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

February 2, 2023 46 min

Nutrition is a big deal -- across the United States, tons of kids learned the basics of nutrition through a handy infographic called the 'Food Pyramid,' which laid out how much of a given food group the average person should consume. But there's much, much more to the story than what you'd see in the average textbook. Join Ben, Noel and Max as they dive into the story of the food pyramid -- and how big business succ...

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If you've ever been to a great concert or a banging dance party, then you know sometimes the spirit can overwhelm you -- you might feel compelled to dance. For most people this is a delightful experience... however, this wasn't the case for several unfortunate communities in Medieval Europe. In today's episode, Ben, Noel and Max explore the strange store of Europe's Dancing Plagues, also called St. Vitus' Dance.

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After just three seasons, the original run of Star Trek reached syndication -- which would become key to everything that happened afterward. In the second part of this series, Ben, Noel and Max explore the fundamental cultural shifts triggered by Star Trek, and how the depiction of a more equal society (however fictional that depiction might be) genuinely changed the world.

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Nowadays Star Trek is more than just a show -- it's a global pop culture phenomenon, with measurable impacts on the real world. In part one of this special two-part series, Ben, Noel and resident Trexpert Max explore just how close Star Trek came, multiple times, to extinction. 

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Cereal is everywhere these days. While diet trends come and go, those ubiquitous boxes and mascots seem here to stay -- and, in some cases, it seems people are buying an idea as much as buying a foodstuff. In part two of this two-part series, Ben, Noel and Max trace the brilliant, at-times Machiavellian marketing moves that led cereal to glory... and ask how long those days may last.

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Cereal is everywhere nowadays, but how did it become a thing? For most of us, this stuff is the ultimate convenient breakfast, and even the most sugary varieties claim to offer nutritional benefits and a balanced start to your day -- even if those claims may be a bit... misleading. In the first part of this two-part series, Ben, Noel and Max dive deep into the (at times bizarre) origin story of modern breakfast cereal.

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It takes a lot of skill -- and luck -- to become the President of the United States. We always hear about the folks who won elections... but what about the folks who lost, not once, but multiple times? In part one of this continuing series, Ben, Noel and Max dive into the strange stories of presidential candidates who ran and lost. Then ran again, and lost again. (And then sometimes ran, and lost, again.)

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January 11, 2023 44 min

Out of all the weirdly specific inventions for your yard, the leaf blower remains the most controversial (by far). In today's long-overdue episode, Ben, Noel and Max cut past the noise to figure out just where these things came from, how they work -- and why critics argue "the devil's hairbrush" isn't just annoying... but also potentially dangerous.

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As the Mob clamps down on possible terrorists in the New York docks, the organization looks for new ways to expand their partnership with Uncle Sam -- as it turns out, they have a lot of connections in Sicily, and their assistance just may help the Allies win some decisive battles. Learn more in part two of this special two-part series.

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After the suspicious destruction of the USS Lafayette in Manhattan, the Navy became convinced saboteurs may be at work on American soil. There was another problem -- try as they might, they couldn't infiltrate the notoriously shady dockworker culture, which was in large part run by organized crime. This conundrum led to one of the strangest partnerships in the history World War II: the US Navy, hat in hand, came to the Mafia an...

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In 1422, King Charles VI died after ruling France for more than 40 years. He was also remembered as Charles the Mad, in part because he was convinced that his body was made of glass and would shatter upon contact with other people. In today's classic episode, we will revisit this condition, known as the glass delusion, which would continue to pop up through medieval Europe until the late 19th century, seemingly disappearing in ...

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December 27, 2022 27 min

When Lord Victor Rothschild first heard the news, he was incredulous -- surely Nazi Germany wasn't seriously planning to assassinate Winston Churchill with an exploding chocolate bar. However, he learned the intelligence reports were solid. In today's classic episode, we will learn what Rothschild did to prevent this before the Prime Minister fell victim to a literal death by chocolate.

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Throughout history, despite all their occasional arguments to the contrary, members of royal families have been just as human as everyone else. In part two of this continuing series, Ben, Noel and Max dive into more stories of ridiculous deaths, from plans to become immortal, to an obsession with testing the boundaries of food allergies, and more. 

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It's no secret that the lives of historical royalty have often been filled with triumph and tragedy -- and, sadly, many royals have met strange, untimely ends. In today's episode, Ben, Noel and Max dive into some of history's strangest (and most ridiculous) deaths.

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Here in the modern day, most people don’t love going to the dentist — but we still have it much better than the dental patients of yesteryear! In today's classic episode, we join the guys as they dive into a strange, grisly story from the early days of dentistry.

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Mustard! Whether you like it, love it, or hate it, you've almost definitely tried it in one of many varieties. In this installment of their continuing series on the ridiculous history of condiments, Ben, Noel and Max explore mustard's ancient origins all the way up the modern day.

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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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Ben Bowlin

Ben Bowlin

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