WTF Fun Fact 13533 – The Matrix Code is Sushi

Nearly two decades ago, the Wachowskis unveiled the first film in their iconic trilogy, captivating fans worldwide with its intricate storyline and rich mythos – but do you know the secret of The Matrix code? The iconic green code that rains down the screen in the film has a deliciously surprising backstory.

Simon Whiteley: The Man Behind The Matrix Code

Simon Whiteley, a British production designer, deserves the credit for this innovative visual. During an interview with CNET, he spilled the beans: the Matrix code has its roots in a Japanese cookbook owned by his wife. He scanned the characters from the pages and then digitally transformed them into the green symbols we’ve come to associate with this cinematic universe.

From Sushi to Cyberspace

“I like telling everyone that the Matrix code comes from Japanese sushi recipes,” Whiteley divulged. Yes, you read that right—sushi recipes. He took mundane elements from his domestic life and manipulated them into something extraordinary. The phrase “Without that code, the Matrix doesn’t exist,” could never ring truer.

The Wachowskis effectively used the green code to hint at the nature of the Matrix from the film’s very beginning. While this digital aesthetic sets up the film’s narrative, its origin remains a delightful secret. With its new-found connection to a cookbook, the green code is not just mysterious but also relatable and even comical.

A Recipe Hidden in Plain Sight?

Given its culinary origins, one can’t help but speculate: Is there a complete sushi recipe encrypted within that green text? While Whiteley’s revelation is a fun nugget of information, it opens up amusing avenues of speculation. What if this distraction is precisely what the Matrix wants, to keep us from questioning our own reality?

The green code has captivated millions, inspired parodies, and sparked numerous discussions about virtual reality and existence. But its roots in a simple sushi cookbook serve as a humorous reminder that even complex systems can have unexpectedly mundane beginnings.

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Source: “The Matrix Code Is Actually a Sushi Recipe” — Nerdist

WTF Fun Fact 13525 – Elephant Dung Coffee

Who’s in the mood for some elephant dung coffee?

When you think about coffee, elephants probably don’t come to mind. But in the case of Black Ivory Coffee, these gentle giants play a crucial role. Produced mainly in Thailand, this luxurious brew costs a fortune but offers a unique taste experience that leaves a lasting impression.

Elephant Dung Coffee Really Exists

Farmers feed carefully selected Arabica coffee cherries to elephants. The animals savor the cherries, and their digestive systems get to work. As the cherries pass through, a natural fermentation occurs. Later, farmers collect the beans from the elephants’ waste.

Why involve elephants? The answer lies in chemistry. The digestive enzymes of the elephant break down coffee’s bitter proteins. The process also adds new flavors to the beans, resulting in a complex profile with floral notes and less bitterness.

Cleanup and Roasting

After collection, workers thoroughly clean the beans. They then proceed to dry and roast them. The roasting heightens the unique flavors imparted during the elephant’s digestive process. After roasting, the beans are ready for brewing, and coffee connoisseurs can finally taste this exotic brew.

The unusual production method raises questions. Is it ethical to use elephants in this way? Producers argue that they treat the elephants with care and respect, ensuring a humane process. Some even allocate a portion of their earnings to elephant conservation efforts. Still, the debate continues.

Because an elephant processes a limited number of cherries and many beans get lost or damaged during digestion, the output remains low. This scarcity, coupled with labor-intensive collection and cleaning, explains the high cost, which often exceeds $500 per pound.

The Niche Market

Given its steep price, Black Ivory Coffee targets a specific audience. Luxury hotels and high-end restaurants primarily serve this unique beverage. These establishments cater to clientele who seek a rare and exclusive coffee experience.

For those who can afford it, brewing methods matter. Most prefer using a French press to fully capture the complexity of flavors. The result? A cup of coffee that not only delights the taste buds but also tells a story from bean to brew.

Conservation Questions about Elephant Dung Coffee

Some Black Ivory Coffee producers claim that their business aids elephant conservation. However, the extent to which these efforts actually benefit conservation initiatives remains unclear.

Black Ivory Coffee defies conventional coffee production and offers a taste experience that’s in a league of its own. Though it courts controversy and caters to a niche market, it also challenges our perceptions of what coffee can be.

