15 Things You Might Not Know About Illinois

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istock

1. Illinois gets its name from the native Illiniwek people. The name translates to "ordinary speaker." 

2. The state is the country's largest producer of pumpkins, second-largest producer of corn, and leading producer of arguments about whether or not ketchup is an acceptable condiment for a hot dog.

3. Speaking of Chicago's signature delicacies, if you're in the neighborhood, try a jibarito. The sandwich, which was invented by the city's Puerto Rican community, swaps out traditional bread for fried plantains, which are then filled with steak, tomato, lettuce, mayonnaise, and sometimes cheese. It's not a traditional sandwich, but it's undeniably delicious.

4. The state fossil,Tullimonstrum gregarium, is called the Tully Monster. The carnivorous invertebrate looked like a cuttlefish and lived in the shallow swamp that was Illinois around 300 million years ago.

5. Illinois is one of the flattest states in the U.S.—so flat that the highest natural point, Charles Mound, is just 1,235 feet above sea level. Unlike most landmarks, this one's at the top of a family's driveway. They allow visitors just a few weekends a year and set up lawn chairs for taking in the view.

6. Chicago's low elevation and lack of a municipal sewer system led to serious flooding and disease outbreaks in the 19th century. To get out of the mud, engineers used hydraulic jacks to raise every city building up to six feet higher. Old, unwanted structures were put on rollers and moved to the suburbs.

7. Alas, then came the Great Fire of 1871. The Chicago Water Tower was one of the only buildings to survive. It's now a landmark—and apparently inspired the design of White Castle restaurants. Oscar Wilde wasn't impressed, though. He described it as "a castellated monstrosity with pepper boxes stuck all over it."

8. The Chicago River is the one of the few in the world that flows backwards. A system of three canals was built from 1892 to 1922 to reverse the flow and empty sewage into the Mississippi, instead of Lake Michigan.

9. Presidents Lincoln, Grant, and Obama all lived in Illinois. But the only U.S. President actually born and raised there was Ronald Reagan. Nonetheless, the state's been nicknamed the Land of Lincoln since 1955. (It was previously the Prairie State.)

10. Agriculture is an important part of the state's economy, so it makes sense that Illinois has an official state soil. The Drummer soil series is a silty clay loam that covers over 1.5 million acres of Illinois. The loam is perfect for growing corn and soybeans, which earned it the nod as the state's top soil.

11. Historic Route 66, established in 1926, starts in Chicago. If you're looking for the very beginning, the Federal Highway Administration directs you to the intersection of Lake Shore Drive and Jackson Boulevard.

12. Chicago's nickname, the Windy City, has nothing to do with meteorology. The epithet—from a New York City journalist—actually referred to the boastful, long-winded politicians campaigning for the World’s Columbian Exhibition of 1893. Before that, it may have been a phrase referring to the breezes off Lake Michigan, but it wasn't popularly used.

13. The city had a lot more to brag about after the exhibition. It introduced the original Ferris Wheel, the mechanical dishwasher, the moving walkway, Shredded Wheat, and the first zipper, then known as a clasp locker.

14.  Superman's fictional hometown of Metropolis shares its name with a real city 360 miles south of Chicago. Metropolis, Illinois has a Super Museum, complete with an outdoor phone booth, and hosts an annual Superman Celebration. The weekly newspaper is the Metropolis Planet, of course.

15. In 2012, Matt Groening revealed that The Simpsons' hometown of Springfield isn't based on the city in Illinois. "I figured out that Springfield was one of the most common names for a city in the U.S.," Groening said. "In anticipation of the success of the show, I thought, 'This will be cool; everyone will think it’s their Springfield.' And they do."

America’s 10 Most Hated Easter Candies

Peeps are all out of cluck when it comes to confectionery popularity contests.
Peeps are all out of cluck when it comes to confectionery popularity contests.
William Thomas Cain/Getty Images

Whether you celebrate Easter as a religious holiday or not, it’s an opportune time to welcome the sunny, flora-filled season of spring with a basket or two of your favorite candy. And when it comes to deciding which Easter-themed confections belong in that basket, people have pretty strong opinions.

This year, CandyStore.com surveyed more than 19,000 customers to find out which sugary treats are widely considered the worst. If you’re a traditionalist, this may come as a shock: Cadbury Creme Eggs, Peeps, and solid chocolate bunnies are the top three on the list, and generic jelly beans landed in the ninth spot. While Peeps have long been polarizing, it’s a little surprising that the other three classics have so few supporters. Based on some comments left by participants, it seems like people are just really particular about the distinctions between certain types of candy.

Generic jelly beans, for example, were deemed old and bland, but people adore gourmet jelly beans, which were the fifth most popular Easter candy. Similarly, people thought Cadbury Creme Eggs were messy and low-quality, while Cadbury Mini Eggs—which topped the list of best candies—were considered inexplicably delicious and even “addictive.” And many candy lovers prefer hollow chocolate bunnies to solid ones, which people explained were simply “too much.” One participant even likened solid bunnies to bricks.

candystore.com's worst easter candies
The pretty pastel shades of bunny corn don't seem to be fooling the large contingent of candy corn haters.
CandyStore.com

If there’s one undeniable takeaway from the list of worst candies, it’s that a large portion of the population isn’t keen on chewy marshmallow treats in general. The eighth spot went to Hot Tamales Peeps, and Brach’s Marshmallow Chicks & Rabbits—which one person christened “the zombie bunny catacomb statue candy”—sits at number six.

Take a look at the full list below, and read more enlightening (and entertaining) survey comments here.

