Columns

New Factoid File is fun for young and old 2016.10.12

By RICH FOLEY

It’s time for more knowledge you probably didn’t really need to know, fresh from the Factoid File.

The world of vending machines continues to change. Ten or 15 years ago, who would have thought you’d ever rent a DVD from a vending machine? Now, those boxes are everywhere. Women can now buy a bra from vending machines in Japan. It might be best to take it home to try it on. In Romania, machines dispense eggs. My source didn’t indicate whether they are fresh or hard-boiled.

In the Middle East, you can buy silver and gold coins and bars from machines, that is, if a thief hasn’t stolen the entire machine first. In Singapore, 7-Eleven stores have machines that actually dispense mashed potatoes, with or without gravy. Now if only someone would create a meat loaf vending machine to put next to it.

Next, some “fun facts” about chicken wings from Maxim magazine. Americans supposedly ate 100 million pounds of chicken wings during their viewing of Super Bowl 48—wait, the NFL prefers I call it Super Bowl XLVIII. That comes to about 1.25 billion wings, or, in other words, over 600 million chickens worth of snacks.

For some reason, residents of Columbia, S.C., are 56 percent more likely to order chicken wings than people living in any other city in the United States. There must be some reasonable explanation as to why, but apparently, it’s a secret.

Molly Schuyler, a competitive eater, holds the world record for eating chicken wings, downing 363 in just 30 minutes. Schuyler, by the way, weighs a relatively light 120 pounds. I wonder if she had any dessert?

Some shopping malls in China are going through a slow period, not unlike many in this country. The Chinese, however, are going to great lengths to reverse the trend by introducing new attractions to boost mall traffic.

In Shanghai, one mall is installing a tube slide five stories tall and 177 feet in length for any customer wanting to take a free ride that lasts about 16 seconds. Actually, it’s for any customer between the ages of seven and 50 who is in good health. Unhappily, the very young, ailing and AARP crowd are not welcome on the “Happy Slide.”

Meanwhile, in the southwest China city of Chengdu, the New Century Global Mall is located in, ranked by square footage, the world’s largest building. It’s about three times the size of the Pentagon. It has an artificial beach and its own water park. A recently-opened aquarium and animal park houses a polar bear, penguins, arctic foxes and belugas, among other attractions. With all this, how do customers find any time to go shopping?

General Electric is introducing a new home pizza oven this fall capable of temperatures in excess of 800 degrees. The cost is expected to be about $9,900. Since market research claims the average household consumes about 49 slices of pizza a year, that’s a lot of money to bake a relatively small amount of pizza.

The late Kurt Vonnegut is best known as an author, but he had another claim to fame. Before gaining prominence as a writer, he managed the first Saab dealership in the United States. The dealership closed in less than a year. I wonder if he ever wrote about that?

Nearly 80 years ago, a special vehicle was built for Admiral Richard Byrd’s 1939-1941 expedition to Antarctica. Goodyear made special balloon tires for the contraption that measured 10 feet in diameter and weighed 700 pounds each. The original plan was to drive it from Chicago to Boston, then ship it south to Byrd. That was easier said than done.

Problems along the way included getting stuck in a creek in Ohio for three days and having to replace the motor twice in Pennsylvania. Arriving in Antarctica, it crashed through a loading ramp. Finally put into service, it was discovered that its huge weight and spinning tires caused it to sink into the snow.

Byrd’s crew gave up on the vehicle, which over a period of time disappeared under the snow pack. It has not been seen since, except when it was briefly spotted during a 1958 expedition. Shortly after, it again vanished beneath the snow.

That’s all I have room for today. If you’ll excuse me, I’m off to work on that meat loaf vending machine. Someone has to invent it.