Welcome to The Unusual History of Every Thing, Season 8!
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 8, Episode 10
Earthworm Oil: From the Dirt to the Doctor?
Typically, people nowadays don’t go into Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods and ask for earthworm oil, but from the 16th to 19th centuries, earthworm oil was used to treat various problems – kind of like how we use tea tree or coconut oils today. On this episode, we’ll show you how to use earthworm oil to treat many things, even gunshot wounds, because…well, why not?
Season 8, Episode 9
The Unusual History of TV Dinners: Giving Thanks to Thanksgiving
Who doesn’t love to come home from a long day of work, heat up some yummy food, turn on the TV and plop down on the couch to eat? Although many people still do enjoy a sit-down meal with the family that often doesn’t include a television, back in the 1950s when having a TV in the home was a new concept, people found themselves wanting to eat in front of it. On this episode, we thank Thanksgiving and an overabundance of turkeys back in 1953 for giving us the TV dinner.
Season 8, Episode 8
Crap, Crapper, and the History of the Toilet
Happy World Toilet Day! In case you didn’t know, the World Toilet Organization (yes, there is one) declared November 19th to be World Toilet Day back in 2001. Why, you may ask? Well it all had to do with drawing attention to the fact that even today not every country has great sanitation, which of course spreads diseases like cholera, typhoid and hepatitis. On this episode, we flush out what humans did when poop became a problem and how it all led to a universal holiday.
Season 8, Episode 7
Witch Cakes: How Urine in a Cake Led to the Salem Witch Trials
One of the things people in Europe and in America used to do to thwart a witch’s spells was to bake a witch cake. It sounds sort of good, being a cake and all, but you know that having the word “witch” in its name means something has to be wrong with it. And there was something wrong with it. Despite the fact that this supernatural dessert was meant to be used against witches, its ingredients left something to be desired: rye meal, ashes and the victim’s urine. On this episode, we’ll show you how a little urine in your cake can either curse you or cleanse you.
Season 8, Episode 6
Stingy Jack & the Devil: This Unusual History of Jack-O-Lanterns
When we in the west think of Halloween or All Hallow’s Eve, carving pumpkins is one of the first things that comes to mind. It’s a tradition parents share with kids, and even as adults we enjoy it. In fact, we spend a lot of time researching cool designs to carve and choosing the best pumpkins at the pumpkin patch. And let’s not forget gutting it and roasting the seeds! But why do we do all of this? How did turning pumpkins into jack-o-lanterns become a Halloween tradition? On this episode, we look at why we love to carve out pumpkins, eat their guts and use them to light up the darkness.
Season 8, Episode 5
Dumb Cakes: How to Find A Husband on Halloween
They say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, so using food to find a husband doesn't seem like such a bad idea. From the late 1600s to the mid-1900s, unmarried women in North America and the United Kingdom practiced a baking ritual on Halloween that was said to reveal who they would marry. They called the products of this ritual “dumb cakes.” The cakes themselves were simple: water, flour, sugar, salt. It was HOW you made them that was a bit more complicated. But finding a future husband is never easy! On this episode, we show unmarried women everywhere how to find a future spouse using nothing but cake and well-timed silence.
Season 8, Episode 4
Magic Elixirs: How Snake Oil Salesmen Conned the Masses
On this episode, we show you how ancient Chinese medicine became the inspiration for medicine shows and rattlesnake wranglers. If you’ve ever heard of the term “snake oil salesman,” then you’re probably well aware of its negative connotations. If you haven't, you're about to get all the details...
Season 8, Episode 3
A Twisted Tale: The Unusual History of Rat Kings
On this episode, we try to unravel the tale of the European phenomenon of rat kings. As the story goes, long ago a wise old rat who wanted to be the king of all the rats made the lesser rats form a mountain. He climbed up to the top, and sat there, demanding respect and adoration from the other rats. Unfortunately for those other rats, they had been using their tails to hold onto each other and became tangled up together. In the 1500s, this tale gave rise to the term “rat king.” But where did this story come from?
Season 8, Episode 2
The Life and Death of Mummy Paint
On this episode, we talk about how artists used dead people to make their paintings come alive. We’ve done a podcast or two on corpse medicine and how people of long ago used mummies as cures. And the dark liquid the body oozes out during the putrefaction process, which ranges from dark purple to brown, made people in the Middle Ages take notice.
Season 8, Episode 1
Don’t Flip Them Over! The Unusual History of Demon Bowls
On this episode, we uncover the secrets contained within demon bowls, and try to figure out why anyone in their right mind would turn one over. But before we get into that, welcome to Season 8, which is going to be fun and, as always, a little weird and gross, depending on who you ask. And in the case of this episode, perhaps a little terrifying!