12 Legendary Facts About Legends of the Hidden Temple

For Nickelodeon viewers whose tastes leaned more toward the cerebral than the booger-infested obstacle courses of Double Dare, the network had a solution: Legends of the Hidden Temple, the 1993-95 game show for history buffs that still had enough action to fill a Spielberg movie. Through four rounds of physical and intellectual challenges, two-member teams tried to navigate a massive Universal Studios set that looked like a Mayan minefield. Check out some facts on the show’s origins, why it made kids cry, and how it didn’t have the budget to let too many of its youthful contestants win.

1. THE GUARDS TRAUMATIZED CHILDREN.

Legends of the Hidden Temple via Facebook

If a team was able to successfully pass the show’s first three rounds—which included answering trivia on the Steps of Knowledge and crossing a giant moat—they were “rewarded” with an obstacle course inside the Temple that was a confusing mass of puzzles, rooms, and Temple Guards that would pop out to terrify the tired children. One contestant named Keeli told SBNation.com in 2013 that the sight of a Guard bursting from a hidden compartment on set reduced her to tears. “I'm 31 and I can't go to haunted houses,” she said. “I'm deathly afraid of things popping out of closets and doors.” Another contestant got so upset that she puked in the Pit of Despair.

2. PRODUCERS PICKED THE HOST ALMOST AT RANDOM.

Being a game show host takes a very unique skillset—though Nickelodeon and producers didn’t seem to care much about that one way or another. Host Kirk Fogg told Buzzfeed that he was more or less picked at random out of a headshot catalog and asked to audition by reading some play-by-play from a teleprompter. It was his first-ever hosting gig.

3. THERE WAS A MAN INSIDE OLMEC.

Legends of the Hidden Temple via Facebook

One of Temple’s most memorable elements was the giant head of Olmec, a faux-stone carving that would narrate the proceedings and offer underwhelming advice to the contestants. (The head's name was probably a nod to the Olmec, a civilization that predated the Maya and made giant stone heads.) According to Fogg, Dee Bradley Baker, the voice of Olmec, was actually inside of the 6-foot-tall head with a microphone and a script. As he spoke, he’d control the movement of the statue’s mouth with a lever. When he wasn’t talking, Baker would kick back in the head and read a book or jump out and watch the stunts.

4. THE FIRST EPISODE TOOK 18 HOURS TO SHOOT.

In addition to the expected production hang-ups typical of any inaugural episode, Temple had the added stresses of an elaborate set and physical challenges that were difficult to coordinate. Fogg told Albany’s WCDB Radio that their first contest took over 18 hours to shoot. By the time of the Temple Run, the exhausted contestants were sobbing. The show eventually worked out the kinks, getting a shooting day down to a far more manageable 12 hours. (They also had a nurse on set in case any kids keeled over. By all accounts, no children were seriously harmed.)

5. THE DARK FOREST SMELLED TERRIBLE.

Temple Guard and stunt supervisor Michael Lupia told a Legends fan site that his least-favorite room in the Temple was the Dark Forest. In addition to having to wait inside of a fake tree, the limbs cut into his arms and the entire room smelled like “three years’ worth of B.O.” (Foam rubber is not friendly to cast sweat.)

6. THE SILVER MONKEY WAS DECEPTIVELY DIFFICULT.

Many a viewer has screamed at their television watching incompetent adolescents try to assemble the seemingly simple Silver Monkey: There are only three parts. But according to Fogg, the reason contestants had so much trouble with it is because they were trying to do it with the monkey facing away from them, a clock running out, and the threat of Guards always looming. Easier said than done.

7. PRODUCERS COULDN'T LET TOO MANY KIDS WIN.

Fogg told Great Big Story in 2016 there was a good reason only 30-odd teams wound up finishing the final obstacle course out of the show’s 120 episodes: Producers didn’t have the budget to award a grand prize to too many kids. The Temple Run was designed to be incredibly difficult so they wouldn’t exceed their maximum allotment of eight prizes per season. (All of the kids got a pair of sneakers for competing, though.)

8. THE GRAND PRIZE WAS KIND OF MISLEADING.

Out of the limited prizes producers were allowed to give out, a trip to Universal Studios was often featured during the broadcast episode. This made little sense, as the contestants were often from the Orlando area where the show was taped on the Universal Studios lot. The “real” prize, according to one contestant, was a trip to Busch Gardens. Another contestant won a bike, a CD player, and a trip for two to Vermont.

9. THE KIDS WERE PAIRED AT RANDOM.

According to a former contestant named Anthony, the two-person teams were usually the result of kids being herded into a staging area and paired together at random by a production assistant. They’d have a few minutes to strap on their gear and get to know one another before falling into the moat. Not all of them got along, either: Keeli said she feared she'd be bounced from the show during the trivia portion because her partner was "an abject idiot."

