons have been around since the mid 1700's when a couple of men sewed cotton cloth to paper to create the balloon part.  The first few went up above 1000 feet but the first manned hot air balloon flight carrying a duck, a sheep and a rooster occurred in 1783 in front of the Kind of France. The first human flight happened just the same year. The first transatlantic flight took place only 2 years later.

Fun facts about hot air balloons:

1.  Louis XVI wanted to use condemned criminals as the first pilots because if they died, he considered it no big deal.  He was talked out of it.  A scientist and aristocrat managed to fly for 20 minutes in the first human flight in 1873.

2.  The scientist decided to be the first man to fly across the English Channel using a new type of balloon filled with a mixture of half helium, half hot air. Unfortunately, 30 minutes into the flight, the balloon exploded making him the first fatality.

3. Champagne after flights came about because balloons landed in their fields scaring the livestock or smashing crops.  The champagne helped sooth tempers. 

4. In 1808, two love sick suitors held a balloon duel over Paris rather than the standard duel at 20 paces.  The balloons took off and at the appropriate height.  Each man fired a blunderbuss.  One man died when his balloon floundered and fell to the ground while the other landed safely.  It is assumed the survivor won the hand of the lady.

5.  In 1794, during the French Revolution, a balloon spend 9 hours in the air with an observer who wrote down his views of the battle and regularly dropped his observations to the ground.  No one knows if the information helped the French win the Battle.

6. During the early years of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln authorized the creation of a balloon corps used to observe enemy movements up to 15 miles away. The Confederates made their own balloon out of dress silk but it was captured by the Union. The Union quit using balloons because they were easy to shoot down due to their size.

7. From 1800 to 1900, circuses regularly featured smoke balloons which were balloons without a basket.  A daredevil with a parachute attached himself to the balloon, the balloon was held over a hot fire until it was filled with hot air or smoke and released to rise up into the atmosphere.  When the balloon reached its highest point, the daredevil released himself from the balloon, opened the parachute and floated down to the amazement of the audience.

8. In 2010, an entrepreneur started a service with glass bottom baskets so people could see directly below its location. Its private but there is some talk of allowing the public to use it again.

9. Hot air balloons have no way to steer so they go where ever the wind sends them.  They cannot be used in rain because the hot air can cause the droplets to boil and possibly destroy its fabric.

10.  The longest flight went from Japan to Canada.

I hope someday I get up the guts to ride in one but I don't know if I'll manage it.  I am just scared of heights.  I hope you enjoyed these few facts.  Have a great day.


Friday, October 13, 2017

What Do You Know About T.V. Dinners.

Food, Salmon, Seeded Mustard, Dinner  When I was in my teens, I did a lot of babysitting.  The people I babysat for always left a tv dinner I could pop in and cook later in the evening, after I put the kids to bed.

It was a treat because my family never ate TV dinners.  We couldn't afford them for one thing and it was cheaper to feed the lot of us by making it all from scratch.

There is a bit of controversy over who is responsible for creating TV dinners.  I'd say based on what I've read, it was a series of events which lead to this item becoming part of American Society. 

Clarence Birdseye, the man whose name if found on frozen foods, created the first real system for freezing foods. In 1923, he figured out a way to package and flash freeze fresh foods so they could be sold to consumers.  By 1949, the Bernstein Brothers were selling frozen dinners in the compartmentalized aluminum trays in the Philadelphia area.  But it was the Swanson company who made the biggest strides in the field.

In 1954, Swanson's had 260 tons of  Thanksgiving left overs they needed to figure out how to use.  They asked their workers for suggestions and one man had just seen the compartmentalized aluminum trays used by Pan American Airways to serve food.  He made the suggestion to the Swanson brothers back in Nebraska so they packed the food, prepared an advertising campaign based on television and sold over 25 million dinners at 98 cents for each one.

In the 1960's Swanson's expanded their line to include breakfast and lunch.  In 1973, they introduced the Hungry Man line designed to appeal to the male population.

Now for some facts about TV dinners.

1. The term TV Dinner is actually a registered trademark.

2. The tray was modeled after the trays used by the airlines.

3. The box containing the first TV dinners were designed to look like television sets complete with dials and volume control.

4. When the TV dinner was first released, television was so new, there was only three to four hours of programming available to watch. It usually ran in the late afternoon and early evening, during dinner time.

