Fortune Cookie

Fortune cookies are when Japanese meet Americans meet Chinese.

  • Fortune cookies are sweet biscuits that are a folded circular shape, and they have a paper slip inside, that typically contains a message, which is revealed once the cookie is broken in half.
  • In China, fortune cookies are relatively unknown yet they are extremely popular in America, ironically in Chinese restaurants, and due to their availibity in such restaurants, they are widely thought to be of Chinese origin.
  • Fortune cookies are made from a batter primarily consisting of flour and sugar, as well as egg, and they usually contain either butter and vanilla, or miso and sesame, and are baked in an oven.
  • Many stories exist regarding the invention of fortune cookies, however it is likely that they are simply a slight variation of ‘tsujiura senbei’ (‘fortune crackers’), that were being made and sold near temples in Japan in the 1800s.
  • Once fortune cookies have been cooked, a slip of paper with a message is placed on the circular biscuit, and while the biscuit is still hot, it is folded in half and the points are squeezed together to form the distinctive shape of the cookie, and this encloses the fortune.
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Fortune Cookies
Image courtesy of Flazingo Photos/Flickr
  • It is believed that Japanese immigrants living in California introduced fortune cookies to the United States in the early 1900s, possibly changing the ingredients slightly to suit Westerners.
  • The messages contained inside fortune cookies are commonly vague, though generally positive, and they may have a proverb, suggest a destiny, or give advice, or may list numbers that are said to bring good luck.
  • ‘Fortune cookies’ were initially known as ‘fortune tea cookies’ in the United States, until around the time of World War II.
  • The mass production of fortune cookies began sometime in the late 1960s or early 1970s, as specially purposed machinery was invented; and in 2008, approximately three billion of the cookies were produced across the globe, most of which were consumed in the United States.
  • Fortune cookies increased dramatically in popularity when Chinese immigrants took over the production of the food in the United States, after Japanese labourers were imprisoned during World War II.
Bibliography:
Fortune Cookie, 2016, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fortune_cookie
Hiskey D, Fortune Cookies Were Invented in Japan, Not China, 2011, Today I Found Out, http://www.todayifoundout.com/index.php/2011/12/fortune-cookies-were-invented-in-japan-not-china/
If the Fortune Cookie Didn’t Originate in China or America, Where Did It Come From?, 2015, The Huffington Post, http://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/entry/fortune-cookie-history_b_6430962
Lee J, Solving a Riddle Wrapped in a Mystery Inside a Cookie, 2008, The New York Times, http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/16/dining/16fort.html?_r=3&pagewanted=all
Olver L, Chinese Food, 2015, The Food Timeline, http://www.foodtimeline.org/foodasian.html#fortunecookies

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Squeegee

Windows will be squeaky clean with the squeegee.

  • Squeegees are a flat tool that are typically used to assist in the cleaning of large, smooth surfaces.
  • ‘Squeegees’ are also known as ‘squimjims’ and ‘squilgees’, and they are commonly used to clean windows.
  • Most squeegees have the appearance of an uppercase letter ‘T’, consisting of a long bar with rubber strip, or ‘blade’ as it is called, and a handle that depending on its use, can be quite short or very long.
  • A squeegee is typically used by placing the blade on the wet surface to be cleaned, and pulling the tool across the surface, applying pressure to the blade towards the direction the tool is moving, and in so doing, ensuring liquid and grime are not missed.
  • Squeegees are manufactured with either a plastic or lightweight metal body, and along with the rubber strip, they sometimes include a sponge or textile strip that allows the user to scrub or wash a surface before using the blade that removes the liquid.

Squeegee, Trivia, Ten Random Facts, Invention, Clean, Tool, Window

  • The usefulness of the squeegee comes in its ability to move or remove large quantities of liquids, including cleaning solutions and dirt in a short time.
  • Water was removed from ship decks by squeegees (‘squilgees’ they were called at the time) as early as the mid 19th century, and later they were utilised to clean streets and floors and used in the photography industry, before the invention’s eventual application for windows.
  • In addition to cleaning surfaces of liquids and dirt, the squeegee has been applied to clean chalkboards and whiteboards, re-ice rinks, used in the screen-printing industry to apply ink, as well as enabling six people to be freed from a failed elevator during the 2001 September 11 attacks in the United States city of New York.
  • While the invention of the modern style squeegee intended for windows has been widely attributed to the 1936 tool produced by Italian window cleaner Ettore Steccone, earlier models were already in existence, a notable one of which is that invented by Wilbur Cornelius in 1883 in Indiana in the United States, which had two rubber blades, a similar form to modern style ones, and was specifically designed for use on floors and windows.
  • The term ‘squeegee’ is likely to be a derivation of the term ‘squeege’ meaning ‘to press’ or ‘to squeeze’.
Bibliography:
Cornelius W (1884), Scrubber, US300447. Accessed at: https://www.google.com.na/patents/US300447?dq=Squilgee,+OR+squeegee&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjX_JPWvtvPAhUL2mMKHbMOBFgQ6AEIPzAF
Hester A, The History of the Modern Squeegee, n.d, http://www.ecleanmag.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/history-squeegee.pdf
Rosenberg A, Ettore Steccone: Inventor of Modern Squeegee, 2014, Oakland Tribune Online, http://www.italystl.com/ra/1333.htm
Squeegee, 2016, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Squeegee
Warren B, The Man Who Gave Us The Squeegee to Clean Windows, 2013, The Clean Team, http://www.thecleanteam.ae/2013/12/25/man-gave-squeegee-clean-windows/