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Source: “No. 1 Most Expensive Coffee Comes From Elephant’s No. 2” — NPR

WTF Fun Fact 13517 – Ina Garten’s White House Job

TV chef Ina Garten’s White House job came as a huge surprise to us. She was an engineer. A nuclear analyst, to be exact.

Garten’s Early Years

Born in Brooklyn, New York, Ina Garten did not initially tread a path leading to culinary mastery. After completing her MBA from George Washington University, she entered the corridors of power and policy, dedicating her analytical mind to deciphering the intricacies of nuclear policy under the tenures of Presidents Ford and Carter.

Nuclear policies, especially during the Cold War, were a tangled web of political posturing, strategic interests, and global safety concerns. Therefore, Ina Garten’s White House job was no small feat. It involved navigating through these delicate matrices and contributing to decisions of profound national importance.

Becoming the Barefoot Contessa

In 1978, a modest ad in a newspaper altered the course of Ina’s life. A small specialty food store, named ‘”he Barefoot Contessa,” was up for sale in Westhampton Beach, New York. Despite having zero culinary training, Garten saw an opportunity. Or perhaps she saw an escape from the high-stakes world of nuclear policies.

Acquiring the store, she embarked on a gourmet adventure, slowly transforming it into a haven for food lovers.

Her undeniable passion and dedication turned The Barefoot Contessa into a roaring success. Capitalizing on this momentum, Ina Garten ventured into the realm of cookbooks. Her debut, in 1999, was a hit, acting as a launchpad for her widely-loved Food Network show in 2002. On screen, she brought warmth, authenticity, and a touch of classic European culinary techniques, quickly making her a household name.

A Sprawling Journey

The magnitude of Ina Garten’s career transition cannot be understated. One day, she was immersed in policy documents, analyzing global nuclear strategies. The next, she was selecting the finest ingredients, crafting exquisite dishes, and teaching millions to find joy in cooking.

While many know Ina Garten as the charismatic “Barefoot Contessa” who sprinkles culinary magic on television, her journey from deciphering nuclear policies in the White House to whisking eggs in a sunlit kitchen is quite an interesting and unexpected journey.

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Source: “Ina Garten, explained: How a nuclear budget analyst became the Barefoot Contessa” — VOX

WTF Fun Fact 13509 – Wineries in Slovenia

Did you know there are a ton of wineries in Slovenia? It’s not thought of as a typical wine region, but this small European country takes its wine seriously. Very seriously.

Nestled between Italy, Austria, Hungary, and Croatia, Slovenia might be modest in size, but its gigantic in its passion for winemaking. With approximately 28,000 wineries scattered across its picturesque landscapes, there’s a winery for every 75 people in the country.

Historical Roots of Slovenian Winemaking

The tradition of winemaking in Slovenia runs deep. Archaeological findings suggest that viticulture existed in this region as far back as the Celtic and Illyrian tribes, long before the Romans introduced their winemaking techniques.

The country’s favorable Mediterranean and Alpine climates, combined with its diverse terrain, provided the ideal conditions for cultivating various grape varieties.

Its wine regions are strikingly diverse, each imparting its own unique character to the wines produced:

  1. Primorska: Primorska is adjacent to Italy’s Friuli region, and is influenced by the warm Mediterranean climate. We know this region for its full-bodied reds and aromatic whites.
  2. Podravje: Situated in the northeast, this region produces primarily white wines, often with a characteristic minerality thanks to its hilly terrain.
  3. Posavje: Located in the country’s southeast, it’s known for its traditional method of winemaking, producing lighter, fresh wines.

The Unique Wine Offerings of Wineries in Slovenia

Slovenia’s winemaking isn’t just about volume; it’s about offering unique experiences. Many Slovenian wineries use traditional methods. Winemakers may ferment the wine in large egg-shaped containers buried underground or aged in oak barrels.

The nation also prides itself on its orange wines. These are white wines made by leaving the grape skins and seeds in contact with the juice, giving them their distinctive color.

Beyond traditional techniques, Slovenian winemakers are at the forefront of the organic and biodynamic winemaking movements. Many vineyards avoid synthetic chemicals, aiming to produce wines in the most natural way possible.

