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Ridiculous History

iHeartPodcasts

Society & Culture, History

4.3 • 4.3K Ratings

Overview

History is beautiful, brutal and, often, ridiculous. Join Ben Bowlin and Noel Brown as they dive into some of the weirdest stories from across the span of human civilization in Ridiculous History, a podcast by iHeartRadio.

716 Episodes

Ridiculous Video Game Tie-ins, Part Two: The Olympics and the Great Game of Chex Quest

Imagine grabbing a box of (at best) mid cereal, only to discover the greatest game, free withing the box. Imagine making an entire game based on an oft-maligned Olympic mascot! In the second episode of this two-part series, Ben, Noel and Max explore the ridiculous past, present and future of video game tie-ins. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Transcribed - Published: 13 June 2024

Ridiculous Video Game Tie-ins, Part One: The Rise of Cool Spot -- and Fall of the Noid

Cast your memories back to the strange days of the 1980s and 1990s -- boy howdy, things were weird. At some point, marketing executives the world round realized that video games could be a new, powerful field of advertising. In the first part of this special two-part series, Ben, Noel and Max dive into the ridiculous evolution of video game tie-ins, from soda pop mascots to the notorious Noid of Domino's pizza (along with the tragic story behind the fall of the Noid).See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Transcribed - Published: 11 June 2024

CLASSIC: The Strange Story of Canadian Margarine Bootleggers

True story: once upon a time, both Canada and the United States once had bizarre laws banning the production or importation of margarine -- and prohibition naturally led to crime. Today's classic episode asks: What launched the margarine bootlegging industry? Join the guys as they explore the startling, strange story of the Big Butter versus margarine.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Transcribed - Published: 8 June 2024

Malta: Tiny and Amazing, Just Like The Dog

How did this tiny, strategically crucial archipelago change the course of World War II? Join Ben, Noel and Max as they explore the deep -- at times, ridiculous -- history of Malta in the guys' continuing exploration of microstates.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Transcribed - Published: 6 June 2024

The Ridiculous History of Credit Cards

When you think about it, credit cards are a pretty fascinating idea -- they're convenient, ubiquitous and, often, predatory. In today's episode, Ben, Noel and Max explore the strange origin story of the credit card.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Transcribed - Published: 4 June 2024

CLASSIC: San Francisco's Egg War

How much would you pay for an egg? Would you kill for one? In today's classic episode, join the guys as they explore the strange story of the Gold Rush, the Common Murre and Farallon Island -- the site of California's Egg WarSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Transcribed - Published: 1 June 2024

Introducing: Sixteenth Minute (of Fame)

Hi Ridiculous History Fans! Take a listen to the trailer of our newest show Sixteenth Minute (of Fame) About the show: Sixteenth Minute (of Fame) is a weekly show from Jamie Loftus that takes a closer look at the internet’s main characters – one part reported, one part interviews, and one part Jamie collapsing her permanently internet-damaged brain. Whether it’s an enduring meme or a dreaded Character of the Day distinction, it’s the kind of notoriety that often results in little money, unwarranted attention, and a confusing blurred line of consent. What do you do when you get more attention and judgement than any one person is built to handle? The Sixteenth Minute of Fame is the place where we figure that out, putting people in the context of the moment they've been frozen inside of. Listen here and subscribe to Sixteenth Minute (of Fame) on the iHeartRadio app or wherever you get your podcasts!See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Transcribed - Published: 1 June 2024

Skyscrapers, Part Two: An Arms Race to the Sky

Once society became convinced that you could build skyscrapers without them immediately collapsing, cities across the United States -- and, soon the world -- scrambled to build their own structures. In part two of this two-part series, Ben, Noel and Max explore the continuing race to build the tallest, the strongest, and the most iconic skyscrapers.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Transcribed - Published: 30 May 2024

Skyscrapers, Part One: A Guy and a Birdcage

Skyscrapers are beautiful -- and utterly ridiculous. In the first part of this two-part episode, Ben, Noel and Max learn how modern skyscrapers were largely inspired by one guy who, no kidding, saw a heavy book resting on a birdcage and thought "yes, that. But bigger!"See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Transcribed - Published: 28 May 2024

