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.

Episodes

December 8, 2022 37 min

When Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. won the Nobel Prize, Atlanta Mayor Ivan Allen, Jr. spearheaded a interdenominational celebration of King's work -- but many business leaders refused to go along. In fact, the whole thing may have fallen through were it not for the Coca-Cola company. Tune in to learn more.

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Do you like Tang? Are you known to gobble Pop Rocks, or find yourself lying awake at night, worried about the world's supply of tapioca substitutes? If so, you might be surprised to learn one brilliant, prodigious food scientist single-handedly changed the world with these inventions and more. In today's episode, Ben, Noel and Max explore the story of William A. Mitchell, the real-life Willy Wonka behind everything from Coo...

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Everyone's heard of the Olympics. This global competition brings athletes from around the world together to compete in various sports -- but, not too long ago, one man led the charge to bring artists, sculptors, musicians and more into the fray, with medal-worthy competitions of their own. In today's episode, the guys explore how this became part of the Olympics... and why the organization eventually revoked every single me...

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If you live near any large city outside of mainland China, you may have seen advertisements for the world-famous Shen Yun Performing Arts Company, a US-based non-profit known for its elaborate shows in over 130 locations across the planet. But you might not know the full story of this company's origin. In today's episode, Ben, Noel and Max explore the strange origin of Shen Yun -- along with that of the religious movement, ...

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Hey, it's us, your pals Ben, Noel and Max from Ridiculous History. We figured the holidays can be stressful for everyone, and we're pretty sure you've heard the history of Thanksgiving countless times. So instead of telling you that story, we decided to celebrate by exploring the weird history of TV dinners and microwave meals -- none of which would exist if the food company Swanson hadn't accidentally found itself ...

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For members of the mob, the plot to kidnap J. Paul Getty's grandson was a home run -- after all, what's a few million to a literal billionaire? Yet, as it turns out... the mob didn't know who they were messing with. In the second part of this two-part series, Ben, Noel and Max explore a series of terrifying events that led to one of most ridiculous examples of miserliness in human history.

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It's often said that money doesn't buy happiness -- and, in the tragic case of the Getty family, it seems that saying holds true. In part one of this two-part series, Ben, Noel and Max explore Getty's origin story, his infamously... let's say... 'thrifty' nature, and how he earned a reputation of one of the coldest businessmen in modern history.

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On his adventures into MAGA country, Jordan Klepper encounters some of the more imaginative, conspiratorial minds America has to offer. In “Jordan Klepper Fingers the Conspiracy,” a new, six-episode limited podcast series, Jordan steps off the trail to dig deep into some of the wildest theories he’s heard, and trace their origins with journalists, experts, and anyone who might have a lead on when JFK Jr. is coming back. The podcast...

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November 15, 2022 31 min

While it may be unfamiliar to many folks outside the region, the 6th-smallest country in Europe has a fascinating history all its own. In today's episode, Ben, Noel and Max dive into the strange origin story of Andorra, from its ancient past to the modern day.

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November 10, 2022 40 min

Picked at random from a pet store, a humble grey parrot named Alex went on to fundamentally alter the way humans think about animal cognition. In today's episode, Ben, Noel and Max explore how animal psychologist Irene Pepperberg and her parrot pal Alex spent three decades proving it's actually pretty impressive to be 'bird brained.'

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Years before he became a world-famous actor, Christopher Lee did wetwork with elite special forces during World War II. Before entering public office, Harry Truman almost ruined his life by starting a haberdashery. In part two of this continuing series, Ben, Noel and Max explore the ins and outs of more surprising former careers.

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Ketchup is in almost 97% of US homes today -- and, while this statistic may sound surprising, it turns out there's a long story behind this humble condiment. In today's episode, Ben, Noel and Max trace the origin of ketchup from its ancient predecessors in Southern China and the Mediterranean to the introduction of the tomato all the way to the modern day. Tune in for the first episode in our continuing series on the histor...

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There's no two ways about it: tape is a pretty handy, amazing thing -- and one we often take for granted. In today's episode, Ben, Noel and Max dive deep into the origin story of Scotch tape, uncovering the weird prejudice behind the name, as well as the journey of the young man who changed the world with his... well, let's call it stick-to-it-iveness. 

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Silent films took the world by storm, but the material they were manufactured from was notoriously -- cartoonishly -- flammable. Soon multiple studio buildings were burning to the ground. There wasn't always a spark involved, either: sometimes this stuff just spontaneously combusted. In part two of this two-part series, Ben, Noel and Max explore how silent films became so endangered in the modern day. 

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For a relatively brief period of time, silent films rocked the world of entertainment. However, these nitrate- and acetate-based films proved both fragile -- and downright dangerous. In the first part of this two-part series, Ben, Noel and Max dive into the strange story of how so many silent films ended up lost forever.

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October 20, 2022 45 min

While hot tubs may not always have the... best reputation in some circles, there's no denying people across the world love a good, hot soak after a long day. And we've loved this since antiquity, all the way back to the first time humans found natural hot springs. In today's episode, Ben, Noel and Max dive into the strange origin of hot tubs, from millennia past all the way to the modern day. 

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As a known agitator, Eugene V. Debs soon caught the attention of the US power structure -- and his outspoken nature led to him to court. In part two of this two-part series, Ben, Noel and Max explore how the Espionage Act resulted in Eugene's incarceration... and how he ran for the office of President while literally imprisoned. 

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You may not have heard of Eugene V. Debs before this podcast -- but in his day this political activist was one of the most prominent (and at-times controversial) figures in the United States. In part one of this two-part series, Ben, Noel and Max explore Gene's origin story, from his early career in the railroad industry to his growing status as a trade unionist and agitator of the status quo.

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October 11, 2022 52 min

Virtually every foodie is aware of the Michelin Guide -- the last word in high-end restaurant ratings -- but originally came about as a way to sell more cars (and, ultimately, tires). In today's episode with research associate Geoff Bartlett, Ben, Noel and Max dive deep into the origins of the Michelin guide, as well as Michelin's iconic mascot Bibendum, the Michelin Man. Spoiler: the Michelin Man was originally the absolut...

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In his heyday, Japanese author Yukio Mishima was one of the most well-known writers in the world. But where did he come from -- and what on Earth led to his strange demise? In part two of this two-part episode, Ben, Noel and Max welcome research associate Zach Williams in his first on-air appearance. 

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