15 Things You Might Not Know About Indiana

istock
istock

1. Though it is seldom mentioned in the comic strip or cartoon series, "Garfield" takes place in Muncie. The television special Happy Birthday, Garfield mentions Muncie — where creator Jim Davis went to college — as Garfield and owner Jon Arbuckle’s place of residence.

2. Indiana sits atop one of the richest concentrations of limestone on the planet, and prides itself on the fine quality of its mineral output. Indiana’s limestone has helped build the Pentagon, the Empire State Building, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the National Cathedral, and more.

3. The first gasoline pump was born in Fort Wayne, Indiana, on Sept. 5, 1885. Its conception, invention, and sale constitute the second greatest triumph of one Sylvanus Freelove Bowser. His greatest triumph, of course, is that name.

4. The 21,000 students attending Ball State University have quite the unique benefactor to thank for their education. The school, founded in 1918, sits on land donated by the Ball Corporation, a company that is most famous for its canning jars but also creates spacecraft and aeronautics equipment.

5. Indiana Jones was born in New Jersey (to a father from Scotland), raised in New Mexico and Utah, schooled in England, and employed in Illinois and Connecticut. He adventured in Nevada, Egypt, Nepal, India, China, Austria, Italy, Germany, Turkey, and Peru… and he favored New York professional sports teams. Never once have we seen Dr. Jones, who was created by two fellows from Ohio and California, set foot in Indiana. (Henry borrowed his extracurricular nickname from a childhood dog, in fact.)

6. Nobody seems to know for sure where the Indiana demonym “Hoosier” came from, or what it even means. (There was a gag about this in the Indiana-set comedy film In & Out, in which Lewis J. Stadlen’s character is repeatedly interrupted before he can reveal the origin of the term.) Varied theories attach the terminology to pejorative slang, a frontiersman warning call, a Cumbrian word that might refer to a hilly landscape, the names of labor entrepreneur Samuel Hoosier and Methodist Reverend Harry Hosier, and a satirical yarn involving a Frenchman stumbling upon the aftermath of a brawl in which a man’s ear had been bitten off.

7. Simply by default — as Alexandria resident Michael Carmichael realized one day — there has to be a ball of paint somewhere that is bigger than any other ball of paint on this vast planet. Carmichael then made up his mind to become the owner of that ball of paint. On New Year's Day 1977, Carmichael revisited his favorite childhood activity by dipping a baseball in a bucket of paint. Every year since, he and his family have added coats upon coats of paint to this offbeat art project, winding up with a sphere weighing over 3,750 pounds from more than 23,000 coats of paint. The ball now resides in a shed next to Carmichael's home, where visitors are invited to add a fresh coat of paint to keep the project rolling.

8. Warsaw, Indiana’s nickname might not be as hip and exciting as Sin City or the Big Easy, but it’s certainly more reassuring: the town is known as the Orthopedic Capital of the World, due to its pioneering of the manufacture and distribution of orthopedic appliances between 1895 and 1905. Today, over 50 percent of the world market share for orthopedic devices comes from Warsaw-based companies.

9. For most of us, fouling up a math problem resulted in little more than a few points off the midterm. But one geometric miscalculation got Indiana physician Edwin Goodwin laughed out of the Senate. In 1894, the would-be numbers whiz — believing he had discovered a game-changing method for the impossible task of squaring a circle — approached Representative Taylor Record with a legal proposal ever so humbly titled, “A Bill for an act introducing a new mathematical truth and offered as a contribution to education to be used only by the State of Indiana free of cost by paying any royalties whatever on the same, provided it is accepted and adopted by the official action of the Legislature of 1897.” Despite being anything but mathematically sound, Goodwin’s proposal made it from Indiana’s House of Representatives all the way to State Senate, where it actually had a fair chance at passing… until Senator Orrin Hubbell proclaimed it no man or government’s authority to sanction the properties of math. After that, as history tells, everyone pretty much got on the anti-Pi Bill (as it is derisively, albeit inaccurately, nicknamed), and laughed Goodwin out of the legislative process.

10. On March 31, 1880, Wabash became the first city to be illuminated by electric light. Ohio inventor Charles Brush, who had once brought light to a Cleveland park, was on the hunt for a grander conquest: an entire town. Teaming with the Common Council of Wabash, Brush adorned the courthouse flagstaff with a set of four 3,000-candlepower lamps rigged to a generator. The glow is said to have been visible at a mile’s distance, and to have been witnessed by 10,000 citizens.

