41 Golden Facts About McDonald's

TonyBaggett/iStock via Getty Images
TonyBaggett/iStock via Getty Images

Founded as a modest barbecue shop by brothers Richard and Maurice “Mac” McDonald in 1940, McDonald’s has grown to become synonymous with fast-service food (and car floors littered with paper wrappers). Pioneering preparation techniques have facilitated unimaginable numbers: the company stopped counting customers when they reached 100 billion back in 1994. Have a look at some things you might not know about the Golden Arches

1. McDonald's used to serve peanut butter sandwiches.

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Richard and Mac McDonald opened their first location in San Bernardino, California in 1940 using a menu that would seem slightly puzzling today. Though barbecued meat was their specialty, the brothers also served peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, chili with baked beans, and slices of pie. After noticing most of their sales came from hamburgers, the McDonalds closed for three months in 1948 to retool their menu. They restricted themselves to just nine items, including burgers, drinks, and potato chips. (The pie stayed.)

2. The original McDonald's mascot was dropped because of indigestion.

A Legacy McDonald's hamburger sign in Muncie, Indiana features original mascot Speedee.jetcityimage/iStock via Getty Images

To mark their 1948 facelift, McDonald’s introduced an official company mascot: Speedee, a burger-faced chef with a bow tie that looked like he was in a perpetual rush. The brothers noted that his round head would make a good base for a lollipop, and decided to hand out Speedee-shaped treats to orphanages and children’s hospitals as a charitable form of advertising. Unfortunately, Speedee seemed a little too similar to Alka-Seltzer mascot Speedy, patron saint of upset stomachs. To avoid confusion, Speedee was retired in 1962.

3. The original Ronald McDonald was fired for being too fat.

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After sending Speedee away, McDonald’s latched on to the concept of a spokes-clown. Future Today show weatherman Willard Scott was hired in 1963 after a stint as TV’s Bozo the Clown. By 1966, however, the company had plans to hire duplicate Ronalds to make appearances around the country: Fearing they would be unable to find heavyset actors to match Scott’s stocky build, they let him go. (Today, a full-time svelte Ronald can make roughly $40,000 a year, and is forbidden from disclosing their identity in public.)

4. McDonald's peddles more toys than anyone.

McDonald's

It’s reasonable to think massive chain retailers like Walmart or Target have the toy industry on lockdown, but thanks to their promotional habits, it turns out McDonald’s hands over more toys than any other business on the planet. More than 20 percent of the franchise’s sales come from Happy Meals, which feature a regular rotation of tiny trinkets. In 2013, the company was also poised to become the UK’s largest children’s book distributor when it substituted books for plastic prizes in the meals.

5. There may be a reason Coke tastes better at McDonald's.

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Soda snobs have observed that the fountain drinks at McDonald’s locations seem to taste better than anywhere else. The company speculates that could be due to the fact they adhere to Coke’s strict guidelines for serving: the water and syrup mix are pre-chilled before being added to dispensers, and their straws are a little wider than usual so “all that Coke taste can hit your taste buds.”

6. The McDonald's McD.L.T. was a PR nightmare.

lenscap67/iStock via Getty Images

Of the company’s many menu gaffes—the McPizza, McSpaghetti, and McHot Dog—the McD.L.T. stands as their greatest cautionary tale. A hamburger that was packaged in a dual-clamshell Styrofoam container to keep the “cool” ingredients (lettuce and tomato) separate from the warm patty, it was roundly criticized for being extremely wasteful and harsh on the environment. It was introduced in the mid-1980s and discontinued in 1990.

7. A change in McDonald's straws once led to problems catching fish.

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In a move that would have unforeseen, mackerel-related consequences, McDonald’s shifted their straw design in 1984 from a red-and-yellow color scheme to brown-and-yellow. The problem? Fishermen along the Gulf of Mexico had successfully used the original version to lure Spanish mackerel: Three lures could be made from a single sipper, and caught five times as many fish as any other lure. The new straws failed to attract any catches; McDonald’s dryly advised the distressed fishermen try Big Macs instead.

8. One McDonald's franchisee wanted to serve booze.

iStock

In October 1983, a Sierra, California resort McDonald’s owner applied for a local liquor license and inquired about being granted an exception to the company’s no-alcohol policy. His restaurant, located in the adult-heavy tourist community of Mammoth, would have become the first in the United States to serve beer and wine. (Some European Arches were more liberal.) Just a day after the requests were made public, however, the owner withdrew his plans.