5. Up until 1960, TV dinners came without desserts.

6  Since 1987, the TV dinner tray has joined Fonzie's jacket at the National Museum of American History.

7. September 10th is National TV dinner day.

8. Swanson stopped calling them TV dinners in 1962 but the name sticks.

I hope you've enjoyed this small look at the history of TV dinners.  I'd love to hear from you.  Have a great weekend.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Girl Scout Cookies

Thin Mint, Homemade, Grasshopper, Food  I wondered what the first commercially marketed cookie was but got side tracked when I ran across some history on Girl Scout Cookies. I have bought them in the past even though we do not have any girl scout troops in the village.

Usually one of the teachers has a niece, sister, cousin, or other family member who is selling cookies so they place a sign up sheet in the teachers think tank for people to place orders.  They do charge a bit more because they have to be shipped out.

I love Tagalogs while others in my family love the thin mints.  I think everyone has their favorite.  So how long have the Girl Scouts been selling cookies?  For longer than I expected.

Girl Scouts began selling cookies back in 1917 as a way to fund their activities but the cookies were made by the girls and their mothers. 

In 1922, the Girl Scouts published a sugar cookie recipe in the groups magazine to be made by girl scouts for sale as a way of financing their activities.  One could argue this was the first cookie sold by Girl Scouts.  It was suggested these cookies be sold for 25 to 35 cents per dozen back then.  Each dozen were wrapped in wax paper bags and sealed with a seal before being sold door to door.

In 1934, The greater council of Philadelphia arranged to have their cookies commercially made for sales while a year later, the Greater Federation of Girl Scouts in New York had the words "Girl Scout Cookies" printed on the box of commercially made cookies they sold. In 1936, the National council began licensing bakeries to produce commercial cookies.

Due to shortages of sugar and other baking supplies, girl scouts could no longer bake cookies so they switched to calendars until the end of rationing after the war. By 1948, 29 licensed bakers produced enough cookies to meet increased demand.

In 1951, Girl Scout cookies came in three basic flavors, sugar, mint, and sandwich. At the time, cities expanded and suburbs grew up around cities. The Girl Scouts in the suburbs set up at shopping malls to sell their cookies.

In the 1960's the number of bakers dropped to 14 but more and more cookies were being sold due to the children born right after World War II were joining girl scouts.  In 1978, the number of bakers dropped to four to ensure lower prices and quality while all the boxes featured the same designs showing girl scouts in action.

As time passed, the number of bakers dropped to two.  Boxes and logos were redesigned and sales continued to grow. Girl scout cookies are now kosher and there is even a gluten free version being offered. 

I admit, I was one of those girls who went door to door to sell cookies.  I never sold enough to receive any award nor did I go much past the age of 15 due to moving overseas but I still buy the cookies, toss them in the freezer, and enjoy them through out the year, especially the thin mints.

Now for the Fun Facts.

1. There are only two licensed bakeries who make official Girl Scout Cookies.

2. They may make up to eight types of cookies but thin mints, peanut butter filled sandwich cookies, and shortbread cookies must be made every year.  This is one reason the varieties change from year to year.  Not all are made every year.

3. Each bakery names its own cookies which is why the same cookies have different names in different parts of the country.

4. Girl Scout cookies are sold for different prices in different parts of the country because the councils are the ones who set the price.

5. Thin mints are the best selling cookie of all the varieties.

6.  The girls sell over 700 million dollars of cookies each year.

I hope you enjoyed this quick look at history.  let me know what you think.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Its Time for Auroras Again.

Aurora, Northern Lights, Borealis, Night  October is when we start seeing the Aurora Borealis here in Alaska.  You wander out around midnight or one, look up to see beautiful green or pink slights dancing across the sky. Sometimes, they swirl but most of the time they dance.

In the bush of Alaska, I've heard people say that the aurora will dance if you whistle.  I don't know if the belief is true only because I've always seen it dance.

The Sami people up in Northern Finland, Sweden, Norway and Russia believe the northern lights are the souls of those who have passed on.  They are respectful of the lights whenever they see them.  They have a variation on the local belief of whistling.  They believe if you whistle, you bring the souls closer and closer until you are taken away.

Another belief in Scandinavia in regard to the northern lights is the dancing green lights represent huge schools of herring swimming by in the sea.  When fishermen saw the lights, they felt they would have good catches when they fished. 

