Today is kind of a busy day in random details history, if not in food history. It is National Anisette Day – anisette is anise liqueur and, while I’ve never had it, I’d probably like it, considering my obsession with black jelly beans. So I feel somewhat sympathetic to the anisette lobby. Good for them for getting their own day.
In actually food-related news, today in 1931, Stephen Moulton Babcock developed a test to measure the fat content of milk, helping to standardize commercial milk production. Helpful, sure, but mostly interesting to me because I have a cousin named Stephen Babcock (Babcock is my mom’s maiden name). I don’t think we’re related to the agricultural chemist, but just to throw in some family trivia, this Nigerian university is named after my great-grandfather.
Back to the food-related news. A year after Babcock’s discovery, Dave Thomas, famous to all who love fast food as the founder of Wendy’s, was born.
That’s it for actually food-related stuff. But today is also a hotbed of random occurrences that inspired pop culture. In 1566, Nostradamus, who has inspired countless books and characters, died. In 1926, Emile Coue, the original Stuart Smalley (I wrote about his birth here) died. In 1947, something crashed near Roswell, New Mexico, inspiring thousands of TV shows and movies. And finally, today in 1982, a guy named Larry Walters tied 45 helium-filled weather balloons to a lawn chair and hoisted himself up 16,000 feet over Long Beach. He was fined a couple thousand dollars, and there is no word on whether he’s receiving royalties for inspiring the plot of Pixar’s Up.