1776. What a year, huh? Thomas Jefferson whipped up The Declaration of Independence and our forefathers put their names at the bottom announcing our great nation’s independence and giving birth to The United States of America. What a ride it’s been these past two and half centuries, right? A couple of world wars, a handful of conflicts, some general ups and downs peppered here and there. It’s been hella fun. But what if I said you haven’t been getting the whole story on this country? What if I told you that Ben Franklin was a cross-dresser, that the Washington Monument was originally built by the Egyptians, and that the National Treasure was a documentary? You’d be pretty shocked, I guess. Not to worry, because none of that is even remotely accurate…at least not to my knowledge. But I have pulled up quite a bit of unusual facts that the average U.S. citizen probably isn’t aware of. Here are 15 facts you didn’t know about The United States:
15. The Library Of Congress Keeps Every Tweet
The Library of Congress is the largest library in the world. It’s the oldest cultural institution in the United States and isn’t limited by national boundaries, boasting a collection of research materials in over 450 different languages. In 2010, when Twitter was 4 years old, the L.O.C. decided that they were going to take a big step into the 21st century and archive every single tweet ever written. As well as being more in depth than burying a time capsule, it’s also an amazing way to study our ever-changing language so linguists were ecstatic to be able to have an archive. They did…almost. The only problem was at the time the L.O.C. decided to do this, Twitter was clocking in 50 million tweets a day with very little embedded data. Today, over 500 million tweets are uploaded daily and America’s oldest institution can’t seem to keep up. Still, they do technically have every single tweet. They’ve struck a deal with Twitter who sends them all the data and in turn, the L.O.C. dumps it all into some infinite digital landfill in hopes that one day some egghead will organize it all.
14. Americans Eat A Lot of Chicken
Unless you’re a vegetarian, you’re eating chicken. The poultry dish is a staple of American culture. We have fried chicken, barbecue chicken, chicken wings…the list goes on and on. Beef may be in the running for most consumed meat in the U.S.A., but I’m here to talk about chickens and we, as U.S. citizens, consume 22 million chickens each day. That’s not 22 million pieces of chickens. That’s 22 million whole chickens devoured on a daily basis. Now, time for some quick math. There are presently 321 million people residing within the boundaries of our fair country, which means every day of the week, over 14 million people are having chicken for dinner. That’s quite a hefty demand for our white-feathered friends to fulfill and yet somehow, they manage to find their way to the chopping block day in and day out just so we can dunk them into honey mustard or smother them in paprika.
13. We Also Eat A Lot of Pizza
Aside from wetting our beaks with high-protein poultry, Americans don’t play around when it comes to their pizza. I have friends in Connecticut who claim that our favorite handheld dish originally made its debut in the states in the small town of East Haven. Although that may sound absurd, a lot of people subscribe to that theory. However, public record does say that the first pizzeria opened in New York City’s Little Italy in 1905 and we’ve been hooked ever since. We, as a nation, consume so much pizza. In fact, they don’t even measure it by a number of pizzas sold. They measure it by the length. And each day, the United States serves up 100 acres of pizza. That’s the size of a large farm. That’s over one-third of the entire Coachella Music Festival. Let’s take a moment to think about how much better it would be if Coachella took place entirely on a field of pizza.
12. The U.S. Government Used To Poison Alcohol
Back in the prohibition days, the Feds were ready to use any means necessary to stop people from drinking. And when I say “any means necessary,” I mean they’d secretly kill you if you took even just a drop. The “chemist’s war on prohibition” began around 1926 when the government realized making alcohol consumption illegal was only increasing its sales. Their solution was to poison any and all liquor or beer they seized and then re-release it to the public with the idea that when people realized how sick they were getting from drinking, they would put a cork in it. Problem was, people liked gambling almost as much as they liked getting drunk and saw no issue with risking their lives if it meant they got one more shot before they went. Charles Norris, the chief medical examiner of New York City, at the time said that it was “our national experiment in extermination” and by the end of prohibition in 1933, poisoned alcohol had killed over 10,000 people.
