William Dampier

William Dampier, Pirate Scientist

An oft-overlooked explorer who traversed the globe, driven by his thirst for scientific discovery—and a love of piracy.
Ground mustard

The Mystery of the Mustard Family

An archaeological dig turned up eight bottles of mustard powder in one eighteenth-century homestead. Why the condiment love?
Shucking Oysters, Biloxi, Miss.

How Oysters Became a Food Fad Way out West

Oysters in Wyoming and Arizona? In the nineteenth century? Yes, and mighty tasty too!
Signal corps, pigeon section, 1919

How Pigeons Helped Fight World War I

At ten weeks old, many of the birds headed to the trenches, carrying back messages over distances of about ten miles.
Psilocybe Cubensis

The Nice Married Couple Who Inspired People to ’Shroom

In the 1950s, Gordon and Valentina Wasson encountered magic mushrooms. Then they wouldn't stop talking about them.
THREE GIRLS SISTERS EATING LUNCH AT KITCHEN TABLE PEANUT BUTTER & JELLY

What Happened to Peanut Butter and Jelly?

The rise and fall of the iconic sandwich has paralleled changes in Americans' economic conditions.
from Bouquet of Flowers in a Sculpted Vase by Jan Frans Eliaerts

The Charities That Gave Flowers to the Poor

Presenting impoverished city dwellers with a fresh bouquet might seem condescending. On the other hand, flowers are awesome.

Smoking Banana Peels to Get High Was Briefly a Thing

But it didn't work. The rumor, spread by the underground press in 1967, probably led to many disappointed hippies.
A crystal ball with an oil field inside of it

The Mediums Who Helped Kick-Start the Oil Industry

Apparently some people communed with spirits to locate the first underground oil reserves.
An anatomical machine of Prince Raimondo di Sangro

The Anatomical Machines of Naples’ Alchemist Prince

Rumor had it that these machines were once the Prince’s servants, whom he murdered and transformed into anatomical displays. Scholars showed otherwise.