Best of America 2013: Weird and Funny Stories
We found a few funny folks, silly stories, and surprising reasons to love our country.
from Reader's Digest Magazine | July 2013
If you auction it, we will bid.
• A tissue used by Scarlett Johansson: Sold! for $5,300.
• The opportunity to name a Connecticut woman’s baby: Sold! for $15,000.
• An image of the Virgin Mary on a cheese sandwich: Sold! for $28,000.
We won a whiskey showdown with Scotland.
The world’s best single-malt whiskey no longer hails from Scotland. It’s distilled in an old welding shop beneath a bridge in Waco, Texas. Last year, Balcones Distillery beat storied Scottish spirits to become the first American whiskey to win Best in Glass, a blind taste competition judged by a panel of British experts.
We'll sell (or buy) anything!
Linda Katz, of Prairie Tumbleweed Farm in Garden City, Kansas, sells bona fide tumbleweeds—at $15 to $25 a pop.
Cities fight over bread bragging rights.
For years, Battle Creek, Michigan, purportedly claimed to be the "Home of Sliced Bread." Until 2003, that is, when a journalist discovered the truth: In 1928, right after Otto Rohwedder invented the bread slicer, a newspaper ad heralded the arrival of the first pre-sliced loaf—in Chillicothe, Missouri.
Our inventions are low in pretty, high in practical.
Until the late 19th century, people used a variety of unpleasant items to clean up in the loo, including leaves and corncobs. Then, in the late 1880s, New York inventor Seth Wheeler wrapped narrow perforated strips of paper around cardboard tubes. And a happy ending has been had by all!
Some comedians still work clean.
"I called a discount exterminator. A guy came by with a rolled-up magazine."—Will Shriner
"I spilled spot remover on my dog, and now he’s gone."—Steven Wright
"I constantly walk into a room, and I don’t remember why. But for some reason, I think there’s going to be a clue in the fridge. "—Caroline Rhea
"I was the best man at the wedding. If I’m the best man, why is she marrying him?"—Jerry Seinfeld
Jonathan Kitchen/Getty Images
We have our own way of measuring stuff, and we're sticking with it.
Under the metric system used in other countries, the rock band Nine Inch Nails would be called Two Point Two Eight Six Decimeter Nails—just one more reason our
system rocks, according to blogger Christopher Rife.
• A fine work of speculative fiction: Ray Bradbury’s Celsius 232.78.
• Football fans’ favorite flick: The Longest 0.9144 Meters.
• The “thing in the room”: a 362.9 kilogram gorilla. See what we mean?
A person can find success as a "crochet geek."
Teresa Richardson uploaded a single how-to-crochet video to YouTube on a whim. Now she earns a living from her tutorials, which have over 173,000 subscribers, many of whom also make money from their crafts.
Siri Stafford/Getty Images
Sentiment overrides sanitation.
Despite the objections of health officials, two dozen turkey wishbones still dangle in New York City’s Civil War–era tavern, McSorley’s Old Ale House. Originally hung on a gas lamp for good luck by departing soldiers, today they remind us of the ones who never made it back.
Even our robots got game.
The Mars rover Curiosity has its very own Twitter account (#humblebrag). “I’m a-firin’ mah lazer!” was one funny tweet. Even better, it checked in on Foursquare after it touched down on the Red Planet’s surface in August 2012.