Budweiser, the King of Bohemian Beers


Budweiser Logo

During the same year that John Heinz started the Heinz 57 ketchup/sauce company Adolphus Busch of Germany developed what would become one of the most popular beer companies in the world.  An area now known as the Czech Republic was formally known as Bohemia and they were known for the beers they brewed.  Typically, a beer would be named for the town or region from which it came and Budweiser is no different.  Oftentimes, a beer would be named simply by adding an “er” to the end of the town name where the beer was brewed.  While on a trip to a Bohemian area called Budweis, Adolphus Busch became inspired and developed what would later be called “Budweiser”.    Interestingly, Busch would later move to America to start a brewery and subsequently met a women name Lilly Anheuser, whose father also owned a brewery.  He would later partner with the Anheuser family to form the Anheuser-Busch Company.

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The Pair of Jacks needed to open the pot

There are many words in the English language that are used everyday where the origins are a complete mystery.  Most of the time people never stop to wonder where a word came from and just accept its use.  “Jackpot” is one of those words.  Its typically used to denote a collection of something desirable (usually money).  The use of jackpot originates back to the early 1800’s in the United States and to the game of cards.  Before the player with the buck would deal the cards everyone would add an equal amount to the pot then upon receiving their hands no player could open the betting until he had two jacks or better.  If no one had such a hand then the round would begin again with more money being added to the pot before the cards are dealt.  Because the pool of money couldn’t be accessed until someone in the group started with two jacks, the collected money in the pot became known as the “jack pot”.

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Coca-Cola: The original energy drink

Coca-Cola Logo

Originally, the formula for Coca-Cola was derived by John Pemberton in the late 1800’s and was primarily sold and marketed by Asa Candler.  The drink was initially invented as a cure-all type medicine but perhaps due to prohibition became a popular soda fountain drink.  It was first sold in Georgia in 1886 and quickly rose in popularity.  Interestingly, the initial ingredients of Coca-Cola made it perhaps the world’s first energy drink.  The “Coca” part of the name came from coca leaf extract- known more widely as cocaine while the second part of the name “Cola” came from the kola nut which is used to add caffeine.  Later, the cocaine would be removed from Coca-Cola but the original formula for coke was quite an energy drink for even the weariest people of the day!

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Cops: A police slang term explained

Typical cop of the 1800’s

The thing about misinformation is that as long as no one bothers to actually look into the validity of something told to them, the erroneous information simply gets passed on to the next person.  Such is the case with the history of the word “cop” that is often used to denote “police”.  It is widely believed that cop was an acronym for “constable on patrol” or even “citizen on patrol”.  This is not the case.  Beginning in England in the 1800’s the word cop referred to the verb “to seize or take” (most likely derived from the Latin word capere which is “to seize” or “to take”).  If you were being arrested you were effectively being seized and most likely taken away.  Therefore those who were doing the seizing eventually took on the moniker of “cop”.  Today, you can also see the word cop being used in a non-police way in such phrases like “to cop a feel” or to “cop an attitude”.

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Ham radio: A pig pile of amateurs

Cartoon of a ham radio operator

As you drive down the road you may notice strange letters and numbers, in no particular sequence, plastered on the back of some car’s back windshields.  Those seemingly nonsensical codes are actually call signs of a ham radio operator.  The term “ham” is, in fact, not an acronym but began as a somewhat derogatory slang term to describe someone who is incompetent (in this particular case an incompetent radio operator).  Professional commercial wireless service operators would refer to the home-based amateur as a “ham” and the name was, over the years, embraced by those very same amateur radio operators.  These days the word is less associated with incompetence and more associated with the amateur nature of the radio activities.  The call signs are designated by letters and numbers to indicate country code, territory and station and can be assigned to anyone interested in becoming a “ham”.

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BMW: The Birth of a German Automaker

BMW Logo

It is probably widely known that BMW actually started out in manufacturing as a producer of airplane engines.  The company did indeed begin by manufacturing airplane engines but under the name Rapp Motor Works.  In 1917 the company was restructured and took on a new name, Bayerische Motoren Werke which translates to English as Bavarian Motor Works.  Around the time of the end of World War I the Versailles Treaty prohibited the company from making aircraft engines which caused BMW to shift its focus to motorcycle production.  Later the company would begin development of its automobile production.  Due to the spread of inaccurate information it is widely believed that the BMW logo is derived from the image of an airplane propeller slicing through a blue sky.  In reality, the logo is a modification of the original company’s (Rapp) round logo coupled with the blue and white colors of the flag of Bavaria (the southern Germany region where the company is based).  The propeller logo theory began after a 1929 advertisement that featured BMW aircraft with the logo in place of the propeller.

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Dominos Pizza Delivers…a bit of trivia

Domino's Pizza Logo

Domino's Pizza Logo

The official beginning of Domino’s Pizza as it is known today was 1965. Originally, this pizza joint was known as Dominick’s and started out of Ypsilanti, Michigan in 1960. The restaurant was bought for under 1000 dollars by the Monaghan brothers. Less than a year later one of the brothers sold his half of the business leaving just one brother to develop it. Currently, Domino’s Pizza is the second largest pizza franchise in the world and has spread to five continents. The brother who developed the company has since sold the company for about a billion dollars. Interestingly the 3 dots on the logo represent the 3 stores that were open at the time of the development of the logo in 1969.

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Soap operas: As the soap turns…

As the World Turns

A popular soap opera

These ongoing dramas have been ongoing since the 1930’s when radio was the king of media. In those days the typical household was comprised of a husband who worked during the day, children at school and the wife at home. Entertainers and marketers saw this as an opportunity to capitalize on the captive audience demographic that was the American housewife. In the 1930’s began 15 minute dramas on the radio that would broadcast in the middle of the day. Producers approached sponsors to support these dramas and consequently a lot of those sponsors were soap companies. Soap advertising and an ongoing daytime drama series pandering to housewives made for a winning combination. The majority of sponsors in those days were, in fact, soap companies and these radio dramas made up 90% of sponsored daytime broadcasts. The “opera” portion of the name describes these broadcast’s dramatic narrative and hence the soap opera was born.

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Rule of thumb…its about an inch

Rule of thumb -its about an inch

It is often incorrectly stated that the “rule of thumb” expression dates back to a time in history when a man was allowed by law to beat his wife with a stick no thicker than his thumb. As far as can be determined the expression dates back to the 1600’s when, during a construction project, accurate measurement tools were not as readily available a handy body part would be used. In this case the thumb was used as a rule of measure. Looking at a male adult’s thumb from the top it measures about an inch across just below the fingernail. This was a convenient way to quickly get a rough measure of something. Just as King Henry I of England based the “foot” measurement on his own foot, thumbs were used as “handy” measurement tools.

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Pass the buck…and the responsibility

Plaque from President Truman's desk

Oftentimes when one person is tasked with a job or responsibility and doesn’t wish to have this responsibility they would pass it on to someone else. This action of “passing the buck” originates back to the early days of the settlement of the American West and the game of poker. Typically, everyone playing poker at a table will have a turn to deal the cards. Your turn was represented by an object in front on you on the table (at this point in history buckhorn handled knives were commonly used). If it came to your turn to deal and you didn’t wish to deal you would “pass the buck” to the next player and effectively shift the responsibility to another.

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