Tag Archives: history

happy accidental birthday, bumpy cake.

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A Beloved Treat, Born from a Happy Accident

German confectioner Fred Sanders Schmidt first opened up his confectionary in Chicago, but that venture was short-lived, as it was a casualty of the Great Fire in 1871. Sanders and his wife, Rosa landed in Detroit, where he reopened for business in 1875. Sanders Confectionery has been a Detroit institution ever since.

For its first few decades in business, the store was simply a good old-fashioned chocolate and candy shop, with most of the products handcrafted by Fred and Rosa. In 1912, Fred decided to begin selling baked goods to honor the passing of his father, who had been a prominent baker and business owner in Illinois. One of those items was a rich chocolate cake, first frosted with vanilla buttercream and finished with a glossy chocolate fudge ganache, a nod to Fred’s candy-making skills. During one recipe test, Fred began to run out of vanilla buttercream, and instead of frosting the cake in a thick layer as planned, he playfully piped the white frosting in several rails across the top of the cake, which created a bumpy surface under the fudge icing and made for an attractive cross-section. After recognizing that most Sanders customers always asked for “the cake with the bumps,” the name was changed from “Devil’s Food Buttercream Cake” to “Chocolate Bumpy Cake” and a dessert icon was born on April 27, 1913. 

side note: this is one of my favorite cakes and also the nickname given to me by the waiters i worked with years ago, who suggested that i should use the name ‘bumpy teacakes’ should i ever become a dancer, and the entire restaurant crew knew me by this name forever after.

“nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.” 

-ralph waldo emerson

 

 

 

credits: sandersbakery.com

Like many happy culinary accidents, the newly fashioned cake with its unique look took off with customers. Initially called “Devil’s Food Buttercream Cake,” so many people simply asked for “the cake with the bumps” that Sanders changed the name to “Chocolate Bumpy Cake.”

Like many happy culinary accidents, the newly fashioned cake with its unique look took off with customers. Initially called “Devil’s Food Buttercream Cake,” so many people simply asked for “the cake with the bumps” that Sanders changed the name to “Chocolate Bumpy Cake.”

erased.

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Happy Birthday to the Modern Pencil

Was sticking an eraser on the back of a pencil common sense, or a new invention? This week in 1868, Philadelphia stationery store owner H.L. Lipman patented something that seems incredibly obvious in hindsight: a regular pencil, with an eraser on the end.

Although Lipman is credited with this innovation, his pencil with eraser looked a little different than its modern descendant. Rather than being glued onto the end, Lipman envisioned a pencil with a chunk of rubber eraser in the core that could be accessed by sharpening it, the same way you would a pencil lead.

Graphite pencils had been around since the 1500s, writes David Green for Haaretz. But until the 1770s, the preferred tool used to erase pencil marks was balled-up bread.

Lipman’s name hasn’t gone down in history, maybe because he didn’t manage to hold on to his patent. After gaining it, he sold it to Joseph Reckendorfer in 1862 for about $2 million in today’s money. Reckendorfer also didn’t get much use out of the patent. He took another company to court over their use of his patent, only for it to be invalidated by the court’s decision, which stated that Lipman merely combined two existing things, but didn’t really produce something new.

Lipman essentially imagined the pencil as having a graphite end and a rubber eraser end.

“It may be more convenient to turn over the different ends of the same stick than to lay down one stick and take up another,” the decision noted. “This, however, is not invention within the patent law.”

Over his career, though, Lipman also made a number of contributions to the 19th-century office:

He was also America’s first envelope manufacturer, and it was he who had the idea of adding adhesive to the back flap, so as to make sealing easier. He devised a methods for binding papers with an eyelet that preceded the stapler by two decades. And Lipman was the first to produce and sell blank postcards in the United States, in 1873.

Pencils aren’t really a notable object, writes Henry Petroski in The Pencil: A History of Design and Circumstance, but they shape how people do their work. Unlike the pen, a more permanent writing instrument, the pencil doesn’t usually get sayings (it’s the pen that’s mightier than the sword, for example) or a lot of credit. But pencil is an essential creative medium, he writes, because it can be erased—as everyone from architects to artists can tell you.

“Ink is the cosmetic that ideas will wear when they go out in public,” he writes. “Graphite is their dirty truth.”

credits: kat eschner, smithsonian.com, smithsonian magazine

out of the box.

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National Crayon Day on March 31  sparks fond memories of childhood creations in full color as we celebrate one of America’s most beloved toys, the crayon! Crayons delight our senses not just with their brilliant colors but also with their distinct smell, the feel of them in our hands, and for some kids, the waxy taste. With over 12 million crayons made daily, one is never far from reach. So, grab your box of 64 crayons, sharpener included, and get ready for some artistic expression and nostalgia.