CLASSIC: The Wild West Was Actually Pretty Chill

If you're like most people, the phrase "Wild West" conjures images of brutal gunfights in dusty, tumbleweed-ridden streets, visions of criminals slinking into the shadows of dimly-lit saloons and the vast stretch of lawless, unforgiving frontier. But how much of that image is actually true? Join Ben and Noel as they delve into the myth of the American frontier to discover how wild -- or mild -- it actually was in this week's Classic episode.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Transcribed - Published: 28 May 2024

On Theme, Part Two: The Cyclical Evolution of Music

As Ernest Hogan reaches new heights of success, critics turn against ragtime and "coon songs," prompting a larger conversation about the cyclical nature of music and society. In the second installment of this two-part series, Ben, Noel and Max join Katie Mitchell and Yves Jeffcoat, the creators of the On Theme podcast, to learn more about the complex relationship of creativity, capitalism, entertainment and race -- all found in the story of one brilliant composer: Ernest Hogan.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Transcribed - Published: 23 May 2024

On Theme, Part One: Ernest Hogan's Success and Regret

Today the world agrees minstrel shows were horrific, weaponized stereotypes meant to dehumanize people. But not too long ago, minstrel shows and the related "coon songs" were some of the most popular music in all of the United States. In part one of this two-part series, Ben, Noel and Max join Katie Mitchell and Yves Jeffcoat, the creators of the On Theme podcast, to learn more about the complex relationship of creativity, capitalism, entertainment and race -- all found in the story of one brilliant composer: Ernest Hogan.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Transcribed - Published: 21 May 2024

CLASSIC: How A Grudge Match Launched the Ford GT40

Today the Ford GT40 is one of the world's most iconic vehicles -- but this award winning automotive beast is, it turns out, the result of a serious grudge match. Join Ben, Noel and the gang as they delve into the strange, spiteful history of the Ford GT40 in today's Classic episode.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Transcribed - Published: 18 May 2024

The QWERTY Keyboard is Purposely Bad

If you're like most folks in the West, your laptop and phone use something called the QWERTY keyboard, named for the six letters at the upper left of the board. At first glance, this layout makes no sense. It's not in alphabetical order, and most of the typing is done by the left hand. So how did we end up with this thing? Join Ben, Noel and Max as they break down the strange story of the QWERTY keyboard -- and why it remains so commonplace today.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Transcribed - Published: 16 May 2024

Auction Houses: It's Not *All* Money Laundering

We've all heard of auction houses. Nowadays, these are often best-known as specialized institutions catering to international institutions and a small percentage of the obscenely wealthy -- but how did they get started? In today's episode, Ben, Noel and Max dive into the ridiculous (and at times disturbing) history of auction houses.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Transcribed - Published: 14 May 2024

CLASSIC: "Vitamin Donuts" Were A Real Thing

Donuts: they're sweet, delectable and dangerous. Nowadays they're best known as a sugary snack or a nice accompaniment to a cup of coffee, but this wasn't always the case. In fact, for a few years manufacturers tried to sell them as -- believe it or not -- a health food. Join Ben and Noel as they explore the strange rise and fall of the infamous vitamin donut in this week's Classic episode.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Transcribed - Published: 11 May 2024

Thomas Nast, Part Two: A Cartoonist Conquers Corruption (and Moves to Ecuador)

Rising from humble beginnings, Thomas Nast soon became something very much like the conscience of America. His illustrated takedowns of corruption spoke directly to people who were often illiterate, reaching the common man. While Nast could be undoubtedly difficult to work with, he also had a strong (if imperfect) moral code. In the second part of this two-part series, Ben, Noel and Max dive into Nast's personal quest to oust the corrupt Boss Tweed, as well as the legendary cartoonist's late-life career switch: diplomacy in Ecuador.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Transcribed - Published: 9 May 2024

Thomas Nast, Part One: The Cartoonist Who Shaped America

Tons of people have a soft spot for their favorite cartoon or comic strip -- yet few have attained the social status of the legendary artist Thomas Nast, the caricaturist often referred to as the "Father of the American Cartoon." In the first part of this two-part series, Ben, Noel and Max explore Nast's early childhood, the beginnings of his career, and the path that led him to become, in a very real way, the conscience of America.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Transcribed - Published: 7 May 2024

CLASSIC: The Rotten, Sausagey Secret Origin of Botox

Today botox is one of the world's most well-known wrinkle treatments, as well as a go-to joke in the realm of pop culture. But where did this treatment come from, and what on Earth does it have to do with sausage? Join Ben, Noel and Max as they trace the origins of botox to one man's unending obsession with food safety and rotting pork in this classic episode.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Transcribed - Published: 4 May 2024

Books You Can't Read -- By Design!

