History Snacks Fun Facts
Coca-Cola for Our Soldiers
We all know there’s nothing better than a cold Coca-Cola on a hot day, and according to history, American soldiers agree. In 1918, the Exchange Officer for the 55th Infantry Exchange at Camp MacArthur in Texas sent a letter to the Coca-Cola bottling company asking for more Coca-Cola for the soldiers. The letter states that without this tasty beverage, soldiers will have to admit defeat at the hands of “Enemy Heat & Thirst.” Give the soldiers their cola!
School Picture Day
Were all Presidents of the United States A+ students when they were young? The jury is still out,but thanks to National Archives documents, we know President Harry Truman was. First-grader Truman (shown on the bottom left) got the highest possible grades in spelling, reading, language and numbers.
When Miss Ewin was asked about her famous pupil in 1947, she said, “I never had to reprimand him a single time. He just smiled his way along. [He] was a very studious boy.”
Here is his fridge-worthy report card from second grade.
Pick up Your Pencil
Pencils have become a classroom staple, and what’s a pencil without a sharpener? Check out the U.S. automatic pencil sharpener patented by a Chicago inventor named Essington N. Gilfillan in 1905.
Flower Power 🌷
From a popcorn popper to an umbrella, you probably know by now that the National Archives has lots of patents. But did you know we have patents for living things too? That’s right––these inventors with green thumbs patented flowers! And it’s a good thing they did, because now we can give them to mom on her special day.
A Veggie a Day Keeps George Bush Away
First Lady Barbara Bush––one of only two first ladies to be both a mom and a wife to a U.S. President––had one very picky eater at her dinner table. President George H. W. Bush hated broccoli and once famously said, “I do not like broccoli. And I haven’t liked it since I was a little kid and my mother made me eat it. And I’m President of the United States, and I’m not going to eat any more broccoli!” After his major broccoli diss, broccoli growers sent Barbara three crates of the divisive green veggie. We know you may not like it, but for Mother’s Day, let’s all agree to eat our greens just this once!
P.S. –– Abigail Adams was the only other First Lady to be the mother and wife of a U.S. President! Have you checked out our special story time with Abigail herself? Watch now!
Galloping to the Cinema
Drive-in movies have been an American pastime since the early 1900s. But in this 1954 newsreel clip from the Archives, one California drive-in swapped out horses for cars and barrels of hay for popcorn. “Horse Night at the Drive-in” allowed movie-goers to ride in on their horses and watch the feature film from their saddles instead of their cars. See the newsreel clip.
The Moving Cartoon
Fan of Frozen, Toy Story and the Lion King? These box office classics wouldn’t have been possible without the invention of animated cartoons. We have one man to thank for Olaf, Mowana and Nemo: Max Fleisher. In 1936, he patented the art of the animated cartoon and paved the way for our favorite characters to steal our hearts.
Black, White & Panda Delight
Did someone say panda-monium? The pandas at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., have become celebrities over the years, and we have President Richard Nixon and First Lady Pat Nixon to thank for bringing these chubby goodwill ambassadors to Washington. The first pandas, Ling-Ling and Hsing-Hsing, made their famous trek from China in 1972 after President Nixon’s friendly visit to China.
First Lady Pat Nixon welcomed the pandas to the National Zoo on April 16, 1972. After seeing a dynamic duo panda pair in Beijing, she was delighted to officially accept the nation’s own pair. Listen to her speech here!
What do astronauts eat en route to the moon? Hint—while it’s the “ice cream of the future,” it looks quite a bit different from the Dippin’ Dots we all know and love. Ice cream aboard Apollo 11 spacecraft was served either as a dehydrated powder to mix with water or a ready-to-eat compressed cube…not exactly an ice cream sundae. Other astronaut-approved food aboard the Apollo 11 spacecraft included dehydrated beef with vegetables, potato salad, cheese sandwiches, strawberry cubes and chewing gum—all that sounds messy in zero gravity! To combat flying crumbs in space, crumbly meals like grilled cheese sandwiches were coated in gelatin. Bon appetit!
If you now have a case of the moon munchies, and want to a taste of space, the National Archives Store can help! Try your own Space Neapolitan Ice Cream today. Shop our full space collection and get the astronaut the gear they need to explore the universe. We even have games and puzzles, all ready to ship so you don’t have to wait weeks for your items to arrive!
You’ve heard of soccer, football and baseball, but what about doggy wakeboarding, frog jumping and finger wrestling? The 1970s saw some strange sporting endeavors: barrel jumping on ice, parasailing, samurai fighting, archery, and walking on hands to name a few more. Surf’s up, dogs!
April Showers & May Flowers
If April showers have you down, check out this interesting patent drawing for a combined umbrella and a cane from the Archives holdings. And don’t fret, May flowers are coming soon.
The National Archives is home to thousands of patents, from umbrellas to our most commonly used household items. The National Archives Store helps recreate these so you can decorate your home or office! Car lovers rave about the Porsche patent print and sports lovers brag about their football patent print. Shop our patent collection today.
Pass Go and Collect $200
From the scottie dog and top hat to the thimble and boot, you know these tokens from the board game Monopoly. But did you know it was Lizzie J. Magie who patented this design of the classic board game way back on January 5, 1904?
Need your fix of games while at home? The National Archives Store has you covered with fun takes on the original Monopoly game. Whether it’s Washington-opoly, Army-opoly, or another kind of game, we can spice up family game night.
Shop our games collection today to find more!