Crayons have a colorful history. While hued wax molds have existed for centuries, the modern-day crayon got its start in the 1900s. Crayola crayons were introduced in 1903 by Binney & Smith as a safer and cheaper alternative to the art utensils in use at that time.  Binney & Smith premiered their famous eight-pack of crayons with the color line-up: Black, Brown, Orange, Violet, Blue, Green, Red, and Yellow. This color mix, along with their names, remained unchanged for 45 years. Since then, many colors have been added, color names and packaging have changed, and color styles such as neon, metallics, and glitter have emerged. A few colors have even been retired from the color wheel, typically on March 31.

The Crayola crayon has a special place in the hearts of Americans and Americana. It was one of the original inductees into the National Toy Hall of Fame in November 1999. It is estimated the average American will have used 730 crayons by their 10th birthday. Even Mr. Rogers has had his hand in the history of crayons by molding the official 100 billionth crayon in February 1996 at the Crayola plant in Easton. Crayons not only add color to our lives, but they’ve also been held as an analogy for the colorfulness of the human race and our ability to live together in a diverse world. Crayons have been used for creating artwork for years.

Originally used for industrial purposes, their popularity soared when the brand Crayola was introduced.  Crayons are used as a medium for creating artwork by children in schools mostly, but is also popular among adults who use it for creating contemporary art. Many households have a box of crayons stashed away somewhere, and today is the day it is pulled out. Everyone can enjoy crayons for creating vivid drawings. 

BY THE NUMBERS

100 – the number of colors Crayola crayons are available in. 

50 – the number of crayon colors retired by Crayola. 

3 billion – the number of crayons produced by Crayola in a year. 

18th – the ranking in terms of how familiar the crayon scent is to adults. 

1962 – the year when Crayola changed the name of their crayon ‘Flesh’ to ‘Peach.’

15 feet – the length of the world’s biggest crayon. 

223 billion – the number of Crayola crayons produced to date. 

730 – the number of crayons used by the average kid by the age of 10. 

“we could learn a lot from crayons; some are sharp, some are pretty, some are dull, while others bright, some have weird names, but they all have learned to live together in the same box.”

-Robert Fulghum, american author

 

 

 

credits: national days

who are the dinos in your neighborhood?

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is this midtown manhattan?
amazing interactive map shows you would dinosaurs roamed your neighborhood millions of years ago
facebook While most of us know that all sorts of prehistoric creatures once inhabited Earth, you might not realize which ones used to wander around your particular city. Thanks to this interactive map, you can easily find out. Type in your city name, and you’ll see it plotted on the globe, along with a list of species whose fossils have been discovered nearby. If you click on the name of a species, a new webpage will open with details, images, and a map that shows where else that species lived.
Omaha, Nebraska, for example, was once home to the pteranodon, the trinacromerum, and the mosasaurus  Those last two are both marine reptiles, meaning that Nebraska used to be underwater—which the globe will show you, too.

In addition to searching by city, you can also see what Earth looked like during a specific time period by choosing an option from the dropdown menu at the top. Choices range from 750 million years ago—the Cryogenian period, when glaciers abounded—to 0 million years ago, which is Earth as we know it today. Using a different dropdown menu on the right, you can view Earth during its many notable “firsts,” including “first land plants,” “first dinosaurs,” “first primates,” and more.

As CNN reports, the map was created by California-based paleontologist Ian Webster, who added to an existing model that mapped plate tectonics and used additional data from GPlates, another piece of plate tectonics software.

“It is meant to spark fascination and hopefully respect for the scientists that work every day to better understand our world and its past,” Webster told CNN. “It also contains fun surprises. For example: how the U.S. used to be split by a shallow sea, the Appalachians used to be very tall mountains comparable to the Himalayas, and that Florida used to be submerged.”

You can find other fun surprises by exploring the map yourself here. For the best experience, you’ll want to access the site from a desktop computer or tablet versus a smartphone.

 “observation: i can’t see a thing. conclusion: dinosaurs.”

-carl sagan

 

 

credits: cnn, mental floss, ellen gutosky, orla, getty images

indigenous people.

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According to the United Nations, there are currently more than 370 million Indigenous people spread across 70 countries worldwide. In total, they belong to some 5,000 different Indigenous groups and speak more than 4,000 languages. Many of these groups have distinct social, economic, and political systems, as well as distinct culture and beliefs. Sadly, they are often marginalized or directly threatened by more dominant powers in society — despite having been the original inhabitants of the land they occupy.

Indigenous peoples often have a strong attachment, understanding, and respect for their native lands, be it the great plains of the United States, the Canadian prairies, or the Amazon rainforest. This connection is frequently apparent in the wise words of Indigenous leaders both past and present. Today, with many Indigenous communities on the frontlines of the battle to protect our natural world, this wisdom is perhaps more important than ever.

“Even though you and I are in different boats,

you in your boat and we in our canoe,

we share the same River of Life.

