Archive for the ‘Facts’ Category

The BBC has received a mixed reaction to a spoof documentary broadcast this evening about spaghetti crops in Switzerland.  The hoax Panorama programme, narrated by distinguished broadcaster Richard Dimbleby, featured a family from Ticino in Switzerland carrying out their annual spaghetti harvest. It showed women carefully plucking strands of spaghetti from a tree and laying them in the sun to dry.


But some viewers failed to see the funny side of the broadcast and criticised the BBC for airing the item on what is supposed to be a serious factual programme. Others, however, were so intrigued they wanted to find out where they could purchase their very own spaghetti bush.

Exotic delicacy

a121305_spaghetti1Spaghetti was not a widely-eaten food in the UK and was considered by many as an exotic delicacy. Mr Dimbleby explained how each year the end of March is a very anxious time for Spaghetti harvesters all over Europe as severe frost can impair the flavour of the spaghetti. He also explained how each strand of spaghetti always grows to the same length thanks to years of hard work by generations of growers.

This is believed to be one of the first times the medium of television has been used to stage an April Fools Day hoax.

In Context

The origins of April Fools Day are not clear but it is known that the tradition of practical joking and mischief-making dates back to Ancient Roman times.  It would appear that the festival is closely related to the coming of Spring.

Ancient Romans and Celts celebrated a festival of practical joking at about the time of the Vernal Equinox, as do millions of India’s Hindus. The French also mark 1 April but instead of April Fools they call it Poisson d’Avril (April Fish).

April Fool or “Aprilspøk” as we call it in Norway has a long tradition both in national radio and television. And they have pulled a few very good ones over the years – Ted

Tekst from BBC’s OnThisDay

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Images found on RealityAsylum

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Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald (September 24, 1896 – December 21, 1940) was an American author of novels and short stories, whose works are the paradigmatic writings of the Jazz Age. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest American writers of the 20th century. Fitzgerald is considered a member of the "Lost Generation" of the 1920s. He finished four novels: This Side of Paradise, The Beautiful and Damned, The Great Gatsby (his most famous), and Tender Is the Night. A fifth, unfinished novel, The Love of the Last Tycoon, was published posthumously. Fitzgerald also wrote many short stories that treat themes of youth and promise along with age and despair.

Fitzgerald’s work has been adapted into films many times. His short story, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, was the basis for a 2008 film. Tender Is the Night was filmed in 1962, and made into a television miniseries in 1985. The Beautiful and Damned was filmed in 1922 and 2010. The Great Gatsby has been the basis for numerous films of the same name, spanning nearly 90 years: 1926, 1949, 1974, 2000, and 2013 adaptations. In addition, Fitzgerald’s own life from 1937 to 1940 was dramatized in 1958 in Beloved Infidel.

Clyde Jackson Browne (born October 9, 1948) is an American singer-songwriter and musician who has sold over 18 million albums in the United States. Coming to prominence in the 1970s, Browne has written and recorded songs such as "These Days", "The Pretender", "Running on Empty", "Lawyers in Love", "Doctor My Eyes", "Take It Easy", "For a Rocker", and "Somebody’s Baby". In 2004, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio, as well as bestowed an Honorary Doctorate of Music by Occidental College in Los Angeles, California.

In 1971, Browne signed with his manager David Geffen‘s Asylum Records and released Jackson Browne (1972) produced and engineered by Richard Orshoff, which included the piano-driven "Doctor My Eyes", which entered the Top Ten in the US singles chart. "Rock Me on the Water", from the same album, also gained considerable radio airplay, while "Jamaica Say You Will" and "Song for Adam" (written about Saylor’s death) helped establish Browne’s reputation. Touring to promote the album, he shared the bill with Linda Ronstadt and Joni Mitchell.

His next album, For Everyman (1973) – while considered of high quality – was less successful than his debut album, although it still sold a million copies. The upbeat "Take It Easy", cowritten with The Eagles’ Glenn Frey, had already been a major success for that group, while his own recording of "These Days" reflected a sound representing Browne’s angst.

