Sometimes great ideas just come falling from out of nowhere, like that apple that beaned Isaac Newton while he sat under a tree daydreaming. Such was the case with Frank Epperson, born on August 11, 1894. Frank wasn’t a scientist or an inventor or any such thing. In fact, he was only 11 years old when he had his Eureka! moment.
Little Frank, who lived in Oakland, California, loved a soda concoction made by dissolving a flavored powder in water. One day as he was mixing his drink, he was distracted by something or other and left the drink with his stirring stick on the porch, completely forgetting about it.
Well, didn’t the Oakland temperatures plummet that night to a record low. The next morning Frank discovered his drink, completely frozen, the stirring stick standing straight up. You guessed it — the very first Popsicle. Only Frank called them Epsicles when, a few years later, he began to sell them to the public at Neptune Beach and later when he applied for a patent for his “frozen confectionary.”
Somewhere along the way, he changed the name to Popsicle, and in 1925 he sold the rights to the Joe Lowe Company of New York. The Popsicle eventually acquired some cousins — Fudgsicle, Creamsicle and Dreamsicle — and in 1989 it was swallowed up by Good Humor, a subsidiary of corporate giant Unilever.
And Along Came Popsicle Pete
In 1939, Popsicle Pete became the official spokesman for Popsicle products. He was introduced on the Buck Rogers radio program, urging listeners to send in wrappers and win neat prizes. Popsicle Pete was . . . well, make your own characterization:
Why Bartlett’s Ignored Reagan
President Ronald Reagan was about to deliver a scheduled radio address on August 11, 1984. While testing his microphone before the speech, Reagan quipped: “My fellow Americans, I am pleased to tell you today that I’ve signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in five minutes.” Reagan’s aides laughed heartily at their boss’ obvious joke; many others didn’t. Some dismissed his remark as an example of poor taste while others thought it to be a major embarrassing political gaffe — certainly not his first. Reagan’s sense of humor didn’t play well with the folks at Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations who pretty much ignored him during their compiling of quotes.
Among the Reagan remarks that didn’t find their way into the noted encyclopedia of clever speech included his 1969 response as governor to student protestors at the University of California at Berkeley — “if there has to be a bloodbath then let’s get it over with,” his comparison between politics and prostitution, and these gems:
“I’ve noticed that everybody that is for abortion has already been born.”
“I am not worried about the deficit. It is big enough to take care of itself.”
“What makes him think a middle-aged actor, who’s played with a chimp, could have a future in politics?”
The Soviets, for their part, were not amused, and the president’s approval rating among American voters nosedived just long enough to give Democrats the fleeting thought that Walter Mondale might soon be president.
Exactly five years later, Vice President Dan Quayle uttered these memorable words: “Mars is essentially in the same orbit. Mars is somewhat the same distance from the sun, which is very important. We have seen pictures where there are canals, we believe, and water. If there is water, that means there is oxygen, that means we can breathe.”
A team of linguists continues to study the meaning of the quote.