Right Now in Ridiculous History

Years ago, if you wanted to start a fight in Hartlepool in north eastern England, all you'd have to do is start calling people 'monkey hangers'. But why? Join the guys as they explore how the Napoleonic War, a terrified village and one incredibly unlucky monkey collided -- allegedly -- in one of the most ridiculous events of its time. 

William Walker: Filibuster and (Fantastically Bad) President

The adventurer and filibuster William Walker was, in his heyday, lauded as an American hero for his repeated failed invasions of areas of Mexico and Nicaragua. But what led this man on a fanatical mission to invade these regions? Perhaps more importantly, why did so many folks in the US support his various strange escapades?

Lawsonomy: How the Father of the Modern Airline Started His Own Religion

When middling baseball player Alfred Lawson first learned of the Wright Brothers, he experienced a revelation that would guide the greater part of his life: Aviation, he believed, was the future of more than just transit -- it would become one of the most important advances in the history of the human race. Lawson, brimming with confidence and charisma, led the charge to popularize aviation, publishing magazines and even designing the first modern airliner. After the Great Depression dashed many of America's budding businesses, Lawson shifted focus to economic theory and, eventually, he discovered his own religion.

War and Candy: The Infamous Tootsie Roll Air Drop

During the battle of the Chosin Reservoir during the Korean War, the First Marine Division seemed doomed. Surrounded, outnumbered, outgunned and running dangerously low on ammunition, the Marines called for an airdrop of ammo only to receive... pallets of tootsie rolls. Over the next two bloody, violent weeks these tiny candies turned out be much more useful than anyone could have predicted -- tune in to learn why some Marines credit their survival to this oft-maligned, strange piece of candy.

The Man Who Assassinated Abe Lincoln's Assassin

On April 14th, 1865, John Wilkes Booth assassinated President Abraham Lincoln in Ford's theatre, escaping shortly thereafter and going on the run. The Federal troops in pursuit of the assassin had orders to bring Booth and any of his conspirators back alive. For most of the soldiers, this wasn't a problem. However, Boston Corbett felt he answered to a higher power -- and this higher power told him that Booth deserved to die. Tune in as we explore the (bizarre) life and times of Boston Corbett.

The Cock Lane Ghost: Haunting, Hoax, Hysteria… or Hilarious?

In 1762, crowds from across London gathered in hopes of seeing something the papers called "The Cock Lane Ghost". This alleged spirit was known to communicate in knocks and scratches, reacting to yes or no questions and, according to some observers, seeking justice from beyond the grave. But who was this spirit, exactly? What did this poltergeist have to do with William Kent and his ongoing dispute with landlord Richard Parsons? Join the guys as they delve into the strange, strange story of the Cock Lane ghost.

Roland the Farter and the Weird World of Professional Flatulence

Regardless of what polite societies often want us to believe, everyone farts. And we fart often! And, believe it or not, a few rare individuals have been able to turn this embarrassing bodily function into a full-time job. Join Ben and Noel as they explore the weird, weird world of professional flatulence. 

Gregor MacGregor Invented a Country and Convinced People to Invest in It

When His Serene Highness Gregor the First, Sovereign Prince of the State of Poyais and its Dependencies, and Cacique of the Poyer nation visited London, he made a huge impression. Hundreds of people jumped at the chance to buy land in his remote, Central American paradise. There was only one problem -- the Cacique, whose real name was Gregor Macgregor, made the entire nation up out of thin air in one of history's largest, most audacious (and most ridiculous) scams.

Angry Feds and Deadly Booze: The Story of the Chemists' War

From 1920 to 1933, the U.S. government attempted to ban (recreational) alcohol throughout the nation. In a stunning -- we're being sarcastic here -- turn of events, people circumvented the law and found ways to keep drinking and organized crime blossomed in cities across the country. Listen in to learn just how far Uncle Sam was willing to go to stem the flood of illegal booze.

Project A119: The Cold War Plan to Nuke the Moon!

It sounds like something straight out of your favorite sketch comedy show -- what if a crack team of scientists joined forces with the world's most powerful military on a mission to nuke the moon? Don't waste too much time asking why we'd want to do this... just imagine the explosion. Join Ben and Noel as they explore the bizarre and terrifying true story of Project A119, the secret US plan to detonate nuclear weapons on the moon. 

Adidas Versus Puma: A Tale of Two Brothers

Today Adidas and Puma are two of the industry's most well-known tennis shoe makers, and people around the world prize the footwear for its unique design and reliable craftsmanship. Yet there's a strange, bitter origin story behind these giants of the sneaker world. Join the guys as they delve into a tale of petty recrimination, family feuds and the unending contempt that, ultimately, created the Adidas and Puma we know today.

Fanny and Stella: The Cross-Dressing Scandal of Victorian England

In April of 1870, a shocking court case captivated Victorian England: Fanny and Stella, also known as Frederick Park and Ernest Boulton, were arrested after attending a play at The Strand (in what was then considered inappropriate dress) and held on suspicion of violating the moral codes of the time. Listen in to learn more about the absurd legal war England waged against these two twenty-somethings, and the consequences of this ill-informed crusade.

Kansas Imprisoned Women For Having STDs

At the close of World War I, American soldiers returned home from abroad with scars, wounds, stories and, in some cases, infectious diseases of which their romantic partners were unaware. When cities in Kansas noted the spike in sexually-transmitted diseases, they embarked upon a misguided quest to quell the infections by imprisoning the women these soldiers had infected (the soldiers didn't get arrested). So why did Kansas decide to imprison women for having STDs, how long did the program last, and why have so few people heard about it in the modern day?

The WWII Naval Battle Won Using Potatoes

The U.S.S. O'Bannon was a Fletcher-class navy destroyer with an impressive array of weaponry and a solid track record in conflicts in WWII. However, even the most experienced sailors aren't perfect -- and when the O'Bannon happened upon a hapless Japanese submarine, both crew engaged in a desperate and bizarre food fight. Tune in to learn more.

The Korean Soldier Who Fought for 3 Armies During WWII

Born in what is now North Korea, Yang Kyoungjong didn't set out to become a soldier -- but fate had other plans. Join the guys as they trace one man's journey through prisons, battlefields and multiple armies in a desperate bid to survive World War II.

Oregon Was a White Supremacist Paradise

Today Portland, Oregon is often portrayed as a left-leaning haven for hipsters across the country, but the original Oregon was a vastly different place. Listen in to learn more about the ridiculous aims of the white supremacists who sought to found Oregon as a whites-only state. Spoiler alert -- there's a fantastic extra segment at the end of today's episode, wherein the guys join special guest Robert Evans, the creator of the new HowStuffWorks podcast Behind The Bastards.

Why did people hate the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge?

Nowadays most people are fans of national parks, but this wasn't always the case. Join the guys as they delve into the strange 'birds vs. babies' conflict over Lake Malheur.

A few years after Baron Pierre de Coubertin revived the ancient sporting event known as the Olympics, he brought the games to the U.S. for the first time. The 1904 Summer Olympics were held in St. Louis, Missouri, coinciding with the 1904 World's Fair. Seems set to make history, right? Not the way you'd think. Join Ben and Noel as they take a closer look at the series of disastrous decisions and bizarre notions that led one games organizer to set up his own racist olympics.

When Heineken Made Bottles That Could Be Used as Bricks

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.

Why British Soccer Players Saluted the Nazis

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.