11. The Last Man Sentenced To Be Hanged Was More Recent Than You’d Think
In 1979, Billy Bailey, a 32-year-old prison work release escapee robbed a liquor store and then shot an elderly couple in their home. Afterward, he was promptly arrested and in 1980, was sentenced to death. He was given a choice between lethal injection and hanging, and I’d bet you can guess which he chose. Bailey sat on death row for the next sixteen years. Then in 1996, he ate his last meal of a well-done steak, a baked potato with sour cream, peas, a buttered roll, and some vanilla ice cream before he was hanged. I asked my buddy when he thought the last hanging took place in the U.S. and he guessed the 1950’s which I think is a pretty reasonable assumption. But NO. Seinfeld was on the air when Bailey was strung up. Bill Clinton was in office. Hell, Jay Z was already a popular recording artist when this happened. Granted he was only one of three to be executed by hanging since 1965…but still.
10. Pretty Much Everyone Has Worked For McDonald’s
McDonald’s has been serving up cheeseburgers since 1940. And back then, working under the golden arches was considered a privilege rather than a problem you wanted to get out of. It really didn’t make that shift until sometime around the 1980’s. Still, no matter how many documentaries or reports get released about how bad the fast food mega-giant is for you, you can’t argue that it provides affordable nourishment for the entire world. Not to mention for every new location that opens up, they’re creating that many more jobs for the country, and what country likes being put to work more than the U.S., right? Turns out, one out of every eight United States citizens currently living has been employed at McDonald’s at one time or another. Can you even fathom how insane of a figure that is? That means if you were at a sold-out Dallas Cowboys football game, roughly 13,000 people in attendance know the recipe for the secret sauce. That’s not much of a secret now, is it?
9. I Bet You Can’t Guess What The Official Language Of The U.S.A.
It would be a smart bet because there is no official language of the United States. I know a lot of you would leap on the assumption that we’re an English-speaking country. But you have to remember that this nation is founded on the idea of being a melting pot and the same stands true to this very day. While 80% of the population does consider English their first language, another 13% is speaking Spanish far more often and still, many others are speaking Chinese, Arabic, Korean, Hebrew, Japanese…this list goes on. With this smorgasbord of linguistic culture filling the streets of American cities, we’ve never been able to put the official stamp on English and there doesn’t seem to be any sign of doing so in the near or very distant future either.
8. Kids Can Smoke As Long As They Don’t Pay For It
Back in the day, everyone smoked. Put on any classic Hollywood movie and you’ll find those debonair leading men huffing and puffing away in any and all situations. Hell, you throw on a movie from the early ’90s and you’ll see the same thing. You don’t see it too often nowadays because we don’t want to encourage young people to pick up the fatal habit no matter how cool it made James Dean look. Smoking numbers among modern-day teenagers has plummeted, not that they could even get their hands on some if they wanted to. In most of the U.S., the legal age to purchase tobacco products is 18, except in certain states where it’s randomly 19, and in California and Hawaii where it’s actually 21. However, they can smoke them as much as they damn well please. Even though it’s illegal for minors to purchase tobacco, it’s technically not illegal for them to smoke it. So kids, get your mom to buy you a pack and you can be the coolest and smelliest kid in school.
7. We’re Even Fatter Than We Think
I’m typing this while I literally force another chicken wing into my already-full mouth. It’s no rumor that the U.S.A. is known for its citizens of heft. About 75% of adult males and 35% of all Americans are considered to be overweight and one in twenty are considered to be extremely obese. Those are already some pretty high figures. But as it turns out, we’re probably even fatter. The Center for Disease Control releases the average body mass index (a measurement of body fat based on height and weight) of American citizens, but the issue is, the height and weight of each person are sent in by the person themselves. As we all know, we often add a few inches to our stature vertically and take off a few horizontally, so we’re actually more unhealthy than the U.S. Government thinks.
6. Jocks Rake In the Big Bucks
A public employee is any person who’s employed by a government agency. That means if you work in the state, county, city, or whatever the like, the public pays you. This covers everything from garbage men to educators and politicians. Out of all of those important and very necessary professions in over half of the states in our country, the highest paid public employee is a football coach. The highest paid college football coach at the moment is Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh with a staggering yearly salary of $9 million, while the governor of Michigan, the man in charge of managing the entire state, brings home under $160,000 and the average public school teacher makes only $62,000. I’m not saying football coaches don’t deserve their cut of the pie, but 145 times more than a teacher is a little absurd.
