WTF Fun Fact 13550 – Grocery Store Apples

It turns out the “fresh” apple you buy at the store might not be as fresh as you think – grocery store apples can be a year old, and you’d never know it.

How Apples Stay Fresh for Months

We often assume the fresh produce we buy from the grocery store was harvested just days or weeks prior to our purchase. However, someone might have picked your apple over a year ago.

So how do stores manage to provide these fresh-looking and crisp-tasting apples throughout the year?

Controlled Atmosphere Storage

Controlled Atmosphere (CA) storage is an innovation that has revolutionized the way we store apples and other produce. By regulating the temperature, oxygen, carbon dioxide, and humidity levels within storage units, apples’ ripening process slows significantly. The low temperature is particularly crucial, often set just above freezing. Additionally, reducing the oxygen levels from the 21% found in the air we breathe to a mere 1-2% and increasing carbon dioxide levels keeps the apples in a state of dormancy.

This storage method doesn’t just slow down the ripening process but can also help in preserving the apple’s flavor, color, texture, and vital nutrients. In essence, CA storage puts the apples to “sleep.” That way, we can store them for extended periods without significant deterioration.

The Journey of Grocery Stores Apples

Let’s follow the journey of an apple. It gets harvested during the apple-picking season, which typically runs from late summer to early fall. After a brief initial inspection and cleaning, instead of heading straight to the grocery shelves, many of these apples make their way into CA storage facilities. They might remain there for several months or even over a year, depending on the demand and variety of the apple.

When the market needs replenishment outside of the apple season, food purveyors get out their stored apples, wash them, and sometimes wax them to enhance their shine. After they undergo quality checks, companies pack and ship to grocery stores nationwide.

A common question arises: do these “aged” apples differ nutritionally from their fresher counterparts? The good news is that the CA storage process retains most of the apples’ nutrients. While there might be slight decreases in some vitamin levels, such as vitamin C, over extended periods, the overall nutritional profile remains largely intact.

Embracing the Benefits of Preserved Grocery Store Apples

Understanding the age of grocery store apples isn’t meant to deter individuals from purchasing them. In fact, CA storage has many benefits. It reduces food waste by allowing us to store apples longer, ensuring they don’t spoil before reaching consumers. It also ensures apples remain available year-round, not just during the harvest season.

However, for those who prioritize consuming fruits at their freshest, this information might influence purchasing decisions. Buying apples during their natural harvesting season or directly from local farmers’ markets can often guarantee a more recent harvest. Moreover, it’s always a good practice to ask store representatives about the sourcing and storage practices for their produce.

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Source: “That apple you just bought might be a year old – but does it matter?” — TODAY

WTF Fun Fact 13546 – Women Couldn’t Open Bank Accounts

When women couldn’t open bank accounts in the U.S., their financial autonomy was severely restricted, hindering their progress toward economic independence and equality.

It wasn’t until 1974 that women in the U.S. were allowed to open a bank account on their own.

A Time When Women Couldn’t Open Bank Accounts

Women’s Financial Independence in the U.S. saw its roots in a long history of legal restrictions. Historically, women in America operated under coverture, a legal doctrine derived from English common law. This principle dictated that a woman’s legal rights and economic identity were covered or absorbed by her husband upon marriage. Consequently, women couldn’t possess property, sign contracts, or maintain their wages if they worked.

Shift in Dynamics Post-WWII

The period following World War II marked significant changes for women in the workforce. With a large number of men deployed overseas, women took on roles traditionally held by their male counterparts. They began earning and managing money, thereby getting an initial experience of financial independence. However, the post-war era saw a push to restore conventional gender roles, making the drive for financial autonomy even more critical.

The 1960s and 1970s witnessed an intensified push for equal rights. The pinnacle moment for women’s financial independence came with the passing of the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA) in 1974. This act made it unlawful for creditors to discriminate against any applicant based on sex or marital status. Following this, women could independently open bank accounts, secure credit cards, and obtain loans without a male co-signer.

Impact of the ECOA

Post-ECOA, women had the capacity to establish individual credit histories, which were essential for various financial endeavors ranging from home buying to starting a business. However, this newfound freedom was just one step. Many women continued to navigate challenges, including wage gaps and limited representation in high-ranking professional roles.