11. If you’ve ever found yourself belting a karaoke anthem of “Louie, Louie,” then you’ve experienced the distinct realization that you’ve never understood any of the words (well, save for the titular refrain) in the catchy Kingsmen tune. In the 1960s, Indiana took issue with this incomprehensibility, assuming that the rock ditty was intentionally mumbled to hide its lyrics' obscene nature. As such, the state's radio stations stopped airing the song at the request of Governor Matthew Walsh (who was coerced into banning the number by, of all people, a contemporary teenager).

12. Historically, Indiana has produced more professional basketball players per capita than another state, sending 26 of every million citizens to the NBA. Indiana’s tenth-largest city, Muncie, also holds the distinction of being the metropolitan area to produce the most players per capita (with 59 players per every million). Indiana is also responsible for the largest number of high school students to participate in the McDonald’s All-American game: 44 of the 888 young men to play in the competition since 1977 have hailed from Indiana.

13. While a handful of states have Indiana beat in overall ice cream production, the plucky little state certainly makes the most of what it has. According to a study in 2011, Indiana produced 87 million gallons of ice cream from only 19 factories over the course of the year. That’s 4.6 million gallons per factory, which greatly outshines Texas's 1.4 million gallons per factory (97 million gallons total from 71 factories) and California’s 800,000 gallons per factory (162 million gallons total from 202 factories).

14. The very first peacetime train robbery in documented history happened just outside of Seymour. Local boys the Reno Gang (otherwise known as the Jackson Thieves, named so for the Indiana county they called home) pioneered the gambit on October 6, 1866, swiping over $10,000 from passengers headed east.

15. Indiana’s Heritage House Convalescent Center has housed a couple of noteworthy residents. Edna Parker, the oldest living person between the years of 2007 and 2008, and Sandy Allen, the tallest woman in American history, resided in the Shelbyville retirement center at the same time.

Take Advantage of Amazon's Early Black Friday Deals on Tech, Kitchen Appliances, and More

Amazon
Amazon

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

Even though Black Friday is still a few days away, Amazon is offering early deals on kitchen appliances, tech, video games, and plenty more. We will keep updating this page as sales come in, but for now, here are the best Amazon Black Friday sales to check out.

Kitchen

Instant Pot/Amazon

- Instant Pot Duo Plus 9-in-115 Quart Electric Pressure Cooker; $90 (save $40) 

- Le Creuset Enameled Cast Iron Signature Sauteuse 3.5 Quarts; $180 (save $120)

- KitchenAid KSMSFTA Sifter with Scale Attachment; $95 (save $75) 

- Keurig K-Mini Coffee Maker; $60 (save $20)

- Cuisinart Bread Maker; $88 (save $97)

- Anova Culinary Sous Vide Precision Cooker; $139 (save $60)

- Aicook Juicer Machine; $35 (save $15)

- JoyJolt Double Wall Insulated Espresso Mugs - Set of Two; $14 (save $10) 

- Longzon Silicone Stretch Lids - Set of 14; $13 (save $14)

HadinEEon Milk Frother; $37 (save $33)

Home Appliances

Roomba/Amazon

- iRobot Roomba 675 Robot Vacuum with Wi-Fi Connectivity; $179 (save $101)

- Fairywill Electric Toothbrush with Four Brush Heads; $19 (save $9)

- ASAKUKI 500ml Premium Essential Oil Diffuser; $22 (save $4)

- Facebook Portal Smart Video Calling 10 inch Touch Screen Display with Alexa; $129 (save $50)

- Bissell air320 Smart Air Purifier with HEPA and Carbon Filters; $280 (save $50)

Oscillating Quiet Cooling Fan Tower; $59 (save $31) 

TaoTronics PTC 1500W Fast Quiet Heating Ceramic Tower; $55 (save $10)

Vitamix 068051 FoodCycler 2 Liter Capacity; $300 (save $100)

AmazonBasics 8-Sheet Home Office Shredder; $33 (save $7)

Ring Video Doorbell; $70 (save $30) 

Video games

Nintendo

- Legend of Zelda Link's Awakening for Nintendo Switch; $40 (save $20)

