#2. ANZAC Day in Australia and New Zealand
Every year on April 25, New Zealand and Australia have a holiday to honor the joint campaign of their respective countrymen to infiltrate the Ottoman Empire during World War I, and also the crushing failure of that offensive. The campaign was so poorly orchestrated right from the start that they ran aground on the wrong shore in complete darkness at the base of a heavily fortified cliff. Then, for eight months, the Turkish military picked them off from above until the ANZAC soldiers were finally evacuated. It was, in all respects, a disaster.
So why would anyone create an international holiday celebrating the worst military showing in the history of New Zealand and Australia? Well, partially because it's less a celebration and more of a day of remembrance for all lives lost in war, and partially because it's important to their national identity to remember that it wasn't their goddamn fault.
"Cheers to having someone else to blame."
When the war started in 1914, Australia and New Zealand were dominions of Great Britain, which meant they were automatically thrown in with the Allied forces. Their introduction to the war was landing on that miserable beach and getting slaughtered for eight months under the command of British generals. In fact, just about everything that went wrong with that offensive was the fault of the British generals. Australian officer William Bridges realized after the first day what a terrible position they were in and urged British commanding general Sir Ian Hamilton to evacuate everyone, but Hamilton wouldn't allow it, opting instead to watch everyone explode around him (including William Bridges). The rest of the campaign was more or less the same thing.
So for Australia and New Zealand, April 25 is extremely important to their sense of independence, in a "I fucking told you so" kind of way. It's what made Australia and New Zealand realize they'd be better off standing on their own two (four?) feet, while simultaneously being a day of respect for everyone who suffered through war under the looming authority of the British Empire. It's the equivalent of two teenage twins whose mother won't let them drive until she nearly kills them both in a drunk driving accident. Ooh, I don't know if it's possible to make an analogy that's even more depressing than dead soldiers, but I think I may have just done it.
#1. The Museum of Failed Products
It's fitting that the building dedicated to fiscally terrible decisions and the stillborn products of consumer capitalism is located 35 miles outside Detroit, Michigan. It's a warehouse owned and curated by a market research company that's filled with just about every miserable idea in consumer goods. It's structured similarly to a grocery store, with metal racks that hold everything from edible deodorant to push-up pops made of scrambled eggs -- a supermarket of failure.
What could go wrong with aerosol toothpaste?
Sadly, the public isn't allowed inside. The products are all collected and displayed exclusively for research and development teams to march up and down the aisles, making sure that their hot new idea isn't already a corpse from some other company. It's no surprise that products like Pepsi A.M. and For Oily Hair Only shampoo never had a long life, but it turns out that about 90 percent of new products fail, and only about 5 percent make it to grocery store shelves. A lot of them fail for weird reasons, too. Guardian writer Oliver Burkeman got a trip inside and found packets of gum that had to be discontinued in the 1980s because they looked too much like crack cocaine.
As a result of all the possibilities for failure in the market, the museum has a collection of over 110,000 different products that don't exist anywhere else in the world anymore. It used to be in Ithaca, New York, but because there just wasn't enough room for all the disasters they needed to display, they moved the operation to Michigan, where it's aisles and aisles of cautionary tales. Of course, all the discontinued products you miss from your childhood exist there, too. So if anyone in Michigan is up for breaking in and stealing some orange Bubblicious gum or Bonkers candy, I'll send you my address.