Books are amazing. When you think about it, a good book can be a portal to another world. A book can a time machine, and the right story can genuinely change a person's life... so long as you can actually read it. In today's episode, Ben, Noel and Matt delve into the strange stories of two books that -- we kid you not -- absolutely no one on Earth can read.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Transcribed - Published: 2 May 2024

La Maupin: The Swordfighting Opera Singer of France

During the era of Louis XIV, Julie D'Aubigny became one of the most popular criminals in all of high society. In today's episode, the guys welcome returning guest Ben Thompson, author and creator of Badass of the Week, to learn more about the swordfighter, opera singer, nun-heister and all-time badass known as La Maupin.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Transcribed - Published: 30 April 2024

CLASSIC: The Weird World of Meat Jell-O (A Gelatin Origin Story)

Today Jell-O and other gelatin foodstuffs are generally relegated to world of desserts, but this wasn't always the case. In fact, gelatin took a long, strange path from ancient history to modern-day grocery shelves -- and got pretty gross along the way. Tune in to learn more about the bizarre world of savory gelatin in this week's classic episode.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Transcribed - Published: 27 April 2024

A History of Roller Coasters, Part Two: Higher, Faster, More Expensive

In the history of roller coasters, one thing became clear: the public wanted extremes -- the fastest, the highest, the most dangerous of rides. In part two of this week's series, the guys explore the rise of the first legitimate roller coaster tycoon, and ask their fellow Ridiculous Historians for help finding the best roller coasters of the modern day.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Transcribed - Published: 25 April 2024

A History of Roller Coasters, Part One: Early Ups and Downs

If you described the concept of a roller coaster to an alien, they'd probably be baffled: Why on Earth are humans purposely recreated the sensation of falling, flying and -- quite possibly -- feeling close to death? In the first part of this special two-part series, the guys explore the origin story of modern roller coasters, from the old days of "Russian Mountains" to an amusement arms race that continues today: the ongoing quest to build the biggest, highest, fastest rides on the planet.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Transcribed - Published: 23 April 2024

CLASSIC: London Made a Train for the Dead

In the mid-19th century, London was literally filling with corpses. When the city was in the grips of a cholera epidemic, the already-overfilled cemetaries couldn't handle the extra bodies. So when there's literally no room in the soil for another dead body, what's a city to do? To the creators of the London Necropolis Railway, the answer was simple -- build a train for the dead. Tune in to learn some grisly, ridiculous history with Ben and Noel.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Transcribed - Published: 20 April 2024

The Page-turning Evolution of the Encyclopædia Britannica

In a burst of meta-humor, the Encyclopædia Britannica defines encyclopædia as "reference work that contains information on all branches of knowledge or that treats a particular branch of knowledge in a comprehensive manner." It's high praise -- but if there's any single book that's earned the right to describe itself this way, it's this one. Tune in as Ben, Noel and Max delve into the history of one of the world's most famous reference works (and check out our earlier episode on the Oxford English Dictionary, as well).See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Transcribed - Published: 18 April 2024

A Ridiculous History of Worcestershire Sauce

It's tangy. It's salty. It's sweet. It's unctuous... but what exactly is Worcestershire sauce? Join Ben, Noel and Max on their continuing condiment journey as they explore the bizarre origin story of one of the world's most famous (and, arguably, strangest) sauces in today's episode.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Transcribed - Published: 16 April 2024

CLASSIC: Roald Dahl: Children's Author and Secret Agent

Today author Roald Dahl is best-known for his prolific writing career -- but, as it turns out, he lived an entirely different life before he ever put pen to paper to create children's stories. Learn more about Roald Dahl's earlier life as a fighter ace, a legendary ladies man, and a World War II-era spy (seriously, like a real-life James Bond!) in this classic episode.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Transcribed - Published: 13 April 2024

Micronations: How Liechtenstein Became A Country

The Principality of Liechtenstein is a small, landlocked country out in the alpines -- and while it's a tiny nation, it has an enormous depth of history. In today's episode, Ben, Noel and Max continue their exploration of micronations with the last remnant of the Holy Roman Empire.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Transcribed - Published: 11 April 2024

Why Are There So Many Captain Marvels?