The ability for women to open bank accounts without male intervention was more than just a legislative change; it was a significant milestone in the broader context of women’s rights in the U.S. While challenges remained, the legal recognition of a woman’s right to financial independence marked an essential shift in the journey toward gender equality in the country.

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Source: “A Bank of Her Own” — JSTOR

WTF Fun Fact 13526 – Hercules Beetle

The Hercules beetle is a wonder in the world of insects, renowned for its colossal size and unique morphology. Originating from the rainforests of Central and South America, this beetle has a horn that can even surpass its own body length, making it a subject of intrigue for both scientists and insect enthusiasts.

Physical Characteristics of the Hercules Beetle

Notably, male Hercules beetles are the ones that sport elongated horns, which they primarily use for battling rivals when competing for mates. These horns boast a unique inner structure, built much like a honeycomb. This internal design enhances the horn’s durability while keeping it lightweight. The beetle’s strength-to-weight ratio is astounding; it has the capability to lift an astonishing 850 times its body weight. This herculean feat is what lends the beetle its mythological name, Hercules.

The life cycle of a Hercules beetle comprises four key stages: egg, larva, pupa, and adult. Among these, the larval stage stretches the longest, often up to two years. During this period, the larvae sustain themselves on decaying wood, hidden away from predators.

Interestingly, the diet of the Hercules beetle is mostly plant-based. The larvae feed on rotting wood, aiding in forest decomposition. Adults prefer sugary foods like fruit, but also consume tree sap. This diet provides both nourishment and hydration, necessary for their survival in the wild.

The horn plays a pivotal role in the beetle’s mating rituals. Males engage in combative duels using their horns, tossing rivals off logs and branches to win the favor of a female. The horn, therefore, is not just for show but a tool for survival and propagation.

Human Engagement

Due to their unique appearance and relatively low maintenance, Hercules beetles have become popular pets. Beyond this, the scientific community is profoundly interested in these beetles. Studies often focus on the properties of the beetle’s exoskeleton, which could inspire advances in materials science.

Currently, it is not categorized as an endangered species. However, looming threats like habitat loss due to rampant deforestation put their population at risk. Environmental agencies emphasize the need for conservation efforts to protect this fascinating species.

Cultural Relevance

The Hercules beetle has permeated cultural consciousness in several ways. In Japan, children engage in beetle sumo wrestling as a form of entertainment. Additionally, the Hercules beetle appears in folklore and art, where it symbolizes traits like strength and bravery, much like its namesake.

The Hercules beetle captivates our imagination with its sheer size, unparalleled strength, and unique anatomical features. It serves as a vital subject in both scientific research and cultural narratives. Although it might not possess the divine attributes of its namesake, the Greek demigod Hercules, this remarkable beetle holds its own as a force in the natural world.

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Source: “Hercules Beetle” — AZ Animals

WTF Fun Fact 13524 – Lobsters Don’t Age

Lobsters don’t age.

This sea-dwelling crustacean defies the conventional understanding of aging by not showing signs of age-related decline. Here’s why lobsters have intrigued scientists and could potentially reshape our understanding of aging.

Biochemical Wizardry and Lobster Age

The secret behind a lobster’s seemingly eternal youthfulness lies in its biochemistry. Lobsters produce a substance called telomerase. This enzyme plays a role in maintaining the length of telomeres, which are protective caps at the ends of DNA strands.

In most organisms, including humans, telomeres shorten as they age, leading to cellular degeneration and eventually death. Lobsters, however, keep pumping out telomerase throughout their lives, maintaining their telomere length and, consequently, their cellular integrity.

Lobsters Don’t Age – Or Become Less Fertile

Another fascinating feature is that lobsters don’t experience a decline in fertility with age. In many species, reproductive capabilities wane over time. Not so for the lobster. Older females produce even more eggs than their younger counterparts. This aspect has led some researchers to speculate that lobsters may follow a different, if not unique, aging trajectory compared to other animals.

Lobsters continue to grow throughout their lives by molting. This involves shedding their exoskeleton and growing a new one. You might think that this process would become less efficient as the lobster ages, but that’s not the case. Each molt can result in a 14% increase in body size, irrespective of the lobster’s age.

The Age-Energy Paradox

You would assume that continuously growing and molting would require a tremendous amount of energy, and that this might become a constraint as lobsters age. Interestingly, lobsters do not face such limitations. They maintain robust metabolic rates and energy reserves, challenging the notion that energy capacity diminishes with age.