Texts from Wikipedia

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Or you could come to Norway, get a job which gives you the right to social services and get the hip replacement for free. I know I’m queuing up for one – Ted 😉

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SMY Hohenzollern II was built by AG Vulcan Stettin, it was 120 m long, 14 m wide and 5.6 m deep, and had 9,588 HP.

It was in use as Imperial Yacht from 1893 to July 1914. Emperor Wilhelm II used it on his annual prolonged trips to Norway. In total he spent over four years on board.

The Emperor with members of his family on board of the imperial yacht Hohenzollern

At the end of July 1914 it was put out of service in Kiel. The ship became property of the Weimar Republic in 1918, was struck in February of 1920 and scrapped in 1923.

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Do maids in France really wear those skimpy outfits while keeping house?

Of course not. A mini-skirt, stiletto heels, and fishnet stockings is not the most practical outfit when it comes to vacuuming floors or scrubbing toilets. Depending upon the formality of the household, a traditional European maid or housekeeper might wear a knee-length blue, black, or grey dress with a white apron (not unlike The Brady Bunch’s Alice). And if she values her spine, she’ll wear nurse’s oxfords or athletic shoes rather than high heels.

So where did the stereotype of the slinky French maid uniform come from? During the late 19th century, the high-kicking Can-Can dancers of Paris were considered scandalous and were often the cause of nightclubs being shut down for “public nudity” (that being the exposed bit of thigh between the top of the stocking and the edge of the underpants the dancers revealed when they lifted their skirts).

It became an American burlesque cliché to stage a comedy skit featuring a hapless, uncomprehending, lithe young French housekeeper in scanty clothing finding herself in compromising situations. Her dress, naturally, was a skimpy version of the black and white outfit a standard French housekeeper would wear. It was just risqué enough to titillate audiences without getting closed down by the censors, and the character of the French maid stuck around long enough to become responsible for the ubiquitous costume of the same name.

Text and image from mentalfloss

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a12120_cupThe football World Cup has been stolen while on exhibition at Central Hall in Westminster, London. The £30,000 solid gold Jules Rimet trophy disappeared while a church service was taking place in another part of the building.

Thieves removed the cup from the "Sport with Stamps" display at the Stampex exhibition, but stamps worth £3m were left behind. At least two guards were in the hall at the time of the theft. Alsa-Guard, the security firm at the exhibition, was not available for comment.

Delegates from current cup-holders Brazil left the cup in custody of the Federation of International Football Association (Fifa) last week. The trophy was to be the centre-piece of the World Cup tournament being hosted by Britain later this year.

Vice-chairman of the Football Association Council, Jack Stewart, was reluctant to accept blame for the trophy’s disappearance.

Jack Stewart "We are responsible for it in the end because we are the organizing association."

Detectives and forensics experts are investigating the break-in and have appealed for anyone who was in Central Hall to contact Scotland Yard. Police say a suspicious-looking man was seen in the building at the time of the theft. He is described as being in his early 30s, of average height with thin lips, greased black hair and a possible scar on his face.

The Jules Rimet trophy is named after a French lawyer who was a president of FIFA and initiated the World Cup competition in 1929. Brazil have been holders of the Cup for the last eight years, after winning both the 1958 and 1962 competitions.


Photographers take photographs of Pickles, the dog who sniffed out
the missing Jules Rimet World Cup Trophy

In Context

Several days of anxiety and frustration followed the Cup’s theft. Brazil said it was a sacrilege that would never have been committed in Brazil where even its thieves loved football too much.

But the trophy was eventually found by Pickles, a mongrel dog, out for a walk with his owner, on 27 March in south London.

Pickles unfortunately passed away a year later in 1967 after choking
on his lead while chasing a cat. He was buried in his owner’s back garden and his collar is now on display in the National Football Museum in Manchester.

Later that year it was England who won the World Cup, but in 1970 Brazil was allowed to keep the trophy for ever, after winning the competition for the third time.The replacement trophy remains the prize for the World Cup to this day.

