Slipping On A Banana Peel Used To Be A Genuine Concern
From Looney Tunes to Mario Kart, the banana peel is a pratfall staple. Everyone knows the gag, but how did it become a joke in the first place? There's no way stray banana peels are that abundant, and what kind of assholes are throwing them on the ground anyway?
NintendoAside from you, during Mario Kart.
Well, back in the mid 19th century, everyone was that asshole. Bananas had become a new and popular street food, so imagine New York City, but with the hot dog vendors on every street corner hawking bananas instead. But while the 19th century's food game was on point, their sanitation regulations were less so. People would often just toss their trash into the street, which meant that New York became littered with banana peels. So while it's difficult to imagine anyone slipping on a single fresh peel in the middle of the sidewalk, imagine that there are hundreds of them, and they're all slimy because they've been rotting for weeks. Suddenly the bananaphobia makes sense.
Harper's Weekly lectured readers on the potential broken limbs that a discarded peel could create, and Sunday school teachers warned children that not only would their inappropriate disposal of a banana peel injure someone, but that injury could also put them in the poorhouse.
Harper's WeeklyThe man died. The hat survived.
Bananas became a symbol of the wider urban trash problem, because their bright yellow peels stood out amidst piles of waste. The problem was eventually solved, as sanitation laws and organized garbage disposal efforts replaced throwing all of your shit away and letting wild pigs eat it up (seriously). But by then, the banana peel pratfall had become a staple of vaudeville, and later silent films, and still later cartoons. And it's somehow survived to this day, which would be like cartoons a century from now making regular jokes about eating Tide pods.
The Haunted Indian Burial Ground Comes From A "Real" Haunting
"Indian burial ground." That's all you need to say, and the audience will instantly understand that the spirits of long-departed Native Americans are seeking righteous vengeance for all the cruelties inflicted on them, like genocide and being stereotyped as a culture of angry ghosts. The first person to think of this easy background story must have felt like a genius.