Completely Useless Facts of the Week – Issue 24

March 1, 2015

uselessfacts header24The weekly collection of useless and fun facts.  In this week’s edition: Movie Pop Corn, Highest Mileage Car, BMT at Subway, Japanese Snowmen, and Mount Rushmore’s Hall of Records.

pop corn 312386 1280We start this week’s edition with a favorite activity of millions of people – spending an inordinate amount of money to go see a movie at the movie theater.  The average price of a movie ticket will set you back about eight bucks, but it can be higher depending on if it’s a blockbuster or you want to see it in 3D.  If you just want to see a movie only, you may make it out of there with your wallet partially intact, but we all know a movie goes better with food.  In that case, a trip to the concession stand is in order, and it invariably includes a bag of movie popcorn, which costs more per ounce than filet mignon, around $5.50 a bag.  Is it made from special corn seeds that have been cultivated into some rare concoction available only to movie theaters?  No, they’re just regular popcorn kernels that you could buy at the supermarket.  What makes them different is that they’re attached to a form of entertainment, and the movie theaters say it’s how they stay in business.

When a theater shows a movie they have to pay about 70% or more of the ticket price back to the studios that made the movie.  They didn’t pay to make the movie so it probably makes sense that they don’t reap a lion share of the profits.  But the theaters still have to stay in business, and they do that by the action at the concession stand.  Theaters get to keep 100% of the profits from their concessions and this helps pay for the lights, sound, cooling, heating – anything that allows the theater to stay open.  So if you paid the real price for a bag of popcorn, which might be a dollar or two, you would end up paying the rest of the price back at the ticket counter.  This isn’t good for the theater owners or the studios.  Since a ticket is required to see a movie, but a trip to the concession stand is not, the theaters at least want you to get in the door.  It’s your decision if you want to indulge in their exquisite popcorn.   Source

Additional useless fact: People not only buy more popcorn when there is a good movie playing, but a sad movie actually boosts popcorn sales over other types of movies.  Remember that when you’re ready to see the latest tear-jerker.   Source

Volvo P1800 1966
Same Model, but not the actual car          Lglswe/Wikimedia

Irv Gordon set an impressive record with the help of his car.  He passed the 3-million mile mark in his 1966 Volvo P1800 during a trip on Highway 1 in Alaska in 2013.  It’s the most miles driven by a single car.  He initially set the world record in 1998 and never quit going.  Gordon bought the car new (his car is red) and piled on the miles almost immediately.  It didn’t hurt his cause that he had a 125-mile commute and managed to hit 500,000 miles in ten years.  He hit the next milestone of 1-million miles in New York’s Central Park after twenty years driving the car and hit 2-million miles in 2002, also in New York.  As of 2013, Gordon continued to drive the car at the age of 74.  We’re not sure if Volvo has contacted him about being a spokesman.  I’m sure that would be a good move on their part.   Source


Subway has over 35,000 restaurants scattered across the globe, and the best-selling sandwich at Subway is the Italian BMT, a sandwich consisting of pepperoni, salami, and ham.  The acronym “BMT” originally stood for the Brooklyn Manhattan Transit subway system in New York City, an ode to the company’s name, Subway.  The Brooklyn Manhattan Transit Corporation ran the original BMT route until it was purchased by the city in 1940.  It’s now part of the J, L, M, N, Q, and R trains in New York City.  Subway paid homage to these routes on wallpaper that decorated their earlier restaurants.  The sandwich was first introduced in 1975, but it no longer stands for the BMT line.  It was changed for an advertising campaign and now stands for ‘Biggest, Meatiest, and Tastiest’.  Even though Subway sells submarine sandwiches, they’ve never advertised them using an actual submarine.  The closet they came was back in the beginning of the company when Subway started as “Peter’s Super Submarines” in 1965.   Source, Source

Meredith P./Flickr

If you’re ever in Japan during the winter and happen to see a snowman, it probably would look a bit peculiar to the ones your accustomed to. For one thing, they’ll seem to be missing their mid-section.  In Japan, snowmen (or women) are made from two snowballs rather than three.  The Japanese word for snowman is “yukidaruma”.  This is a combination of the word “yuki”, which means snow, and “daruma” which is the name for a Zen-Buddhist monk from a long time ago named, Bodhidharma.  “Daruma” dolls are also round figures that are bought as good luck charms.  They’re small, red dolls with no arms or legs, and they just so happen to resemble the snowmen in Japan.  So the Japanese have a good reason for having two snowballs instead of three on their snowmen.  Maybe the North American snowball is the odd one (there’s also a joke in that last statement).  Source, Source

Hall of Records Behind Mt. RushmoreThere’s a secret place behind Mt. Rushmore that few really know exists.  It’s a secret room called the Hall of Records.  It was the idea of the monument’s sculptor, Gutzon Borglum.  Borglum didn’t want to stop at the carvings of the four presidents.  Initially he wanted to carve the Louisiana Purchase outline with important dates and events in America’s history inside it.  That plan didn’t work out so he came up with an idea to store America’s most important documents in a vault so that they would be stored throughout time.  Borglum got as far as making a chamber in the side of the mountain but the pressing issue of completing the presidents came first.  Borglum died in 1941 before the work could be completed on the Hall of Records.

In 1998, the plan to complete the Hall of Records began again with a revision to the original plan.  Sixteen porcelain enamel panels with the text from the Constitution, Bill of Rights, the Declaration of Independence, and a biography of Borglum as well as the four presidents on Mount Rushmore, were put in a teakwood box.  The box was then placed in a titanium vault and put in the unfinished vault.  It was then sealed with a 1,200 pound granite cap.  Since its purpose is to explain the country’s existence to future civilizations and future archaeologists, the Hall of Records is closed to the public.

It should be said that portions of Borglum’s life are steeped in controversy, specifically dealing with his association with the Ku Klux Klan while working on the Robert E. Lee’s bust at Stone Mountain in Georgia before working on Mount Rushmore.  But Mount Rushmore is still a wondrous feat, and it, along with the Hall of Records will be markers for the nation’s history for future generations.

Another edition of the Useless Facts of the Week is complete. Remember to annoy those around you with your new found knowledge.

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About the author 

Daniel Ganninger - The writer, editor, and chief lackey of Knowledge Stew, the author of the Knowledge Stew line of trivia books, and editor of Fact World and the Knowledge Stew sister site on Medium, our ad-free subscription sites. I hope you learn many new things here that add to your knowledge.

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