Whether you paid attention in class or spent your time flipping through the pages of a history book, as patriotic as any of us might be, there are some things about American history and culture that somehow just don’t get mentioned. Why? Well, because they are either bizarre, unbelievable (despite being true), or downright false!
Well don’t worry dear reader, we’re about to make you say ‘wait……WHAT!’ a lot in this article as we break down some American facts that will leave you with a whole host of facial expressions like smiling, frowning, or just plain old confusion.
1. Our Bald Eagle Has Been Lip-syncing?
Chosen as the national bird of the United States way back in 1782, the bald eagle took its majestic place on the Great Seal of our country. Its enduring image has also made its way onto the president’s flag, the mace of the House of Representatives, military insignia, and countless one-dollar bills. Its powerful and piercing, loud cry echoes throughout the land……
Yea, not really. That patriotic “bald eagle screech” is a complete lie. Anytime you hear that sound, it’s actually a red-tailed hawk. Why the deception? Well, if we’re honest, the real sound of a bald eagle is somewhat unimpressive.
2. Abraham Lincoln, Wrestlemania?
Lincoln may be remembered as one of America’s greatest heroes due to his role as savior of the Union and emancipator of enslaved people, but he is remembered in a different way in his home of Sangamon County in Illinois.
Once described as able to “outrun, outlift, outwrestle and throw down any man in Sangamon County,” Honest Abe’s 300 matches (with only one defeat), saw his name added to the Wrestling Hall of Fame.
3. Uncle Sam is REAL???
You have no doubt seen this illustrated figure sternly pointing with serious intent, telling you how much he wants you to join the U.S. Army with his star-adorned white top hat and his appropriate red, white and blue attire, but he was actually a meatpacker from Troy, N.Y.
Samuel Wilson had gained a reputation for his friendliness while doing business in the meat industry, so when he fought in the American Revolution and became official meat inspector for the northern army in the War of 1812, the troops joked that the U.S. on the meat labels stood for ‘Uncle Sam’ and the idea stuck.
4. Babies Drink Beer?
Although not something we would recommend, if you were a member of the famous American brewery dynasty, the Anheuser-Busch company, you’d think otherwise. The Budweiser family business passed from father to son for five generations and were so obsessed with the making of beer, that each first-born son was required to taste its beer before anything else, including their mother’s milk.
While we can’t say for certain that this tradition carries on as the Anheuser-Busch Cos. Inc was bought by Belgium-based InBev in 2008, but if you ever visit Belgium and see two babies fist fighting over a game of pool, maybe?
5. This One Might Be a Stretch, even for a President…..
If you’re not a fan of baseball, (what??? are you Russian or something???) you might not know that the ‘Seventh-Inning Stretch’ is. Basically, it’s a long-standing tradition that takes place between the halves of the seventh inning of a game where fans take a moment to have a bit of a stretch of their appendages.
The legend goes that President Taft was attending a game and was uncomfortable in the little wooden chair he was sitting in. So, he rose to have a bit of a stretch. Thinking that the commander in chief was leaving and showing due respect, the crowd rose with him.
6. As American as WHAT???
Ahhhh, the Mall of America, recognized as the largest shopping and entertainment complex in the United States and a symbol of American enterprise, retail, entertainment and attractions. Buuuuuuuuut, it’s not exactly American, despite what the name might suggest.
This symbol of American consumerism is actually a Canadian invention. Conceived, designed, built and owned by the Triple Five Group, which is based in Edmonton, Canada, this mall is about as American as maple syrup.
7. Celebrating our Independence Day….. Days, Wait….. WHAT???
You may crack open a beer and chow down on a tasty burger while watching the fireworks light up the American sky as we celebrate our independence from the British Empire on the 4th July 1776, but sorry to break it to you…… you’re two days late!
The Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia actually voted to approve a resolution of independence on July 2nd. July 4th is when Congress adopted the official Declaration of Independence. Many of the people involved didn’t even sign it until August!!!
8. The Presidential Birthday Suit
When the leader of our country addresses the nation, they stand there with poise and dignity, and….. ummmm…. clothes, right? Well, sure, but when they are not standing at a podium or behind the desk in the Oval Office, let’s just say more than one of them liked to go swimming completely in the nude.
That was certainly the case for Presidents John Quincy Adams and Theodore Roosevelt who liked nothing better than skinny dipping in the Washington D.C. stretch of the Potomac. If reports are to be
believed, FDR, Kennedy, Johnson and Carter were also a bit partial to swimming in their birthday suits.
9. Lady Liberty Stole Morton’s Toe
If you ever find yourself at the feet of the colossal neoclassical sculpture on Liberty Island in New York Harbor within New York City, better known as The Statue of Liberty, you might notice something about her toes.
Morton’s Toe is actually when your second toe is longer than your first “big toe.” and as the statue is an idealized form in Greek sculpture, that style choice was made. (you’re looking at your toes right now aren’t you?)
10. Democracy Has a Sweet Tooth?
This is actually a tradition that goes back to 1968. Despite there being a ‘no eating’ rule on the Senate floor, apparently, California Senator George Murphy just couldn’t keep his sweet tooth in check. So much so, that he kept a desk drawer stuffed with candy!
This tradition has carried on, and the current recipient of the drawer of candy is Senator Mark Kirk from Illinois who keeps the drawer stocked with Mars bars, Jelly Belly and Wrigley’s gum.