9. A rumor about a satanic cult cut into McDonald's profits.

Ray KrocPublic Domain, Wikimedia Commons

Amid the hysteria over heavy metal and Satanic cults in the 1970s, McDonald’s found themselves having to defend the company against allegations that franchise founder Ray Kroc gave 20 percent of his charitable donations to Satan’s Church in Los Angeles. Initially dismissing it as an amusing rumor, the company saw customers in the Bible Belt of the country take it seriously and refuse to patronize their restaurants. One franchisee in Oklahoma experienced a 20 percent drop in profits. Executives had to travel to clergymen in states like Ohio and Indiana to play Kroc’s recent interviews to prove he had never said such a thing. Though the company hired a full-time employee to investigate the source of the rumor—some speculated it was a rival restaurant chain—it was never found.

10. A bigger McDonald's menu can lead to bigger problems.

McDonald's

While the company’s manual mandates a quick 90-second turnaround time for orders, a constantly revised menu has complicated things considerably. In 2003, corporate introduced the McWrap, a salad inside a tortilla shell: the tortilla needed to be steamed and often wouldn’t fit inside of the driver-friendly packaging. When all-day breakfast was introduced in 2015, eggs and hash browns had to vie for space on the griddles and deep fryers. All of it, disgruntled franchisees claim, contributes to a slower order time.

11. San Francisco banned McDonald's Happy Meals.

Nelo Hotsuma via Flickr // CC BY 2.0

In an effort to curb the frenzied pleas of children for a nutritionally bankrupt Happy Meal in order to score the free toy, San Francisco passed an ordinance in 2011 that prohibited the company from peddling the promotion within city limits. To get around the law, the company began charging 10 cents for the toy, skirting around the definition of "free."

12. McDonald's almost landed on an asteroid.

McDonald's

When NASA affiliate company Jet Propulsion Laboratory initiated some ambitious plans to land a spacecraft on an asteroid named Hamburga in the early 1990s, they attempted to partner with McDonald’s to sponsor the trip. The match made in the stars was not to be: the project went over budget, and Hamburga remains un-franchised.

13. It's illegal to open a McDonald's in Bermuda.

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In an effort to keep their territory untouched by corporate expansion, Bermuda’s government adopted a Prohibited Restaurants Act in 1977 to keep chains off the island. A McDonald’s did manage to sneak in on a U.S. Naval base in 1985, but was unable to remain after the base closed in 1995.

14. The first expanded McDonald's location is now basically an underwater museum.

blanscape/iStock via Getty Images

When businessman Ray Kroc bought out the McDonald brothers, he opened his first location in Des Plaines, Illinois in 1955. After 29 years, the building was demolished—but the company rebuilt it using the original blueprints to turn it into a monument of their history. Repeat area floods have kept tourists away, though: the interior closed in 2008, leaving McDonald’s fans to take pictures of the outside.

15. There is one location still serving McDonald's Pizza.

GANNAMARTYSHEVA/iStock via Getty Images

In the '80s and early '90s, 40 percent of McDonald's locations sold pizza. The model didn't work. There were too many competitors that could sell pies cheaper, faster, and tastier, and the pizza-making process was slowing down the overall kitchen flow. As of 2015, however, you could still find a version of the pizzas being sold at two locations in the U.S.: one in Pomeroy, Ohio, and one in Spencer, West Virginia. McDonald's corporate reached out to the franchise owner and asked him to stop in 2017, but there is a glimmer of hope for McPizza fans. The Orlando location that touts itself as America's largest McDonald's now serves pies.

16. The Hula Burger was once the company’s answer to Lent.

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Before the Filet-O-Fish stole the hearts of Catholics during the Lenten season, McDonald’s attempted to sell them a cheese-topped slice of grilled pineapple on a bun. In a one-day sales showdown, the fish sandwich grossly outperformed the pineapple burger and earned a permanent spot on the menu.

17. There’s a McDonald’s with turquoise arches in Sedona, Arizona.

Sean Pavone/iStock via Getty Images

Because of the natural beauty of the red rocks in Sedona, Arizona, the city has ordinances about how businesses must present themselves. The city agreed to let McDonald’s build in Sedona in 1993, under the condition that the Golden Arches change color to better blend with the natural surroundings. The off-brand hue hasn’t hurt business at all. In fact, tourists flock to dine at the only turquoise-tinted McDonald’s in the world.

