4Blue Jeans Came from Renaissance Europe
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According to trouser lore, Levi Strauss invented blue jeans out West while embarking upon the American tradition of abandoning your life to try to get rich in California.
Where They Actually Came From:
You know, back when everyone used to dress like Prince.
For starters, Strauss didn't even invent modern jeans -- that honor goes to his business partner, Jacob Davis, a Latvian immigrant with a rather unremarkable career of hoboing from place to place looking for work. On the other hand, Strauss was a successful German immigrant who had recently expanded his dry goods business out West.
It's not like Strauss took an unfair share of the credit, though. Sure, he was mostly a financial backer, but Davis' contribution wasn't earth-shatteringly extraordinary, either. We'll let him explain it with the same eloquence generally reserved for above-average YouTube commenters:
"The secratt of them Pents is the Rivits that I put in those Pockots. I cannot make them up fast enough [...] My nabors are getting yealouse of these success."
"P.S. My mom helped me write this letter."
Yes, to invent blue jeans, Davis put some rivets in to reinforce the pockets. That's not a bad idea by any means, but it's the intellectual equivalent of creating Jar Jar Binks and getting credit for inventing racism.
In reality, denim clothing existed centuries prior, and the words "denim" and "jeans" both derive from influential trading cities on the Mediterranean. Denim comes from the French city of Nimes ("de Nimes" = "of Nimes"), and jeans come from the Italian city of Genoa (with its French name being "Genes"). Cities in the region had been using the fabric for sails since the Middle Ages, and in 2010, art historians uncovered Italian paintings from the 1650s that show peasants sporting denim skirts and jackets.
"Has anyone seen my Tiffany cassette tape?"
That's right: A full 200 years before Davis and Strauss got around to putting rivets in denim, an Italian child was strutting around dressed like he had mugged Marty McFly.
3Fast Food Franchises Go Back Thousands of Years
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If it's Friday night and you have but a fuzzy recollection of what you've been doing for the past five hours, then you're ready to indulge in the great American pastime of on-demand fast food. Yes, your 2 a.m. jaunt to White Castle represents everything quintessentially American: freedom, entrepreneurship, and the looming specter of adult-onset diabetes.
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He's practically shaking with anticipation.
Where It Actually Came From:
Or, fast food has been around everywhere, for a very long, long time.
Back in the days of feudalism, only the rich could afford actual kitchens, and going out to eat meant heading over to your neighbor's castle. Therefore, the only restaurants around catered to the poor and travelers by serving quick, on-the-go food.
"Order up, I need two giant bags of sticks and dirt on the fly."
Even traditional American fast foods (like hamburgers and hot dogs) got their delicious start catering to German sailors at ports (like prostitutes and mustache-cream vendors). In fact, most classic American fast food is named after somewhere else -- hamburgers come from the German city of Hamburg, and French fries originated in Belgium.
How far back can we trace fast food? In 1100s London, fast food flourished along the Thames River, where a medieval-style drive-in served customers day and night. Heck, the drive-thru window -- that omnipresent staple of the American landscape -- very well may date back to ancient Iran.
Also, archaeologists estimate that 200 cafe-like restaurants known as thermopolia -- which sat at the intersections of busy streets -- dotted the ancient Roman city of Pompeii. Further, there was one of these restaurants for roughly every 60 residents of the city. Not even Los Angeles pot dispensaries can pull that kind of ratio.
"The bathroom and dining room are one and the same. It saves so much time."