What befalls me, befalls you.”

-Oren Lyons, Onandaga Nation Chief

and member of the Indigenous Peoples of the Human Rights Commission of the United Nations

Indigenous Peoples’ Day is a holiday that celebrates and honors Native American peoples and commemorates their histories and cultures. On October 8th, 2021 President Joe Biden signed a presidential proclamation declaring October 11th to be a national holiday.

 

 

– credits: Penobscot History Museum, United Nations

 

sing for your dinner.

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i found this picture of these knives and really wanted to know more. their story is fascinating.

Knives with musical notes on the blades are known as notation knives. A notation is the written version of a physical process, such as the sound of music. Once it is written down it can be preserved and recreated.  Sung at four different levels.They are the four parts Superius (Soprano) Countratenor (Alto), Tenor, and Bassus (Bass) to be sung simultaneously as in a hymn.

These knives are etched with notations expressing gratitude for a meal. On one side of the blade the inscription translates as, ‘The blessing of the table. May the three-in-one bless that which we are about to eat’, to be sung before the meal is taken. On the other side the notation gives thanks after the meal: ‘The saying of grace. We give thanks to you God for your generosity’. The point of the knife allows meat or bread to be skewered and offered to a fellow diner. Notation knives are extremely rare.

The interesting history of notation knives is explained here on YouTube and the music has been gloriously performed toward the end of the video. It’s only 5 minutes long . Well worth the time! https://youtu.be/-mai-7WUbBo

 

 

“those who wish to sing, always find a song.”

-swedish proverb

 

credits: Victoria and Albert Museum, AHRC, Flora Dennis, University of Sussex

can we speak in flowers? it will be easier for me to understand. -author unknown

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what is your favorite flower?

do you know what it’s saying?

 

THE HISTORY OF FLOWER MEANINGS – The Language of Flowers

The symbolic language of flowers has been recognized for centuries in many countries throughout Europe and Asia. They even play a large role in William Shakespeare’s works. Mythologies, folklore, sonnets, and plays of the ancient Greeks, Romans, Egyptians, and Chinese are peppered with flower and plant symbolism—and for good reason. Nearly every sentiment imaginable can be expressed with flowers. The orange blossom, for instance, means chastity, purity, and loveliness, while the red chrysanthemum means “I love you.”

FLOWERY LANGUAGE OF THE VICTORIAN ERA

Learning the special symbolism of flowers became a popular pastime during the 1800s. Nearly all Victorian homes had, alongside the Bible, guidebooks for deciphering the “language,” although definitions shifted depending on the source.

In the Victorian era, flowers were primarily used to deliver messages that couldn’t be spoken aloud. In a sort of silent dialogue, flowers could be used to answer “yes” or “no” questions. A “yes” answer came in the form of flowers handed over with the right hand; if the left hand was used, the answer was “no.”

Plants could also express aversive feelings, such as the “conceit” of pomegranate or the “bitterness” of  aloe. Similarly, if given a rose declaring “devotion” or an apple blossom showing “preference,” one might return to the suitor a yellow carnation to express “disdain.”

How flowers were presented and in what condition were important. If the flowers were given upside down, then the idea being conveyed was the opposite of what was traditionally meant. How the ribbon was tied said something, too: Tied to the left, the flowers’ symbolism applied to the giver, whereas tied to the right, the sentiment was in reference to the recipient. And, of course, a wilted bouquet delivered an obvious message!

More examples of plants and their associated human qualities during the Victorian era include bluebells and kindness, peonies and bashfulness, rosemary and remembrance, and tulips and passion. The meanings and traditions associated with flowers have certainly changed over time, and different cultures assign varying ideas to the same species, but the fascination with “perfumed words” persists just the same.

There is a language, little known,
Lovers claim it as their own.
Its symbols smile upon the land,
Wrought by nature’s wondrous hand;
And in their silent beauty speak,
Of life and joy, to those who seek
For Love Divine and sunny hours
In the language of the flowers.

–The Language of Flowers, London, 1875

 

text credits: Old Farmer’s Almanac, Catherine Boeckmann

art credit: Illustrated postcard. Printed in England/The Regent Publishing Co Ltd.-Dumbarton Oaks Archives

begin again.

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*life finds a way 

 

“no matter how hard the past is, you can always begin again.”

-buddha

 

  * the above photo was taken while exploring what was once the traverse city state hospital (1885-1989), and more recently has been restored and given new life as the traverse city village commons. most buildings are now teeming with life and commerce, while other buildings still await their second chance, ghost stories and all.

 

energy and daring.

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We remember the life and lasting legacy of Robert F. Kennedy
and his commitment to a more just and peaceful world with his words:
“Each time a man stands up for an ideal… he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope,
and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring,
those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest wall of oppression and resistance.”
November 20, 1925 – June 6, 1968
John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum
 SWPC-RFK-025-001