18. They invented bubble gum-flavored broccoli.

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In 2014, CEO Donald Thompson revealed that Ronald and co. were going to extremes to provide healthier options for kids, included experimenting with broccoli flavors. Instead of the savory pairings you might expect, however, the McDonald’s test kitchen infused the cruciferous veggie with bubble gum flavor. It got as far as focus groups, where kids expressed confusion. The idea withered on the vine, so don’t look for bubble gum broccoli on your dollar menu anytime soon.

19. Americans were so sold on the Quarter Pounder that they refused A&W’s third-pounder.

McDonald's

In the 1980s, A&W decided to make their rivals sweat a little by introducing a third-pound burger at the Quarter Pounder price, giving consumers more bang for their buck. Consumers far preferred the A&W burger in blind taste tests, but the third-pound burger flopped in real life. Post-promotion focus groups revealed the truth: Americans suck at fractions. “Why should we pay the same amount for a third of a pound of meat as we do for a quarter-pound of meat at McDonald's? You're overcharging us,” a quote from the report said. According to A&W owner Alfred Taubman, A&W recalibrated their marketing for the burger. “The customer, regardless of his or her proficiency with fractions, is always right,” he said.

20. The Queen owns a McDonald’s, kind of.

Samir Hussein, WireImage, and Getty Images / Courtesy of HBO

Though it’s dubious that she’s actually eaten there, the Queen’s Crown Estate owns the Banbury Gateway Shopping Park about 80 miles outside of London, and that includes a McDonald’s. While she personally has no ownership, the complex is part of her overall holdings.

21. Ronald McDonald is called Donald McDonald in Japan.

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The famous company mascot goes by the name Donarudo Makudonarudo in Japan, which translates to Donald McDonald. The name change was made to flow better with the characters and pronunciation in the Japanese language. Other altered names include Gurimasu for Grimace, Hanbaaguraa for the Hamburglar, and Meiyaa Cheezu Makku for Mayor McCheese.

22. McDonald’s Gold Cards are real.

Justin Sullivan, Getty Images

And they’re spectacular. There are a select few individuals in the world who have access to unlimited food from McDonald’s, or at least free meals at their local establishments. Rob Lowe flashed his on Jimmy Kimmel Live in 2015, explaining that he was friends with a franchise-owning family that happened to invent the Egg McMuffin. Warren Buffett has one that provides free food at any McDonald’s in his hometown of Omaha. Buffett also spilled the beans on Bill Gates’ card, which entitles him to eat free anywhere at any Golden Arches in the world. Why rich people need free McDonald's burgers at all remains a mystery.

23. Those in the lower 48 states are never more than 145 miles from McDonald’s.

hansenn/iStock via Getty Images

Data Pointed plotted all 13,000+ McDonald’s locations in the contiguous United States and determined that the nearest McDonald’s is always only a couple of hours away—and typically much closer. The locations furthest from satisfying a Big Mac craving are in the Northwestern Nevada desert (115 miles away as the crow flies) and the “McNothingness” of northwestern South Dakota.

24. The “I’m Lovin’ It” jingle was a real Justin Timberlake tune.

Justin Timberlake speaks on stage at the McDonalds launch of their Sony Big Mac Meal tracks promotion in 2004.Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

Produced by The Neptunes, including Pharrell Williams, the song was even released as an EP, which was a chart-topper in Belgium. But it’s certainly no coincidence: the “ba da ba buh ba” hook was developed by a small German ad agency, then made into a JT song prior to the release of the ad campaign. This “reverse engineering” method is used to increase the campaign’s credibility.

25. One man has eaten a Big Mac almost every day since 1972.

McDonald's

As of August 24, 2016, Donald Gorske was up to 28,788 Big Macs. When Guinness recognized him for his Big Mac eating achievement at that time, he had only missed eight days in 44 years.

26. Plenty of famous people have worked at McDonald's.

Roy Rochlin/Getty Images

Celebrities who have worked at McDonald’s include Lin-Manuel Miranda, Jay Leno, Pink, and Rachel McAdams. But wait, there’s more: Jeff Bezos loved cracking eggs on Saturday mornings, Pharrell Williams was fired three times, and Shania Twain would go sing in bars after her shifts at McDonald's.

27. In its early days, the company banned female employees.

MichaelGordon1/iStock via Getty Images

When they did start hiring women, Ray Kroc specified that they should be “kind of flat-chested” because he didn’t want to attract a crowd of obnoxious teenage boys.

