About Sparkfiles Research Staff

Find more about me on:

Here are my most recent posts

Author Archives: Sparkfiles Research Staff

Canola: the Canuck oil

Commonly used in cooking this oil can also be used as biodiesel. Canola is made largely from rapeseed. In the 1970’s Baldur Stefansson and Keith Downey of Canada were growing rapeseed that, when processed, resulted in an oil of low … Continue reading

Posted in Food | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Dalmation:Trusted Firehouse Dog

The dalmation is a widely recognized dog whose breed has been traced back to Dalmatia in the Republic of Croatia. Its spotted appearance has been associated with Disney’s 101 Dalmations and Budweiser but perhaps is best known as the “firehouse … Continue reading

Posted in Ceremonial | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

On the wagon, on the water

It is said that if you are abstaining from drinking alcohol you are effectively “ on the wagon”. The term has been associated with the Salvation Army and their push for temperance, especially during the days of horse drawn wagons … Continue reading

Posted in Etymology | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Origin of the LEGO

In 1916 a Danish woodworker purchased a woodworking shop in Bilund, Denmark. In the beginning the new owner of the shop, Ole Kirk Christiansen, put his efforts into making furniture. The Great Depression hit around 1929 and caused there to … Continue reading

Posted in Etymology | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tips: it’s not just a restaurant thing

It is often customary in many countries that after a service is rendered the recipient endows the one performing the service with a gratuity. Often called a “tip” this extra money is often incorrectly described as meaning “To Insure Prompt … Continue reading

Posted in Etymology | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Mistletoe: What’s “up” with that?

The mistletoe, as it turns out, is largely a parasitic plant that can live on its own as a free standing plant but is more often seen tangled within the branches of trees and shrubs. For many cultures throughout history … Continue reading

Posted in Ceremonial | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Caught between the Devil and the Deep Sea

When someone is caught between a rock and hard place one might say that they are “between the devil and the deep sea”. Like many phrases there is no hard and fast explanation for this phrase but there are some … Continue reading

Posted in Etymology | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A loose cannon

Not surprisingly this phrase, which is used today to describe someone or something out of control and able to cause harm or damage, is attributed to a nautical origin. During the time of wooden ships and naval warfare vessels carried … Continue reading

Posted in Etymology | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

How England got its name

It is said that the people of England most likely originated from three groups of people: 1) The Angles who came from Northern Germany 2) The Saxons who came from Lower Saxony in Germany 3) The Jutes from the Jutland … Continue reading

Posted in Geography | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Knock on Wood: The Origin

Most people have been in a situation in which a person has made a statement about something good happening then proceeded to knock on wood. The origin of this phrase and tradition is not fully explainable however there are some … Continue reading

Posted in Superstitions | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment