offbeat History

The Great Moon Hoax of 1835, Part 2

As the New York Sun's series of astonishing moon discoveries concluded, most people recognized that it was a hoax. But what made people buy into the tall tale in the first place? Read the show notes here.

The Dark Legacy of Sea Monkeys

Despite all the fun cartoons on the packaging featuring tiny humanoid sea creatures having wacky fun and wearing clothes, Sea Monkeys are just brine shrimp. But the story of Sea Monkeys and their inventor is actually pretty surprising -- and quite dark.

Eggnog Riot

In 1826, liquor was forbidden at the United States Military Academy in West Point, New York. Cadets smuggled alcohol into the barracks anyway, and a defiant Christmas party turned into a riot when two officers attempted to break up the festivities. Read the show notes here.

A Culinary History of Spam

This famous Hormel Foods product was invented in the 1930s to make use of a surplus of shoulder meat from pigs. Not only was it an instant hit in the U.S., it also played a huge role in WWII and shaped the cuisines of many Pacific Island nations.

Johann Beringer's Fossils

In 1725, Beringer was the University of W├╝rzburg's chair of natural history and chief physician to the prince bishop. He was also unpopular, and some of his colleagues sought to discredit him. There are two versions of the story -- but which is true?

After World War I, Australian and British soldiers moved to rural Australia. In 1932, about 20,000 emus began making their way through Campion and Walgoolan, severely damaging wheat farms. The military tried to help, but may have just made things worse.

By the time he was 19, Potter had preserved and mounted 98 birds. In 1880, his work had grown to a point where it had to be moved to a building, which became his museum. Potter's museum collection continues to enthrall collectors and enthusiasts.