- Marvel's Spider-Man: Game of The Year Edition for PlayStation 4; $20 (save $20)

- Marvel's Avengers; $27 (save $33)

- Minecraft Dungeons Hero Edition for Nintendo Switch; $20 (save $10)

- The Last of Us Part II for PlayStation 4; $30 (save $30)

- LEGO Harry Potter: Collection; $15 (save $15)

- Ghost of Tsushima; $40 (save $20)

BioShock: The Collection; $20 (save $30)

The Sims 4; $20 (save $20)

God of War for PlayStation 4; $10 (save $10)

Days Gone for PlayStation 4; $20 (save $6)

Luigi's Mansion 3 for Nintendo Switch; $40 (save $20)

Computers and tablets

Microsoft/Amazon

- Apple MacBook Air 13 inches with 256 GB; $899 (save $100)

- New Apple MacBook Pro 16 inches with 512 GB; $2149 (save $250) 

- Samsung Chromebook 4 Chrome OS 11.6 inches with 32 GB; $210 (save $20) 

- Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 with 13.5 inch Touch-Screen; $1200 (save $400)

- Lenovo ThinkPad T490 Laptop; $889 (save $111)

- Amazon Fire HD 10 Tablet (64GB); $120 (save $70)

- Amazon Fire HD 10 Kids Edition Tablet (32 GB); $130 (save $70)

- Samsung Galaxy Tab A 8 inches with 32 GB; $100 (save $50)

Apple iPad Mini (64 GB); $379 (save $20)

- Apple iMac 27 inches with 256 GB; $1649 (save $150)

- Vankyo MatrixPad S2 Tablet; $120 (save $10)

Tech, gadgets, and TVs

Apple/Amazon

- Apple Watch Series 3 with GPS; $179 (save $20) 

- SAMSUNG 75-inch Class Crystal 4K Smart TV; $998 (save $200)

- Apple AirPods Pro; $199 (save $50)

- Nixplay 2K Smart Digital Picture Frame 9.7 Inch Silver; $238 (save $92)

- All-New Amazon Echo Dot with Clock and Alexa (4th Gen); $39 (save $21)

- MACTREM LED Ring Light 6" with Tripod Stand; $16 (save $3)

- Anker Soundcore Upgraded Bluetooth Speaker; $22 (save $8)

- Amazon Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote; $28 (save $12)

Canon EOS M50 Mirrorless Camera with EF-M 15-45mm Lens; $549 (save $100)

DR. J Professional HI-04 Mini Projector; $93 (save $37)

Sign Up Today: Get exclusive deals, product news, reviews, and more with the Mental Floss Smart Shopping newsletter!

9 Things Invented By Accident

These sugary summer treats were an accidental invention.
These sugary summer treats were an accidental invention.
Daniel Öberg, Unsplash

Not every great invention was created according to plan. Some, in fact, were the result of a happy accident. In November 2020, the pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca announced that the COVID-19 vaccine it had developed in partnership with Oxford University was 90 percent effective when administered in a dosing regimen they had discovered thanks to some “serendipity.” This wasn't the only unintentional discovery in history, of course. From penicillin to artificial sweeteners, all nine of the everyday items below were invented entirely by accident.

1. Penicillin

On September 28, 1928, Scottish scientist Alexander Fleming discovered that a petri dish of staphylococcus bacteria that had been inadvertently left out on the windowsill of his London laboratory had become contaminated by a greenish-colored mold—and encircling the mold was a halo of inhibited bacterial growth. After taking a sample and developing a culture, Fleming discovered that the mold was a member of the Penicillium genus, and the rest, as they say, is history.

2. Corn Flakes

The two Kellogg brothers—Dr. John Harvey Kellogg and his younger brother (and former broom salesman) Will Keith Kellogg—worked at Battle Creek Sanitarium in Michigan, where John was physician-in-chief. Both were strict Seventh-day Adventists, who used their work at the sanitarium to promote the austere dietary and moralist principles of their religion (including strict vegetarianism and a lifelong restraint from excessive sex and alcohol) and to carry out research into nutrition, and the impact of diet on their patients. It was during one of these experiments in 1894 that, while in the process of making dough from boiled wheat, one of the Kelloggs left the mash to dry for too long and when it came time to be rolled out, it splintered into dozens of individual flakes. Curious as to what these flakes tasted like, he baked them in the oven—and in the process, produced a cereal called Granose. Some later tinkering switched out the wheat for corn, and gave us corn flakes.