Wine enthusiasts laud Slovenian wines for their authentic taste and eco-friendly production methods.

The Experience of Slovenia’s Wineries

It’s not only the wines themselves that captivate visitors but the entire wine-tasting experience. Many Slovenian wineries are family-run, offering intimate tours where guests can immerse themselves in the entire winemaking process, from grape harvesting to the fermentation process, all while soaking in breathtaking views of rolling vineyards. As a result, these experiences often culminate in rustic cellars. Here, visitors can sample wines paired with local delicacies, making the entire journey memorable.

With one winery for every 75 people, it’s evident that winemaking isn’t just a hobby in Slovenia; it’s a way of life. The sheer number of wineries signifies the industry’s significance to Slovenia’s economy and cultural identity. Locals cherish their wine heritage, and annual wine festivals are a testament to this, celebrating the country’s viticultural accomplishments.

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WTF Fun Fact 13504 – The Dots on Strawberries

What are the dots on strawberries? You might believe they’re seeds, but you’d be wrong.

It’s not just the layperson who’s been fooled. Even certain educational platforms have, over the years, inadvertently misinformed generations into believing that strawberries carry their seeds on the outside. The truth, however, is far more intriguing.

The small dotted entities on strawberries are known as “drupelets.” But these do contain seeds.

Strawberry Drupelets

Now, the concept of a drupelet can be somewhat counter-intuitive. Each of these tiny fruits contains an actual seed. So, when you look at a strawberry, you’re essentially looking at a collective of multiple fruits.

The evolutionary strategy that led strawberries to develop this unique external fruit-bearing method is fascinating.

The external drupelets potentially increase the chances of seed dispersion. The strawberry’s vibrant red coloration acts as a visual cue for animals, signaling ripeness and inviting consumption. When animals eat these fruits, the seeds within the drupelets get dispersed in the environment, ensuring the strawberry plant’s survival and proliferation.

We’ve Been Misled about the Dots on Strawberries

The strawberry, despite its unique botanical makeup, has earned its place in various cultures worldwide. Its iconic appearance and misinterpreted “seeds” have inspired art, literature, and even fashion. This misrepresentation, while innocent, makes one ponder how many other natural elements we might have misread or misunderstood.

Modern commercial strawberry production seldom concerns itself with the seeds inside the drupelets, as they propagate strawberries using runners, ensuring consistent fruit quality. However, understanding the strawberry’s unique structure has implications for genetic research and potential breeding programs.

By diving deep into the genetic makeup of the actual seeds, scientists could unlock new strawberry varieties or even develop strains more resistant to pests and diseases.

Beyond Strawberries

Strawberries aren’t the only fruits that challenge our conventional understanding. The raspberry, similar in its external seed presentation, also relies on drupelets. Pineberries, which are a blend between strawberries and pineapples in taste, carry the same deceptive exterior. It’s a testament to nature’s ability to consistently surprise and challenge our knowledge.

As the true nature of strawberry “seeds” becomes more widely known, it becomes imperative to adjust educational materials. This ensures future generations have accurate information. Such discoveries, though seemingly minute, underscore the importance of continuous learning and the revision of established knowledge bases.

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Source: “These White Dots On Strawberries Are Not Strawberry Seeds” — IFL Science

WTF Fun Fact 13490 – KFC Pothole Repair

Do you remember the Great KFC Pothole Debate of 2009? We don’t either, but it was certainly a marketing maneuver that involved thinking outside the box—or bucket.

KFC’s Pothole Repair Program

Imagine cruising down a street, and instead of dodging pesky potholes, you spot the logo of Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) imprinted on a freshly filled pothole. You’re not dreaming! In 2009, the fast-food giant embarked on an ambitious, unconventional, and public-spirited marketing campaign – “KFC Refreshes the Nation’s Roads.”

Amidst the crumbling infrastructure of many US cities, KFC saw an opportunity. The company proposed that KFC would pay for pothole repair, but the filled potholes would bear the KFC logo and a tagline “Re-Freshed by KFC.”

Their first stop was their hometown, Louisville, Kentucky, where the company fixed more than 350 potholes.