The Jules Rimet cup was stolen again in 1983 – in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It has never been recovered.

Text from BBC’s OnThisDay

I apologise for seeming to be more interested in Pickles than the stolen trophy, but to be honest, I’m much more fond of dogs than I am of football – Ted 😉

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a12112_figen say_02
Figen Say was born on May 4, 1946 in Istanbul, Turkey as Meri Özbiyikliyan. She is an actress, known for Ajan 14 yosmalar arasinda (1967), Zalimin zulmü varsa (1969) andKaraoglan – Camokanin intikami (1966).

a12112_figen say_01a12112_figen say_03

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The R360 was Mazda‘s first real car – a two-door, four-seat coupé. Introduced in 1960, it featured a short 69 inch (1753 mm) wheelbase and weighed just 838 lb. (380 kg). It was powered by a rear-mounted air-cooled 356 cc V-twin engine putting out about 16 hp (12 kW) and 16 lb·ft (22 Nm) of torque. The car was capable of about 52 mph (84 km/h). It had a 4-speed manual or two-speed automatic transmission. The suspension, front and rear, was rubber “springs” and torsion bars.


Within a few years of introducing the R360, Mazda had captured much of the lightweight (kei car) market in Japan. It was augmented by the Mazda P360 “Carol” 2+2 in 1962, as well as a convertible version in 1964. Production of the R360 lasted for six years.


Text from wikipedia

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Found on barnorama

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A golden eagle which escaped from Regent’s Park Zoo is still on the loose after outsmarting his keepers’ latest attempts to recapture him.


Goldie the Eagle escaped from the central London zoo eight days ago and has been dodging his captors ever since. He has spent most of the past week flying round the park – although he has also been spotted in Tottenham Court Road, Euston and Camden Town.

A crowd of about a thousand gathered in Regents Park today to watch the bird being chased by keepers, police, fire fighters and even a BBC reporter. The Navy has also been consulted about supplying a net and line-firing rifles.

Goldie, who has lived at the zoo for five years, escaped while his cage was being cleaned. He left behind his mate, Regina.

Joe McCorry, deputy head keeper of birds of prey at London Zoo, has predicted Goldie will be caught once he gets hungry.

The zoo has received hundreds of telephone calls and letters offering advice for his capture. Two teams of keepers have been tracking his progress using two way radio sets on loan from the Civil Defence.

The closest Goldie has so far come to being recaptured was yesterday while he was devouring a Muscovy duck in the grounds of the American Ambassador’s residence in Regent’s Park. But he was scared off at the last minute when a reporter tried to throw a coat over him and the bird abandoned his meal half-eaten.

a12090_goldie_01Goldie has also attacked two Cairn terriers but members of the watching crowd managed to beat him off.

BBC reporter John Timpson recently returned from covering the Queen’s trip to Ethiopia tried to charm Goldie back to earth using an Ethiopian bird pipe – perhaps not surprisingly this ploy also failed.

In Context

Goldie the eagle was recaptured, as predicted, once he became hungry.

a12090_goldie_03After 12 days of freedom in the park, the deputy head keeper, Joe McCorry, lured him with a dead rabbit tied to a rope near one of the eagle’s favourite haunts, the wild fowl sanctuary.

An hour and a half later, Goldie swooped down for his last picnic in the park. The keeper quietly walked up and caught him with his bare hands, secured his legs and took him back to the zoo.

He was declared unhurt after his ordeal and returned to his cage with his mate. London Zoo subsequently reported a big increase in visitor numbers, up to 6,500 from 3,700 on the corresponding Sunday the previous year.

Goldie made a second bid for freedom in December 1965 – but was recaptured after four days.

John Timpson, who was best known as a presenter of BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, died in November 2005 at the age of 77.

Text from BBCs OnThisDay

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The USS Guard was a wooden hulled harbour craft built for the United States Revenue Cutter Service at the Mare Island Naval Shipyard in California.

She was launched October 20, 1913 and would be stationed at Friday Harbour, WA., and Seattle, WA.