Another marvel lies in the lobster’s immune system. It doesn’t show signs of weakening with age, unlike in humans and other animals. Their robust immune systems add another layer of mystery to their already intriguing biology.

While lobsters don’t weaken with age, they aren’t immortal. Their demise usually comes from external factors like predation or disease. In their natural habitats, they have plenty of predators, including larger lobsters, fish, and even humans. As they grow bigger and older, they also become more susceptible to capture because they make for a more enticing meal.

Lobsters Don’t Age But They Don’t Live Forever

Though their bodies may not betray them, environmental conditions can still impact a lobster’s lifespan. Changes in water temperature, increased pollution, and loss of habitat can affect their longevity. Still, these factors do not trigger the internal mechanisms of decline that aging does in most other organisms.

The study of lobsters has far-reaching implications for understanding aging in other organisms, including humans. Researchers are keen on exploring whether the principles of the lobster’s longevity and resistance to aging can somehow be applied to human medicine. There’s ongoing research into telomerase, and it’s considered a hot topic in anti-aging studies.

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Source: “Are lobsters immortal?” — Natural History Museum

WTF Fun Fact 13514 – Cuddly Sharks Sleeping

National Geographic gave us a unique look into the little-known habit of “cuddly” sharks sleeping together.

Of course, when one thinks of a shark, the image that often comes to mind is that of a fierce predator. The last thing you’d imagine is a creature with “cuddly sleep habits.” But what if the way sharks rest and sleep is more fascinating than you might believe?

Understanding Sharks Sleeping

Unlike humans, sharks don’t have eyelids, so it’s challenging to determine when they’re asleep or awake by merely observing them. However, that doesn’t mean they’re always on the prowl. Sharks have periods of rest and activity, but their “sleep” is different from what we typically understand.

Most sharks need to keep moving to breathe. Water flows over their gills, providing them with the necessary oxygen. This phenomenon might make it seem like sharks never rest, but that’s not entirely true.

Do Sharks Really Sleep?

The concept of sleep in sharks is intriguing. Some species have been observed to enter a state called “tonic immobility.” This natural state of paralysis, which can last for minutes, isn’t sleep in the traditional sense. Instead, it’s more of a trance-like state where the shark becomes incredibly still and can be handled without reacting. It’s not entirely understood why sharks enter this state, but it’s believed to be a defense mechanism.

While the idea of sharks being “cuddly” is a stretch, some species do exhibit social behaviors that might surprise you. For instance, the Spotted Wobbegong, a type of carpet shark, has been observed resting in groups, often piled atop one another, almost like a group cuddle!

While this behavior is more about conserving energy and space than seeking comfort, it’s an endearing sight that shatters many shark stereotypes.

Adaptable and Ever-Evolving

The world of sharks is vast, with over 400 species, each with its unique habits and idiosyncrasies. Some species have evolved specialized methods to rest while maintaining their oxygen flow. The Spiracle, an organ located just behind the eyes of some sharks, allows them to draw water while being stationary. This adaptation enables species like the Whitetip reef shark to lie on the ocean floor and rest without constantly swimming.

While “cuddly” might be a whimsical way to describe the rest habits of sharks, there’s no doubt that these majestic creatures of the deep have a side to them that’s less understood and more fascinating than their fearsome reputation suggests.

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Source: “Rare Footage Shows the Cuddly Sleeping Habits of Sharks” — Mental Floss

WTF Fun Fact 13499 – No Private Beaches in Maui

Unlike some beach destinations around the world where private ownership can restrict public access, there are no private beaches in Maui. The Hawaiian island maintains a refreshing and inclusive stance, ensuring all beaches are public. But why does Maui champion this?

A Glimpse into Hawaiian Tradition

Hawaii’s connection with the ocean runs deep. Historically, Hawaiians lived harmoniously with the land and sea. The beach wasn’t just a leisure spot; it was a source of food, a gathering place, and a spiritual haven. With the aloha spirit deeply entrenched, the idea of restricting beach access is antithetical to traditional Hawaiian values.

The State of Hawaii codified this ethos in its Public Access Shoreline Hawaii (PASH) laws. These ensure that every beach, regardless of adjacent private property ownership, allows public access.

