We live our lives in such a hurry that sometimes we miss simple things that can be extremely fascinating. Everything in our lives and every object around us have stories associated with them. However, for us, they become a part of our lives and we often miss important details that make these objects stand out. All of the simple, everyday items that we don’t think twice about are part of our very existence. The tools we use, the things we possess, the vehicles we drive and even the clothes we wear, have some unexpected histories surrounding them. Here, we are listing some of the quirky backstories, or strange facts about everyday objects that are hardly known.
1. Donuts are associated with police officers because of the long, odd hours they work and donut shops were among the few places that stayed open 24 hours, allowing them to grab something cheap and convenient to eat.
Donuts are often associated with police officers and there’s a very good reason for that. In short, police officers work extremely long and odd hours. Because of this, they had very few choices to grab a meal, especially at late nights. Donuts stores however, stayed open 24 hours during the 1950’s, allowing cops to grab something cheap and convenient to eat. Police officers also used the stores to catch up on paperwork or to have some relaxing time. As late-night food options expanded, officers were able to eat at other places but the joke stuck with the public that police officers are donut lovers. (source)
2. The M&M in M&M’s stands for Mars and Murrie.
On September 10, 1941, Forest Mars, son of the candy company’s founder, discovered a method of manufacturing drops of chocolate inside hard candy shells. The same year, he setup a shop in New Jersey and started selling his new product. Mars then approached Bruce Murrie, son of Hershey’s Company president William Murrie, to team up and start a new venture together. Murrie turned out to be not only a good financial partner, but a strategic ally for Mars. After the duo partnered up, for the first few years, M&M’s contained contained Hershey’s chocolate.
However, in 1949, they had a falling out, which prompted Mars to buy back his share of the company. So, the same year, Mars bought out Murrie for $1 million and took control. Although their partnership lasted for merely eight years, their names are immortalized together as one of America’s favorite candy. (source)
3. Bubble wrap was actually supposed to be wallpaper.
Bubble wrap was in fact an accidental creation. In 1957, Alfred W. Fielding and Marc Chavannes were trying to create a wall covering with the help of two laminated plastic sheets with air bubbles in between. The men were trying to create textured wallpaper that would be affordable to everyone but the idea simply did not take off as they expected. However, they marketed their creation as greenhouse insulation, which also turned out to get less attention.
Finally, in 1960, IBM was trying to ship some delicate data processors and they were looking for something that would protect the components from vibrations and pressure. Thus, a new trend was born and since then, bubble wrap has been a part of packaging materials for almost 6 decades. A 2012 study also found that popping bubbles on bubble wrap for just one minute can have the same effect as a 30 minute massage. (source 1, 2)
4. Office staplers come with a second setting that allows you to remove the staple easily without damaging the paper.
While most people use staplers on a daily basis, they are unaware of the fact that there is a second setting on officer staplers. The setting is located on the base plate and in most staplers, you either slide it backwards or rotate the plate to use the second setting. The second setting not only allows you to staple papers together, but it clenches the points outwards instead of inwards. This setting is designed for temporarily attaching papers that are intended to be separated again, without chewing up the corners of the pages. (source)
5. Pencils are yellow because of Chinese royalty.
Of course pencils come in all sorts of colors but the “standard” pencil color is commonly known as yellow. One might think that the color was chosen because the color yellow is associated with school buses. In reality, the reason why pencils have the standard yellow color dates back to the 1890’s. During this time period, pencils were being mass produced with the finest available graphite from China and exported throughout the world. The manufacturers wanted the world to know that the pencils were not only originating from China, but also that they were created with only the best Chinese graphite. So, they chose to paint them yellow, which is the traditional Chinese color of royalty. (source)
6. There are over 175,000 different ways to tie a tie.
Tying a tie properly is hardly easy for some. A Swedish mathematician however, managed to make it extremely difficult. Mikael Vejdemo-Johansson, a mathematician in Stockholm, calculated the number of different ways to tie a tie and discovered that there are 177,147 ways. In 1999, Cambridge mathematicians Yong Mao and Thomas Fink, arrived at the conclusion that there were only 85 possible ways to tie a tie. Mikael Vejdemo-Johansson’s calculation discovered 177,062 more ways than the previous estimate. The new study however, took many variants into consideration, something the previous study did not. (source)
7. Barcode scanners don’t actually read the black lines, but rather the white space in between them.
Barcode scanners are extremely simple devices that utilize a light source, a photo diode and a simple decoder. If you are someone who uses the self checkout lanes, then you might be familiar with scanning items using barcodes. The barcode, which is a series of black and white stripes of varying widths, is imprinted on a label or product. While we think that the scanners read the black stripes, it is actually the exact opposite. Black does not reflect any light, whereas, white color does. The scanner utilizes this to read the reflected light and determine the product. (source)
8. Roundabouts actually make the roads safer than regular intersections.
Studies show that roundabouts actually make the roads safer than having an intersection. A four-way intersection offers 56 potential points of conflict, whereas a roundabout reduces that number to 16. However, they are more common in Europe than in the US. With more than 30,000 roundabouts, France and Britain have the most number of roundabouts in the world, whereas there are only about 5,000 modern roundabouts in the US. Since it requires drivers to come to a full stop at red lights at intersections, it also takes a large portion of time. In the case of a roundabout, drivers do have to slow down, but they yield, which actually allows for faster travel. (source)
9. The reason why orange juice tastes horrible after brushing your teeth is because of Sodium Laurel Sulfate, which blocks the sweet receptors.
For millions, orange juice is part of their breakfast routine. However, drinking orange juice right after brushing your teeth can leave a horrible taste in your mouth. According to the American Chemical Society, most toothpastes like Colgate contain a foaming agent called Sodium Laurel Sulfate (SLS). SLS is a surfactant, which creates foam as we brush and helps clean the teeth. The foaming agent also causes our sweet receptors to become suppressed, which is why orange juice tastes bitter. Orange juice and other citrus juices have a mixture of bitter and sweet flavors. Under normal circumstances, we taste the sweetness but when the sweet receptors are suppressed, the bitterness is all we can taste. (source)
10. Salt was once used as currency, which is where we get the English word “salary” from.
Salt has been an important and integral part of the world’s history. To the Ancient Romans, salt was of such great significance that they used it as currency. Soldiers were paid in salt and it was also used for trading purposes. This is where we get the English word “salary”. The word “salad” is not named for the leafy green mixture, rather, the Romans who sprinkled salt to improve the flavor. (source)