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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.