Astronaut John Glenn is first …

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John Glenn became the first U. S. astronaut to orbit the earth this day in 1962.

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Prizes inserted into Cracker Jack boxes.

A prize is inserted into a Cracker Jack box for the first time this date in 1913. It is well-known for being packaged with a prize of trivial value inside. Cracker Jack is an American brand of snack consisting of molasses-flavored caramel-coated popcorn and peanuts, first produced in 1896. Some historians consider it the first junk food. It was named by an enthusiastic sampler who remarked: “That’s a crackerjack!” (a colloquialism meaning “of excellent quality”).

A German immigrant named Frederick William Rueckheim sold popcorn in Chicago beginning in 1871 using steam equipment. He eventually developed the present popular popcorn confection. The Cracker Jack mascots Sailor Jack and his dog Bingo were introduced in 1916. Jack was modeled after his grandson, who died at age eight shortly after his image appeared. Bingo was based on a real-life dog, a stray adopted in 1917, who died of old age in 1930.

Take Me Out to the Ball Game, a song released in 1908 with the line: “Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack!” brought a lot of free publicity to the product. In 1922, the name of the Chicago company was changed to The Cracker Jack Company. The brand was bought by Borden in 1964, then Frito-Lay since 1997. (from Wikipedia and Cute Calendar.com)

Huckleberry Finn gets his own story

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Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn was published this date in 1885. He originally appeared in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer in 1876.

The character of Huck Finn is based on Tom Blankenship, the real-life son of a sawmill laborer and some time drunkard named Woodson Blankenship, who lived in a “ramshackle” house near the Mississippi River behind the house where the author grew up in Hannibal, Missouri. The father of Huck, called “Pap” Finn, may be based on Jimmy Finn, a full-blown alcoholic who lived on the streets, and it is only through Twain’s remembrances that Woodson is characterized as a drunkard. Twain left Hannibal and his boyhood at an early age and his memories of these people are colored by what he could have known and understood at the time, as a boy of less than 14 years old. Twain’s friend Tom Blankenship didn’t attend school because there were no public schools at the time, and his family was too poor to send him to a private school. Left at loose ends in a busy household with six sisters and lacking a mother who seems to have died when he was young, this Tom was indeed “at liberty” most of the time.

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Twain mentions his childhood friend Tom Blankenship as the inspiration for creating Huckleberry Finn in his autobiography: “In Huckleberry Finn I have drawn Tom Blankenship exactly as he was. He was ignorant, unwashed, insufficiently fed; but he had as good a heart as ever any boy had. His liberties were totally unrestricted. He was the only really independent person—boy or man—in the community, and by consequence he was tranquil and continuously happy and envied by the rest of us. And as his society was forbidden us by our parents the prohibition trebled and quadrupled its value, and therefore we sought and got more of his society than any other boy’s.” – (from Mark Twain’s Autobiography, Wikipedia)

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–Mark Twain is the pseudonym of Samuel Clemons.

Valentine’s Day

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Valentine’s Day, also called Saint Valentine’s Day or the Feast of Saint Valentine, is an annual celebration. It originated as a Western Christian liturgical feast day honoring one or more of early saints named Valentine, and is recognized as a significant cultural and commercial celebration in many regions worldwide, although it is not a public holiday in any country.

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The day first became associated with romantic love within the circle of Geoffrey Chaucer in the 14th Century, when the tradition of courtly love flourished. In 18th-century England, it evolved into an occasion in which lovers expressed their love for each other by presenting flowers, offering confectionery and sending greeting cards (known as valentines). Valentine’s Day symbols used today include the heart-shaped outline, doves, and the figure of the winged Cupid. Since the 19th century, handwritten valentines have given way to mass-produced greeting cards. (from Wikipedia)

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The Beatles have arrived

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The Beatles were an English rock band formed in Liverpool in 1960 and came to the U.S. for the first time this date in 1964. With members John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr, they became widely regarded as the foremost and most influential act of the rock era. Rooted in 1950s rock and roll, the Beatles later experimented with several musical styles, ranging from pop ballads and Indian music to psychedelia and hard rock, often incorporating classical elements and unconventional recording techniques in innovative ways. In the early 60s, their enormous popularity first emerged as “Beatlemania,” but they came to be perceived as an embodiment of the ideals shared by the counterculture of the 60s.

Manager Brian Epstein molded the Beatles into a professional act and producer George Martin guided and developed their recordings, greatly expanding their popularity. They acquired the nickname “the Fab Four” as Beatlemania grew and by early 1964 became international stars, leading the “British Invasion” of the US pop market. From 1965 onward, the Beatles produced increasingly innovative recordings, including Revolver, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, and Abbey Road.

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After their break-up in 1970, they each enjoyed successful musical careers of varying lengths. McCartney and Starr, the surviving members, remain musically active. Lennon was shot and killed in December, 1980 and Harrison died of lung cancer in November, 2001.

According to the Recording Industry Association of America, the Beatles are the best-selling music artists in the U.S., with 178 million certified units. They have had more number-one albums on the British charts and sold more singles in the UK than any other act. In 2008, the group topped Billboard magazine’s list of the all-time most successful “Hot 100” artists; as of 2016, they hold the record for most number one hits with twenty. They have received ten Grammy Awards and an Academy Award for Best Original Song Score. Collectively included in Time magazine’s compilation of the 20th Century’s 100 most influential people, they are the best selling band in history with estimated sales of over 600 million records worldwide. The group was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988, and all four were inducted individually from 1994 to 2015. Orchestras now perform their music to wide appeal. (from Wikipedia)

Monopoly debuts

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Monopoly first went on sale this date in 1935. It’s a board game that originated in the United States and is named after the economic concept of monopoly—the domination of a market by a single entity. It is now owned by American game and toy company Hasbro. Players move around the game board buying or trading properties, developing their properties with houses and hotels, and collecting rent from their opponents, with the goal being to drive them all into bankruptcy, leaving one monopolist in control of the entire economy. Since the board game was first commercially sold in the 1930s, it has become a part of popular world culture, having been locally licensed in more than 103 countries and printed in more than thirty-seven languages. (from Wikipedia)

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