Pothole-Free Roads, Courtesy of KFC

Louisville was happy to accept the deal and became the first city with branded former potholes. (Though we’re not sure how the repairs jobs held up over time.) The potholes were marked with non-permanent, chalky white logos, which were designed to wash away with the next rain.

Some lauded KFC’s program as an innovative way to deal with the lack of funding for infrastructure maintenance. Others saw it as a controversial form of corporate branding. Especially PETA.

Regardless of the differing opinions, KFC’s pothole repair program was a testament to the power of creative, public-serving marketing. It enabled KFC to communicate their brand message while addressing a pressing problem plaguing cities across America.

The KFC pothole repair program provides an intriguing example of how private companies can support public services. But it also raises questions about the extent to which businesses should be involved in maintaining public infrastructure.

Beyond Louisville

After the successful run in Louisville, KFC extended the program to four more cities in different states. Of course, other cities turned them down. In the end, the initiative allowed KFC to portray itself as a responsible corporate citizen. They were hope this would attract more customers and foster customer loyalty. No word on how that worked out.

KFC’s pothole repair program may not have been the typical corporate social responsibility initiative, but it undeniably left its mark (quite literally!) on city streets. A few years later, Domino’s Pizza did the same thing.

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Source: “KFC Goes on Offensive Over Potholes” — Infrastructurist

WTF Fun Fact 13471 – Burger King Thailand Cheeseburger

Burger King Thailand has come up with a new dish – cheeseburger, hold the burger. In fact, 86 everything else too. No condiments, just bun and cheese.

The New Burger King Thailand Cheeseburger

The “Super Cheeseburger,” as it’s called, is anything but a conventional burger. Burger King Thailand debuted this cheese-fanatic’s dream on their Facebook page, with a statement that assured customers, “This is no joke. This is for real.”

Instead of a succulent beef patty, crisp lettuce, tangy pickles, and fresh tomatoes, this unique creation features a towering pile of 20 slices of melted American cheese. And they’re all tucked neatly between the familiar sesame seed buns.

It’s a cheese lover’s dream, or perhaps, their most extravagant nightmare.

A Cheesy New Trend

The dairy-filled spectacle is part of a growing trend in Thailand, where cheese is taking center stage in dishes of all sorts. The presence of cheese in Thai cuisine is a relatively new phenomenon. Thailand-based travel writer Richard Barrow told HuffPost that the current trend in Thailand is “to put cheese on literally everything.” But this cheese-laden concoction has sparked some mixed reviews.

From a casual diner’s perspective, the “Super Cheeseburger” might seem like a stretch, a tad too indulgent, and perhaps missing the classic balance that a good burger is supposed to have.

The cheese avalanche is available at a reduced price from its original cost of $10.90, and can now be enjoyed (or endured) for a mere $3.10. This significant price drop certainly makes the towering cheese mountain more accessible for curious customers and hardcore cheese enthusiasts alike.

Burger King’s Adventurous Side

This isn’t the first time that Burger King has pushed the envelope with their menu. Remember the limited-edition black Halloween Whopper back in 2015? While it didn’t quite capture the hearts (or stomachs) of the masses, it demonstrated Burger King’s willingness to experiment.

The ‘Super Cheeseburger’ may not appeal to everyone’s palate. But it’s a testament to Burger King’s innovative spirit and their readiness to explore outlandish culinary territories. And one thing is for certain — it has undoubtedly stirred up conversation and curiosity. If you ever find yourself in Thailand and feel the urge to try this cheesy extravaganza, remember — it’s not just a burger, it’s a unique culinary experience.

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Source: “Burger King Dishing Out 20-Slice Tall, All-Cheese ‘Burger’ In Thailand” — HuffPost

WTF Fun Fact 13465 – Hamburger University

It’s harder to get into McDonald’s Hamburger University than some Ivy League schools.

That’s right, McDonald’s is in the business of education. Hamburger University, or HU as it’s commonly referred to, was founded in 1961 by Fred Turner, McDonald’s former senior chairman and one of Ray Kroc’s earliest employees. He recognized that the success of the rapidly expanding McDonald’s franchise was dependent on consistent quality and service. So, Turner decided to open a training center. The goal? To educate franchisees on the methods of running a successful and efficient McDonald’s restaurant.

