In 1959, Walter C. Gregory of North Carolina State College introduced "atomic" peanuts to the world. Despite the name, they weren't radioactive peanuts.
He had exposed peanut seeds to huge amounts of radiation to create mutant strains. Then he had selected the mutant strains with the qualities (size) he liked. And in this way created jumbo-sized peanuts.
As this article at Atlas Obscura
notes, what Gregory was doing was "mutation breeding," and it's the way many of the varieties of fruit and veggies we eat nowadays are created. We no longer call it "atomic" food, though it is.
Since the 1950s and 60s, mutation breeding has created around 3,000 commercially available varieties of plant—durum wheat, rice, soybeans, barley, chickpeas, white beans, peaches, bananas, papayas, tomatoes, sunflowers, and more. Almost any grapefruit you've bought was probably a mutant.
Man and woman eating "atomic" peanuts
Kansas City Times - Jan 12, 1959
An ad placed in Time
magazine (April 26, 1948) by the "Federation for Railway Progress" boasted about their investment in atomic research, and urged railroads to join the federation to benefit from all the great advances that atomic research would soon bring to the transportation industry:
Will your railroad have a place at the atomic research table?
No industry stands to benefit more from atomic "vitamins" in its diet than the undernourished railroads...
A new, lighter and stronger metal—which could be applied to the construction of light-weight freight and passenger cars—may well come out of atomic research.
There is also the promise of new and more efficient lighting and heating systems, and other possibilities which only properly directed research could uncover.
Almost 70 years later, is it possible to say if U.S. railroads actually did benefit in any way from atomic research? I've never thought of railroads and atomic research as being in any way related.
Briefly in the 1950s it became popular to sit in mildly radioactive dirt as a panacea for many ills.
The house above in Rotan, TX, was one such establishment.
LIFE magazine article here.
Following up on my post last week about Dr. Willard Libby and his "nuclear detergent,"
here's Dr. Libby again, in 1961, promoting his "Poor Man's Fallout Shelter," which could also have been described as the "If you're stuck in this, you're screwed" shelter. Note that it was obligatory to wear a white tuxedo and bowtie while in the Poor Man's shelter.
The Herald (Jasper, Indiana) - Oct 5, 1961
is best known as the winner of the 1960 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, awarded for his role in developing radiocarbon dating. But throughout the 1950s and 60s he was also a tireless promoter of nuclear energy, assuring the public that fears about radioactivity and nuclear fallout were greatly overblown. One of his ideas for a beneficial use of radiation was to radiate laundry detergent. As far as I know, no detergent maker ever got behind this idea.
- Jan 13, 1964
Did this actually have radium inside it? How many cancers did this cause, carried about in Dennis the Menace's pockets?
Unfortunately, I've lost the source of this ad. Can anyone help?
I guess I was too sanguine the other day when I said we'd never have nuclear reactors circling overhead.
Read the article here.
[Clicke either half to enlarge.]
Sometimes even generals come to their senses. The notion of airborne nuclear reactors proved too worrisome even for the military, despite the brilliant failsafe plan of catastrophic ditching into water.
Original article here.