28. The world’s tiniest McDonald’s caters to bees.

iStock/William Jones-Warner

In 2019, McDonald’s Sweden worked with the NORD DDB creative agency to build a McDonald’s-branded beehive for World Bee Day. The exterior was a faithful replica of a McDonald’s building, while the inside housed thousands of bees. Additionally, to help stimulate the bee population, some McDonald’s restaurants have installed beehives on their roofs and planted pollinator plants on their grounds.

29. The world’s largest McDonald’s caters to humans.

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The world’s largest McDonald’s—the one that still serves pizza—covers nearly 19,000 square feet. Located in Orlando, Florida, the restaurant includes a 22-foot-tall play structure, an animatronic Mac Tonight crooning tunes, a 30-foot Ronald McDonald, and a 2000-square-foot arcade.

30. Mayor McCheese disappeared because of a lawsuit from the makers of H.R. Pufnstuf.

Actor Jack Wild promoting the NBC children's series H.R. Pufnstuf in 1969.NCS/Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

Sid and Marty Krofft alleged that Mayor McCheese was basically H.R. Pufnstuff, and the court agreed. McDonald’s had to pay the Kroffts more than $1 million—$6000 per commercial, $5000 for each promotional item, and $500 for other infringing acts.

31. Bobby Darin's family also sued mcDonald's.

General Artists Corporation/Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

In the 1980s, McDonald’s introduced a crescent moon-headed character named "Mac Tonight," a Bobby Darin wannabe that sang a parody of Mack the Knife. Darin’s family had not been consulted, nor were they flattered, and sued for $10 million. Mac Tonight was retired, which was a bummer for the company; allegedly, the character increased dinnertime sales by more than 10 percent in some restaurants and attracted crowds of 1000-plus during live appearances. (The man who portrayed Mac Tonight in commercials? None other than actor Doug Jones, who is best known for his work with Guillermo del Toro in films like Hellboy (2004), Pan's Labyrinth (2006), and The Shape of Water (2017).

32. Ray Kroc and Walt Disney trained together during WWI.

Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Kroc and Disney met at a training base in South Beach, Connecticut, where they were learning to be ambulance drivers. Kroc, just 15, later recalled that “Diz” was a “strange duck ... whenever we went into town to chase girls, he stayed in camp drawing pictures.”

33. The world’s only Ski-thru McDonald’s is located in Sweden.

ShevchenkoAndrey/iStock via Getty Images

“McSki” can be found 200 miles north of Stockholm at the Lindvallen ski resort. Skiers in need of some quick calories can swish up to the ski-thru window and order a burger without having to de-gear.

34. McDonald’s is banned in at least 10 countries.

NICHOLAS YEO/AFP/Getty Images

North Korea, Iran, Jamaica, Barbados, Bermuda, Macedonia, Bolivia, Ghana, Zimbabwe and Montenegro are a few of the countries that pass on the fast food, usually for cultural or governmental reasons. It’s rumored that Kim Jung-un desperately wants the Golden Arches, so that list could get shorter in the future.

35. In India, the Big Mac is called the Maharaja Mac.

paulprescott72/iStock via Getty Images

Made with chicken instead of beef to respect the Hindu belief that cows are sacred, the Maharaja Mac is a chicken double patty, habanero sauce, jalapenos, crunchy fried onions, cheddar cheese and iceberg lettuce.

36. There’s a McBarge floating around somewhere.

By Daderot - Own work, CC0, Wikimedia Commons

Technically, the 187-foot-long McDonald’s restaurant-slash-barge is called the Friendship 500, but “McBarge” is the charming nickname it earned when it debuted at Expo ‘86 in British Columbia. Even after developer Howard Meakin purchased it, the barge sat unused for nearly 30 years—until recently. In 2017, Meakin announced plans to turn the former McDonald’s into a deep-sea museum called the Deep Ocean Discovery Centre.

37. The Big Mac was originally named The Aristocrat.

Yu Chun Christopher Wong/S3studio/Getty Images

Franchisee Jim Delligatti introduced the Big Mac at his Pittsburgh-area stores in 1967, originally dubbing it The Aristocrat and the Blue Ribbon Burger. It sold for a mere 45 cents and proved so popular that corporate added it to menus nationwide just a year later. The “Big Mac” moniker was a suggestion from 21-year-old Esther Glickstein, who worked at McDonald’s Corporate in Oak Brook, Illinois.