She served in the U.S. Navy during World War I, returned to the Coast Guard in 1919; decommissioned and sold in 1943. Displacement 52 tons. 67’7” length, 12’6” beam, 6’3” draft. One triple-expansion steam engine, fitted for oil. Compliment of 10 men.

Text and image from AdventureOfTheBlackgang

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a12076_vintage smut

The Barrison Sisters reveal kittens beneath their skirts, at the conclusion of their notorious vaudeville cat dance, c. 1890s

"In their most famous act, the sisters would dance, raising their skirts slightly above their knees, and ask the audience, "Would you like to see my pussy?" When they had coaxed the audience into an enthusiastic response, they would raise up their skirts, revealing that each sister was wearing underwear of their own manufacture that had a live kitten secured over the crotch." 
From Wikipedia – Photo from Wikimedia

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Why don’t more of us use loose-leaf tea when it makes a better cuppa and is better for the environment?


Economist, environmental campaigner and wife-of-the-governor-of-the-Bank-of-England Diana Fox Carney has taken some stick for getting exercised over the environmental cost of teabags. It may sound trivial to some, but she makes a good point on the waste involved – we use about 55bn teabags in the UK each year – that’s about 370,000 tonnes of waste that mostly end up in landfill.

Even Unilever, maker of a little brand called PG Tips, deems sustainability an important enough issue to tackle, asking people whether they will compost or recycle used bags


But the question should be, why do we need any kind of bag when loose leaves make better tea? In 1968, only 3% of households in Britain used teabags – a foreign, American invention that went against our love of leaves. Loose leaf tea, on the other hand, has been made for around 3,000 years, and just requires one brilliant bit of kit – a teapot.

I have never understood why so many of us think it’s a real hassle to make proper tea, but happily use a cafeterie for coffee. You get better flavour when you allow the leaves room to unfurl as they infuse. No chemicals, no waste and it’s really not complicated.

And the waste isn’t just limited to the bags. If you’re using good tea leaves, you’ll find they can be infused several times. Each time you brew the tea, different subtleties of the delicate flavours will be released. In China it is widely believed that the second or third brew of fine tea is the best.

The trick is not to leave the tea leaves to stew once they have been brewed to the desired strength. Straining the tea completely will prevent the leaves from becoming bitter and allow a second and third brew.


Making a perfect cup of tea

Measure out a cup of water and a teaspoon of tea for each person, with one for the pot if you like it strong.

Pour the water from the freshly boiled kettle into the teacup first and then into the teapot – this way the proportions will be perfect – once the tea is brewed all the liquid is poured out so the leaves won’t stew and will be in perfect condition for a second or third infusion. It will also cool the water to the right temperature – for proper tea, an ideal temperature is around 85 C.

Remember, leaf teas need a little longer to infuse than teabags. Teabags give up their paltry flavour in an instant. A tealeaf has so much more to offer and takes its time.


White and green teas don’t really work with milk but with black tea, anything goes. It’s entirely a matter of taste. The great thing about proper leaf tea is that it’s delicious on its own or with milk.

Milk in first or second? It’s up to you. I put it in second so I can tell how strong the tea will be by the colour. No doubt there will be some who disagree – do share your tea rituals.

An article from The guardian

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a12036_atlanterhavsveien_00The Atlantic Ocean Road or the Atlantic Road (Norwegian: Atlanterhavsveien) is a 8.3-kilometer (5.2 mi) long section of County Road 64 that runs through an archipelago in Eide and Averøy in Møre og Romsdal, Norway. It passes by Hustadvika, an unsheltered part of the Norwegian Sea, connecting the island of Averøy with the mainland and Romsdalshalvøya peninsula. It runs between the villages of Kårvåg on Averøy and Vevang in Eida. It is built on several small islands and skerries, which are connected by several causeways, viaducts and eight bridges—the most prominent being Storseisundet Bridge.


