Ridiculous History

Ridiculous History

History is beautiful, brutal and, often, ridiculous. Join Ben Bowlin and Noel Brown as they dive into some of the weirdest stories from across the span of human civilization in Ridiculous History, a podcast by iHeartRadio.... Show More

Episodes

If you're listening to this podcast, you definitely know about cat memes. At this point, they're almost like an internet currency all their own. But far before the days of WiFi, Reddit, nyan cat and grumpy cat alike, one man set the art world on fire with his increasingly bizarre paintings and sketches of cats. Join Ben, Noel and Casey as they welcome special guest Gabe Luzier on air (finally!) to explore the strange story ...

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In the early 20th century, rural US residents were all-too-accustomed to scraping by, often by any means necessary. Families without the means to buy what they wanted invented ingenious ways of recycling or reusing as much as they possibly could -- you mended the tools you could not replace, you worked with what little food you had -- and, in this spirit, you made the clothes you couldn't afford to buy. Thus was the feedsack dr...

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When Emperor Tiberius first ascended to the throne in AD 14, he seemed to be a principled reformer set on cleaning up the empire -- checking excesses and abuses, erasing loopholes and banning astrologers. However, the death of his son seemed to push him into a severely unbalanced mental state. His paranoia and cruelty were extreme (even for an Emperor) and, eventually, he found he preferred to eschew politics altogether, reigning a...

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History is riddled with bizarre stories of flexes — things people of the past thought were somehow impressive at time. The Ridiculous Historians are fascinated by these strange stories, as are their friends at The Daily Zeitgeist. Join Ben and Noel as they welcome returning guests Jack O'Brien and Miles Gray, hosts of The Daily Zeitgeist, to explore more of history's weirdest flexes, from Henry Ford's weird town in Braz...

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History is riddled with bizarre stories of flexes — things people of the past thought were somehow impressive at time. The Ridiculous Historians are fascinated by these strange stories, as are their friends at The Daily Zeitgeist. Join Ben and Noel as they welcome returning guests Jack O'Brien and Miles Gray, hosts of The Daily Zeitgeist, to explore more of history's weirdest flexes, from predecessors of photoshop to one of...

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Today, Curious George is a world-famous star of children's books -- but back in the day, his name was Fifi, and his creators, the Rey couple, were desperate to flee France as Nazi forces pushed ever closer to Paris. Tune in to learn how Curious George saved his own creators not once, not twice, but three separate times.

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For millennia various luminaries have claimed precious metals have special curative powers -- and, back in the day, people used to actually drink it. They were convinced the ingestion of gold would prevent them from aging, wrinkling and growing frail. So how did this would-be beauty secret actually affect people's bodies? Tune in to learn more about drinking gold.

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For a brief span of time, farmers in New Zealand were baffled by a bizarre phenomenon -- their pants were smoldering, catching fire, and sometimes exploding, seemingly at random. So what exactly happened? Join the guys as they delve (and solve) the mystery of New Zealand's exploding pants.

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Nowadays, most people use the term 'trainwreck' to describe a situation gone catastrophically wrong, but back in the glory days of the railroad, trainwrecks -- actual trainwrecks -- became PR stunts and spectator sports. Tune in to learn more about of the Crash at Crush.

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Nowadays, "The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha" has no shortage of accolades. You'll hear it called the first modern novel, one of the greatest works in the Spanish canon and so on -- and it's always been a blockbuster, even when the first part of the novel initially published back in 1605. The 1605 volume ends with a tease of a sequel, one that Cervantes would later publish in 1615. But there's a t...

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When CIA agent Jon Wiant began growing a spy operation in Vietnam, he ran into a pickle: the locals he wanted to hire lived in rural areas along the boarder with Laos, and they existed primarily in a barter economy -- they wanted some sort of payment, but they didn't want currency. What's a spymaster to do? Listen in to learn how Jon Wiant used the famous Sears catalog to create a barter system of his own.

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April 16, 2020 37 min

In 1749 London, a mob of people gathered outside The Theatre Royal -- the city was abuzz with excitement over a recent advertisement promising an amazing performance: a magician was planning to perform a number of extraordinary feats -- he would name strangers, play music on walking sticks and more. Most impressively, he would, through the use of magic, climb into a normal-sized wine bottle. One problem: This was the result of a se...

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It's an old trope, and a familiar one: Four and twenty blackbirds flying from a pie, a scantily-clad woman emerging from a giant cake. Nowadays it's often thought of as a trope in folklore -- but where did it come from? Join Ben, Noel and Casey as they explore the weird, ridiculous history of living things jumping from baked goods.

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On the evening of February 17th, 1864, the HL Hunley became the first submarine in history to successfully sink an enemy ship. Immediately after this attack, the HL Hunley disappeared. More than a century passed. Join the gang with Rachel Lance, author of In The Waves, as they dive into the mystery of the Hunley.

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April 7, 2020 40 min

In the 1890s, France found itself in the groups of a bizarre, troubling epidemic -- scores of men were, apparently, wandering off in a trance-like state, only to come to their senses days or weeks later, sometimes miles from home, or even in a different country. Physicians called it dromomania, or 'pathological tourism.' But what was the root cause of this seemingly contagious disorder? Join the guys as they dive into the m...

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It's true -- once upon a time the isolated town of Key West, Florida not only seceded from the Union, but declared war on the United States (for about sixty seconds). Tune in to learn more about the short-lived Conch Republic.

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You've probably heard the old saying "the best thing since sliced bread" -- and back in the day, people in the US were genuinely over the moon about presliced bread, thanks to the work of Otto Rohwedder and his automatic bread slicer. Yet during World War II, panic over the country's food supply led to a brief ban on presliced bread... and that's when things got ugly. Tune in to learn more.

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Imagine you're working in a field in the tiny community of 12th-century Woolpit, England, and encounter two green-skinned children with no knowledge of your language, a strangely specific diet, and a mystifying origin story. What would you do? Join the guys as they explore the strange story of the mysterious 'Green Children' of Woolpit, England, separating fact from folklore in an attempt to discern the truth at the hea...

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At multiple, pivotal moments in the Cold War, Pepsi and Coke waged Cola wars all their own. The guys team up for the first episode of Ridiculous History: Quarantine.

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March 19, 2020 55 min

Nowadays most people are familiar with the term 'Ponzi scheme' -- but where does it come from? How did the scheme work, and why is it called a Ponzi scheme today? Chelsea Ursin, Boston native and creator of Dear Young Rocker, joins the guys to explore the fascinating, ridiculous story behind the Ponzi scheme.

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Ben Bowlin
Ben Bowlin
Noel Brown
Noel Brown

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