Columns

2017.10.04 Hefner and Halloween star in Factoid File

By RICH FOLEY

The passing last week of Playboy magazine founder Hugh Hefner reminded me of an article about him in Time magazine back in 2013 that mentioned he held an official Guinness World Record. I could have spent hours trying to guess the category without ever getting close. Since his record was for something I doubt anyone would expect, I clipped the story for a future factoid column. Goodbye, Hef, and thanks for the filler.

Hefner’s record, as unbelievable as it sounds, is for the largest collection of personal scrapbooks. He began scrapbooking about his life while still in high school and at the time of the article, Hefner, then age 87, was working on scrapbook volumes 2,684 and 2,685. 

That’s an average of almost 40 volumes per year over the previous 70 years. The article in Time said he worked three months behind on purpose so that he could obtain all articles and photos related to a certain week before he finished the scrapbook for that week.

The completed volumes at that time filled bookshelves in two rooms and two hallways in the Playboy Mansion. In addition, he had a scrapbooking room in the mansion’s attic where he worked on the books every Saturday. He even had people to help him gather items for the books and employed a full-time head scrapbooker who had worked in that capacity since 1991.

Now on to a completely different subject. Another factoid I ran across says that “Food is a highly-efficient energy-storage mechanism,” adding that “a two-ounce granola bar contains as much energy as a 12-pound lithium battery.” If that’s really true, then why don’t the Quaker Oats people build their own electric car?

Just think of the possibilities. If you had an automobile powered by granola bars, you could always filch a bar or two when you were hungry, as long as you replaced them later. If needed, you could pick up a new one at the local supermarket. I know, that’s a ridiculous idea.

In non-electric car news, Mike Blackwell, owner of a water treatment company in Florida, loves driving Corvettes. Actually, make that really, really loves driving Corvettes. Although Chevrolet conducts durability tests of over 100,000 miles on the car, few owners put anywhere near that many miles on them, preferring to preserve their value by driving them sparingly. Not Blackwell.

He’s owned five Corvettes over the years and drove them hard. He put 342,000 miles on his 1991 before trading it in for a 2000 model which he still drives today. He uses it to transport sales materials, haul his son’s baseball equipment to tournaments and even to take his lawnmower in for service. Blackwell has no plans to give up the car, which now has over 730,000 miles and still has its original engine. That has to be some kind of record.

And finally, considering the calendar, a few items about Halloween. Even though the idea of Halloween-type activities has been around for a long time, the term “trick or treat” first appeared in print in North America in 1927, in the Lethbridge Herald, a Canadian newspaper. I don’t know when it first surfaced in a newspaper in the United States. Prior to then, did kids just yell “Give me some candy”?

In 1965, it was estimated that $300 million dollars was spent in the United States on Halloween candy, decorations and costumes. By 2014, that amount was being spent in the U. S. just on Halloween costumes for pets. That’s $300 million spent to outfit the animal friends of the 16 percent of people who include them in the celebration.

A survey taken 10 years ago found that 26 percent of U. S. residents turn off their lights rather than give out candy. In England, more than half save on both their light and candy bills by not participating in the occasion. And here’s a warning to the younger folks out there. According to Better Homes & Gardens magazine, 25 percent of parents steal their children’s candy either while they are sleeping or at school. That hardly seems fair.

I guess that covers Halloween except for a final thought that just occurred to me. I wonder if the late Hugh Hefner allowed trick-or-treating at the Playboy Mansion, and if so, what treats were passed out? I suppose I could find out if I contacted his head scrapbooker.