Welcome to The Unusual History of Every Thing, Season 5!
If you love weird history mixed with archaeological findings and some entertaining stories, then Melanie & Karen have a podcast for you!
New episodes air every Tuesday on all podcast outlets, with occasional hilarious accompanying video blogs on our YouTube channel! Check them out and don't forget to subscribe and leave a review!
The Unusual History of Every Thing is co-hosted, written and produced by Melanie Dellas and Karen Lacy.
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Season 5, Episode 15
Zombie Viruses & Epidemic Archaeology
Covid isn’t the first pandemic that we as a species have had to endure, and it won’t be the last. What we know for sure is that each one started out as either a virus or bacteria. Figuring out how to treat and/or cure them is the tricky part, and the frightening part is that viruses and bacteria were here before us, and they’ll probably still be here long after we’re gone. And our demise might just be a zombie virus – since that’s basically what viruses are: zombies.
Season 5, Episode 14
Chewing Gum DNA: Now You Can Become Art
On this mini-sode, we’re talking a bit about gum and how it has gone from a saliva stimulator to being used as a rather strange artistic medium. Check out the two cool NYC artists we talk about in this episode:
Season 5, Episode 13
Chocolate: From Cacao to Cadbury
If you’re as passionate about chocolate as we are about history, you know the difference between cacao percentages and why they do that in the first place. And you probably know all about where chocolate comes from. But did you know that chocolate bars in WWII were called Hitler’s Secret Weapon, or that you could actually die from too much chocolate? On this mini-sode, we’re going to give you a taste of why chocolate has changed over the years, and fill you in on exactly what’s inside a Cadbury Egg.
Season 5, Episode 12
Giant Bunnies & Ancient Eggs
On this mini-sode, we hop right over to Easter and the giant bunny god that comes with ancient eggs. We all know Easter for its Biblical connotations and the story of Jesus, but the Easter bunny and his eggs won’t be found in the Good Book. They are found, however, in a few historic sources, but not mentioned together until more modern times. Today, we’re going to help answer that very important question: What came first, the bunny or the eggs?
Season 5, Episode 11
Mastication & Manioc Beer
Manioc beer is a very old and still very common South American drink native to the Amazon. It may not be green beer, but it does have the potential to turn you green when you find out the key ingredient, for those of us not used to its manufacture. Some communities may even think it sexist, as this baffling brew has the distinct honor of being made mostly by women, usually only drank by men. And its main ingredient: human spit.
Cool book to check out: Jennings, Justin and Brenda J. Bowser, eds. 2008. Drink, Power and Society in the Andes. University Press of Florida. https://www.amazon.com/Drink-Power-Society-Justin-Jennings/dp/0813033063/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=drink%2C+power%2C+and+society+in+the+Andes&qid=1616994668&s=books&sr=1-1
Season 5, Episode 10
4-Leaf Clovers: How Mutated Shamrocks became a Symbol of Good Luck
The shamrock is a huge part of St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, but what exactly constitutes a shamrock has had botanists debating for years. One thing they all agree on: It has 3 leaves. So what is it called if it has 4? A mutant. On this week's mini-sode we take a look at the unusual history that lurks within the mutant shamrock.
Season 5, Episode 9
Leprechauns: An Endangered Species
On this St. Patrick’s Day mini-sode, we uncover the history and mystery surrounding the leprechaun, and how they became protected as an endangered species. But before we get into all that, we need to understand exactly what a leprechaun is and where they came from. After hours of research into how the leprechaun became the mascot for St. Patrick’s Day, we’re still confused. They have somehow become synonymous with the “Luck of the Irish,” pots of gold at the end of a rainbow, and people dressing just like them every March 17th. But originally, the leprechaun didn’t wear green, and wasn’t really nice – but he was from Ireland, which is more than we can say about St. Patrick.
Season 5, Episode 8
Lipstick & Lucifer
On this mini-sode, we look at lipstick’s colorful past and its connection to confessions, magic spells and the devil. Putting on the right lipstick can give a woman a sense of power and confidence that she may not have felt before, making her feel like a new-and-improved version of herself. You could say... it’s magic. Unfortunately, it was precisely that confidence and special something that women would feel that caused men in power to believe that there really was some magic in those little colored sticks. Why else would mild-mannered women behave in such an extravagant way once lipstick is applied? And who fiddles around with magic? Witches! And where does magic come from? The Devil!