  1. Cadbury Creme Eggs
  1. Peeps
  1. Solid chocolate bunnies
  1. Bunny Corn
  1. Marshmallow Chicks & Rabbits
  1. Chocolate crosses
  1. Twix Eggs
  1. Hot Tamales Peeps
  1. Generic jelly beans
  1. Fluffy Stuff Cotton Tails

[h/t CandyStore.com]

10 Bizarre Documentaries That You Should Stream Right Now

A scene from Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness (2020).
A scene from Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness (2020).
Netflix

Documentaries have grown considerably more ambitious since Fred Ott’s Sneeze, an 1894 clip that documents the irritated sinus cavities of its subject in just five seconds. They can inspire, as in the case of 2019’s Academy Award-winning Free Solo, about bold mountain climber Alex Honnold. They can shine a light on cultural overachievers like Fred Rogers, the subject of 2018’s Won’t You Be My Neighbor? And they can parse political history, with films like 2003's The Fog of War shedding light on decisions that shaped the world.

Other documentaries set out to chronicle true stories that, were they presented as a fictitious, might be hard for people to believe. We’ve profiled such films in previous lists, which you can find here, here, and here. If you’ve already made your way through those tales of cannibals, tragic love affairs, and twist-laden true crime, here are 11 more that will have you staring at your television in disbelief.

1. Tiger King (2020)

At first glance, the seven-part docuseries Tiger King could be mistaken for a mockumentary along the lines of American Vandal or This Is Spinal Tap. An exotic pet breeder and roadside zoo owner named Joe Exotic practices polygamy, nuzzles with tigers, and records country music videos attacking his arch-nemesis, big cat advocate Carole Baskin. That Exotic ends up running for Oklahoma governor and alleges Baskin fed her late husband to her own tigers after putting him through a meat grinder may be the two least weird twists in this sprawling epic of entrepreneurial spirit, animal welfare, and mullets.

Where to watch it: Netflix

2. Abducted in Plain Sight (2017)

When Idaho native Jan Broberg was 12 years old in 1974, her neighbor began to take an unseemly and inappropriate interest in her. What begins as a disturbing portrait of predation quickly spirals into an unbelievable and audacious attempt to manipulate Jan’s entire family. Director Skye Borgman’s portrait of seemingly reasonable people who become ensnared in a monstrous plot to separate them from their daughter has drawn some shocking reactions since it began streaming in 2019.

Where to watch it: Netflix

3. The Wolfpack (2015)

Confined to their apartment in a Manhattan housing project for years by parents wary of the world outside their door, the seven Angulo siblings developed an understanding about life through movies. The Wolfpack depicts their attempts to cope with reality after finally emerging from their involuntary exile.

Where to watch it: Hulu

4. Three Identical Strangers (2018)

The highly marketable conceit of director Tim Wardle’s documentary is that triplets born in 1961 then separated spent the first 18 years of their lives totally ignorant of their siblings. When they reconnect, it’s a joy. But the movie quickly switches gears to explore the question of why they were separated at birth to begin with. It’s that investigation—and the chilling answer—that lends Three Identical Strangers its bittersweet, haunting atmosphere.

Where to watch it: Hulu

5. Tickled (2016)

A ball of yarn bouncing down a flight of stairs is the best metaphor we can summon for the narrative of Tickled, which follows New Zealand journalist David Farrier on what appears at first glance to be a silly story about the world of “competitive endurance tickling.” In the course of reporting on this unusual subculture, Farrier crosses paths with people who would prefer their hobbies remain discreet. When he refuses to let the story go, things grow increasingly tense and dangerous.

Where to watch it: Hulu

6. Hands on a Hardbody: The Documentary (1997)

How far would you be willing to go for a new pick-up truck? That’s the deceptively simple premise for this documentary chronicling an endurance contest in Longview, Texas, where participants agree to keep one hand on the vehicle at all times: The last person standing wins. What begins as a group seeking a prize evolves into a battle of attrition, with all the psychological games and mental fortitude that comes with it.

Where to watch it: iTunes

7. My Kid Could Paint That (2007)

At the age of 4, upstate New York resident Marla Olmstead began painting sprawling abstract art that her parents sold for premium prices. Later on, a 60 Minutes report called into question whether Marla had some assistance with her work. Was she a child prodigy, or simply a creative girl who had a little help? And if she did, should it matter? My Kid Could Paint That investigates Marla’s process, but it also sheds light on the world of abstract art and the question of who gets to decide whether a creative impulse is valid.

Where to watch it: Amazon

8. Beware the Slenderman (2016)

In 2014, two Wisconsin girls came to a disturbing decision: In order to appease the “Slenderman,” an internet-sourced boogeyman, they would attempt to murder a classmate. The victim survived, but three lives have been altered forever. Beware the Slenderman explores the intersection where mental illness, social media, and urban mythology collide to result in a horrific crime.

Where to watch it: HBO; Hulu

9. The Iceman Tapes: Conversations with a Killer (1992)

For years, Richard Kuklinski satisfied his homicidal urges by taking on contract killings for organized crime families in New York and New Jersey. Following his arrest and conviction, he agreed to sit down and elaborate on his unusual methodologies for disposing of victims and how he balanced his violent tendencies with a seemingly normal domestic life that included marriage and children. (You can see an example of Kuklinski's chilling disposition in the clip above.) In addition to The Iceman Tapes, which originally aired on HBO, Kuklinski participated in two follow-ups: The Iceman Confesses: Secrets of a Mafia Hitman in 2001 and The Iceman and the Psychiatrist in 2003.

Where to watch it: HBO; Hulu

10. Perfect Bid (2019)

Price is Right superfan Ted Slauson spent a lifetime analyzing retail price tags in case he was ever called up from the studio audience. What happens when he gets a little too close to a perfect Showcase Showdown guess will keep you on the edge of your seat.

Where to watch it: YouTube Movies

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