THE NEFF ZONE -- BY JIM NEFF
CADILLAC NEWS -- OCTOBER 30, 2021
The crate beneath my desk runneth over. The facts stored therein are spilling out and nibbling at my toes. Ah, but I know what to do. Stuff the serious items in the recycle bin and rescue the ones that are entertaining and perhaps even fun.
For instance, with Halloween this Sunday there will be many jack o' lanterns displayed. These are pretty common and date back centuries in Ireland and Scotland where people carved scary faces in turnips and potatoes. When the Irish began to immigrate to the United States, they brought the tradition with them and found that pumpkins (a native fruit) made perfect jack o’ lanterns. (History.com)
Of course, what would Halloween be without candy? One popular treat is Milky Way bars, which debuted in 1923. Many people assume the candy bars were named after the galaxy, but they were actually named after malted milk. Here in the United States we enjoy the real thing. In Europe, however, they are smaller and don’t have any caramel in the filling. In Australian, they have a banana flavored bar. (Mentalfloss.com)
Speaking of names, the same people who invented and named Milky Way also invented the Snickers bar. Actually, they were just thinking of adding peanuts as a variation of the Milky Way. Ah, but one of the inventors had a favorite racehorse that had passed away shortly before the planned debut, so the the new candy bar was named in honor of the horse. His name was Snickers. (Mashed.com)
The oddest Halloween candy may be a variety of Michigan-made fudge. Why? Because it involves a gravestone. “A five-foot-tall headstone missing for one hundred forty-six years has been restored to its rightful place in a Michigan cemetery after it was discovered in the home of a family in Okemos. Its location was unknown until an auctioneer began cleaning out the home. The auctioneer said he turned over a huge granite slab to find the name and death date of the deceased man. No one in family knew how or when they came to be in possession of it, but they used the backside of it to make fudge.” (MLive)
When it comes to flavors, a court case may determine if something can be called strawberry if it doesn't contain any strawberries. “A class-action lawsuit argues that the Kellogg Sales Company is misleading consumers by promoting a pastry with 'strawberry filling' giving an impression that the fruit filling contains 'a greater relative and absolute amount of strawberries than it does.' In reality, the company’s Frosted Strawberry Toaster Pastries contain two percent or less of dried strawberries, dried pears, dried apples and red 40, according to its nutrition label.” (USAToday.com)
Well, on thing you can be sure of is that Cheerios cereal is made from oats. “In 1941, Lester Borchardt was a physicist working for General Mills in Minnesota. He and his team invented Cheerios by developing a puffing gun machine that puffed oats into a small "o" shape. Quaker Oats, however, claimed that the 'oats' in the name Cheerioats was a trademark infringement, so General Mills changed the name to Cheerios in 1945.” Cheerios is popular, but the number one cereal in American sales since 2009 has been Honey Nut Cheerios. (Mentalfloss.com)
If you want to enjoy those Cheerios in a home with a Halloween vibe, I have just the place for you. The Los Angeles home from the 1984 movie “A Nightmare on Elm Street” is on the market for a mere $3.5 million. The three-bedroom home has been for sale before. In 2013 it sold for $2.1 million. (United Press International)
If the Nightmare house is too creepy for you, why not hire a wizard to solve the problem? Luckily, there's a wizard who is now available because he lost his regular job. “For more than two decades, the New Zealand city of Christchurch has annually paid thousands of dollars to Ian Brackenbury Channell, known as the official Wizard of New Zealand. Now the city council wants him to disappear. Channell has been paid $11,000 annually for acts of wizardry and other wizard-like services.'' (USA Today)
Closer to home, the big event today is the football game between Michigan and Michigan State in East Lansing. The last time the teams were both undefeated and both ranked in the top ten going into this match-up was on October 10, 1964.
To put that in perspective, that was also the year during which the Beatles landed in the U.S. A gallon of gas and a loaf of bread each cost thirty cents. The top song on the charts was “Pretty Woman” by Roy Orbison. Admission into a movie theater was two bucks. And you may have driven to the game in your new Mustang that set you back $2,300. (MLive)
Finally, daylight saving time ends this year on Sunday, November 7. “The idea of daylight saving time was first floated around back in the 1700s, but it wasn’t adopted until World War I came along and governments figured it would be more profitable to save on energy costs by working with natural light. Thus, daylight saving time was adopted, and it’s been with us ever since.” (Mlive.com)
There is a movement seeking to make DST permanent, thus eliminating the time switch twice per year. Senators from Oklahoma, Missouri, Rhode Island, Oregon, Mississippi and Massachusetts have proposed the Sunshine Protection Act.
For now, remember to set your alarm clock to “fall back” (off DST) on November 7. Next spring the switch back to daylight saving time is on Sunday, March 23, 2022.