All in History

Tanks a lot

Finland developed the ‘Molotov cocktail’ during the 1939-40 Winter War to attack Soviet tanks in response to Soviet foreign minister Vyacheslav Molotov declaring on state radio that bombing missions over Finland were humanitarian food deliveries. In naming their improvised fire bomb, the Finns called it the ‘Molotov cocktail’ - “a drink to go with the food".

The first name we know

Until writing developed in Mesopotamia (modern-day Iraq), there was no record of people's names. The first person in history whose name we know is 'Kushim', an accountant. Around 3200BC he signed a receipt on a clay tablet which read "29,086 measures barley 37 months Kushim".

Accidental genius to a T

While most people might associate tea with the British, it was an American who invented the tea bag in 1908, and entirely by accident. New York tea merchant Thomas Sullivan, decided that it was cheaper to send small samples to potential customers in silk bags instead of boxes. Some assumed that the silk bags were supposed to be used in the same way as metal infusers, putting the entire bag into the pot rather than emptying the contents. Customers soon started specifically requesting more of Sullivan’s ‘tea bags’.

A fart in a jar goes far

Before the germ theory of disease, humans had interesting ways to 'prevent' illness. For example, during the Great Plague of London (1665-1666), 'doctors' advised people to keep foul-smelling remedies to breathe in when exposed to infection - diluting the 'bad air' with something as potent. And the quickest way to keep something smelly on hand? Store your farts in a jar.

Hat trick

In 1858, while playing for the All-England 11, English cricketer HH Stephenson took three consecutive wickets in a match against Hallam in Sheffield. As was customary at the time, fans had a collection for Stephenson and then bought him a hat to honour his unique feat. The 'hat-trick' as it became known, was soon adopted by many other sports.

The oldest trick in the book

It might seem like just a saying, but if you count papyrus, there's an actual 'oldest trick in the book'. The 18th-16th century BCE Westcar Papyrus tells the story of King Cheops (of Great Pyramid fame) calling for the magician Dedi. Dedi 'pulls the heads off' a goose, a duck, and an ox and restores them to life - a magic trick that is still performed today.