Sea-Monkeys is a brand name for brine shrimp—a group of crustaceans that undergo cryptobiosis—sold in hatching kits as novelty aquarium pets.
Developed in 1957 by Harold von Braunhut, the product was heavily marketed, especially in comic books, and remains a presence in popular culture.
Von Braunhut collaborated with marine biologist Dr. Anthony D’Agostino to develop the proper mix of nutrients and chemicals in dry form that could be added to plain tap water to create a purified habitat for the shrimp to thrive. Von Braunhut was granted a patent for this process.
Initially called “Instant Life” von Braunhut changed the name to “Sea-Monkeys” in 1962.
The new name was based on the supposed resemblance of the animals’ tails to those of monkeys, and their salt-water habitat.
Sea-Monkeys were intensely marketed in comic books using illustrations by the comic-book illustrator Joe Orlando. These showed humanoid animals that bear no resemblance to the crustaceans.
Many purchasers were disappointed by the dissimilarity, and by the short lifespan of the animals.
Von Braunhut is quoted as stating: “I think I bought something like 3.2 million pages of comic book advertising a year. It worked beautifully”.
Cheer/groan (delete according to mindset): The X Factor is back. Author Jeremy Clay tells the story of the show’s Victorian forebear, where the hopefuls had to sing while carrying a pig.
There was no sobbing. None of the hopefuls told a weepy backstory. Not a single one boohoo-ed about the journey they’d been on since the contest began.
At the Victorian version of the X Factor, the talent show format was stripped right back to its bare bones.
Just six contestants and a stage, each and every man singing his heart out to impress the judges.
While carrying a pig.
This singular scene played out in London in 1896, the harebrained brainwave of an auctioneer called CF Rowley.
He wanted to drum up a bumper crowd for his sales.
Putting on a bit of a show to jolly things along seemed a perfectly sensible way of going about it, even if the requirement to hold a hog didn’t.
The High Road, Willesden Green.
Still, it seemed to do the job. Up to 1,500 people crammed into the marquee in Willesden Green, and they weren’t just there for the hammy performances.
There was also a wheelbarrow race, a hot tea-drinking showdown and some non-specific whatnottery involving a chap dressed in a donkey’s skin that the press alluded to but never got round to properly explaining
The yawning caves near the town of Zugarramurdi in northern Spain may not be covered in impressive rock formations, but the cavernous space has long been rumored to have been home to witchcraft and other pagan practices that were once the focus of the largest single witch trial in history.
According to popular belief, during the 17th century (and before) these wide rock enclosures were witness to bonfires, wild parties, and other generally pagan festivities staged by the town locals.
The caves themselves were carved by the Olabidea stream which is said to originate in Hell itself, which may be where the stories of witchcraft began. However the haunting space could easily be taken for a hotbed of black magic via its atmosphere alone.
Whether true or not, the caves and the town of Zugarramurdi caught the attention of the Spanish Inquisition’s witch hunters who investigated the area and identified a number of citizens who were tried at the largest witch trial in history (over 7,000 cases were seen).
A number of the accused were put to death and the town and its large caves were forever associated with the dark arts.
Today the town embraces this legacy and in addition to establishing a Witch Museum, the town holds a raucous yearly feast in the Cave of Zugarramurdi.
Every year, around the time of the summer solstice (a pagan holiday) scores of lamb are roasted on spits in the traditional manner and bonfires are lit in and around the cave.
Hundreds of people flock to the event to celebrate the area’s supposed occult history, and thankfully not one of them is burned at the stake.