Owing to an ill-timed case of shingles…on my face…the trivia roundup is bite-sized this week. In part because there’s no humor in nerve pain and also because I’m feverishly working on my new book, What to Expect When You’re Shingling. I’ve already planned the two follow-ups, Shingle and Ready to Mhingle: Living with Shingles, and Shingled Out: Life After Shingles. I’m writing a telenovela called Shingles Night and a Crichton-esque thriller called Escape from Shingles Mountain. Also this banner ad is telling me there are hot shingles in my area.
• If you didn’t know and want to be horrified, shingles happens when the virus that causes chickenpox hangs out in your nerve cells…waiting…for decades…to unleash itself, and no one knows what the trigger is. The name, by the by, comes from the Latin cingulus, which means girdle.
• Pringles, a “brand of potato- and wheat-based stackable snack chip” date to 1967. Actually, they date to the late 1950s, when Proctor & Gamble assigned chemist Fredric Baur to solve the problem of greasy, stale, broken potato chips. Working with fried dough, he came up with the saddle shape (it’s technically a hyperbolic parabaloid) and the cylindrical container (when he died a few years ago, Baur asked to have his ashes put in a Pringles can). He couldn’t figure out how to make them taste good, though, and so it wasn’t until the mid-1960s when another food scientist came along and worked out the particulars. There’s no agreement about where the Pringles name came from: perhaps a 1937 patent application about potato preparation filed by Mark Pringle; perhaps because a marketing guy lived on Pringle Street, or possibly it was just pulled randomly from the phonebook.
Actual Pringles flavors, living or dead, include: bruschetta, chili cheese, chili cheese dog, wild consomme, soft shell crab, prawn cocktail, onion blossom, onion crouton soup, philly cheesesteak, sausage, smoked salami, night club (?), pecan pie (??), white chocolate peppermint (???), and pumpkin pie (?!). There was also a Trivial Pursuit version that had trivia questions printed RIGHT ON THE CHIP. Trivia chips. Forget hoverboards and flying cars, we have glimpsed the future.
By the by, the Pringles logo is named Julius Pringles, which seems to me like they missed a Pulp Fiction tie-in. Check out the sound effects in this commercial, which would now be illegal because Pringles don’t contain enough potato to call themselves potato chips in the US anymore, probably thanks to lobbying from BIG RUFFLES:
• If you’d like further reading for this week, I’d recommend this story about William James and the search for ghosts.