The route was originally proposed as a railway line in the early 20th century, but this was abandoned. Serious planning of the road started in the 1970s, and construction started on 1 August 1983. During construction the area was hit by 12 European windstorms. The road was opened on 7 July 1989, having cost 122 million Norwegian krone(NOK), of which 25 percent was financed with tolls and the rest from public grants. Collection of tolls was scheduled to run for 15 years, but by June 1999 the road was paid off and the toll removed. The road is preserved as a cultural heritage site and is classified as a National Tourist Route. It is a popular site to film automotive commercials, as it has been declared the world’s best road trip, and been awarded the title as "Norwegian Construction of the Century". In 2009, the Atlantic Ocean Tunnel opened from Averøy to Kristiansund; together they form a second fixed link between Kristiansund and Molde.


Text from Wikipedia

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a12033_Faten Hamama_01

Staff writer, Al Arabiya News
Saturday, 17 January 2015

Iconic Egyptian film star Faten Hamama, who was dubbed the “lady of the Arabic screen,” passed away on Saturday, Al Arabiya’s correspondent reported. She was 83.

The state-run MENA news agency said she had in recent weeks suffered from a health condition that required hospital treatment. She was discharged from hospital only to be re-admitted because of a sudden illness before she passed away on Saturday.

a12033_Faten Hamama_07Hamama – who was once married to Egyptian actor Omar Sharif – starred in almost 100 films and worked with masters of Egypt’s massive film industry, including Youssef Chahine.


Born in the city of Mansoura in 1931, she studied at acting school and graduated in 1947 at the early age of 16. But her acting career began much earlier – she made her screen debut at the age of 10.

She often cited Assia Dagher, a widely acclaimed actress of the day, as her role model.

Some of her most famous works on the silver screen include “Struggle in the Valley” (1954), “The Nightingale’s a12033_Faten Hamama_06Prayer” (1959), “The Empire of M” (1972), “I Want a Solution” (1974), and “The Night of Fatima’s Arrest” (1985).

After a break from acting, Hamama returned in 2000 for a role in Arabic miniseries “Face of the Moon.” It was her final role.

Arab ‘love story’

It was in “Struggle in the Valley” that Hamama consented to her first ever kiss in a feature film. The receiver of the now famous kiss was Michel Demitri Shalhoub, her future husband, better known today as Omar Sharif.

A year after divorcing director Ezzel Dine Zulficar in 1954, Hamama married Sharif and often starred with the actor who would gain international recognition for his role as the macho Sharif Ali in David Lean’s 1962 British epic “Laurence of Arabia.”

Born a Christian, he converted to Islam to marry Hamama and described her as the only love of his life.

The two were considered one of the Arab film industry’s hottest couples. They divorced in 1974.

a12033_Faten Hamama_04Last interview

In her last interview, Hamama said she felt optimistic about the state of Egypt, which has seen turbulent times since the 2011 uprising that led to longtime President Hosni Mubarak stepping down.
She also said she had plans to visit the new project to expand the Suez Canal, one of the world’s strategic waterways and a key source of income for Egypt.

Hamama is survived by her daughter, Nadia Zulficar, son, Tarek Sharif, and husband, Dr. Mohammad Abdel Wahab Mahmoud.

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Ocean Terminal, Southampton Docks – brochure issued by the British Transport Commission, Docks and Inland Waterways Board, c1950

A wonderful view of the now sadly lost Ocean Terminal that gave a real touch of trans-Atlantic glamour in the years when liners were the way to travel. The terminal opened on 31 July 1950 and allowed easy transit between liners and direct trains to London Waterloo – in almost airport like facilities. The Terminal was demolished in 1988.

Seen here is one of the ‘regulars’ – the Cunard liner "Queen Elizabeth".

Image and text found on Adventures of the Blackgang

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Sunshine has returned to the capital following four days of dense fog in which London transport was brought to a standstill. The atrocious conditions led to widespread disruption of rail, road and air services and affected shipping on the River Thames.

a1116_london fog_01

As freshening winds and milder temperatures dissipated the fog today London buses and coaches ran normally but still with some delays on the Southern Region railway.

