Show cover of Ridiculous History

Ridiculous History

History is beautiful, brutal and, often, ridiculous. Join Ben Bowlin and Noel Brown as they dive into some of the weirdest stories from across the span of human civilization in Ridiculous History, a podcast by iHeartRadio.

Tracks

William Mitchell Was Basically a Real-life Willy Wonka
Do you like Tang? Are you known to gobble Pop Rocks, or find yourself lying awake at night, worried about the world's supply of tapioca substitutes? If so, you might be surprised to learn one brilliant, prodigious food scientist single-handedly changed the world with these inventions and more. In today's episode, Ben, Noel and Max explore the story of William A. Mitchell, the real-life Willy Wonka behind everything from Cool Whip powdered egg whites.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
40:32 12/06/2022
The Olympics Used to Have an... Extraordinarily Weird Art Competition
Everyone's heard of the Olympics. This global competition brings athletes from around the world together to compete in various sports -- but, not too long ago, one man led the charge to bring artists, sculptors, musicians and more into the fray, with medal-worthy competitions of their own. In today's episode, the guys explore how this became part of the Olympics... and why the organization eventually revoked every single medal they awarded, striking these artists' work from the record.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
40:29 12/01/2022
A Circus, or a Cult? The Strange Story of Shen Yun
If you live near any large city outside of mainland China, you may have seen advertisements for the world-famous Shen Yun Performing Arts Company, a US-based non-profit known for its elaborate shows in over 130 locations across the planet. But you might not know the full story of this company's origin. In today's episode, Ben, Noel and Max explore the strange origin of Shen Yun -- along with that of the religious movement, Falun Gong.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
36:16 11/29/2022
How A Massive Turkey Screw-up Created TV Dinners
Hey, it's us, your pals Ben, Noel and Max from Ridiculous History. We figured the holidays can be stressful for everyone, and we're pretty sure you've heard the history of Thanksgiving countless times. So instead of telling you that story, we decided to celebrate by exploring the weird history of TV dinners and microwave meals -- none of which would exist if the food company Swanson hadn't accidentally found itself with 260 tons of leftover turkeys after Thanksgiving in 1953. So tune in; we hope it gives you a chuckle.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
53:26 11/24/2022
J. Paul Getty, Part Two: A Kidnapping Discount
For members of the mob, the plot to kidnap J. Paul Getty's grandson was a home run -- after all, what's a few million to a literal billionaire? Yet, as it turns out... the mob didn't know who they were messing with. In the second part of this two-part series, Ben, Noel and Max explore a series of terrifying events that led to one of most ridiculous examples of miserliness in human history.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
33:01 11/22/2022
J. Paul Getty, Part One: Money Doesn't Make You Happy
It's often said that money doesn't buy happiness -- and, in the tragic case of the Getty family, it seems that saying holds true. In part one of this two-part series, Ben, Noel and Max explore Getty's origin story, his infamously... let's say... 'thrifty' nature, and how he earned a reputation of one of the coldest businessmen in modern history.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
35:32 11/17/2022
Introducing: Jordan Klepper Fingers The Conspiracy
On his adventures into MAGA country, Jordan Klepper encounters some of the more imaginative, conspiratorial minds America has to offer. In “Jordan Klepper Fingers the Conspiracy,” a new, six-episode limited podcast series, Jordan steps off the trail to dig deep into some of the wildest theories he’s heard, and trace their origins with journalists, experts, and anyone who might have a lead on when JFK Jr. is coming back. The podcast offers an opportunity to better understand some of the most extravagant stories Americans tell themselves. Listen to Jordan Klepper Fingers The Conspiracy on the iHeartRadio app or wherever you get your podcasts. https://www.iheart.com/podcast/269-klepper-30873042/See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
01:49 11/16/2022
Have you heard of Andorra?
While it may be unfamiliar to many folks outside the region, the 6th-smallest country in Europe has a fascinating history all its own. In today's episode, Ben, Noel and Max dive into the strange origin story of Andorra, from its ancient past to the modern day.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
31:01 11/15/2022
How Smart Was Alex the Grey Parrot?