38. The Shamrock Shake wasn’t originally mint.

McDonald's

It’s hard to imagine, but when the shake debuted in the early ‘70s, it was vanilla ice cream mixed with lemon and lime sherbet. McDonald’s switched to plain old vanilla dyed green for a decade, and finally made the whole thing mint in 1983. (As nature intended.) The shake was hawked by a green version of Grimace, who was named “Uncle O’Grimacey.”

39. The Arch Deluxe is considered to be one of the biggest fast food flops of all time.

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

In the mid-‘90s, McDonald’s spent a reported $200 million advertising its new Arch Deluxe burger aimed at a more “sophisticated” demographic. Made with fresh beef instead of frozen patties, the burger cost more than other menu items—and people weren’t interested enough to pay for the upgrade. It was rumored that McDonald’s was testing a new version of the burger in select locations last year, so it’s possible that a version of the Arch Deluxe may be resurrected for another round.

40. The McDonald’s Monopoly promotion controversy is being made into a movie.

Tim Boyle/Getty Images

In 2001, it was revealed that a handful of people had conspired to cheat at McDonald’s annual Monopoly game, taking the company for $24 million over a 12-year time span. The guilty parties were identified by the FBI, and now Matt Damon and Ben Affleck are set to star in a silver screen version of the events. We can’t wait to see who plays Rich Uncle Pennybags.

41. Fans demanded the return of Szechuan sauce—and got it.

Mario Tama/Getty Images

McDonald’s added a spicy Szechuan sauce to their dip lineup in the 1990s as a promotional tie-in for Disney’s Mulan movie. After the fabled sauce re-entered the spotlight thanks to mentions on the adult cartoon Rick and Morty, fans petitioned the company to bring it back. McDonald’s obliged with a one-day-only event, which only made fans angrier. Faced with consumer backlash, McDonald’s issued a statement vowing to bring it back more permanently, and in February 2018, they distributed 20 million Szechuan packets to stores across the country.

10 Reusable Gifts for Your Eco-Friendliest Friend

Disposable tea bags can't compete with this pla-tea-pus and his friends.
Disposable tea bags can't compete with this pla-tea-pus and his friends.
DecorChic/Amazon

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

By this point, your eco-friendly pal probably has a reusable water bottle that accompanies them everywhere and some sturdy grocery totes that keep their plastic-bag count below par. Here are 10 other sustainable gift ideas that’ll help them in their conservation efforts.

1. Reusable Produce Bags; $13

No more staticky plastic bags.Naturally Sensible/Amazon

The complimentary plastic produce bags in grocery stores aren’t great, but neither is having all your spherical fruits and vegetables roll pell-mell down the checkout conveyor belt. Enter the perfect alternative: mesh bags that are nylon, lightweight, and even machine-washable.

Buy it: Amazon

2. Animal Tea Infusers; $16

Nothing like afternoon tea with your tiny animal friends.DecorChic/Amazon

Saying goodbye to disposable tea bags calls for a quality tea diffuser, and there’s really no reason why it shouldn’t be shaped like an adorable animal. This “ParTEA Pack” includes a hippo, platypus, otter, cat, and owl, which can all hang over the edge of a glass or mug. (In other words, you won’t have to fish them out with your fingers or dirty a spoon when your loose leaf is done steeping.)

Buy it: Amazon

3. Rocketbook Smart Notebook; $25

Typing your notes on a tablet or laptop might save trees, but it doesn’t quite capture the feeling of writing on paper with a regular pen. The Rocketbook, on the other hand, does. After you’re finished filling a page with sketches, musings, or whatever else, you scan it into the Rocketbook app with your smartphone, wipe it clean with the microfiber cloth, and start again. This one also comes with a compatible pen, but any PILOT FriXion pens will do.

Buy it: Amazon

4. Food Huggers; $13

"I'm a hugger!"Food Huggers/Amazon

It’s hard to compete with the convenience of plastic wrap or tin foil when it comes to covering the exposed end of a piece of produce or an open tin can—and keeping those leftovers in food storage containers can take up valuable space in the fridge. This set of five silicone Food Huggers stretch to fit over a wide range of circular goods, from a lidless jar to half a lemon.