The fog, which began on 5 December, also affected other areas of the south-east, with icy roads causing several road accidents. Ambulance men and firemen had to walk ahead of their vehicles to reach those in need. It also spread as far as northern France, Belgium and the Netherlands.

A cross-channel ferry carrying 300 passengers from Folkestone to Calais was 15 hours late. The ship had to anchor off the French coast, unable to get into port due to poor visibility.

Virtual shutdown

Fog descended on London once again yesterday evening at the end of a relatively clear day.By 18:30 London Transport reported a virtual shutdown of its north-east London service and nearly all buses were out of action.

Only the London Underground was still running, but as buses stopped running once visibility was reduced to a few hundred yards this too became congested.  At Stratford, on the Central Line, 3,000 people queued for tickets.

a1116_london fog_02

London Airport was also severely affected – BOAC reported just two departures and four arrivals yesterday. All other flights were diverted to Hurn, near Bournemouth and passengers were taken by train to Waterloo.

Crime spree

The severe weather conditions led to a rise in crime as robbers used the cover of fog to break into houses and shops and attack and steal from Londoners making their way home in the darkness.

The weather even affected cattle brought into Earls Court in preparation for the Smithfield Show. Farmers spent hours trying to reach the capital and when they finally arrived found many livestock had breathing difficulties. At least one animal died.

Opera and football cancelled

There was no escape from the fog inside either, as it seeped into buildings as well as filling the streets. Last night, the Sadler’s Wells theatre had to end a performance of La Traviata after the first act because the auditorium had filled with fog.

a1116_london fog_03

The fog also took its toll on several sporting events. A University Association Football due to take place at Wembley was postponed. It is the first time any fixture has been cancelled at the stadium since it opened in 1923.

Most rugby matches were cancelled and no Association Football League matches took place in London

In Context

In the weeks following what became known as the Great Smog of 1952, it emerged that at least 4,000 people had died as a direct result of the weather.

They were mostly the elderly, the very young and those with respiratory or heart problems.

The main causes of the smog were by-products of coal-burning that had reached exceptionally high levels combined with high pressure, near-freezing temperatures and very light winds that meant the smog lingered for several days.

The authorities realised that drastic action was needed introduced the Clean Air Act in 1956.

It restricted the burning of domestic fuels in urban areas with the introduction of smokeless zones, but heavy fogs continued for some time after the Act while residents and operators switched to new sources of energy.

The Act was revised in 1968 when industries burning coal, gas or other fuels were ordered to use tall chimneys. In 1974 the first Control of Air Pollution Act introduced regulations on the composition of motor fuels.

By the 1980s and 1990s the increasing use of the motor vehicle led to a new kind of smog caused by the chemical reaction of car pollutants and sunshine.

The 1995 Environment Act introduced new regulations for air pollutants.

Text from BBC’s "OnThisDay"

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a1091_mystery soda_01
A contraption out of time, Seattle’s Mystery Soda Machine dispenses cans of sugary pop for just 75 cents, and while no one knows who stocks this aging landmark, the real question is what it will spit out when the “Mystery” button is pressed.

a1091_mystery soda_02On the corner of John Street and 10th Avenue East, in the heart of Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood lies the world’s most mysterious soda vending machine. Nobody knows the true history of the rusting machine, which looks like it was spat straight out of the Seventies, but locals continue to plunk down their change and the machine never seems to run out of stock. Who first installed the outdoor machine, who stocks it, and who collects the money are all a mystery.

The modern antique offers a comparatively limited selection of drinks with yellowed plastic buttons offering Coke, Mountain Dew, Pepsi, and Barq’s, but the intriguing button marked “Mystery” generally produces none of these. According to one report, after spending five dollars in change on the mystery button, the machine produced six different brand of soda, none of which had their own button on the machine.

Given the air of the unknown that surrounds the vending relic, many locals have tried to divine the origins of the machine and its endless wellspring of name-brand soda, but so far no answers have been forthcoming, no matter how many times the “Mystery” button is pressed.

Text from AtlasObscra

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