Issue 20 of the Odd Stew: strange news items, oddities, plus other weird and fascinating things that have happened in the news that you may have missed.
A Fruitcake for the Ages
Conservators with the Antarctic Heritage Trust finished a project in July 2016 at Cape Adare in Antarctica which resulted in the conservation of 1,500 artifacts. In the last two weeks of the conservation, the team found something interesting in a rusted and dilapidated tin box in an old hut. It was an almost perfectly preserved 100-year-old fruitcake that was still in its paper wrapper. The fruitcake still looked like a fruitcake and even smelled like one too.
The fruitcake had been made by a British company called Huntley & Palmers and was believed to have been brought to Antarctica by Robert Falcon Scott, a British explorer who made a journey to the continent in 1910 on what was called the Terra Nova expedition. Scott made it to the South Pole with his team in 1912, but they died on the return trek to their base.
The Trust will return all of the artifacts to the original site after their conservation in accordance with the stipulations of their permit to research the site. The first buildings on Cape Adare were built in 1899 and will also be conserved. This means that the fruitcake could live on for another 100 years or more.
A Bunch of Sweet Thefts
Thieves in Neustadt, Germany, in mid-August 2017, made a big score when they stole a 20-ton trailer with cargo that was worth around $82,000. While the dollar amount is impressive, what was even more interesting is what the thieves made off with. The trailer was filled with Kinder eggs, Nutella, and other sweets. Investigators though were uncertain if the thieves were after the chocolate or just the trailer. There was also another theft in the town of Wittenberg during the same time. Thieves there stole around 30 tons of fruit juice that was in a trailer.
These sweet thefts don’t seem to be all that uncommon, however. In December 2016, police in Toronto, Canada, made a bust and broke up a crime ring that had stolen almost $5 million worth of merchandise. In addition to luxury cars, drugs, cash, and guns, police discovered that the thieves had stolen a truck full of Nutella that was valued at $16,000.
It seems Nutella is a popular choice for thieves. In 2013, in the German town of Bad Hersfeld, thieves got away with stealing 5.5 tons of the hazelnut-chocolate spread that was worth around $20,710.
A Rare Find at the Bottom of a Thrift Store Pile
Two Florida college students made a unique find at a thrift store in Titusville, Florida in August 2017. They discovered six articles of clothing under some sweaters in the store and bought the lot for $1.20. The clothing, as it turned out, were actually NASA spacesuits, specifically five blue flight suits and one white suit. The spacesuits were estimated to be valued at $5,000 each. The suits were believed to have been used on shuttle missions between 1983 and 1985 and worn by astronauts George Pinky Nelson, Robert Parker, and Charles Walker. The college students were planning to auction off the spacesuits and also planned to donate a portion of the proceeds to the American Space Museum with the remaining amount going toward their college tuitions.
A Really Big Sewage Clog
In September 2017, London water officials with Thames Water announced that something was clogging the sewer underneath the Whitechapel neighborhood in London. They even gave the clog a name because it was incredibly massive. They called it a fatberg. The 130-ton blockage was made from a mix of sanitary products and cooking fat and was considered one of the largest to have been discovered in the London sewer system. It even ran the length of two football fields. What made things even worse was that the fatberg had solidified into almost a rock-like, solid stinky mass.
A team of eight workers began to remove the blockage using high-pressure hoses and even had to use saws to cut away at the massive block. They removed about 20 to 30 tons per day. Officials said that the blockage most likely took about a year to accumulate.
The fatberg problem isn’t just limited to an old city like London, however. At the end of September 2017, Baltimore, Maryland, had a similar fatberg clog up its sewer near Penn Station. Officials there discovered the problem when the sewer began to overflow following heavy rains. It was estimated that 85% of the sewer pipe had been clogged with fat, grease, garbage, and sanitary products.
Didn’t Check That Spelling
The professional soccer team of Montpellier, France had ordered new jerseys in September 2017, but there was a problem. The jerseys came in misspelled and were missing an “l” in the city’s name. This made the city name to be spelled as Montpelier. But the city and the team took the mistake and turned it into a positive. Instead of getting rid of the jerseys, they sent them to Montpelier, Vermont.
Montpelier, Vermont officials thanked the French city and planned to give them to the Montpelier High School soccer teams to use for a few games before selling them to the community.
I Don’t Remember Swallowing That
A 47-year-old British man named Paul Baxter got an upsetting piece of news after dealing with a chronic and persistent cough. Doctors believed that the man, who was a smoker, had lung cancer, and an x-ray showed what appeared to be a tumor. Baxter’s doctor began to examine the potential tumor in his lung with a scope, and the doctor saw that there was indeed something in the man’s lung. He was unable to grasp the mass which was strangely orange. Baxter returned to the hospital later so the doctor could use a longer probe to get to whatever was in his lung. This time the doctor was successful and pulled out the orange object. Baxter didn’t have a tumor. The object the doctor pulled out was an orange Playmobil toy traffic cone.
Baxter remembered receiving the Playmobil set for his birthday at age 7 in 1977, but he never remembered swallowing it. Four months after the removal of the traffic cone, Baxter’s symptoms had improved and his cough was about gone. The doctors involved in the case wrote about it in the British Medical Journal and published their findings in September 2017.
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