Buy it: Amazon

5. Swiffer Mop Pads; $15

For floors that'll shine like the top of the Chrysler Building.Turbo Microfiber/Amazon

Swiffers may be much less unwieldy than regular mops, but the disposable pads present a problem to anyone who likes to keep their trash output to a minimum. These machine-washable pads fasten to the bottom of any Swiffer WetJet, and the thick microfiber will trap dirt and dust instead of pushing it into corners. Each pad lasts for at least 100 uses, so you’d be saving your eco-friendly friend quite a bit of money, too.

Buy it: Amazon

6. SodaStream for Sparkling Water; $69

A fondness for fizzy over flat water doesn’t have to mean buying it bottled. Not only does the SodaStream let you make seltzer at home, but it’s also small enough that it won’t take up too much precious counter space. SodaStream also sells flavor drops to give your home-brewed beverage even more flair—this pack from Amazon ($25) includes mango, orange, raspberry, lemon, and lime.

Buy it: Amazon

7. Washable Lint Roller; $13

Roller dirty.iLifeTech/Amazon

There’s a good chance that anyone with a pet (or just an intense dislike for lint) has lint-rolled their way through countless sticky sheets. iLifeTech’s reusable roller boasts “the power of glue,” which doesn’t wear off even after you’ve washed it. Each one also comes with a 3-inch travel-sized version, so you can stay fuzz-free on the go.

Buy it: Amazon

8. Countertop Compost Bin; $23

Like a tiny Tin Man for your table.Epica/Amazon

Even if you keep a compost pile in your own backyard, it doesn’t make sense to dash outside every time you need to dump a food scrap. A countertop compost bin can come in handy, especially if it kills odors and blends in with your decor. This 1.3-gallon pail does both. It’s made of stainless steel—which matches just about everything—and contains an activated-charcoal filter that prevents rancid peels and juices from stinking up your kitchen.

Buy it: Amazon

9. Fabric-Softening Dryer Balls; $17

Also great for learning how to juggle without breaking anything.Smart Sheep

Nobody likes starchy, scratchy clothes, but some people might like blowing through bottles of fabric softener and boxes of dryer sheets even less. Smart Sheep is here to offer a solution: wool dryer balls. Not only do they last for more than 1000 loads, they also dry your laundry faster. And since they don’t contain any chemicals, fragrances, or synthetic materials, they’re a doubly great option for people with allergies and/or sensitive skin.

Buy it: Amazon

10. Rechargeable Batteries; $40

Say goodbye to loose batteries in your junk drawer.eneloop/Amazon

While plenty of devices are rechargeable themselves, others still require batteries to buzz, whir, and change the TV channel—so it’s good to have some rechargeable batteries on hand. In addition to AA batteries, AAA batteries, and a charger, this case from Panasonic comes with tiny canisters that function as C and D batteries when you slip the smaller batteries into them.

Buy it: Amazon

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What Is My Turkey Wearing Frilly Paper Hats On Its Legs?

All dressed up and nowhere to go.
All dressed up and nowhere to go.
Matt Cottam via Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Donning a chef’s hat while you cook Thanksgiving dinner is one thing, but sticking a tiny one on the end of each crispy turkey leg seems like it might be taking the holiday a bit too far.

Over the years, these traditional paper coverings have been called many creative names, including turkey frills, turkey booties, and even turkey panties. And while they’ve fallen out of fashion in recent decades, they originally served a very specific purpose. According to 19th-century writer John Cordy Jeaffreson, paper trimmings gained popularity in the 17th century as a way for women to keep their hands clean while they carved meat.

“To preserve the cleanness of her fingers, the same covering was put on those parts of joints which the carver usually touched with the left hand, whilst the right made play with the shining blade,” he explained in A Book About the Table in 1875. “The paper-frill which may still be seen round the bony point and small end of a leg of mutton, is a memorial of the fashion in which joints were dressed for the dainty hands of lady-carvers, in time prior to the introduction of the carving-fork.”

When etiquette books started encouraging "lady-carvers" to use carving forks, the paper didn’t become obsolete—it just got frillier. During the 19th and 20th centuries, chop frills were a cute and classy way to conceal the unsightly leg bones of roast turkey, lamb, chicken, or any other bird. “Dress up any leggy food with them for parties or the children’s birthdays,” Iowa’s Kossuth County Advance wrote in 1951. “They will be thrilled.”

If you’d like to dress up a leggy food or two this Thanksgiving, here are some instructions for making your own chop frills, courtesy of HuffPost.

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