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Kazoo

Kazoos are not just for the casual amateurs!

  • A kazoo is a small apparatus that can produce music by a person humming, singing or speaking into the mouthpiece.
  • The shape of a kazoo is often compared to that of a submarine, and it features holes at both ends, with another in what is generally a raised cylinder on the top.
  • To produce a good sound, a user should hum into the kazoo or make the sounds ‘rrr’, ‘doo’, ‘who’ or ‘brrr’ and avoid blowing, and in doing so, a buzz-like sound is added to those made by the user.
  • Kazoos distort the sound entered by the user, due to the vibration of the membrane that is located at the bottom of the hole in the top of the instrument, and this is caused by the changing air pressure made by the sound.
  • It is thought that the earliest form of kazoo was used by traditional African tribes to manipulate one’s voice, made of a cows’ horn and spider egg casings.
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Kazoo
Image courtesy of Phil Parker/Flickr
  • There is a museum dedicated to the kazoo, located in South Carolina’s Beaufort in the United States, which opened in 2010.
  • By the late 1870s, patents for buzzing musical instruments with similar functionality to the modern kazoo surfaced, however it was not until 1902 that the modern style shape was patented, by George D Smith from New York, in the United States.
  • The name ‘kazoo’ is believed to have been given to the instrument in 1883 by inventor Warren Frost, and the word is possibly an onomatopoeia (a word that imitates a sound) of the noise that the instrument makes.
  • Quality kazoos are commonly made of metal, while other variants typically produced are made of plastic or wood; and not only have they been used as musical instruments, but also as toys.
  • Kazoos were first used in a professional music recording in 1921 by the Original Dixieland Jass (or Jazz) Band, in the song ‘Crazy Blues’.
Bibliography:
History of the Kazoo Through Patents, 2013, Association of American Kazoologists, http://kazoologist.org/history.html
Kazoo, 2016, Historical Folk Toys, http://www.historicalfolktoys.com/catcont/5001.html
Kazoo, 2016, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kazoo
The Kazoo – It’s “Physics”, History, and Importance for Modern Music, 2016, Kazoobie Kazoos, https://kazoos.com/pages/the-kazoo-its-physics-history-and-importance-for-modern-music

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Whistle

The whistle does not break the silence – it shatters it!

  • Whistles are noise-making devices that produce sound due to a burst of air movement, and the air often comes from a person blowing into the device with their mouth.
  • Whistles consisting of wooden or bone pipes have been crafted since ancient times, and they had notable applications in Ancient Greek and Roman culture, where they were used to keep the timing of galley boat rowing strokes.
  • Whistles have a wide range of potential purposes, with common applications including to enforce authority, to signal, to alert and to entertain.
  • One of the modern style whistles, known as the ‘pea whistle’, was invented in 1883 by Joseph Hudson, a toolmaker from England, and it was the first portable modern device that could produce such a commanding shrill sound.
  • Most whistles function by a burst of air being split by a bevel, part of which exits out the top hole in the whistle, while the other half enters the chamber and exits a second hole to create the sound.
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A Pea Whistle
Image courtesy of Greg Goebel/Flickr
  • The modern pea whistle is one of the most popular style whistles in the world, and it was inspired by the noise Hudson’s violin made whilst breaking, as it produced a trill sound when the string broke.
  • A small ‘pea’, usually made of a synthetic or natural cork, is located in the chamber of a pea whistle, and it is used to manipulate the stream of air when the device is blown into.
  • Whistles were quickly adapted for refereeing sport matches, and one was first used in a football game in 1878; and they started replacing police officer’s cumbersome hand rattles from 1883.
  • Materials that whistles are created from include metal, such as brass, although cheaper variants will often be manufactured from plastic; and the sound of the device is altered by the material used, its thickness, the size of the device, the size of the holes, the angle of the bevel, and the force of the air.
  • The design of the modern whistle has remained largely unchanged since its invention, although ‘pea-less’ variants are available, and tend to be more reliable due to the lack of moving parts.
Bibliography:
History of the Whistle, 2016, Granville District Football Referees Association, http://gdfra.org.au/history_of_the_whistle.htm
Whistle, How Products are Made, Made How, http://www.madehow.com/Volume-4/Whistle.html
Whistle, 2016, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whistle

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Waffle

The mouth-watering fragrance really lifts from the waffle iron.