For Maui, this means locals and visitors alike can relish every sunset, every wave, and every grain of sand on the island’s shores. Beaches aren’t commodities to be owned; they’re treasures to be shared.

The Challenges of Ensuring There Are No Private Beaches in Maui

While this open access policy fosters community spirit and inclusivity, it’s not without challenges.

Landowners adjacent to beaches, sometimes high-profile individuals seeking privacy, must navigate the delicate balance between personal boundaries and public rights. Moreover, ensuring pathways to these beaches remain accessible also demands attention, with occasional tensions between landowners and beachgoers.

Preservation Over Privatization

Maui’s stance, while unique, is not a mere legislative quirk. It reflects a deeper commitment to preservation over privatization. The island’s culture, deeply rooted in respect for the land, clashes with the idea of roping off nature for a privileged few.

By keeping beaches public, Maui not only offers a physical space for all to enjoy but also fosters a spirit of shared responsibility. The beach becomes everyone’s kuleana, or responsibility, to cherish and protect.

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Source: “Are All Maui Beaches Public?” — Action Tour Guide

WTF Fun Fact 13472 – Failed Atlanta Nail Salon Hold-up

A failed Atlanta nail salon hold-up in July 2023 had the Internet in stitches as they watched security footage of a man leaving empty-handed. Doesn’t this guy know you should never ask a woman to reach in her purse after she gets her nails done?!

In an event as peculiar as it sounds, an attempted robbery at a nail salon in Atlanta, Georgia, didn’t go as planned. The would-be robber was practically ignored by the customers and staff he intended to intimidate.

A Robbery Like No Other

The incident happened at the Nail First salon in Atlanta – and surveillance cameras caught it all. The footage revealed a bizarre chain of events that one might find more fitting for a sitcom than a real-life crime scene.

As the video shows, a man stormed into the salon yelling, “Everybody get down! Give me your money! Give me your money!” He held a bag in his hand, pointing it threateningly at the people inside, implying he was armed with a weapon.

However, in a twist of events, customers met his commands with an astounding level of indifference. Customers remained seated, barely looking up from their salon treatments. Some even continued with their conversations, seemingly unfazed by the apparent threat. It was as if an invisible barrier of apathy had been erected around the salon. It made the robber’s demands fall on deaf ears.

One woman, seemingly unsure of how to react, slowly stood up, raising her hands in a gesture of surrender. As she walked out the door, the intruder snatched her phone. This, however, seemed to be the extent of his “success.”

His initial confidence waned as the bewildered robber found himself in a situation he likely hadn’t anticipated. No one was screaming, panicking, or handing over their belongings. It was a stark contrast to the dramatic scene he had likely imagined in his head.

Atlanta Nail Salon Apathy Wins

In the face of this unexpected and nonchalant response, customers left the would-be criminal with little choice but to give up. Dejected and empty-handed, he fled the scene, leaving behind a room full of unimpressed customers and an unforgettable surveillance tape.

The Atlanta Police Department’s Robbery Unit has since taken over the investigation. They have requested assistance from the public to identify the suspect. “Witnesses indicated the suspect entered the location wearing a blue hat, sunglasses, and blue jeans,” said Crime Stoppers Greater Atlanta. The suspect reportedly fled the scene in a silver-colored sedan.

Luckily, the intruder didn’t physically harm anyone during the incident. However the event serves as a stark reminder of the unpredictable nature of such situations and how victims may respond. In this case, indifference, a seemingly passive response, was enough to dissuade the criminal from continuing his ill-intended act.

It’s a tale that salon owners and customers alike will tell at Nail First salon for years to come – if they even bother to remember it. It’s a tale of an attempted robbery that the group thwarted not by force but by an almost comedic display of apathy.

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Source: “Robber attempts to hold up Atlanta nail salon, leaves after being ignored” — Fox News

WTF Fun Fact 13462 – Air Dropped Wolves

It’s a bird; it’s a plane – wait, it’s a helicopyer designed to accommodate air dropped wolves?!

In the vast wilderness of Isle Royale National Park, located on an island in the US Great Lakes, an unusual air-drop operation unfolded. Four Canadian wolves, transported via helicopter from their native Ontario, found themselves in new, unfamiliar territory, their mission as unique as their journey: to tackle the park’s burgeoning moose population and aid the dwindling local wolf count.