In Sweden, lots of displays of the aurora predicted good yields of crops the following year while the Norwegians thought the lights were the spirits of old maids dancing across the sky and waving at the watchers.  On the other hand the Finnish believed that magical arctic foxes used their tails to spew snow up to the sky.  The Finnish word for the Aurora translates as "fox fires."

If you check out the legends in Asia, you'll discover the Chinese believed the lights were caused by dragons spewing fire at each other while they fought in the sky.  On the other hand, both the Chinese and Japanese believe a child conceived under the northern lights will be blessed all their lives.

This last may explain why so many Japanese fly to Fairbanks, Alaska to go to Chena Hot Springs to view the aurora in the winter and spring.  Its a popular destination.

The Scottish are reputed to believe the lights represent the clans fighting and spilling blood due to the reddish lights seen there.  In other places like France and Italy, the appearance of the northern lights signal war, plague, or other bad occurrence.

I never think about the legends when I see the lights.  I just stop and stare at their beauty and hope they last a good amount of time before fading into the night sky.

Have a great day.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

14 Interesting Facts about Oreos

Cake, Pastry, Sweet, Sugar, Unhealthy  I remember those commercials growing up. The ones where someone would always twist the cookies apart to eat the filling first, then the crunchy cookie sides.

I seldom ate them because my mother did not buy cookies.  Instead we made them but occasionally I'd visit a friend whose mother served them as a snack after school.

The other day I discovered there are quite a few different varieties of Oreos including one with a chocolate hazelnut filling.  Have you ever wondered when Oreos first made their appearance?  They've been around for over 100 years.

The story begins in 1898 when several bakery companies merged to form the National Biscuit Company now known as Nabisco.  Their first successful entry is the box of Animal Crackers just four years later but in 1912, they began production and marketing of Oreos.  They successfully filed a trademark on these cookies in 1913.

Apparently, these cookies were originally released in 1912 but were sold at 30 cents per pound rather than per package as they do now.  It appears the first package made its appearance to a grocer in Hoboken, New Jersey.

The cookie in 1912 is quite similar to the current design dating from 1952.  It was called the Oreo Biscuit when it was originally released but the company changed the name to the Oreo Sandwich in 1921 before they changed the name to the Oreo Creme Sandwich in 1937.  The cookie was renamed with the current name of "The Oreo Chocolate Sandwich cookie" in 1974.

No one is sure where the name came from.  There are lots of different theories but no one knows for sure.  Now for 10 interesting facts about the cookie.

1. Since 1912, Nabisco has manufactured enough cookies to circle the globe 312 times if lined up end to end.  If you stacked the cookies you could travel from the earth to the moon 5 times.

2.  The original filling recipe called for pork fat as part of the recipe.  This lead to problems with being classified as kosher but in 1998 Nabisco took steps to change that so all Oreos are now kosher and the packages carry the symbol.

3.  In 1912, when Oreos hit the market, there were two flavors, original and lemon meringue.  The original proved to be more popular so Nabisco discontinued the lemon meringue flavor in the 1920's.

4. Since 1912, over 450 billion cookies have been sold world wide.

5.  For its 100th birthday, a special birthday oreo with a cake flavored filling and sprinkles.  Over the years, they've created other flavors such as green tea, blueberry ice creme, root bear float, caramel apple, and other flavors created to appeal to consumers in different countries.

6.  Oreos are sold in over 100 countries.

7.  The Hydrox cookies looks like a copy cat cookie but it was actually released four years prior to Oreos.

8. There was an oreo breakfast cereal produced from 1998 to 2007 but it can still be purchased in Korea.

9.  The cookies have a 71:29 ratio of cookies to cream but the double stuff one is only 1.86 or 1.67 times as much filling, not twice as indicated by the label.  It depends on whose article you read as to the figure given.

10. The cookie has a pattern of 12 dots, 12 flowers, 12 dashes, and 90 ridges in each one.

11. Nation Oreo day is celebrated on March 6th

12.  Each cookie takes 59 minutes to make from start to finish.

13.  A portion of West 15th  Avenue between 9th and 10th avenue in New York City was renamed "Oreo Way" to celebrate the fact the first cookie was produced at the factory there.

14. When Oreos were originally introduced in 1912, they were one of three.  The other two, Mother Goose Biscuits and Veronese Biscuits were never as popular.

I hope you found this interesting.  Have a great day.