Picked at random from a pet store, a humble grey parrot named Alex went on to fundamentally alter the way humans think about animal cognition. In today's episode, Ben, Noel and Max explore how animal psychologist Irene Pepperberg and her parrot pal Alex spent three decades proving it's actually pretty impressive to be 'bird brained.'See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
40:32 11/10/2022
Surprising Former Careers, Part 2: Truman Can't Sell Hats
Years before he became a world-famous actor, Christopher Lee did wetwork with elite special forces during World War II. Before entering public office, Harry Truman almost ruined his life by starting a haberdashery. In part two of this continuing series, Ben, Noel and Max explore the ins and outs of more surprising former careers.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
40:43 11/08/2022
The Ancient -- and Surprisingly Divisive! -- Story of Ketchup
Ketchup is in almost 97% of US homes today -- and, while this statistic may sound surprising, it turns out there's a long story behind this humble condiment. In today's episode, Ben, Noel and Max trace the origin of ketchup from its ancient predecessors in Southern China and the Mediterranean to the introduction of the tomato all the way to the modern day. Tune in for the first episode in our continuing series on the history of condiments (and tell us which condiments you'd like us to explore next).See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
56:24 11/03/2022
The Bizarrely Xenophobic Origins of Scotch Tape
There's no two ways about it: tape is a pretty handy, amazing thing -- and one we often take for granted. In today's episode, Ben, Noel and Max dive deep into the origin story of Scotch tape, uncovering the weird prejudice behind the name, as well as the journey of the young man who changed the world with his... well, let's call it stick-to-it-iveness. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
49:20 11/01/2022
Lost Media, Part Two: We Didn't Start The Fire
Silent films took the world by storm, but the material they were manufactured from was notoriously -- cartoonishly -- flammable. Soon multiple studio buildings were burning to the ground. There wasn't always a spark involved, either: sometimes this stuff just spontaneously combusted. In part two of this two-part series, Ben, Noel and Max explore how silent films became so endangered in the modern day. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
30:18 10/27/2022
Lost Media, Part One: What Happened to All Those Silent Films?
For a relatively brief period of time, silent films rocked the world of entertainment. However, these nitrate- and acetate-based films proved both fragile -- and downright dangerous. In the first part of this two-part series, Ben, Noel and Max dive into the strange story of how so many silent films ended up lost forever.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
38:17 10/26/2022
A Ridiculous History of Hot Tubs
While hot tubs may not always have the... best reputation in some circles, there's no denying people across the world love a good, hot soak after a long day. And we've loved this since antiquity, all the way back to the first time humans found natural hot springs. In today's episode, Ben, Noel and Max dive into the strange origin of hot tubs, from millennia past all the way to the modern day. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
45:05 10/20/2022
Eugene V Debs, Part Two: A Prisoner Runs For President
As a known agitator, Eugene V. Debs soon caught the attention of the US power structure -- and his outspoken nature led to him to court. In part two of this two-part series, Ben, Noel and Max explore how the Espionage Act resulted in Eugene's incarceration... and how he ran for the office of President while literally imprisoned. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
63:23 10/18/2022
Eugene V Debs, Part One: Railroad Workers Fight The Power
You may not have heard of Eugene V. Debs before this podcast -- but in his day this political activist was one of the most prominent (and at-times controversial) figures in the United States. In part one of this two-part series, Ben, Noel and Max explore Gene's origin story, from his early career in the railroad industry to his growing status as a trade unionist and agitator of the status quo.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
34:49 10/13/2022
The Michelin Man was an Unhinged Lunatic
Virtually every foodie is aware of the Michelin Guide -- the last word in high-end restaurant ratings -- but originally came about as a way to sell more cars (and, ultimately, tires). In today's episode with research associate Geoff Bartlett, Ben, Noel and Max dive deep into the origins of the Michelin guide, as well as Michelin's iconic mascot Bibendum, the Michelin Man. Spoiler: the Michelin Man was originally the absolute worst mascot for anything related to driving. Tune in to learn why.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
52:05 10/11/2022
The Yukio Mishima Story, Part Two: Mishima's End
In his heyday, Japanese author Yukio Mishima was one of the most well-known writers in the world. But where did he come from -- and what on Earth led to his strange demise? In part two of this two-part episode, Ben, Noel and Max welcome research associate Zach Williams in his first on-air appearance. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
50:03 10/06/2022
The Yukio Mishima Story, Part One: Confessions of a Mask
In his heyday, Japanese author Yukio Mishima was one of the most well-known writers in the world. But where did he come from -- and what on Earth led to his strange demise? In part one of this two-part episode, Ben, Noel and Max welcome research associate Zach Williams in his first on-air appearance. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
46:04 10/05/2022
Wait, How Do I Know It's Funny? A Rollicking History of Laugh Tracks
We've all heard them. You're watching or hearing a show, a character says something, and -- boom! -- an invisible choir of audience members loses their minds in riotous laughter, awws, or applause. But how did where does this come from? In today's episode, we're learning how this came to be, and how it eventually became its own worst enemy. Ben here: I'd like to give a special thanks to Max for some stellar sound design. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
47:38 09/29/2022
Who, exactly, were the Luddites?