Season 5, Episode 7
Powerful Women in History
In honor of Women’s History Month, we’re going to talk about some of our favorite historical women and what made them great. We’ve only been celebrating Women’s History Month in the United States since 1987, but women have been making history for thousands of years. These daring dames were breaking all kinds of barriers from ancient times to today, and despite their differences, they all have one thing in common: They weren’t going to let anyone dictate what it was to be a woman.
Season 5, Episode 6
On this mini-sode, we take a look at how smells – both good and bad – have affected and still do affect the dating world. How many times have you heard someone say they're looking for someone they have chemistry with? That indescribable feeling two people get when they come face to face. Well, “chemistry” may be the perfect word to describe it. From armpit apples to dirty shirts, our sense of smell plays a large role in the mates we choose. Welcome to Smell Dating.
Season 5, Episode 5
Odd Love Tokens and Vinegar Valentines
On this episode of our weekly podcast, and in honor of Valentine’s Day and lovers everywhere, we take a look at some of the more unique ways of expressing one’s love – and of getting rid of it. Before chocolates, texts and selfies became the norm for showing someone that you love them, people had different ideas about how to express their passions. I mean, what better way to keep you in your lover’s thoughts than to give them a part of yourself – literally. From sweat to hair, or some token of affection – or revulsion – history does a good job of proving that love really does make people do some strange things.
Season 5, Episode 4
How the Myth of Bigfoot became so Big
Sasquatch, yeti, zoobie, the wild man of Warner Springs, the Proctor Valley Monster, you name it, and the creature commonly known as Bigfoot has probably been called it. But where did this larger-than-life, ape-like man come from, and why are California, Washington and Oregon his favorite states? The belief in Bigfoot is older than most people think, and its origins might surprise you. Like most mythical creatures, it all began with a cultural belief in monsters.
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Music in this episode by: Surreal Forest by Meydän; Happy Clappy by John Bartmann
Sounds FX: Monster screams by gpag1; Spooky Wind Howl by kangaroovindaloo; CWclicking by ok1has; Sci Fi Music Cue by bone666138; my alien sample by kathol
Season 5, Episode 3
It's Not Haunted, It's Enchanted: San Diego's Villa Montezuma
San Diego is home to many unique, historical buildings and houses, but none that compare to the magical enchantment of Villa Montezuma. The Victorian mansion was built to be a palace of the arts in the late 1800s, and has a reputation for being haunted, although those rumors don't appear to be true. What is true is that this house is a breathtaking example of architectural magnificence that gives us a glimpse into the eccentric man who designed every element, from the wood that serves as its base to the gargoyles that protect its roof. Welcome to Villa Montezuma. Sound and music credits: Quiet neighborhood at dusk by etienne.leplumey; Breeze by Yakov Goldman; Bouncy Gypsy by John Bartmann; Pure Water by Meydän; Imagination by Yakov Goldman; River by Yakov Goldman; Click on the two links below to check out our advertisers on today's show!
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Piercing the Veil Book: amzn.to/3ldRyvF
Season 5, Episode 2
From the Water to the Walls: Conductors of the Paranormal
For many people in the world, the belief in paranormal activity is a very normal thing. From hauntings to possessions and everything in between, it seems as though death isn’t always the end. No matter where you live, you can find a house, building, park or something that has a ghost story attached to it. From haunted homes to spooky ships, there are a plethora of locations where many of the deceased call home – even if they didn’t die there. But why? Let’s look at the theories behind the ghostly activity that makes some locations a playground for the paranormal.
Music from freemusicarchive.org: Watercool Quiet by Blue Dot Sessions; Lunette by Blue Dot Sessions; I Leaned My Back Against an Oak (after the Water is Wide) by Axletree. Sound Effects from freesound.org: Pirate Ship at Bay by CGEffex; Eerie Tone Sloooow by Adam_N; Waves lapping on rocks by dan.pugsley.
Season 5, Episode 1
The Madam and the Marbles: From Booze to Brothels
One of the most iconic buildings in San Diego’s Gaslamp District with the most sordid history is the Louis Bank of Commerce. Located on the 800 block of 5th Avenue, the beautiful building with two towers is touted as the jewel of the Gaslamp by locals and historians of the area. Built in 1888, the bottom floor served as a bank, then later a restaurant that Wyatt Earp frequented; and the upper floors, consisting of 33 rooms, were rented out by Madam Cora, a fortune teller who must have foreseen a higher profit margin in a house of ill repute. Thus, the Golden Poppy Hotel was born, as well as the site of our story, The Madam and the Marbles. Click on the social media links above for pictures, interviews and more!