Now This Is Art

After researching pancakes for today’s Wonder Why Wednesday, I stumbled upon what may be the greatest invention in history.

Sorry printing press. Step aside wheel. So long Internet. You all have been topped by the PancakeBot!

Described as the world’s first pancake printer, this beautiful work of art allows you draw and then create your perfect customized pancake.

Check it out…

Makes you want one, doesn’t it? And you aren’t the only one. The PancakeBot began as a Kickstarter project and crushed its goal of raising $50,000, topping out at $460,584.

Who Invented The Pancake?

While at a grade school promoting my book, a student asked me a hard-hitting question:

“What is your favorite food?”

Without much debate, I quickly answered “pancakes.” I then asked what his favorite food was. He smiled and said, “mine is pancakes too!” I replied, “did we just become best friend?” — a reference from Step Brothers that he clearly did not get, which makes sense given that the movie might have been made before this kid was born.

Despite both of our love for pancakes, the breakfast food is not often thought about when listing one’s favorite food. In one CNN report, pancakes didn’t even crack the top 50 greatest dishes in America. Somehow it was beaten out by green chili stew, grits and whatever GORP is.

If Trump really wants to make America great again, I know where he can start.

As I thought about pancakes recently (something I am often doing), I realized I do not know much about them. Let’s see if I can change that in today’s Wonder Why Wednesday…

Who Invented Pancakes?

A National Geographic article found that pancakes may date all the way back to the Stone Age. Analysis of a 30,000-year-old grinding tool leads researchers to believe that Stone Age cooks were making flour out of cattails and ferns, mixing it with water and baking it on a hot greased rock. Not quite IHOP, but the idea of a fried and flattened cake made from batter, is much the same.

It is hard to tell how prevalent pancake-ish items were 30,000 years ago, but it is likely that 5,300 years ago the food became a common part of ones diet. In 1991, a mummy, later named Otzi the Iceman, was found in the Italian Alps. Otzi was believed to have lived between 3359 and 3105 BCE, and he too is a proud member of Team Pancake. Tests on his remains were able to show that one of his last meals contained bits of charcoal he may have eaten in the form of a pancake cooked over an open fire.

Fast forward a bit and the pancake popularity begins to climb. Ancient Greeks and Roman enjoyed them sweetened with honey. Elizabethans preferred them spices, rosewater, sherry and apples.

When America became a thing, you better believe pancakes were around to see the growth of the nation. The first all-American cookbook, published in 1796 and written by Amelia Simmons, featured two recipes for pancakes, one for “Johny Cake, or Hoe Cake,” which included milk, “Indian meal,” and molasses, the other for “Indian Slapjack,” which got rid of the molasses, and added four eggs.

So while it doesn’t appear that one person is solely responsible to the greatness that is the pancake, we do have many people to thank for the rise of this great food.

 

10 More Strange But True Facts

1. 3 billion Pez bricks are consumed annually in the United States. That is almost as many bricks as you’ll find at a Los Angeles Lakers game.

2. Until 1988, passports in England included physical descriptions of distinguishing features. I bet Jim with the big nose and Cindy with the weird thing on her neck were happy about that.

3. Issac Newton’s original name for calculus was “the science of fluents and fluxions.” I’m guessing Newton would have been a big fan of the movie Flubber.

4. Graham crackers were invented by Presbyterian minister Sylvester Graham as a health food used to curb one’s sexual appetite. Makes you think of s’mores in a whole new light.

5. Tears from sadness contain actual toxins that tears of joy do not. I am not sure if that makes me want to smile or if it scares the heck out of me.

6. Back in the 1800’s, a gentleman would propose by sending his loved one a pair of new gloves. If she wore these gloves to church on the next Sunday, this signified her acceptance. And if she didn’t wear them to church, I assume the guy would run out and buy some graham crackers.

7. In Wales, a man would propose by carving a wooden spoon and giving it to his girlfriend. If she wore the spoon on a ribbon around her neck, this constituted her acceptance of his proposal. Seems like it would be easier just to ask her in person.

8. A flea’s main source of food is something called blood meal. That is the most terrifying thing I’ve learned since I found out that we cry poison when we are sad.

9. Albert Einstein’s eyeballs are stored in a safe deposit box in New York City. Do I hear plot for National Treasure 4???

10. Arizona has a law that states that donkeys cannot sleep in bathtubs. I am sure there is a Trump or Hillary joke in there somewhere. Give me you best joke in the comments section below.

Who Invented Yoga?