10. IT WON A CABLEACE AWARD.

In 1995, the National Academy of Cable Programming honored Temple with their CableACE award for Best Game Show Special or Series. (Owing to the Emmys increasingly recognizing cable programs, the ceremony was discontinued in 1998.)

11. THERE WAS A TV MOVIE.

Legends of the Hidden Temple via Facebook

Since Legends was inspired by the action-adventure film genre—producer David Greenfield once said he wanted kids to feel like they were in the middle of an Indiana Jones movie—it was only fitting for it to eventually morph into one. Nickelodeon announced in 2016 that the show would be adapted into a live-action television movie about three kids faced with solving the puzzles of Olmec.

12. OLMEC WAS SOLD OFF TO THE HIGHEST BIDDER.

In 2002, Nickelodeon unloaded many of its props and set from their 1990s heyday to clear out their Universal Studios location. One ex-staffer told author Mathew Klickstein (Slimed! An Oral History of Nickelodeon) that Olmec’s foam rubber head was up for sale. “I wanted to buy it,” he said, “but my wife would’ve killed me.”

7 Historic European Castles Virtually Rebuilt Before Your Very Eyes

A reconstruction of Spiš Castle in eastern Slovakia.
A reconstruction of Spiš Castle in eastern Slovakia.
Budget Direct

While some centuries-old castles are still standing tall, others haven’t withstood the ravages of time, war, or natural disaster quite as well. To give you an idea of what once was, Australia-based insurance company Budget Direct has digitally reconstructed seven of them for its blog, Simply Savvy.

Watch below as ruins across Europe transform back into the formidable forts and turreted castles they used to be, courtesy of a little modern-day magic we call GIF technology.

1. Samobor Castle // Samobor, Croatia

samobor castle
Samobor Castle in Samobor, Croatia
Budget Direct

The only remaining piece of the 13th-century castle built by Bohemia’s King Ottokar II is the base of the guard tower—the rest of the ruins are from an expansion that happened about 300 years later. It’s just a 10-minute walk from the Croatian city of Samobor, which bought the property in 1902.

2. Château Gaillard // Les Andelys, France

Château Gaillard in Les Andelys, France
Château Gaillard in Les Andelys, France
Budget Direct

King Richard I of England built Château Gaillard in just two years during the late 12th century as a fortress to protect the Duchy of Normandy, which belonged to England at the time, from French invasion. It didn’t last very long—France’s King Philip II captured it six years later.

3. Dunnottar Castle // Stonehaven, Scotland

Dunnottar Castle in Stonehaven, Scotland
Dunnottar Castle in Stonehaven, Scotland
Budget Direct

Dunnottar Castle overlooks the North Sea and is perhaps best known as the fortress that William Wallace (portrayed by Mel Gibson in 1995’s Braveheart) and Scottish forces won back from English occupation in 1297. Later, it became the place where the Scottish monarchy stored their crown jewels, which were smuggled to safety when Oliver Cromwell invaded during the 17th century.

4. Menlo Castle // Galway City, Ireland

Menlo Castle in Galway City, Ireland
Menlo Castle in Galway City, Ireland
Budget Direct

This ivy-covered Irish castle was built during the 16th century and all but destroyed in a fire in 1910. For those few centuries, it was home to the Blake family, English nobles who owned property all over the region.

5. Olsztyn Castle // Olsztyn, Poland

Olsztyn Castle in Olsztyn, Poland
Olsztyn Castle in Olsztyn, Poland
Budget Direct

The earliest known mention of Olsztyn Castle was in 1306, so we know it was constructed some time before then and expanded later that century by King Casimir III of Poland. It was severely damaged during wars with Sweden in the 17th and 18th centuries, but its highest tower—once a prison—still stands.

6. Spiš Castle // Spišské Podhradie, Slovakia

Spiš Castle in Spišské Podhradie, Slovakia
Spiš Castle in Spišské Podhradie, Slovakia
Budget Direct

Slovakia’s massive Spiš Castle was built in the 12th century to mark the boundary of the Hungarian kingdom and fell to ruin after a fire in 1780. However, 20th-century restoration efforts helped fortify the remaining rooms, and it was even used as a filming location for parts of 1996’s DragonHeart.

7. Poenari Castle // Valachia, Romania

Poenari Castle in Valachia, Romania
Poenari Castle in Valachia, Romania
Budget Direct

This 13th-century Romanian castle boasts one previous resident of some celebrity: Vlad the Impaler, or Vlad Dracula, who may have been an early influence for Bram Stoker’s vampire, Dracula. It also boasts a staggering 1480 stone steps, which you can still climb today.

[h/t Simply Savvy]

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]

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