A Unique Environmental Challenge

Covering 894 square miles, Isle Royale has been grappling with an ecological imbalance. Historically, the park’s wolf population naturally kept the moose numbers in check. But the wolf count has been dwindling, leading to a surge in the moose population. This growth has put increased pressure on the island’s vegetation, threatening to destabilize the park’s ecosystem.

Adding to the challenge, in the past two decades, the formation of ice bridges – which once connected Isle Royale to the mainland – has become less frequent and less stable due to climate change. These bridges provided a pathway for new wolves to migrate to the island. Their absence left Isle Royale’s two remaining wolves effectively marooned, and prevented fresh wolf blood from bolstering the population.

The Air Dropped Wolves Solution

To rectify the situation, park authorities took an unprecedented step. Four Canadian wolves, adept at hunting moose in cold climates, were trapped in Ontario and transported via helicopter to Isle Royale. It is hoped these new additions, along with two wolves introduced in 2018, will reduce the moose population and replenish the local wolf count. Over the next five years, the National Park Service plans to bring a total of 20 to 30 wolves to the park.

The task was not without its complexities. The chosen wolves had to be neither too young nor too old, with good dental health to ensure their hunting prowess. “You don’t get to choose the wolf you trap. It could be old, young, or injured when captured,” explains John Vucetich, an ecologist leading the Wolves and Moose of Isle Royale project. This project is the longest-running study of any predator-prey system globally.

The Aftermath of Air Dropping Wolves

Once on Isle Royale, the newly-arrived wolves faced a disorienting situation. Accustomed to family packs, they found themselves in unfamiliar territory, with strangers instead of pack-mates. The initial period was likely filled with tension and uncertainty as the wolves adapted to their new surroundings and learned to find food.

But the efforts are not without risks. Relocation can be perilous for these creatures, as seen when a female wolf died last fall due to sedation complications during transport.

The Road Ahead

Despite these challenges, the ongoing project underscores a significant shift in human attitudes towards wolves. Once widely distributed, wolf populations declined significantly due to human activity. Today, attitudes have changed. “Our attitudes have changed enough to decide definitively that we want to live with wolves. But we haven’t decided how to live with wolves,” says Vucetich.

Through initiatives like the Isle Royale wolf reintroduction, we’re taking steps towards that co-existence. It’s a journey that mirrors the wolves’ own: fraught with challenges but driven by a clear, necessary goal.

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Source: “‘We want to live with them’: wolves airdropped into US to tackle moose problem” — The Guardian

WTF Fun Fact 13456 – Old Coronation Chocolate

Who wants some Cadbury coronation chocolate? Ok, what if it’s 121 years old? Less appealing?

Coronation chocolate provides a taste of history

A piece of confectionery history is up for grabs as a 121-year-old tin of Cadbury chocolates heads to auction. These untouched sweets were crafted to celebrate the coronation of King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra in 1902.

King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra’s coronation in 1902 was a monumental event, and Cadbury marked this royal milestone with a special batch of chocolates.

In a remarkable tale of preservation, the chocolates have remained untouched for over a century. The vanilla chocolates were a special gift to nine-year-old Mary Ann Blackmore, given to her at school during the year of the coronation. Rather than indulging in them, Mary Ann opted to keep the sweets as a keepsake of this historic event.

A sweet souvenir

Blackmore passed the prized chocolates down through her family over the years. Her granddaughter, Jean Thompson, aged 72, is the current custodian of this unique piece of heritage. She recently brought the tin to Hansons Auctioneers in Derby, setting the stage for the chocolates’ debut at auction.

Morven Fairlie, a representative of Hansons Auctioneers, highlighted the significance of this special gift. In the era the chocolates were made, children seldom had the chance to enjoy such treats. It’s easy to understand why Blackmore chose to treasure the chocolates rather than eat them.

The forthcoming auction at Hansons Auctioneers promises to attract bidders with a keen interest in royal memorabilia, history, and confectionery. Hanson’s estimates the tin of coronation chocolate will fetch between £100 and £150, but the final price could well exceed expectations if multiple bidders vie for this taste of history.

While the chocolates still emit a faint aroma of their original vanilla flavor, they are far beyond their use-by date. As Fairlie humorously added, “Nobody’s going to be eating it… but I wouldn’t want to risk it.”

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Source: “121-year-old Cadbury coronation chocolates to be sold at auction” — Sky News