Fun fact: When you type “who invented yog” into a Google search, the top search is “who invented yoga pants.”

yogaThat means one of two things:

1) people are more interested in the history of yoga apparel than the history of the practice itself

or

2) I searched for the origin of yoga pants in the past and just can’t remember.

Whatever the reason, I am not too interested in the history of yoga pants. Although, now I can’t help but wonder about the history of pants in general. Who invented those crazy things and how did they get the name pants? Looks like I will have to wait for a future Wonder Why Wednesday, because today I am wondering about yoga. Let’s see what we can learn about the thing that has become so popular with women and men with long hair.

Who Invented Yoga?

I started hearing about yoga in the early 2000s, which means I was just about 5000 years late to the party. According to YogaBasics.com, yoga was first mentioned in the Rig Veda, an ancient Indian collection of Vedic Sanskrit hymns, over 5000 years ago.

The practice cannot be traced back to one human individual man, but it is said to have been developed by the Indus-Sarasvati civilization in Northern India, and refined by mystic seers known as Rishis and Brahmans.

The most well known early Yogic scripture is the Bhagavad-Gîtâ, which was written around 500 B.C.E. This may mean that it took some time for the practice to catch on. And it took even longer for it to spread throughout the world. It wasn’t until the late 1800s that yoga made its way to the West. An Indian Hindu monk named Swami Vivekananda gave lectures and educated the crowd about yoga at the 1893 Parliament of Religions in Chicago.

Today, yoga is a multi-billion dollar industry practiced throughout the globe. June 21, 2015 marked the first International Day of Yoga which let to a Guinness record being set for largest yoga class at Rajpath in New Delhi. The class included 35,985 people. That probably also set a record for biggest collection of yoga pants (which in case you were wondering, were invented by some guy named Ryan McLatchy).

What Children Don’t Think About When Writing A Book

Yesterday I wrote about “What Children Think About When Writing A Book” and I covered the many questions I receive from young kids who are interested in becoming an author. If you haven’t read that, click here and read it before you go any further.

Today I will look at the questions I have never received in all of my school visits. Here are the things that children are not wondering about when writing a book:

  • How will I sell my book?
  • Is my book good enough?
  • Am I good enough?
  • How often did you want to quit?
  • Is it scary?
  • Am I too young?
  • Am I too dumb?

If we look back at yesterday’s questions, we notice a common theme. Kids aren’t too worried about the whole “writing process.” They just want write. As I speak to them, they are basically thinking, “hurry up and finish your presentation so I can start writing right now!”

They think of writing a book and picture something fun, that anyone can do with their friends.

Somewhere along the way, writing a book becomes something different. We lose track of that carefree mindset and start to get bogged down with all the details.

“Will it sell?” “Is it any good?” “Do I have the time?” Those are not questions that never even enter the mind of a child, but I can speak for everyone over the age of 18 when I say that those questions are pretty much always on the minds of an adult author.

But those questions didn’t always exist.

We all started writing because it was fun (or because some grouchy teacher made you turn in a report about Herbert Hoover). We first drempt of writing a book because we had so much imagination spilling out of our heads and we needed to soak it up with a pencil and paper.

That imagination still exists. It just was pushed deep down in your brain, somewhere underneath “did I pay the cell phone bill?” and “what is a copay?”.

We all have what it takes to write a book. We just need to make sure we are asking the right questions.

What Children Think About When Writing A Book

Over the past three years, I have had the pleasure of speaking with hundreds of gradeschoolers about my Maury C. Moose Children’s Book Series. Along the way I have been asked many questions, ranging from “What made you want to write a book?” to “Can you dance?”

I have started noticing some trends in the questions I receive from young kids. They too want to write books and they want to know how it is done. However, they aren’t wondering about the things you may think.

Here are a few things that children think about when writing a book:

  • Is it fun?
  • Do I need scissors?
  • Can I write about school?
  • Can I do it with a friend?
  • Who is the youngest author ever?
  • Can my dog be in my book?
  • How many books can I write?

Tomorrow I am going to continue this conversation and look at the list of things children are not thinking about when writing a book.

April Fools’ Day

Happy April Fools’ Day!

I thought it would be fun to have a Friday edition of the Wonder Why Wednesday segment and explore the origin of April Fools’ Day.

However, as I have written before, I have a bad memory. So it should come as no surprise that I didn’t remember that I had already written a Wonder Why Wednesday post about the origin of April Fools’ Day.

Turns out I had this same idea two years ago. But I am not going to let that stop me from sharing it again. If you are like me and have a bad memory, this will seem brand new for you.

Here’s my original post about the origin of April Fools’ Day. Enjoy!