Today you'll hear people described as 'Luddites' if they don't care for -- or don't understand -- some newer piece of technology, but where did this phrase come from? In today's episode, Ben, Noel and guest producer Tari trace the term back to its surprising origin story ... a violent labor uprising that, these days, remains largely forgotten.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
42:43 09/27/2022
Instant Noodles Changed The World, Part Two: Going Global
As Momofuku Ando's instant noodles take Japan by storm, he sets his sights on the global horizon. In part two of this two-part series, Ben, Noel and Max explore the expansion of instant noodles into the United States, the rest of the planet -- and, eventually, space.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
33:30 09/22/2022
Instant Noodles Changed The World, Part One: An Origin Story
Today, instant noodles are ubiquitous. You can find them in almost every grocery store, in any number of flavors sold by any number of brands -- but where did they come from? In part one of this two-part series, Ben, Noel and Max dive into the story of Momofuku Ando, and how a sudden realization in post-WWII Japan inspired an idea that would go on to change the world.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
31:15 09/20/2022
The Accidental Invention of Holding Music
We've all been there -- you're calling a bank, a loan company, you name it, and boom: you're put on hold. But where does that music come from? In today's episode, Ben and Noel dive into the strange origin story of telephone holding music. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
31:02 09/15/2022
Inventors Killed By Their Own Inventions: Flyin' or Dyin', Part Two
How far would you go to fly? It's a question many inventors have asked themselves over the ages and, tragically, for every successful breakthrough it seems there were also dozens of failures, flops and -- sometimes -- fatal crashes. In part two of Flyin' or Dyin', Ben, Noel and Max explore modern inventors who died as a result of their flying contraptions. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
39:56 09/13/2022
Inventors Killed By Their Own Inventions: Flyin' or Dyin', Part One
Humans can swim, though not as well as a fish. Humans can run, though not as swift as a cheetah. From ancient civilization to the modern day, no human being can fly unaided. In this first of a long-running series, Ben, Noel and Max explore inventors across history who died while trying to fly. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
31:30 09/08/2022
Wilhelm Reich and Orgone, Part 2: Willy vs. The Feds
If Reich's concept of orgone was simple pseudoscience, why did the US government ban -- and burn -- his books? In part two of this two-part episode on Wilhelm Reich and orgonomic vibes, Ben, Noel and Max explore Reich's activities in the US, as well as the oft-ignored legacy of Reich's studies in the modern day.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
50:31 09/07/2022
Wilhelm Reich and Orgone, Part 1: Sexy Psychoanalysis
Born in 1897, Wilhelm Reich was an Austrian doctor of medicine and a psychoanalyst, as well as -- for a time -- a follower of Sigmund Freud. Today, he's most often associated with his life's work: the study of a strange, pervasive energy he called "orgone." In part one of this two-part series, Ben, Noel and Max explore Reich's origin story, from his early days to the experiences that persuaded him sexual vibes could, literally, save the world.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
47:51 09/01/2022
The History of Pringles: Once You Pop...
Pretty much everyone recognizes Pringles -- these tasty, not-quite potato chips come in tons of at-times bizarre flavors, all neatly packed in a nifty tube. But where did Pringles come from? In today's episode, Ben, Noel and Matt dive deep into the hidden history of this snack, the astonishing science behind it and the incredibly weird funeral demands of the Pringles creator.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
55:34 08/30/2022