strange, bizarre and kooky holidays in February

February 23 is International Dog Biscuit Appreciation Day

international dog biscuit appreciation dayToday is International Dog Biscuit Appreciation Day, also known as National Dog Biscuit Day.

The modern biscuit our dogs know and love owes its existence to Ohio electrician James Spratt. It gets its international pedigree because he got the idea while on a trip to London around 1860, where he reportedly saw sailors who’d just docked throwing leftover hardtack overboard to stray dogs on the pier, who gobbled it up.

Hardtack derives from British sailors’ slang term for food, tack. Cheap and long-lasting, made from flour, water and salt, it was eaten when fresh food was unavailable, especially on extended 0cean voyages and military campaigns. It was called by other names as well: pilot bread, ship’s bread, sea biscuits, molar breakers and worm castles, due to frequent infestations which necessitated dropping a piece into hot coffee, then skimming off the insects which floated to the top.

Spratt was already a successful American businessman who had patented a type of lightning rod. While in London to sell them, he seized upon the opportunity to create and dominate a lucrative market that would target wealthy owners of sporting dogs. He formulated his dog biscuits with fresher ingredients than sailors and soldiers enjoyed: meat, vegetables and wheat.

He opinternational dog biscuit dayened a factory there and began an unprecedented advertising campaign, using large colored billboard displays which depicted a Native American buffalo hunt, implying it was the source of the meat in “Spratt’s Patent Meat-Fibrine.” The true origin remained a closely guarded secret; after selling the company, Spratt retained the sole contract to supply meat for the dog biscuits until his death in 1880.

In 1876, he supplied free food to exhibitors at the Centennial International Exposition in Philadelphia, PA, the second World’s Fair held in the United States. The same year, he filed U.S. Patent #3864 for Spratt’s “Meat-Fibrine Dog Cakes or Biscuits…a square interspersed with punctures, with a St. Andrew’s Cross between the words ‘Spratt’s Patent,’ impressed in the center of the square.”

Spratt’s dominated the market until the early 1900’s when a biscuit made of waste milk from slaughterhouses and fashioned into the shape of a bone rose to prominence. It eventually became known as Milk-Bone and captured the imagination of dog owners everywhere. In 1931, the National Biscuit Company, now known as Nabisco, bought the formula.

In recent years, as health problems caused by obesity have become more prevalent due to a rich diet, dog treat and food formulas have evolved and more nutritious options are available. There’s no doubt that dog biscuits have come a long way and deserve a little recognition. So give your pooch a big hug and have a happy International Dog Biscuit Appreciation Day!

Copyright © 2017 Worldwide Weird Holidays

February 22 is World Thinking Day

world thinking dayToday is World Thinking Day. It doesn’t mean we get to lay off thinking the rest of the year. It doesn’t mean the Earth is a sentient being. What is it? Read six (very short) paragraphs to find out.

In 1899, Robert Baden-Powell wrote a field manual for fellow British soldiers called Aids to Scouting. The following year, he was declared a war hero for his bravery in conflict and the book became well-known. It was especially popular with boys, who staged elaborate games based on his instructions about observation and tracking.

After learning of this, Baden-Powell formed the Boy Scouts in 1907. The next year, he published Scouting for Boys, a guide stressing the importance of good deeds and morality. He set up a central office, which registered new Scouts and designed a uniform. By the end of 1908, there were 60,000 Boy Scouts.

In September 1909, 10,000 Scouts attended the first national Boy Scout rally at Crystal Palace in London. Many girls showed up, claiming to be members. Baden-Powell founded the Girl Guides, also known as Girl Scouts in many countries, as a separate entity in 1910, eventually appointing his wife Olave to run it.

The Girl Scouts held its first conference in Oxford, England in 1920. It was held every two years until 1954 and every three years since. The 36th World Conference is scheduled to take place in Tunisia in 2017.

At the fourth World Conference in 1926, delegates met at Camp Edith Macy in Briarcliff Manor, NY, a facility owned by the Girls Scouts of the USA. Participants decided to dedicate a day to thinking of their counterparts around the world and expressing thanks to the organization that brought them all together.

They called it Thinking Day and chose February 22 as the date for its annual observance because it was the birthday of both Robert Baden-Powell and his wife, Olave Baden-Powell. It’s since become known as World Thinking Day and millions of girls celebrate it.

Is all this new knowledge making you crave some cookies? There’s an app for that. The Girl Scout Cookie Finder is available on iOS and Android. Who says history can’t be delicious?

Happy World Thinking Day!

Copyright © 2017 Worldwide Weird Holidays

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Single Tasking Day

Today is Single Tasking Day. Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to do just one thing at a time, without participating in the sham called multitasking.

single tasking day

Unlike computers, humans are not wired to work on many complex problems at once. Switching focus quickly from one thing to another can make us perceive that we’re managing multiple streams of information simultaneously, but each shift requires energy.

Our overall processing power becomes less efficient, even when dealing with things we do habitually—like scanning our phones, texting and going through emails—that don’t seem to require much attention but are, in fact, tying up the executive functions of our brains.

A study at Gresham College in London found that multitasking caused subjects’ problem-solving performance to drop by the equivalent of 10 IQ points. MIT neuroscientist Earl Miller says our brains aren’t wired to multitask. “When people think they’re multitasking, they’re actually just switching from one task to another very rapidly. And every time they do, there’s a cognitive cost.”

Per McGill University professor Daniel Levitin, “Asking the brain to shift attention from one activity to another causes the prefrontal cortex and striatum to burn up oxygenated glucose, the same fuel they need to stay on task. And the kind of rapid, continual shifting we do with multitasking causes the brain to burn through fuel so quickly that we feel exhausted and disoriented after even a short time. We’ve literally depleted the nutrients in our brain.”

So feed your brain; just do it slowly so you don’t get a cramp. And have a happy Single Tasking Day!

Copyright © 2017 Worldwide Weird Holidays

National Handcuff Day

national handcuff dayToday is National Handcuff Day. On February 20, 1912, George A. Carney was awarded U.S. patent number 1,017,955 for his “swinging bow ratchet-type” adjustable handcuff.

Prior to Carney’s invention, there was no standard style and handcuffs were heavy and awkward to use. His lightweight design features a freely swinging arm that enables law enforcement officers to secure cuffs on a suspect quickly and easily, with one hand. More than 100 years later, most handcuffs still use the same swing-through structure, with some minor modifications.

James Milton Gill purchased the patent, founded the Peerless Handcuff Company, and in 1914 began to sell the first model based on Carney’s configuration.  The company has been innovating and improving cuff design ever since. In 1932, Peerless introduced the barrel-style key which quickly became the universal standard for all handcuffs.

National Handcuff Day was created in 2010 to honor Carney’s invention. Each year, Peerless and Handcuff Warehouse: The Ultimate Source for Restraints sponsor a contest in which the prize is a free set of cuffs. In 2016, they awarded a pair to the entrant who most closely guessed the weight of this pile. Give it a whirl then read on to find the answer.

If you guessed 49.5, it’s a shame you didn’t enter. You’d have won a shiny new pair of handcuffs. (Sheri Barber took the prize with her guess of 49.)

The contest has since returned to its usual quiz format. Click here to enter this year’s competition. (You could use the internet to help answer the questions. Only you, your flexible ethical standards and your Google search history will know for sure.) Please note that we cannot control any ads you may see or email lists you may be added to as a result of your actions.

Have a happy National Handcuff Day!

Copyright © 2017 Worldwide Weird Holidays