5. Our Poverty Rate Is Higher Than Ever
In 1964, Lyndon B. Johnson was sworn in as president after Kennedy was assassinated. During his State of the Union Address, he announced the “War on Poverty” a legislation determined to help the 10% of American children that were growing up in underprivileged homes. “Our aim is not only to relieve the symptom of poverty,” Johnson said, “but to cure it and, above all, to prevent it.” An admirable plan, certainly, but unfortunately didn’t take. Fast forward fifty years and we see that percentage of children living in poverty-stricken homes as tripled. Seems as though the politicians didn’t cure it or prevent it at all. Maybe they should have tried relieving the symptoms instead.
4. The Average Supermarket Wastes 3,000 Pounds Of Food Each Year
A lot of people don’t know this. But before the 1940’s, there really weren’t any supermarkets. There were grocers and general stores but the concept of going to one massive superstore to purchase everything you need to survive for the week was unheard of. These days, people won’t go to a Trader Joe’s because they can’t buy deli meat AND Q-tips there (and also because the cashiers are way too talkative, I mean, c’mon pal, just bag ’em up and let’s go). Since supermarkets are such a hot spot for literally everyone in the U.S. population to frequent, it makes sense that your local chain would over-prepare rather than run the risk of running out of a popular item. However, sometimes they prepare a little too much and those items get put into the clearance rack, and sometimes that clearance rack goes untouched, and sometimes those items reach their expiration date and get thrown into the dumpster. By “sometimes,” I mean daily and by “those items,” I mean 3,000 pounds of them. That’s enough food to feed at least 750 people and that’s if they all want to be pants-busting full.
3. No One Is Saving
Money, that is. No one is saving money. A new study shows that almost 50% of United States citizens aren’t taking a penny out of their paychecks to put away for a rainy day, let alone a future. We’re not sure if this is due to poor wages or just frivolous spending. Simply put, are the American people living paycheck to paycheck because they only have enough money for rent and groceries? Or is their savings account close to, or below zero because a new outfit looks better with new jewelry that looks better with a night out? No matter what it is, it’s a scary thought because if it’s the former, it means people aren’t spending which means the economy isn’t moving, and if it’s the latter, it means we have a nation of drunkards who are trying to relive the twenties and/or the eighties and that will either lead us to depression and war or a nasty cocaine hangover. Note: These assumptions are all based on information given to me from a sloppy 8th grade Social Studies teacher who shows a lot of videos in class.
2. The Robots Are Going To Take Our Jobs
We all knew it was going to happen eventually. The assembly lines on the floor of any factory worth its salt are populated by mechanical claws rather than people. They’ve got us depositing our own checks into ATM’s and checking out our own groceries; and now cars are driving themselves. According to economist Carl Benedikt Frey and engineer Michael Osborne, close to 47% of all jobs in the United States will soon be taken over by robots or computers. Some of the top employing positions in U.S.A. are cashiers, waiters/waitresses, customer service phone representatives, and truck drivers and they’re all on the chopping block. People are ordering food on iPads speaking to recordings for tech support, and soon enough, a computer will be able to drive that truck without bathroom breaks. So, attention high school graduating class of 2017! MAJOR IN SOMETHING TECH-RELATED.
1. Our Cops Are Killing A LOT Of People
This has obviously been a major issue in past few years. It’s been a major issue for decades, actually, and only now is it receiving more media attention. America is a gun country. We have more shootings and deaths by guns than any other developed nation. That’s a problem in and of itself. The one group of people who are supposed to be the most responsible with their weapons are the ones that swear an oath to serve and protect. But if we look at the stats, they’re pretty quick to squeeze a trigger. Let’s look at 2014. Right around when this began attracting attention, American police officers killed 1,100 people. In Canada, the police killed 14 people. In all of China, the police only killed 12 people; and in Germany, not one person was killed by the police. In the United Kingdom, the police don’t even carry guns. If there’s an issue that requires some fire power, they call in a separate unit of skilled professionals. I’m not here to preach or impose, but these numbers just aren’t balancing out.