3. Teflon

Polytetrafluoroethylene—better known as PTFE, or Teflon—was invented by accident at a DuPont laboratory in New Jersey in 1938. Roy Plunkett, an Ohio-born chemist, was attempting to make a new CFC refrigerant when he noticed that a canister of tetrafluoroethylene, despite appearing to be empty, weighed as much as if it were full. Cutting the canister open with a saw, Plunkett found that the gas had reacted with the iron in the canister’s shell and had coated its insides with polymerized polytetrafluoroethylene—a waxy, water-repellent, non-stick substance. Du Pont soon saw the potential of Plunkett’s discovery and began mass producing PTFE, but it wasn’t until 1954, when the wife of French engineer Marc Grégoire asked her husband to use the same substance to coat her cookware to stop food sticking to her pans, that the true usefulness of Plunkett’s discovery was finally realized.

4. Slinky

In 1943, naval engineer Richard T. James was working at a shipyard in Philadelphia when he accidentally knocked a spring (that he had been trying to modify into a stabilizer for sensitive maritime equipment) from a high shelf. To his surprise, the spring neatly uncoiled itself and stepped its way down from the shelf and onto a pile of books, and from there onto a tabletop, and then onto the floor. After two years of development, the first batch of 400 “Slinky” toys sold out in just 90 minutes when they were demonstrated in the toy department of a local Gimbels store in 1945.

5. Silly Putty

At the height of World War II, rubber was rationed across the United States after Japan invaded a number of rubber-producing countries across southeast Asia and hampered production. The race was on to find a suitable replacement—a synthetic rubber that could be produced inside the U.S. without the need of overseas imports, which eventually led to the entirely unexpected invention of Silly Putty. There are at least two rival claims to the invention of Silly Putty (chiefly from chemist Earl L. Warrick and Scottish-born engineer James Wright), both of whom found that mixing boric acid with silicone oil produced a stretchy, bouncy rubber-like substance that also had the unusual ability of leaching newspaper print from a page (an ability that changing technology has now eliminated).

6. Post-It Notes

Pexels, Pixabay

In 1968, a 3M chemist named Dr. Spencer Silver was attempting to create a super-strong adhesive when instead he accidentally invented a super-weak adhesive, which could be used to only temporarily stick things together. The seemingly limited application of Silver’s product meant that it sat unused at 3M (then technically known as Minnesota Mining & Manufacturing) for another five years, until, in 1973, a colleague named Art Fry attended one of Silver’s seminars and struck upon the idea that his impermanent glue could be used to stick bookmarks into the pages of his hymnbook. It took another few years for 3M to be convinced both of Fry and Silver’s idea and of the salability of their product, but eventually they came up with a unique design that worked perfectly: a thin film of Spencer’s adhesive was applied along just one edge of a piece of paper. After a failed test-market push in 1977 as Press ’N Peel, the product went national as the Post-It note in 1980.

7. Saccharin

In 1878 or '79 (sources differ), Constantin Fahlberg, a chemist studying the properties of oxidized coal tar at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, discoveredwhile eating his meal one evening that food he picked up with this fingers tasted sweeter than normal. He traced the sweetening effect back to the chemical he had been working with that day (Ortho-sulfobenzoic Acid Imide, no less) and, noting its potential salability, quickly set up a business mass producing his sweetener under the name Saccharin. Although quickly popular (and equally quickly controversial), it would take the sugar shortages of two World Wars to make the discovery truly universal.

8. Popsicles

The first popsicle was reportedly invented by 11-year-old Frank Epperson in 1905, when he accidentally left a container of powdered soda and water, with its mixing stick still inside, on his porch overnight. One unexpectedly cold night later, and the popsicle—which Epperson originally marketed 20 years later as an Epsicle—was born.

9. Safety glass

Safety glass—or rather, laminated glass—was accidentally discovered by the French chemist Édouard Bénédictus when he knocked a glass beaker from a high shelf in his laboratory and found, to his surprise, that it shattered but did not break. His assistant informed him that the beaker had contained cellulose nitrate, a type of clear natural plastic, that had left a film on the inside of the glass. He filed a patent for his discovery in 1909, and it has been in production (albeit in various different forms) ever since.