4 Seemingly Extinct Products That Are Still Weirdly Huge
Out of sight, out of mind -- that's how the saying goes. But perhaps we should amend it to "out of our sight into some other poor sap's mind." Just because we as a culture decide we're done with something doesn't mean it goes away. Somewhere in Eastern Europe, they're only now getting Turbo Teen, and they're going nuts for it. We made that example up (probably), but there are plenty of true cases. Like ...
Sacagawea Dollars Are The Preferred Currency Of Ecuador
When they were first announced, Sacagawea golden dollars were heralded as a great step forward for a currency dominated by dead white dudes in wigs. But the coins were heavy, unwieldy pieces of metal in a country that doesn't like change, and people soon tired of jangling down the street like old jalopies. In the end, America opted out of using the Sacagawea dollar. Well, not all of America.
In Ecuador, Sacagawea dollars are the preferred currency. In the year 2000, Ecuador adopted the almighty dollar as their national currency after their own crashed harder than James Dean on race day. So when the U.S. started shipping dollars to Ecuador, they clearly figured it'd be a good time to offload some of those unwanted coins. They have since shipped 149 million dollars' worth of Scagaweas to Ecuador, which is surely more coin than land by now.
Much to the U.S. Mint's surprise, Ecuadorians love their Sacagawea dollars. They vastly prefer them over the typical greenback, as they think paper money is far too easy to counterfeit. One citizen even confessed that for a long time, she thought Sacagawea was from Ecuador instead of the United States because of the coin's ubiquity. Sacagawea probably would've liked that as well. At least somebody appreciates her.
Millions Of People Still Send Telegrams
Surely telegrams, the cowboy communication method that employed Morse Code to send messages no longer than a dirty limerick, have no place in our modern society. While it's true that most telegraph institutions -- like Western Union, which sent its last telegram in 2006 -- have moved on, their telegraph networks are still operational. In fact, Western Union's network was bought out by another company, iTelegram, and they're doing gangbusters. They send tens of millions of 'grams each year to 23 countries worldwide. You see, telegram messages are still very solid, legally speaking. A telegram company can easily verify delivery, and also keeps all messages archived for at least seven years. If you want to cancel a contract or enter into a legally binding agreement, a telegram is one of the safest ways to do so.
Telegrams are also still big in Japan, where they're used to send out wedding announcements, death announcements, and anything else where the old-timey touch is appreciated rather than justifiably mocked. The country has maintained its original telegraph companies, and you can send a telegram as easily as dialing "115" on your (we'll go ahead and assume) rotary phone. Telegrams are such a big part of Japanese culture that they even celebrate a National Telegram Day on November 5. Although nobody gets their messages until November 7.
Top Cat Is A Thriving Film Franchise In Mexico
Hanna-Barbera's Top Cat was not a hit. The cartoon only ran for 30 episodes before it was scrapped so HB could focus on more lucrative shows like Magilla Gorilla or Peter Potamus. But after the U.S. flop, Top Cat found a new alley to prowl all the way down in Mexico.
Don Gato first appeared on Mexican television screens in the 1970s, and hasn't left since. They fell in love with the lil guy, and a lot of that had to do with how well he was presented to his new audience. Instead of being another poorly translated import like all other American cartoons, Don Gato carefully translated all the jokes so they still worked, and swapped out any obscure American references for Mexican ones. The Mexican dub also got some big voice actors in, like Jorge Arvizu, known as the "Mexican Mel Blanc."
Eventually, Warner Bros. (which owns Hanna-Barbera) noticed the show's lasting success and decided to cash in on it. The result was the Mexican-Argentinian Don Gato Y Su Pandilla (Top Cat And His Gang), a feature-length animated film initially released only in South and Central America. Yet despite garnering some pretty bad reviews for its cheap animation, shameless cash-grab nature, and a particularly out-of-place joke about prison rape, the movie was a massive success. It saw the biggest box opening weekend in the history of Mexican cinema, and immediately received a sequel. Finally, a Top Cat get-rich-quick scheme paid off.
Typewriters Are Still Being Made (For Prisoners)
After the advent of the thing used to type this sentence, typewriters became obsolete. Or did they? There's actually still a big, lucrative market for dumb computers you can't watch porn on: the U.S. prison-industrial complex.
The one benefit(?) a typewriter has over a computer is that you can't plug it into the web. That's why people still use typewriters in prisons, but there is a drawback: they're perfect for illegal inmate activities. They're easy to hide contraband in, and they're full of metal parts -- basically starter kits for shanks. Worse, in order for guards to inspect typewriters, they need to be completely disassembled, which is such a frustrating and delicate procedure that they are often broken in the process, or so the guards say.
That's why one New Jersey company, Swintec, is making and servicing typewriters made entirely of clear plastic. They have contracts with prisons in 43 states for the production of shank-and-drug-free typewriters. They even manufacture clear typewriter ribbon cases.
Access to typewriters isn't a human right according to the prison system; it's a very expensive privilege. A Swintec bought through a prison commissary can be anywhere from $200 in California to well over $300 in Kentucky. That's a lot for a typewriter that prisoners claim types like hot garbage and breaks constantly. But without bloodstained drafts snail-mailed from state prisons, where would this website be?
Steven Assarian is a librarian. He writes stuff here. Michael Battaglino is a new contributor to Cracked.com. Be sure to check out some of his other work if you enjoyed this article.
But since you're presumably not in prison, you can still get a nice typewriter yourself and just kinda use it to show off.
Support your favorite Cracked writers with a visit to our Contribution Page. Please and thank you.
Follow us on Facebook. Because you deserve the very best.