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52 Fun Retro Facts I learned in 2019
While running a blog, you learn lots of fun facts that you sometimes can’t fit into a blog post or podcast. Over the course of 2019, I tried to write down the ones that caught my attention. I was able to use many in a few posts podcasts, but some are just sitting in a doc. Instead letting that sit on my computer, I thought I would share here.
If you like retro facts and pop culture history, I think you will find these interesting.
According to the novelizations of E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, E.T. himself is millions of years old.
In 1982, the year it was released, Kodak would sell over 8 million Disc Cameras.
The first Dairy Queen opened on June 22, 1940, and was located in Joliet, Illinois.
Drew Barrymore audition for the titular role in the motion picture, Annie. She didn’t get the role. Steve Martin was originally cast as Rooster alongside Bernadette Peters. Since they were breaking up at the time, he decided to not take the role and Rooster would be played by Tim Curry.
Pillsbury Space Food Sticks were part of the third Skylab mission, ST-3.
James Avery, who played Uncle Phil on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, was also the voice of Shredder on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
The shape and structure of a Pringle were challenging, but it took years to develop a Pringle Potato Crisp that actually tasted good.
Mercurochrome was effectively banned in the United States in 1998 when it was reclassified by the FDA.
The miniseries Roots would earn 36 Emmy nominations and win 9.
The voice on the Black Knight pinball machine was supplied by its designer, Steve Ritchie.
Snow White is the only one of the “Disney Princesses” to have a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Recipes and advertising exist for warm or hot holiday versions of most major soft drinks.
The jazz group, The Manhattan Transfer, did a commercial for Akai Stereos in the 80s that featured lasers and all sorts of new wave goodness.
The Weather Channel was launched way back on Sunday, May 2, 1982.
James Cagney was offered a role in the Godfather II and turned it down.
In addition to being the drummer for “Weird Al” Yankovic, Jon “Bermuda” Schwartz has been a web designer since 1995.
The TV show, The White Shadow, was created by Bruce Paltrow, who was the father of the Gywneth Paltrow.
In the novelization for the movie, Gremlins, the gremlins are revealed to be extra-terrestrial in origin.
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the first use of the term “Popular Culture” in print was back in 1818.
Forrest Mars, of the Mars Candy Company, and Bruce Murrie, son of Hershey Chocolate’s president William F. R. Murrie, co-created M&Ms. The two Ms are taken from their last names.
Larry Hagman, who played J.R. Ewing, was the only actor to appear in all 357 episodes of the TV show, Dallas.
The company that would become Burger King was founded in 1953 as Insta-Burger King.
Salvatore Ferrara II of the Ferrara candy company was born by forceps. Because of this, his temporarily misshapen appearance inspired the Lemonheads Candy.
To give the water an ocean-like consistency, during the parting of the Red Sea in The Ten Commandments, they added gelatin to the water.
Nancy McKeon of Facts of Life fame was almost cast Monica Geller on Friends.
Tunnels and Trolls, considered by many to be the 2nd modern Roleplaying game (after Dungeons & Dragons), has been in circulation since 1975, and had a deluxe edition published as recently as 2015.
As a teenager, Christopher Walken worked as a Lion Tamer.
The Slap Bracelet fad produced injuries when kids removed the fabric covering from the bracelets. A school even attempted to ban them to help prevent further injuries.
Starting in the early seventies, NBC started using satellites to beam The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson to New York City to be edited. This meant that people with satellite dishes could get an unedited and uncensored version of the show. This worried Johnny and people at the show and they pushed the network to change how the show was transmitted and satellite broadcast ceased in the eighties.
The Talkboy from Home Alone 2: Lost in New York was so popular that Hasbro had to pull ads since they could not keep up with the demand for the toy.
Jack Klugman of Quincy ME, 12 Angry Men and The Odd Couple lent his name to a popcorn franchise, Jack’s Corn Crib.
In 1986, the first widely available disposable camera was released by Fujifilm.
The last Burger Chef restaurant, which was located in Cookville, TN, was closed in 1996. Other restaurants continued to operate under the Burger Chef name, but they have no connection with the original chain.
The Gimbels Department store in New York City had an entrance that led directly to the Herald Square subway stop. While convenient for shoppers, it was even more convenient for shoplifters. Because of this, by 1986 it had one of the highest theft rates of any store in the world.
Using the standard size McNugget packages of 6, 9 or 20 (excluding Happy Meals), the greatest number of McNuggets which cannot be purchased exactly is 43.
The cast of the film The Terminator (1984) made t-shirts that said, “You can’t scare me, I work for James Cameron.”
Paula Abdul 1989 music video “Opposites Attract’s” co-star MC Skat Kat, would go on to make his own album, The Adventures of MC Skat Kat and the Stray Mob. It did not sell well.
The U.S. Treasury contracted the producers of Cheers to create a special mini-episode talking about the advantages of Savings Bonds.
Koosh Balls are made from approximately 2000 rubber strings.
Only about 9000 DeLoreans were made before production was halted in December 1982.
The Melody for “Meet the Flintstones” was derived from part of the ‘B’ section of Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 17 Movement 2, which was composed between 1801 and 1802.
The first product to get scanned with a barcode at a checkout counter was a 10 pack of Wrigley’s Juicy Fruit Gum in June 1974 at a Marsh supermarket in Troy, Ohio.
Skee-Ball was invented and patented by Joseph Fourestier Simpson of Vineland, New Jersey in 1908.
David Duchovny auditioned for all three male lead roles on “Full House.”
Dr. Seuss himself, Theodore Geisel pronounced his famous pen name as “Soice” which rhymes with voice.
In Raiders of the Lost Ark, I knew how Indiana Jones survived the submarine voyage from reading the Marvels Comics adaptation, but now I know what it would have looked like on film.
Like many people at the time, Sammy Davis, Jr. was addicted to Pac-Man.
Kmart Chef restaurants were a small chain of free-standing fast-food restaurants owned by Kmart. They only lasted from 1967 to 1974.
The term “Milkshake” was first used in print in 1885. It was describing an alcoholic eggnog type beverage.
They have made 5 Home Alone films, although the last two were made-for-tv productions.
The first appearance in a department store of a “modern” style Santa was way back in 1890.
Jamie Hyneman, of Mythbusters fame, created the Hershey Kisses bell ringing commercial.