More Than 1.4 Million 'Exploding' Toilet Flushers Recalled

A toilet parts manufacturer has recalled 1.4 million flushing systems in the U.S. and Canada after the company received word that the units were exploding and injuring users, NBC reports.

The Flushmate II 501-B system, sold in the U.S. between 1996 and 2015, has burst more than 1400 times and caused 23 injuries so far. For one person, the injures were so severe that they needed foot surgery.

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), the flusher "can burst at or near the vessel weld seam," creating an explosion strong enough to shatter the tank and cause the tank lid to fly off. The rogue flusher has reportedly caused about $710,000 in property damage.

Although the product hasn't been sold for several years, many models are still in use in people's homes. In addition to the 1.4 million systems sold in the U.S., 17,300 units were sold in Canada. The bulk of the complaints (1446) came from the U.S., and seven came from Canada. Some of the units had been automatically installed in toilets manufactured by American Standard, Corona, Crane, Kohler, and Mansfield. Others had been sold individually at big-box stores like Lowe's and Home Depot.

To find out if your unit is affected by the recall, visit Flushmate's website and enter the model and serial numbers found on the top of the system. If you have a Flushmate II 501-B system at home, the CPSC recommends turning off the water supply to the unit and flushing the toilet to release internal pressure. Customers can contact Flushmate for a free replacement.

[h/t NBC]

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What Are Sugar Plums?

Marten Bjork, Unsplash
Marten Bjork, Unsplash

Thanks to The Nutcracker and "'Twas the Night Before Christmas," sugar plums are a symbol of the holidays. But what are sugar plums, exactly? Like figgy pudding and yuletide, the phrase has become something people say (or sing) at Christmastime without knowing the original meaning. Before it was the subject of fairy dances and storybook dreams, a sugar plum was either a fruitless candy or a not-so-sweet euphemism.

According to The Atlantic, the sugar plums English-speakers ate from the 17th to the 19th century contained mostly sugar and no plums. They were made by pouring liquid sugar over a seed (usually a cardamom or caraway seed) or almond, allowing it to harden, and repeating the process. This candy-making technique was called panning, and it created layers of hard sugar shells. The final product was roughly the size and shape of a plum, which is how it came to be associated with the real fruit.

Before the days of candy factories, these confections could take several days to make. Their labor-intensive production made them a luxury good reserved for special occasions. This may explain how sugar plums got linked to the holidays, and why they were special enough to dance through children's heads on Christmas Eve.

The indulgent treat also became a synonym for anything desirable. This second meaning had taken on darker connotations by the 17th century. A 1608 definition from the Oxford English Dictionary describes a sugar plum as “something very pleasing or agreeable, esp. when given as a sop or bribe.” Having a "mouthful of sugar plums" wasn't necessarily a good thing, either. It meant you said sweet words that may have been insincere.

As true sugar plums have fallen out of fashion, demand for Christmas candy resembling the actual fruit has risen. You can now buy fancy candied plums and plum-flavored gummy candies for the holidays, but if you want something closer to the classic sugar plum, a Jordan almond is the more authentic choice.