Weird Universe Archive

December 2020

December 16, 2020

Toy Hitler

A popular toy in Nazi Germany was a miniature model of Hitler. It came in six action poses, including Hitler in an army jeep and in an open car doing the Nazi salute.

Not many of these toy Hitlers survive, so if you have one, for some reason, it's probably worth some money. One of them was featured on Antiques Roadshow in 2012.

Newsweek - Dec 26, 1938



Posted By: Alex - Wed Dec 16, 2020 - Comments (5)
Category: Dictators, Tyrants and Other Harsh Rulers, Toys, 1930s

Mary & Gretel

Motto: existence is short and capricious, leavened only by booze.

Posted By: Paul - Wed Dec 16, 2020 - Comments (1)
Category: Animals, Games, Fantasy, Stop-motion Animation, 1910s, Alcohol

December 15, 2020

Cannibal Sandwiches

In what has apparently become an annual ritual, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services has warned Wisconsinites that 'cannibal sandwiches' (aka raw beef or tartare sandwiches) pose a health risk, and that it's really better to cook the meat first.

Somehow I've gone my entire life without knowing that there was such a thing as cannibal sandwiches — let alone that they're considered a Christmas tradition in Wisconsin.

The traditional recipe for a cannibal sandwich is raw ground beef spread open-faced on rye bread. Salt and pepper the meat. Then add a few raw onions. Some people like a dash of Worcestershire on the meat. The sandwich should be served very cold. And it's common to have it with a beer.

Posted By: Alex - Tue Dec 15, 2020 - Comments (9)
Category: Food, Christmas

December 14, 2020

Kent, the asbestos-filtered cigarette

In 1952, in response to growing concerns about the safety of cigarettes, the Lorillard Tobacco Company introduced Kent cigarettes, boasting that they contained a "Micronite filter" developed by "researchers in atomic energy plants".

Turned out that the key ingredient in the Micronite filter was asbestos. From wikipedia:

Kent widely touted its "famous micronite filter" and promised consumers the "greatest health protection in history". Sales of Kent skyrocketed, and it has been estimated that in Kent's first four years on the market, Lorillard sold some 13 billion Kent cigarettes. From March 1952 until at least May 1956, however, the Micronite filter in Kent cigarettes contained compressed carcinogenic blue asbestos within the crimped crepe paper. It has been suspected that many cases of mesothelioma have been caused specifically by smoking the original Kent cigarettes.

According to Mother Jones, the company is still battling lawsuits to this day.

Chicago Tribune - Apr 1, 1952

Posted By: Alex - Mon Dec 14, 2020 - Comments (1)
Category: Health, Atomic Power and Other Nuclear Matters, Smoking and Tobacco, 1950s

December 13, 2020

Clothes for Snowmen

Various sources report that when Madame de la Bresse died in 1876, she instructed in her will that all her money be used for buying clothes for snowmen. For instance, Bill Bryson shares this anecdote in his 1990 book The Mother Tongue: English & How it got that Way:
[The nineteenth century] was an age when sensibilities grew so delicate that one lady was reported to have dressed her goldfish in miniature suits for the sake of propriety and a certain Madame de la Bresse left her fortune to provide clothing for the snowmen of Paris.

Here's a 1955 cartoon about Madame de la Bresse and the snowmen:

The Montana Standard - May 6, 1955



But the earliest source for the story I've been able to find is a 1934 edition of Ripley's Believe it Or Not!. Which makes me wonder if the story is true, because I'm convinced Ripley invented many of his "strange facts". I can't find any French references to Madame de la Bresse.

However, it's possible Madame de la Bresse and her odd bequest were real, and the best argument for this I've been able to find is made by Bob Eckstein in his The History of the Snowman. He doesn't provide any sources to verify the existence of Madame de la Bresse, but he does give some historical context that could explain what might have inspired her to want to clothe snowmen:
When noted prude Madame de la Bresse passed away in 1876, she instructed in her will that all 125,000 francs (about $22,500 today) of her fortune were to only be spent putting clothes on the vulgar and offensive naked snowmen in the streets. This bizarre bequest may have had something to do with a certain celebrated snow statue made during the later part of her life in 1870...

The date was December 8, 1870. Snow began to cover Paris. Bored officers threw snowballs, and some of the soldier-artists began to make snow sculptures. Before long, the snowballs became monumental snow statues. One soldier, Alexandre Falguière, channeled his angst of his home city being attacked by creating La Résistance, a colossal snow woman, which was constructed in a mere two to three hours with the help of others.

Although the artist Moulin built a huge snow-bust nearby, it was twenty-nine-year-old Falguière's snow woman that attracted the press to visit the site...

The snow woman was light in the bosom yet clearly blessed with a female face. She had broad shoulders with folded muscular arms and possessed an able-bodied, World Wrestling Federation savoir faire, which suggests Falguière compared the Prussian siege of Paris with the sexual aggression of a relentless female refusing to succumb (La Résistance).

La Résistance by Falguière. Source: wikipedia



So maybe Madame de la Bresse was invented by Ripley. Or maybe she was real and decided to clothe snowmen because she was offended by Falguière's nude snow statue. I'm not sure. Hopefully someone else may be able to shed some light on this mystery!

Posted By: Alex - Sun Dec 13, 2020 - Comments (4)
Category: Art, Statues and Monuments, Death, Law

December 12, 2020

An apparatus for holding eyelids open

Alexander Barash of Illinois was recently granted a patent for an "apparatus for opening and holding eyelids open" (Patent No. 10842477).

The apparatus includes a supporting platform having a Y-type shape and including an upper beam configured for extending between a nose bridge and a forehead of the patient and for positioning on the forehead, a left leg and a right leg coupled to the upper beam, and configured for straddling a nose bridge of the patient and for positioning on patient's left and right cheeks, and a cross-arm mounted on the upper beam of the supporting platform. The apparatus also includes an opening assembly mounted on the cross-arm and configured for pulling an upper eyelid up for exposing an eye and retaining the eye of the patient in the open position.



I guess that A Clockwork Orange didn't count as prior art.

Posted By: Alex - Sat Dec 12, 2020 - Comments (2)
Category: Inventions, Eyes and Vision

The Navassars Ladies Band



Posted By: Paul - Sat Dec 12, 2020 - Comments (5)
Category: Music, Gender, Women, Nineteenth Century

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Alex is the creator and curator of the Museum of Hoaxes. He's also the author of various weird, non-fiction books such as Elephants on Acid.

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