10 Smurfy Facts About the Smurfs

Cindy Ord /Getty
Cindy Ord /Getty

Here at the Quick 10, we're taking a break from our regularly-scheduled Halloween posts to bring you this public service announcement: it was 51 years ago this week that The Smurfs were first introduced to our pop culture vernacular. I thought it seemed like a pretty worthy reason to break the spooky string of posts, and anyway, I bet at least one of you flossers spent a Halloween or two slathering yourself in blue paint to portray one of the sapphire shorties (you'll let us know if you did, right?).


Keystone/Hulton Archive / Getty

1. The Smurfs were invented as a result of a silly conversation over dinner. Pierre Culliford, a Belgian artist known as Peyo, was dining with a friend when he had one of those momentary lapses of vocabulary that we all experience from time to time "“ he couldn't remember the word for "salt" and asked his friend to pass the "schtroumpf." Mocking him, his friend responded with, "Here's the schtroumpf. When you are done schtroumpfing, schtroumpf it back." This sparked an idea, and "les Schtroumpfs" were born in comic strip form shortly thereafter. This, of course, was translated to "The Smurfs" when they hit the American market.

2. The cartoon series was created when an NBC executive spied his daughter playing with a plush Smurf doll. After observing how much she loved the doll, he decided that the Schtroumpfs might be a good fit for his Saturday morning cartoon-fest. It was; it aired for nine seasons.

3. The Smurfs are specifically "three apples" tall.


Wikimedia Commons

4. The white hat the Smurfs all wear has been around for ages and are called Phrygian caps. They're often considered symbols of liberty and were once found on the tops of Liberty Poles. You can see one on the seal of the United States Senate as well.
5. Because the Smurfs shared all of their possessions, some people thought this was a barely veiled attempt to brainwash children into Communist ways. Of course, some people also thought the Phrygian hats meant that the Smurfs were a sect of the Ku Klux Klan, and others claimed the Smurfs were neo-Nazis promoting an Aryan race because of the lone, blonde female in the group. In fact, none of those things were true. Peyo's son has stated that the Smurfs had no political undertones at all, and the only messages his father wished to impart were those of friendship and love.

6. Karenna Gore's Secret Service code name was Smurfette, which she has apparently regretted ever since. In 1997, she said, "Ever since I was put on the spot and told 'two syllables' and 'It has to start with an S,' I have been cringing in the back seat when identified as 'Smurfette'."

7. The answer to the age-old question "What color does a Smurf turn when it's choking?" is purple. At least we can assume it's purple, based on the episode where a Smurf decides to hold his breath.
8. The Smurfs showed up at a bunch of Kings Entertainment amusement parks in the mid '80s. King's Island near Cincinnati had a boat ride that took people through the Smurf village, King's Dominion had Smurf Mountain, Great America had a little roller coaster called The Blue Streak, and Carowinds had a children's play area called Smurf Island. Since then, they have all been replaced with different rides.

9. There are some Smurfs from the original comics that never made it to the cartoon. These include Alchemist Smurf, Timid Smurf, Enamored Smurf, Finance Smurf (whoo-hoo! How fun for kids!), Mango Smurf, Lumberjack Smurf, Pastrycook Smurf, Submariner Smurf and Navigator Smurf.


iStock / ollo

10. The World Record for People Dressed as Smurfs (I can't shake the feeling that the plural should be Smurves. I know. So wrong.) was set just this year in Swansea, Wales. More than 2,500 people crammed into a nightclub dressed in blue and white and weren't allowed to have any natural skin showing in order to count toward the record. The previous record had been set just a year earlier, with 1,253 Smurfs gathered in Castleblayney, Ireland.

Oh, and I've had this stuck in my head ever since I got the idea for this post, so in hopes that passing it along will get it out of my brain, here you go:

Mifflin Madness: Who Is the Greatest Character on The Office? It's Time to Vote

Steve Carell, as Michael Scott, hands out a well-deserved Dundie Award on The Office.
Steve Carell, as Michael Scott, hands out a well-deserved Dundie Award on The Office.
NBC

Your years of watching (and re-watching) The Office, which just celebrated its 15th anniversary, have all led up to this moment. Welcome to Mifflin Madness—Mental Floss's cutthroat competition to determine The Office's greatest character. Is Michael Scott the boss you most love to hate? Or did Kevin Malone suck you in with his giant pot of chili?

You have 24 hours to cast your vote for each round on Twitter before the bracket is updated and half of the chosen characters are eliminated.

The full bracket is below, followed by the round one and round two winners. You can cast your round three vote(s) here. Be sure to check back on Monday at 4 p.m. ET to see if your favorite Dunder Mifflin employee has advanced to the next round. 

Round One


Round Two


Round Three


The Office Planned to Break Up Jim and Pam in the Final Season—Then (Smartly) Thought Better of It

Jenna Fischer and John Krasinski star in The Office.
Jenna Fischer and John Krasinski star in The Office.
NBCUniversal Media, LLC

Jim Halpert and Pam Beesly's relationship in The Office was truly a romance for the ages. Fans were delighted when, in Season 3—after years of flirting—John Krasinski and Jenna Fischer’s characters finally got together. But an alternative plan for the show’s ninth and final season saw the couple going their separate ways.

Season 9 saw one of the most stressful storylines the show had to offer when Jim took a job in Philadelphia and Pam struggled to take care of their children on her own back in Scranton, putting intense strain on their otherwise seemingly perfect relationship. In one unforgettable scene, a particularly tense phone call between the couple ends with Pam in tears. Fischer’s character then turns to someone off camera named Brian for advice.

As Collider reports, Pam and Jim's relationship could have taken a turn for worse in the final season—and the writers had planned it that way. As recounted in Andy Greene's new book, The Office: The Untold Story of the Greatest Sitcom of the 2000s, series creator Greg Daniels sat down with each of the show's stars before starting the final season to discuss where their characters would go. John Krasinski, who played Jim, pitched the idea of putting Jim and Pam’s relationship on thin ice. According to Krasinski:

"My whole pitch to Greg was that we’ve done so much with Jim and Pam, and now, after marriage and kids, there was a bit of a lull there, I think, for them about what they wanted to do … And I said to Greg, ‘It would be really interesting to see how that split will affect two people that you know so well.'"

Several writers weighed in with ideas about how they might handle a split between Jim and Pam from a narrative standpoint—though not everyone was on the same page.

Warren Lieberstein, a writer on the series, remembered when the idea of bringing Brian—the documentary crew's boom operator—into the mix. “[This] was something that came up in Season 5, I think," Lieberstein said. "What if that character had been secretly there the entire time and predated the relationship with Jim and had been a shoulder that she cried on for years?’ It just seemed very intriguing." Apparently, the writers thought breaking the fourth wall would jeopardize the show, so they saved it for the last season.

Writer Owen Ellickson said there was even some talk of Pam and Brian “maybe hooking up a little bit," but the negative response to the storyline led the writers to "pull the ripcord on [Pam and Jim's separation] because it was so painful to fans of the show." Ellickson said that they backtracked so quickly, they even had to re-edit certain episodes that had already been shot to nix the idea of Jim and Pam splitting up. Which is something the show's millions of fans will be forever grateful for.

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