The first campus was situated in the basement of a McDonald’s restaurant in Elk Grove Village, Illinois. With only a handful of students, the inaugural class might have been small, but the idea was grand. Today, Hamburger University boasts seven campus locations worldwide, including Tokyo, London, and Shanghai.

What You Learn at Hamburger University

When it comes to the curriculum, HU is not, contrary to what you might think, a place to perfect the art of burger flipping. Instead, the University provides a comprehensive leadership development program. The classes taught at HU are rigorous and cover restaurant fundamentals, business growth strategies, leadership skills, and management systems.

Graduates receive a Bachelor of Hamburgerology degree, a whimsical yet fitting title that encapsulates the unique education provided at the university.

The Global Influence of Hamburger University

The global reach and impact of Hamburger University are noteworthy. In China, for example, getting into Hamburger University is a highly competitive feat, with an acceptance rate even lower than Harvard’s. The demand for HU in China reflects the country’s fast-growing fast-food market and the value placed on the managerial training provided by McDonald’s.

The influence of HU extends beyond McDonald’s restaurants. Many HU graduates have used their skills to start their businesses or move into senior roles in other industries.

Investing in People

The story of HU highlights McDonald’s understanding that its most significant investment is its people. The institution represents the company’s commitment to providing career advancement opportunities for its employees. It’s also dedicated to ensuring uniform standards of quality and service in McDonald’s outlets worldwide.

By investing in employee development, McDonald’s improves its operations and contributes to the broader community by providing valuable business skills.

So, whether you’re munching on a Quarter Pounder in the heart of New York or enjoying a Filet-O-Fish in a bustling Tokyo outlet, remember: the efficient service and consistent taste are likely to have been honed at McDonald’s very own higher education institution, the Hamburger University.

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Source: “Lessons from McDonald’s Hamburger University: Training For Retention” — LA Eats

WTF Fun Fact 13464 – Stolen Cadbury Creme Eggs

You may think the world of crime revolves around daring bank robberies, high-tech cyberattacks, or audacious art thefts. However, sometimes it boils down to an ‘eggstraordinary’ heist involving 200,000 stolen Cadbury Creme Eggs.

This seemingly absurd yet true tale resulted in an 18-month prison sentence for a 32-year-old man named Joby Pool.

The Tale of the Stolen Cadbury Creme Eggs

Referred to as the “Easter Bunny” by the police, Pool had pulled off a robbery that any candy-loving kid might dream of, but with serious real-world consequences. On the 11th of February, he broke into an industrial unit in Telford, UK, belonging to SW Group Logistics. With the help of a stolen lorry cab and a metal grinder, he made away with a haul worth more than £31,000 (over $42,000) – all in Cadbury Creme Eggs.

In late July of 2023, Shrewsbury Crown Court Judge Anthony Lowe passed the sentence of 18 months. Pool is to serve half of this time in prison and the other half on parole. He has already spent six months in custody, which will count towards his jail time.

A Well-Planned Heist

Prosecutor Owen Beale stressed during a previous court hearing that this was not a spur-of-the-moment act. Pool took a tractor unit with him. Beale said, “This is clearly an organized criminal matter. You don’t just happen to learn about a trailer with that kind of value being available.”

Defense lawyer Debra White pointed out that Pool had shown genuine remorse for his actions. He regrets the impact it had on his family and the business involved. However, Judge Lowe was unconvinced that Pool was the sole perpetrator in the planning of the theft. She suggested that inside information or reconnaissance was involved in identifying the valuable trailer.

West Mercia police took to Twitter to describe the incident, coining it an “eggs-travagant theft” of a “chocolate collection box”. They added, “West Mercia police has helped save Easter for Creme Egg fans after almost 200,000 of the chocolate treats were stolen.”

A Lesson Learned

Pool, hailing from Tingley, near Leeds, had previously admitted to theft, causing criminal damage to a lock at the trailer park, and driving without insurance. His conviction serves as a stern reminder of the serious consequences of such actions, however comedic they might seem on the surface.

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Source: “Man who stole 200,000 Cadbury Creme Eggs jailed for 18 months” — The Guardian