  • Waffles are relatively flat baked goods, with an embossed lattice-like pattern, made of flour; and they are often associated with Belgium.
  • ‘Waffles’ have also been known as ‘wafles’, while variants include ‘Belgian’, ‘American’, ‘Brussel’ and ‘Flemish’.
  • The ingredients of waffles are usually a cooked batter of wheat flour, eggs, salt, milk, sugar and sometimes yeast.
  • Waffles are commonly spread or covered with cream, butter, icing sugar, fruits including berries, syrup, jam or ice-cream.
  • The term ‘waffle’ was derived from the Dutch word ‘wafel’, which itself came from the Proto-Germanic word ‘wabila’, meaning ‘web’ or ‘honeycomb’.
Waffles, Maple Syrup, Stack, Dessert, Food, Breakfast, Trivia, Ten Random Facts, Delicious, ButterWaffles
Image courtesy of TheCulinaryGeek/Flickr
  • Waffles typically have a light or airy feel with a crisp texture, and are golden brown in colour and are cooked in a variety of shapes, including squares and hearts.
  • Waffles are cooked by pouring the batter in a patterned waffle iron that generally has a base and a lid that encloses the batter, and when heated, cooks the batter.
  • The ancestor of the waffle was the ‘obleios’, a wafer cake from Ancient Greece, which from the 1200s AD became a patterned form similar to the modern one.
  • The earliest known printed recipe of the waffle can be found in the late 1300s book Le Ménagier de Paris.
  • The waffle’s correlation to Belgian culture was created in the World Fairs of 1962 and 1964, where Belgian cooks would serve delicious Belgian-style waffles, which became popular in America.
Bibliography:
Han E, From Wafers to Cones: A Short History of the Waffle, 2010, Kitchn, http://www.thekitchn.com/from-wafers-to-cones-a-short-h-113627
The History of the Waffle, 2015, Hub Pages, http://hubpages.com/education/The-History-of-the-Waffle
Waffle, 2016, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waffle
Waffle History, 2016, Lifestyle Direct Inc, http://www.thenibble.com/reviews/main/cereals/waffle-history.asp

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Stress Ball

How much stress can a stress ball take?

  • Stress balls are objects that fit in the palm of one’s hand, and are used primarily to relieve stress by manipulating or throwing the item.
  • ‘Stress balls’ are also known as ‘stress relievers’, and they are commonly found in both offices and homes.
  • Although typically of a spherical shape with a diameter of approximately 5.7 centimetres (2.25 inches), stress balls can come in all shapes, colours, designs and sizes.
  • Stress balls can range from soft and squishy to hard, and depending on their firmness, they can provide noise, texture, absorb force, be smooth, or have a weightiness, that helps to relieve stress.
  • Many stress balls contain gel or other substances, which affect the density and flexibility of the object, and they may also include noisemakers including chimes.
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A Stress Ball
Image courtesy of J E Therlot/Flickr
  • Stress balls originated in Anicent China around 1368 AD as hard Baoding Balls, that are still used today, and these traditional balls are intended to be rotated in one’s palm, and are said to stimulate a person’s acupressure points on the hand.
  • Stress balls are among the most common promotional objects, often featuring company logos as a marketing strategy, and they are frequently given as gifts.
  • American Alex Carswell invented the first of the modern style stress balls, in 1988, and his invention contained a microchip that when thrown at something, activated a glass shattering sound, as Carswell wanted to convey the sense of something breaking.
  • In addition to relieving stress and muscle tension, stress balls are commonly recommend by doctors and physiotherapists for hand rehabilitation, while other benefits may include hand coordination.
  • Modern stress balls are typically made of foam, rubber, plastic, and synthetic textiles, or a combination of these materials, while the traditional style Chinese balls are often formed from stone or metal.
Bibliography:
Arthurton D, Using Stress Balls to Experience Relaxation, 2016, Out of Stress, http://www.outofstress.com/do-stress-balls-work/
Chetwynd J, The Secret History of Balls, 2011, Penguin Group, New York. Accessed at: https://books.google.com.au/books?id=4YXTQxelfmYC&lpg=PP1&pg=PT5#v=onepage&q&f=false
Morris S, The History of the Stress Ball (and Why They’re So Popular), 2015, Quality Logo Products Inc., http://www.qualitylogoproducts.com/blog/history-of-stress-balls-why-theyre-popular/
Stress Ball, 2016, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stress_ball

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