Jesse James' First Train Robbery

Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons
Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

With nothing more than some rope, some guns and a whole lot of gumption, Jesse James committed the first train robbery in the west 138 years ago today.

James’ posse, the James and Younger gang, plotted to overtake a Rock Island Railroad train passing through Adair, Iowa, loaded with a cargo of gold. The plan they executed was pretty simple: they pried one of the rails loose with tools they had stolen, then tied a length of rope to the rail and pulled it out of place as the train rounded a blind curve. When the train predictably wrecked, killing engineer John Rafferty, the gang easily ransacked it.

Unfortunately for them, it wasn’t the payday they expected. When two of the robbers (believed to be Jesse and Frank James, pictured) forced guard John Burgess to open the safe, they found a mere $2,000 inside – nowhere near the estimated $100,000 they were expecting to pocket. It turned out that the shipment had been delayed. To try to recoup some of it, the gang robbed passengers on the train as well – one of the only times they did so. Their efforts netted them an extra $1,000. In case you were starting to feel sorry for the gang, don't: what they ended up with is the equivalent of more then $50,000 today.

Though the train robbery was highly publicized, it wasn’t the first of its kind in the U.S.

The original, committed by the Reno brothers in Indiana in 1866, cost the Ohio and Mississippi Railroad $13,000.

Side note: If you guys have been reading my mental_floss articles for any amount of time, you know I'm obsessed with weird roadside attractions and cemeteries (which are sometimes one and the same). That's why I couldn't pass up stopping to see Jesse James' gravesite when I was driving from Topeka to Des Moines earlier this year. It's quite low key and right in the middle of a pretty modern cemetery just off of a very busy street in Kearney, Missouri. Silly me was picturing Boot Hill, I guess.

Amazon's Under-the-Radar Coupon Page Features Deals on Home Goods, Electronics, and Groceries

Stock Catalog, Flickr // CC BY 2.0
Stock Catalog, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

Now that Prime Day is over, and with Black Friday and Cyber Monday still a few weeks away, online deals may seem harder to come by. And while it can be a hassle to scour the internet for promo codes, buy-one-get-one deals, and flash sales, Amazon actually has an extensive coupon page you might not know about that features deals to look through every day.

As pointed out by People, the coupon page breaks deals down by categories, like electronics, home & kitchen, and groceries (the coupons even work with SNAP benefits). Since most of the deals revolve around the essentials, it's easy to stock up on items like Cottonelle toilet paper, Tide Pods, Cascade dishwasher detergent, and a 50 pack of surgical masks whenever you're running low.

But the low prices don't just stop at necessities. If you’re looking for the best deal on headphones, all you have to do is go to the electronics coupon page and it will bring up a deal on these COWIN E7 PRO noise-canceling headphones, which are now $80, thanks to a $10 coupon you could have missed.

Alternatively, if you are looking for deals on specific brands, you can search for their coupons from the page. So if you've had your eye on the Homall S-Racer gaming chair, you’ll find there's currently a coupon that saves you 5 percent, thanks to a simple search.

To discover all the deals you have been missing out on, head over to the Amazon Coupons page.

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A Short, Sweet History of Candy Corn

Love it or hate it, candy corn is here to stay.
Love it or hate it, candy corn is here to stay.
Evan-Amos, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Depending on which survey you happen to be looking at, candy corn is either the best or the worst Halloween candy ever created. If that proves anything, it’s that the tricolor treat is extremely polarizing. But whether you consider candy corn a confectionery abomination or the sweetest part of the spooky season, you can’t deny that it’s an integral part of the holiday—and it’s been around for nearly 150 years.

On this episode of Food History, Mental Floss’s Justin Dodd is tracing candy corn’s long, storied existence all the way back to the 1880s, when confectioner George Renninger started molding buttercream into different shapes—including corn kernels, which he tossed at actual chickens to see if it would fool them. His white-, orange-, and yellow-striped snack eventually caught the attention of Goelitz Confectionery Company (now Jelly Belly), which started mass-producing what was then sometimes called “chicken feed” rather than “candy corn.”

But what exactly is candy corn? Why do we associate it with Halloween? And will it ever disappear? Find answers to these questions and more in the video below.

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