Look! Up in the sky! It's a bird. It's a plane. It's... "definitely not Superman." At least, that's what Fawcett Comics told the courts, beginning a multigenerational, multiversal saga of strangeness that continues in the modern day. In today's episode, the guys ask: Why are there so many Captain Marvels?See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Transcribed - Published: 9 April 2024

CLASSIC: When did ALL-CAPS type become YELLING?

You've seen them before, whether in forwarded spam email, a strangely passionate TikTok comment: THE DREADED ALL-CAPS TYPER.Where does this practice come from? How did everyone agree that typing in ALL CAPS means you're yelling at someone via text? Join the gang in this classic episode as they... FIND OUT.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Transcribed - Published: 6 April 2024

Look at Us, Late to the Ridiculous History of Easter

Easter! It's a big deal, all across the world. And just like earlier celebrations of spirituality, it's been commodified in the United States. In today's episode, Ben, Max, and Noel sneak into the Sunday service just a bit late to explore how the ancient commemorations of rebirth gave rise to one of Christianity's most important holy days -- while also figuring where the heck this huge rabbit costume and egg hunt came from. Apologies to every substitute teacher playing this in class: we only tell the truth, and we tell it ridiculous.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Transcribed - Published: 4 April 2024

Royal Deaths, Part Four: The Unfortunate Lives of Scottish Kings

Have you ever shown off your favorite cannon, or deparately rode a horse through the night for a little birthday romance? If so, thank your lucky stars you didn't go out like two particularly unlucky Scottish kings. Join Ben, Noel and Max as they continue to explore the ridiculous deaths of royals in today's "Whoops, All Scotland" episode.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Transcribed - Published: 2 April 2024

The Delaware Wedge, Part Two: The Wedge and The Horn

As early miscalculations and subsequent confusion continued to build, Delaware found itself in a three-state beef over a tiny section of land -- and though the land itself might not be a large chunk of real estate, the beef it produced led to dangerous conflict more than once. Would the newly-minted US be able to resolve this internal discord without an inter-state war? Learn more in the second part of this two-part series.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Transcribed - Published: 28 March 2024

The Delaware Wedge, Part One: A Tiny State with Massive History

Although it's the second-smallest state in the US, don't let Delaware's diminutive geography fool you. This state has a tremendous economy, and loads of ridiculous history in its past. In this week's special two-part series, the guys dive into the history of a strange conflict that bedeviled the state from its early days all the way into the 20th century -- a contentious, tiny piece of land that almost led to open combat: this is the story of the Delaware Wedge.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Transcribed - Published: 26 March 2024

Back to the Choo-ture: the Enduring Nostalgia of Model Trains

What is it about model trains that so captivates people, young and old alike? How did they start as an icon of innovation, and then become such a treasured piece of nostalgia over time? In today's episode, the gang explores the history of model trains from centuries past to the modern day.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Transcribed - Published: 21 March 2024

PEZ: Candy or Anti-smoking Aid?

The Austrian candy brand Pez is perhaps more well-known for its iconic dispensers than for the candy itself. While they may seem commonplace today, these tablet-shaped bricks have a surprising origin story. In today's episode, Ben, Noel and Max dive into the original purpose of Pez: part candy, yes -- but also an innovative way to help Austrians stop smoking.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Transcribed - Published: 19 March 2024

Mobituaries with Mo Rocca, Part Two: What's Past is Prologue

What happened to the payphone? Were you also stunned the first time you saw Abe Lincoln without a beard? In the second part of this special two-part series, Mo Rocca explores the strange passage of the past to the present, and what we carry with us along the way. Join Ben, Noel, Max and Mo as they learn more about Mobituaries and the art of storytelling with a soul.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Transcribed - Published: 14 March 2024

Mobituaries with Mo Rocca, Part One: Mo Eulogizes The Pager

In the world of journalism and literature, there's nothing quite like the obituary. Sometimes called the first draft of history, an obituary can function as a love letter, a condemnation -- but, perhaps more than anything, a portrait of a person gone from this mortal plane. In the first part of this special two-part series, Ben, Noel and Max join the legendary journalist, author, correspondent and podcaster Mo Rocca, host of Mobituaries, to learn more about this unique genre of literature, from the history of obituaries to the art of crafting them. (Spoiler: Mo extemporaneously composes the definitive obituary of the pager in this one.)See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Transcribed - Published: 12 March 2024

