Weird Universe


Atomic Peanuts

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.

"Atomic" peanuts

Man and woman eating "atomic" peanuts

Kansas City Times - Jan 12, 1959

Posted By: Alex | Date: Sun Aug 30, 2015 | Comments (2)
Category: Food, Science, Atomic Power and Other Nuclear Matters, 1950's

1956 Commercials:  7 minutes Total Per Hour Show

Now, that's weird! Especially when compared to double that amount today.
Posted By: Paul | Date: Sat Aug 29, 2015 | Comments (6)
Category: Business, Advertising, Products, Television, 2010's, 1950's

A Meal In A Matchbox, 1956

Matchbox-sized meals. The utopian food of the future, as envisioned by British scientists of the 1950s.

"the housewife of the future will never have to worry about dishpan hands if science puts pills and water on the table instead of steak and potatoes."
— Port Angeles Evening News - July 25, 1956

Synthetic food, as tasty and more nourishing than the real thing, yet so compact that a three-course meal goes in a matchbox, has been made in top secrecy by Government scientists....
Matchbox meals can be kept almost indefinitely without deterioration. An example of the matchbox food could be soup, a dish of synthetic stewed steak followed by a sweet in the form of, say, apple puree. There would not be as much as you might be accustomed to see on a well-filled plate, but it would be satisfying to eat, and the flavour would be indistinguishable from the real thing. The soup will probably be in a tablet form. The stewed steak will be a packet of course granules. There will be a teaspoonful or so of white powder which will be the mashed potatoes. Another little packet of powder will contain the apple puree. The only thing to be added to the chemicals will be water.
— Keystone Wire Service, July 17, 1956

Port Angeles Evening News - July 25, 1956

Posted By: Alex | Date: Sat Aug 29, 2015 | Comments (4)
Category: Food, 1950's

The Animation of Joop Geesink

We marvel at films like Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer, or Wallace and Gromit, in which, during a given scene, one or two puppets might be in motion. I can't fathom the amount of work that Joop Geesink went through to create his films.
Posted By: Paul | Date: Thu Aug 27, 2015 | Comments (2)
Category: Stop-motion Animation, 1950's, 1960's, Europe

A Regular Shortcut

Perhaps no one had ever complained before.

Macon Chronicle-Herald - Feb 6, 1954

Suspect Tipsy Driver Took Wrong Short Cut
AUBURN, Ind. (AP)—Carl Wilder, 39, of Pleasant Lake, Ind., was charged with drunken driving Saturday after his truck went through a farmyard, ran over a farmer's automobile and destroyed 100 yards of fence.
Wilder told doubting police: "I always take this short cut."
Police suspected he was thinking about a gravel road a half mile away.
Posted By: Alex | Date: Sun Aug 23, 2015 | Comments (4)
Category: Inebriation and Intoxicants, 1950's

The Tri-Car

[Click to enlarge]

Original article here.

This odd little auto actually made it into limited production.

Full history here.
Posted By: Paul | Date: Thu Aug 20, 2015 | Comments (5)
Category: Eccentrics, 1930's, 1950's, Cars

Drunk-O-Meter Test Fizzles

A great moment in the history of science. Arkansas, 1956.

Corsicana Daily Sun - June 8, 1956

'Drunk-O-Meter' Test Is Fizzle: Man Passes Out
HOT SPRINGS, Ark., June 8 — An attempt to test the accuracy of the "Drunk-O-Meter," a device used to measure the degree of intoxication of a person, ended in failure at Hot Springs.
The reason—the man engaged to get drunk for science passed out before he could be measured.
The experiment was conducted by police at the request of the judges' council, an official unit of the Arkansas Bar Association.
The man drank over a 20-hour period. In that time he consumed four half pints of wine, two half pints of whiskey, four half pints of "moonshine" liquor, and a half pint of vodka.
Posted By: Alex | Date: Wed Aug 19, 2015 | Comments (6)
Category: Inebriation and Intoxicants, Science, Experiments, 1950's

Johnson Smith Catalog Item #35


From the 1950s catalog.
Posted By: Paul | Date: Tue Aug 18, 2015 | Comments (4)
Category: Johnson Smith Catalog, Body Fluids, 1950's, Face and Facial Expressions

Have I Told You Lately That I Love You?

What a fine joke! The gear-driven, proto-cybernetic hell world of 1958 now looks more like a paradise compared with our world of 2015. No digitization. Hardly any cars on the highway. Children interacting unsupervised with a living ice-cream man. A TV set that can be repaired with a home visit, rather than going straight to the landfill. Coffee perked at home instead of provided by Starbucks. Human interaction unmediated by screens....

Take me back there now!
Posted By: Paul | Date: Sat Aug 15, 2015 | Comments (2)
Category: Business, Domestic, Marriage, Family, 1950's

Go Answer the Phone

Very creepy. If you were woken by a stranger telling you to answer the phone, would you do it?

I'm a pretty deep sleeper. It usually takes me a few minutes after waking to achieve full consciousness. So I suspect this trick would work on me.

Ironwood Daily Globe - Nov 7, 1958

Go Answer the Phone, Said Bedroom Stranger
SEATTLE (AP)—Darwin Barker was awakened by a man at the foot of his bed who told him to "go answer the phone."
Groggy with sleep, Barker staggered into another room to the telephone. The ringing awoke him completely.
He rushed back into his bedroom but by that time the man was gone. So were Barker's trousers, wallet and $1.25.
Posted By: Alex | Date: Fri Aug 14, 2015 | Comments (3)
Category: Sleep and Dreams, Scary Criminals, 1950's
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All original content in posts is Copyright © 2008 by the author of the post, either Alex Boese ("Alex"), Paul Di Filippo ("Paul"), or Chuck Shepherd ("Chuck"). All rights reserved. The banner illustration at the top of this page is Copyright © 2008 by Rick Altergott.