The Invention of Dessert
The English word “dessert” emerged in the seventeenth century, derived from the French verb “desservir.” But the concept has changed a lot since then.
The Origins of Women’s Soccer
The British Ladies Football Club held their first match at Alexandra Park in Crouch End, London in 1895.
Navy Seals: Why the Military Uses Marine Mammals
A beluga whale was suspected to be a spy. It's not as outlandish as it may seem.
The Prince of Quacks (and How He Captivated London)
James Graham, founder of the Temple of Health, benefitted from his undeniable flair for showmanship and his talent for leaping on trends.
Colonialism Created Navy Blue
The indigo dye that created the Royal Navy's signature uniform color was only possible because of imperialism and slavery.
Is There a Witch Bottle in Your House?
In the 16th-18th centuries, vessels filled with nails, thorns, hair, and other materials, were used as a form of ritual protection against witches.
What Ever Happened to the Beetheads?
A lighthearted look at Americans' nicknames of yore, from master humorist H. L. Mencken.
How the Beat Generation Became “Beatniks”
The rebellious culture of the Beat Generation was coopted into fodder for a marketable lifestyle.
The Codpiece and the Pox
A brief history of the codpiece, that mysterious garment favored by 16th-century gents who just may have been covering up their cases of syphilis.
The Invention of the Giveaway
The appeal of the free gift has always been, for the consumer, about the eternal dream of getting something for nothing.