strange, bizarre and kooky holidays in January

January 22 is National Hot Sauce Day

national hot sauce day

Today is National Hot Sauce Day. It celebrates the birthday in 1865 of Wilbur Scoville, who created a method to determine a pepper’s spiciness that is still in use today.

Scoville, an American chemist, devised the system in 1912. It measures the concentration of capsaicin, the active component that gives chilies their spicy taste, using Scoville Heat Units (SHU). Ratings range from 0 for a bell pepper to 16,000,000 for pure capsaicin.

Capsaicin content, which causes a burning sensation when it comes in contact with any tissue, is measured by dissolving a pepper in alcohol to extract its capsaicin oil, then diluting the oil in sugar water.

If a panel of five testers detects any spiciness, the mixture is diluted again until three of the five cannot discern any hotness. Heat level is measured by how many dilutions are necessary. Every instance increases the SHU, since hotter chilies must be weakened many times for no heat to be detected.

In 2013, The Guinness World Record for hottest chili pepper went to the Carolina Reaper, a cross between a ghost pepper and a red habanero created by Ed Currie of the aptly named PuckerButt Pepper Company. The Reaper’s official heat level is 1,569,300 SHU but ranges up to 2,200,000. (By comparison, Tabasco sauce has a level 0f 2,500 to 5,000.)

The Reaper was bested in 2017 by Dragon’s Breath, which clocked in at 2,480,000 SHU. Currie surged back with Pepper X, a Frankenstein’s monster at 3,180,000 SHU. Unlike Dragon’s Breath, which will only be used for medicinal purposes, Pepper X is available as a sauce dubbed The Last Dab.

Studies have shown that heat levels evoke the same pain response in spice lovers and haters and everyone in between. So why do so many of us like it? Could it predict other risk-taking behaviors? Check out this TED Ed lesson for answers.

Happy National Hot Sauce Day!

Copyright 2020 Worldwide Weird Holidays

Bubble Wrap Appreciation Day

bubble wrap appreciation dayBubble Wrap Appreciation Day, also known as BWAD, is celebrated on the last Monday in January. It was created in 2001 by Jim Webster of Spirit 95.1 FM in Bloomington, IN. In the past, the radio station has sponsored sports, sculpture and fashion design contests.

Sealed Air Corporation’s Bubble Wrap Competition for Young Inventors awarded top honors in 2010 to 13-year-old. Matthew Huber for his invention of Petri bubbles, a cheap and easy alternative to Petri dishes for use after earthquakes, floods, disease outbreaks, and any disaster where access to medical services is desperately needed.

In 2014, Harvard University chemists published a paper stating that “the gas-filled compartments in the packing material commonly called ‘bubble wrap’ can be repurposed in resource-limited regions as containers to store liquid samples, and to perform bioanalyses.” Huber is probably looking at grad schools by now. Give him a call.

bubble wrap appreciation day

The invention of Bubble Wrap began as a failed experiment and became a triumph of the imagination. In 1957, engineers Marc Chavannes and Al Fielding created three-dimensional wallpaper by trapping air between two shower curtains. (Imagine how our interiors might look had their plan succeeded.)

After an unsuccessful effort to repurpose it as greenhouse insulation, Chavannes and Fielding realized that their terrible wallpaper would make excellent packaging material. At that time, the paper products used for packaging didn’t cushion heavy or delicate objects.

They raised $9,000 to fund a developmental production line and incorporated Sealed Air Corporation in 1960. IBM was their first customer, using Bubble Wrap to protect its 1401 business computer’s fragile vacuum tubes during shipping. Customers all over the world have entrusted it with their valuables ever since.

The company continues to innovate, improving its products and creating new ones. In 2015, Sealed
Air announced the creation of NewAir I.B. Extreme (cue air guitar), designed to ship flat, reducing bulk and lowering transportation costs. One truckload is equivalent to 40 truckloads of traditional Bubble Wrap. Customers will then inflate sheets as needed with a custom air pump.

The stuff looks like traditional Bubble Wrap but don’t be fooled: it will not pop, no matter how hard you press, poke, punch, squeeze, sit or stomp on it. Believe me, we’ve tried. We miss that pleasantly startling noise that induces a fight-or-flight response in anyone within earshot. While we can’t replicate the sensation, we can help keep the memory alive with this:

If you no longer use Adobe FlashPlayer, which is going the way of the dodo, don’t worry. Googling “virtual bubble wrap” returns 9,460,000 results sure to keep you amused in perpetuity, or until you get bored, whichever comes first.

Happy Bubble Wrap Appreciation Day!

Copyright © 2019 Worldwide Weird Holidays

January 5 is National Whipped Cream Day

national whipped cream dayToday is National Whipped Cream Day. It commemorates the birth on January 5, 1914, of Reddi-Wip founder Aaron “Bunny” Lapin and honors his contributions to the world of dessert.

During the food-rationing years of World War II, Lapin introduced vegetable-oil-based Sta-Whip as a cream substitute. After the war, he used real cream to invent Reddi-Wip.

Around the same time, Henry Ford’s soybean laboratories developed Presto Whip, packing it in pressurized cans designed for military use as anti-malarial insecticide sprays.

In 1955, Lapin secured a patent for a new type of dispensing valve, with fluting to create patterns and a tilting nozzle that clicked closed to preserve propellant gases. Reddi-Wip became a national success.

Lapin sold his interest in Reddi-Wip in 1963 but continued to manufacture and sell the valves until his death on July 14, 1999. According to a 2015 survey, Reddi-Wip is the whipped topping of choice in 20.57% of U.S. households polled, second only to Cool Whip (44.75%).

In November 2017, owner Conagra Foods revealed plans to develop vegan Reddi-Wip in an effort to attract millennial customers interested in “clean” plant-based foods. (So-called “non-dairy” Reddi-Wip contains sodium caseinate, a dairy protein.) The new formula will be made with almond milk and/coconut milk. (Hat tip to the marketer who originally determined that nut milk sounds a lot more appetizing than nut juice or squeezings.)

Celebrate Lapin’s achievement by shaking up a fresh can of Reddi-Wip…or just whip up your own and have a happy National Whipped Cream Day!

 

Copyright © 2018 Worldwide Weird Holidays

January 4 is National Trivia Day

national trivia day

Today is National Trivia Day. Why? Here’s your first bit of trivia:

National Trivia Day was invented by Robert L. Birch, leader of Puns Corps, who also brought us A’phabet Day. It celebrates those of us who possess knowledge of facts that might not matter much at all. Here’s your chance to receive a doctorate in “uselessology.” Memorize the following and use as desired.

  1. The Pony Express only ran for 19 months.
  2. Some cats are allergic to humans.
  3. Forty is the only number whose letters are in alphabetical order.
  4. In 2009, a woman sued the maker of Cap’n Crunch’s Crunch Berries because the cereal contained “no berries of any kind.” (The case was dismissed.)
  5. The mask used by Michael Myers in the movie Halloween was a Captain Kirk mask painted white.
  6. Fredric Baur invented the Pringles can. When he passed away in 2008, his ashes were buried in one.
  7. An airplane’s flight data recorder is painted orange, so why is it called a “black box”? No one knows but theories abound.
  8. People love lists.

Need more? The word trivia is derived from the Latin trivium (place where three roads meet) which refers to the “lower” liberal arts: grammar, logic, and rhetoric. They form the foundation of the quadrivium, which consists of arithmetic, geometry, music, and astronomy.

Happy National Trivia Day!

Copyright © 2018 Worldwide Weird Holidays