Heineken is one of the world's most well-known, popular beers, and people across the planet can instantly recognize the iconic green bottle and red star. But in the 1960s Freddy Heineken dreamed of a bottle that could do more than just hold beer -- he wanted to make bottles that could be used to build houses and shelters across the world (selling tons of booze in the process, of course). Join Ben and Noel as they explore the oddly inspiring story of Freddy Heineken and his dual purpose bottle brick.
As global tensions grew to a breaking point in the lead-up to World War II, European nations used every available avenue to pursue their geopolitical goals, including the propagandistic power of sporting events. Join the guys as they explore the strange policy of appeasement, and how it led British soccer players to salute Nazi officials on the field.
Nowadays the number of U.S. states seems set in stone -- since 1959 the country has been comprised of fifty states, with one star for each on the flag. Yet in the not-so-distant past the concept of statehood was both contentious and fluid, with multiple groups vying for recognition of their own territorial claims. Tune in to hear the strange stories of would-be states across the continent, as the guys trace each state's rise and fall, along with their influence on the modern day.
There's a nifty bit of hidden history tucked away in Philadelphia's Wissahickon Valley Park -- a cave that, legend has it, was home to a doomsday cult. In today's episode, the guys follow the strange journey of Johannes Kelpius and his followers from Europe to North America as they prepared for the end of days (first in 1694, then in 1700). Tune in to learn what motivated the group, how they influenced American history, and what happened to them after the world kept spinning.
When we're talking about Ridiculous History, one thing's for sure: The story doesn't stop when the podcast ends. You've probably heard Ben and Noel mention the Ridiculous Historians page in previous shows -- the place where you and your fellow listeners can suggest topics, trade strange tales and delve even further into the stories from earlier episodes. And the guys enjoy these stories so much that they had to bring them on air! Tune in for first-hand tales from your fellow Ridiculous Historians.
What do a camel, a bucket and an ear all have in common? Each was, at some point, responsible for starting a war. Join Ben and Noel as they dive into true stories of weird wars fought over cartoonishly dumb things.
The Kingsmen's cover of "Louie, Louie" is one of the world's most famously unintelligible songs -- and this haunted the FBI. In this episode, Ben and Noel recount the evolution of "Louie, Louie", as well as Uncle Sam's insanely thorough (and hilariously unsuccessful) attempt to figure out the song's lyrics. The guys also rack up some extra credit with their special guest Christopher Hassiotis, who introduces them to the wide, wide world of "Louie, Louie" cover songs across multiple musical genres.
At the height of the Cold War a series of debates in a model kitchen in Moscow (true story!) led Nikita Khrushchev to visit the US on a whirlwind publicity tour. The Soviet leader hobnobbed with politicians, celebrities and business tycoons, soaking up all that America had to offer, often with a few choice remarks along the way. However, there was one place he wasn't allowed to enter: Disneyland. Join Ben and Noel as they take a closer look at Khrushchev's doomed quest to meet America's most famous mouse.
Allegations of U.S. voter fraud have made the rounds in recent years -- but, once upon a time, these were much more than allegations. Join the guys as they explore the massive voting fraud operations that riddled U.S. politics throughout the 19th century.
Whether you're royalty or a roaming vagrant, a President or a pauper, one thing's for sure: At some point, you'll have to use the restroom. While sanitation isn't often brought up in polite conversation, it plays a vital role in human health, and over the centuries various civilizations have come up with some pretty innovative ways of staying clean. Globally speaking, the bidet is one of humanity's most popular sanitation technologies -- it's spread across Europe to Asia and beyond. So why don't Americans use these? Join Ben and Noel as they crack the case.
You've heard of mooning -- the practice of bearing one's butt as an insult -- but where did it come from? Join Ben and Noel as they dive into the deadly story of the world's first recorded mooning, along with some other notable moments in keister history.
If you're like most English speakers, the first thing you think of when you hear the name "Fido" is, of course, a dog. But why? Join Ben and Noel as they delve into the story of Abraham Lincoln's favorite pooch, and how this little yellow pup became one of the first dog memes.
Almost 48 years ago, Pirates pitcher and notorious party animal Dock Ellis pitched a no-hitter while under the influence of LSD. How did this man accomplish one of the rarest feats in baseball history while, by his own admission, tripping balls? Join the guys as they dive into the story of that legendary afternoon, along with the parts of Dock's legacy that are too often forgotten in the modern day.
On the first listen, Maryland's old state song sounds pretty innocuous. There's the usual lauding of the state, a refrain based on "O Tannenbaum" and so on. Yet the lyrics of this song refer to "Northern scum" and call for out and out war with various oppressors. So what gives? Join Ben and Noel as they dive into the strange origin story of "Maryland, My Maryland".
When confronted with a home invasion, Max the gorilla brought international fame to the Johannesburg Zoo and briefly became the city's most famous crime fighter. He received numerous endorsements, and a statue was erected in his honor. But what brought Max to this level of celebrity? Join Ben and Noel as they delve into the story of Max the crime-fighting gorilla and the disturbing cultural context that made South Africa regard him as a symbol of justice that too often eluded the average citizen.
Often called "The Napoleon of the West", mainly by himself, Santa Anna was a legendary, larger-than-life politician, general and exile. While hundreds of stories have been told about this man, one in particular stood out to Ben and Noel: Santa Anna lost his leg not once, but twice to enemy forces. And, once upon a time, he held an elaborate funeral for his fallen leg.
Inarguably the most well-known Wookie in the Star Wars universe, Chewbacca also bears a strong resemblance to another popular creature in American culture -- the towering, hirsute cryptid known as Bigfoot. So much so, in fact, that during filming the studio (allegedly) became very concerned for the safety of Peter Mayhew, the actor who played Chewbacca onscreen. While filming Return of the Jedi in the forests of the California redwoods, guards accompanied the costumed Peter Mayhew so that Bigfoot hunters wouldn't shoot him. So what's the big deal with California and Bigfoot? Tune in to find out.
Born in Corsica, Napoleon Bonaparte rose from obscurity during the French Revolution, crowning himself Emperor of France in 1804. This brilliant, ruthless tactician changed the course of French history. Despite his meteoric rise and bloodied fall, Bonaparte still needed to grab lunch once in a while. That's when the rabbits got him.
California was admitted to the United States as the 31st state in 1850, but it acquired its unique name much, much earlier. Join Ben and Noel as they trace the strange story behind California's name, from the fiction that inspired it to the loss and rediscovery of the story and, of course, adventures on a legendary Amazonian island.