Awful Candy, Part Two: Peeps, Licorice, Wax Lips and More

Are you a fan of licorice? Have you ever encountered wax lips in the wild? Where do you stand in the great Peeps debate? Join Ben, Noel and Max as they continue to explore some of the world's most divisive candy in the second part of this special two-part series.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Transcribed - Published: 7 March 2024

Awful Candy, Part One: Tootsie Rolls Saved the War -- and Divided the World

Whether or not you have a sweet tooth, odds are you probably have some strong opinions about candy. Following up (finally!) on their earlier Halloween conversation, Ben, Noel and Max explore some of the most divisive candies on the planet. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Transcribed - Published: 5 March 2024

It Is Literally Time For The Leap Year Episode

Let's be honest: leap year sounds pretty nuts when you explain it. We have the regular 365-day year three times in a row, but every fourth year we add one extra day in February. (With... several other notable caveats.) Join Ben, Noel and Max as they figure out where leap year came from, why it's a thing, and whether it's still genuinely better than nothing. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Transcribed - Published: 29 February 2024

The Ridiculous History of Hot Sauce

Today, hot sauce is a global phenomenon, with millions of bottles sold every single year. But where does it come from? What makes it so popular -- and why won't water douse the heat when things get out of hand? Tune in as Ben, Noel and Max explore the spicy origin story of hot sauce.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Transcribed - Published: 27 February 2024

CLASSIC: Why does the Guinness Beer Company Track World Records?

Odds are you've heard about the Guinness Book of World Records, the famous, often inaccurate compilation of various impressive, important, and ridiculous feats from people across the planet. But how did it come about? How on earth did a brewer become the repository of all this strange knowledge? Tune in for a surprising peek behind the keg -- and into the cups -- of Guinness history and human ambition.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Transcribed - Published: 22 February 2024

20 Questions: A Ridiculous Crossover, Part One

Long-time listeners will know Ben, Noel and Max are big fans of their peer podcast, Ridiculous Crime -- but what happens when the guys join forces with Elizabeth, Zaron and Dave? Tune in for the first part of this two-part series, as Ridiculous Crime and Ridiculous History seek to stump each other in a lively game of 20 Questions, all based on strange historical flexes.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Transcribed - Published: 20 February 2024

Tecumseh's Curse, Part Two: Boy, It's Tough to be President

As curses go, Tecumseh's is, according to the legend, ridiculously specific. Every US President elected in a year divisible by twenty is doomed to meet misfortune, ruin and possibly death in office. But how did this curse acquire such purported specificity? In part two of this special two-part series, Ben, Noel and Max explore how the curse entered popular culture, as well as the examples true believers point to as evidence.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Transcribed - Published: 15 February 2024

Tecumseh's Curse, Part One: Rise of The Prophet

Did the legendary Shawnee chief Tecumseh really lay a curse on US Presidents? In the first part of this special two-part series, Ben, Noel and Max dive deep into Tecumseh's origin, his mission to unite Native peoples against the ruthless expansion of the new United States -- all to learn why so many people believe every president elected in a year ending with zero dies in office.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Transcribed - Published: 13 February 2024

History Is Absolutely Riddled With Famous Mistranslations

True story: back in the late 70s, US President Jimmy Carter accidentally claimed he'd left the states forever, and wanted to sleep with everyone in Poland. According to legendary marketing lore, Pepsi accidentally told the nation of China that soda would bring their relatives back from the grave. And don't get us started on weird car names! Join Ben, Noel and Max as they explore some of history's most hilarious mistranslations in the first part of this ongoing series.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Transcribed - Published: 8 February 2024

Stuff That Got Left Over, Part Two: Hot Tubs, The Last Shantyman, President Taft Had Pet Cows

In our continually ridiculous mission to explore the funniest events of yesteryear, Ben, Noel and Max often leave some stones unturned. In today's episode the gang pays their respects to the last shantyman, asks why President Taft adopted not one but two cows, and explores multiple historic hot tubs they are not currently allowed to enter. (We end with a shoutout to our favorite turkey.)See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Transcribed - Published: 6 February 2024

The Puzzler Returns, Part Two: A Field Trip to the CIA

True story: in the heart of the CIA headquarters at Langley, Virginia, there's a puzzle no one has solved. In the second part of this special two-part episode, Ben, Noel and Max join up with returning guest A.J. Jacobs to learn more about the enigmatic sculpture known as Kryptos. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Transcribed - Published: 1 February 2024

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