Thursday, November 21, 2013

Why is the day after Thanksgiving called "Black Friday"?

As we slowly approach Turkey Day and the associated festivities of food, football and family, one must not forget the fourth tradition that has slowly grown in popularity over the last 10 to 15 years - BLACK FRIDAY!

But why is it called "Black Friday"?  Certainly, there is nothing dark or foreboding about this day.  The popular theory that has been bandied about recently is that the term comes from the notion that businesses finally go from being in the red (or in debt) to the black on this day because of the increased number of sales and purchases from bargain hunters!  However, that theory seems silly, because if a business were to base its level of yearly success on only one day of shopping, clearly that business owner needs to consider a new line of work!

So when was the first incarnation of this term?

It appears that the first reference comes from the 1950s from factory owners who noted that their workers did not show up to work the day after Thanksgiving.

It was not until the early 1960's when we see the first instance of its use to describe the post-Thanksgiving holiday shopping rush.  As a result of the traffic from the mayhem of shoppers to Philadelphia, police coined the term as a description of the harrowing scene on that day.

So, in fact, although today's shoppers see "Black Friday" as a wonderful opportunity to keep a little extra cash in the wallet while getting a nice gift or present, the term was derived from a not-so-pleasant experience that began nearly 50+ years ago!  (Although some would argue that "Black Friday" still carries that negative connotation today!)


Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Why is one of the most ubiquitous supplies in the office called a "Manila" folder?

Now one would not typically associate the capital of the Philippines for being an business powerhouse - that is usually reserved for cities such as New York City or London.  Yet one of the most common office supplies found in law offices, financial institutions and doctors' clinics is the "Manila" folder.

So why is it called that?

Originally, these folders were constructed from Manila hemp.  This is a type of fiber obtained from the abaca - a relative of the banana.  Being the tropical climate that it is, the abaca is a common product of the Philippines and as such, was exported and used extensively to make the folders that bear its name to this day.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Did the most ubiquitous symbol in sports, the Nike Swoosh, cost only $35 to design?

On Sunday, Tiger Woods captured his 69th PGA tournament victory by winning the Buick Open held at Warwick Hills in Grand Blanc, Michigan --
- a truly amazing achievement!

For all of his accomplishments, great and small,
there has been one constant companion in his strive for golf immortality.'s not his mother Tida.'s not his wife Elin or his Sam or Charlie.

Here's a hint: it is featured in the photo above and has been intertwined with his legacy since signing a five-year, $40-million dollar contract with this company in August 1996 shortly after turning professional. is the Nike "Swoosh."

The design can be seen daily and nightly from the footwear of baseball and basketball players to the jerseys of college football teams.

But is it true that the "Swoosh" only cost $35 for Phil Knight, founder of Nike, to have designed?

The short answer is......YES!

In 1971, Carolyn Davidson was a student at Portland State University when she was approached by Phil Knight, then a teacher at an accounting class (as a means to supplement his income). The young graphic design student was working on a design project when she was approached in the hallway for her help. She obliged.

Trying to work on a shoe stripe, she came up with a symbol that looked like the wing of the goddess, Nike. Phil Knight did not love it, but used it because shoe boxes in Mexico were waiting to be printed and he needed to meet his deadline.

The original invoice for her work was $35, and she was paid in full by Knight.

But did this young designer lose out on millions of dollars for this symbol of sports marketing dominance? Did corporate American steal from the weak and profit from its hard work?


In September 1983, as Nike's prominence started building, she was invited to a luncheon and greeted by Phil Knight and presented with a gold Swoosh ring embedded with a diamond and an envelope containing Nike stock. (As she has mentioned, she has split the stock at least 3 times and is certainly doing well with herself.)

As you can see below:
the Nike logo has gone through changes throughout the years, but one thing remains the same. Its brand power is unmatched in today's sports world!


Monday, July 27, 2009

Did Eddie Van Halen contribute to one of Michael Jackson's Greatest Hits?

Michael Jackson, the King of Pop, is known for his sweet and smooth melodic ballads along with his pop-dance music stylings.

As he ventured on beyond the Motown pop made famous with his brother on the "Jackson 5," he collaborated with mega-music producer Quincy Jones. Wanting to add a rock and roll vibe to his Thriller album, Jackson came up with the lyrics to the song "Beat It." Wanting to add a true rock guitar vibe to the song, Jones called Eddie Van Halen to record the riff.

Van Halen had built his reputation as a innovative guitarist. Eddie Van Halen's
approach to the guitar involves several distinctive components. His innovative use of two-handed tapping, natural and artificial harmonics, vibrato, and tremolo picking, combined with his rhythmic sensibility and melodic approach, have influenced an entire generation of guitarists.

Van Halen stated that he thought that it was a prank call, but after learning about the producer's true intention, he agreed to the offer and did the guitar solo free of charge.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Was Madonna a University of Michigan Wolverine???

We have all heard stories of high school and college dropouts making something of themselves in the future.

For instance, Microsoft tycoon Bill Gates had dropped out of Harvard University to pursue his future in computer technology, MS-DOS, then his Windows franchise.

The University of Michigan is the home of another famous dropout known for her 80's pop music beats and her 2000 Euro dance grooves - Madonna!!

Madonna (born Madonna Louise Veronica Ciccone) earned a dance scholarship to the University of Michigan and lived in Stockwell Hall (one of the all-women's residence halls on campus).

However, after two years on campus, she made her famous trek to New York City to pursue dreams of being famous.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Was Jodie Foster the model for the Coppertone Girl?

Actress Jodie Foster is well known for her phenomenal work which has garnered her two Academy Awards for acting.  A fun piece of trivia associated with her is that she was the model for the Coppertone Girl.


In fact, when the original Coppertone ad debuted in 1959, Jodie Foster was not even born.

The Coppertone ad was the brainchild of artist Joyce Ballantyne Brand who used her daughter Cheryl as the model for the famous ad.  

It is true that Jodie Foster was in a Coppertone commercial, but it was a television ad that ran in the 1960's when she was only 2.  You can see a video of her in that commercial here.


Is the MLB logo truly based on Harmon Killebrew?

As we all know, the NBA logo with its silhouetted basketball player was based upon the form of one of the NBA's greatest basketball players, Jerry West.  As you can see, the 14-time NBA All-Star and NBA Champion for the LA Lakers has the characteristics that has symbolized the NBA of the 1960-70's.

But how about the silhouette of the MLB logo?  Popular convention and multiple internet searches suggest that the player in question on the MLB logo is Harmon Killebrew.

MLB has neither confirmed nor denied that claim.

An article on ESPN sheds some light on the subject.  According to Paul Lukas, Jerry Dior helped to design the logo for the league and states that he did not choose any specific person to model his design after.

Nonetheless, hardcore Killebrew fans still feel he is the model for logo.  One picture they have submitted comes from a 1963 Twins Yearbook which in reverse looks like the logo.

However, it can be said that any baseball player can have a similar stance if a picture were taken at the right angle.

So where does that leave you - the trivia obsessed fan.....well, I have no good answer.  If you want to score points, answer Harmon Killebrew, but know that this is likely a baseball urban legend that has gone awry.