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

October 22, 2020 23 min

Like any recipe, instructions for creating a Hand of Glory often varied - which one was considered legitimate? Also, the guys explore the odd, morbid magical item known as 'necropants,' and discuss the specifics of drinking beverages containing a severed human toe.

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If you were an enterprising thief in the days of yore, there were few legendary tools as valuable as the grisly Hand of Glory -- the severed hand of a criminal, magically treated to create a macabre, powerful talisman. Join the guys as they delve into the dubious origins of this strange creation in the first part of this two-part series.

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Could the stereotype of witches on broomsticks actually be a drug reference? Join Ben, Noel and Casey as they continue digging through the history and folklore of witchcraft -- and how it affected pop culture in the modern day -- in the conclusion of this 2-part series.

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Most people are familiar with the stereotypical image of a witch: a haggard, often older individual with a peaked hat, black robes, a demonic familiar and, oddly enough, a penchant for cruising around on broomsticks. But where did that last, weirdly specific, trope of flying on a broomstick actually come from? Join the guys as they explore the bizarre (and racy) theories behind the story in part one of this two-part episode.

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As the investigation into the Beast became a national obsession, the French monarchy stepped in, offering rewards (and threats) in their attempt to capture the murderous creature. In part two of this episode, Ben, Noel and Casey explore the end of the tale (tail? Nevermind.) and the mystery of the case that remains unsolved in the modern day.

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For three years, a monster terrified the backwater region of Gévaudan. From 1764 - 1767, people found the mutilated corpses, one by one, across the countryside. The press of the time, unable to cover political stories, brought the story of The Beast to France at large. A legend was born.

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On the first of April in 1957, cameraman Charles de Jaeger's childhood dream came true: Panorama, Britain's most popular news program, aired a segment describing the traditional method of harvesting spaghetti from trees.

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September 29, 2020 52 min

Today, pinball is seen as a sort of retro novelty -- it's enjoyable, kitschy and wholesome. Yet for decades, political officials in cities across the United States worried pinball might lead to the downfall of the nation's children, become a driving force for organized crime, and dissolve the moral fabric of the US. So what led to this odd war on pinball -- and why aren't people worried about these games in the modern d...

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September 25, 2020 39 min

Wade Boggs is a legendary, larger-than-life figure in the world of sports -- but one of his strangest achievements has nothing to do with baseball. Join the guys and special guest, Matthew Waxman, the creator of Trickeration, as they delve into the legend of Wade's 107 beer airplane flight... and walk through some very boozy math to discover whether the legend is true.

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September 22, 2020 54 min

Wade Boggs has always been regarded as a legend, both on and off the ballfield. However, some of his strangest experiences have very little to do with baseball. Join Ben, Noel, and special guest Matthew Waxman, the creator of Trickeration, as they explore the bizarre story of the Wade Boggs sex scandal.

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September 17, 2020 42 min

Before the rise of household automation, British elites struggled to find the perfect method for cooking meat. They preferred it roasted, slowly, turning continually on a spit to evenly distribute heat. Yet this backbreaking labor proved too difficult for even the most spry peasant child, and so they turned to an innovative (if cruel) alternative: Breeding dogs specifically to turn meat spits. These 'Turnspit Dogs' occupied...

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When adapting to life as factory employees, members of the British and Irish public confronted a new, unexpected obstacle -- how do you make sure you wake up in time for your shift? While predecessors of the alarm clock existed, they were unreliable (and incredibly expensive). And so enterprising people across the land started their own wake-up service, becoming the human alarm clocks affectionately known as 'Knocker-Uppers....

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Don't let reality television and wrestling fool you -- celebrity rivalries are a tale as old as entertainment itself. In 1849, the rivalry between two Shakespearean actors culminated in a massive riot that would leave more than 20 people dead in the street. Listen in to learn more about the infamous Shakespeare riot... as well as the sociocultural tensions that actually drove the fray.

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Nowadays, incubators are a common sight in hospitals across the US -- but, once upon a time, this life-saving technology was treated like a sideshow attraction. Hundreds of thousands of people flocked to 'Infantoriums' to marvel at how incubators were able to keep babies born prematurely both healthy and safe. And, the publicity generated by these side shows may be, in part, the reason this technology is in hospitals today.

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September 3, 2020 48 min

In the years leading to the US Civil War, Uncle Sam searched for some way to safely traverse the desert. Horses, mules and humans alike often died of thirst in the unforgiving climate. Jefferson Davis, the the Secretary of War, proposed the military consider an ancient solution: Camels. Tune in to learn more about the rise (and fall) of the US Camel Corps.

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In the days before London found itself riddled with Rolodexes and Lamborghinis, the Crown controlled a now-obscure status symbol: the swan. Every single unmarked swan was the property of the Crown -- and woe betide those who touched a swan without express permission.

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As the tide of war turns toward the inevitable defeat of the Nazis, the staff of the secret horse farm fear the oncoming, starving Russian forces will consume their prized Lippizaner horses. In desperation, the farm turns to an unlikely source for help -- the US Army. Tune in as Ben and Noel explore the strange story of the Nazi super horse program.

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Adolf Hitler was inarguably a terrible person. He was also weirdly focused on resurrecting Germany's horse industry. Tune in as Ben and Noel explore the strange story of the Nazi super horse program.

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Nowadays the world is divided into a series of 'time zones.' Yet before the 1880s, towns across the United States ran on a sort of local time -- when you left one town, you often traveled slowly enough to adjust, without much hassle, to the new time in the next community. So, where did this concept of standardized time come from? Spoiler alert: Desperate railroad companies.

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We've all heard about the practice of smashing a champagne bottle against the hull of a ship before launching it -- but where does this practice come from? Join the guys as they delve into the surprisingly ancient practice of commemorating ship launches, from ancient Babylon to the modern day.

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