The Game of Potsy, and How Potsie Weber Got His Nickname

Once upon a time, during a episode of the 1970s detective series Kojak (affiliate links used in this post), we heard Telly Salavas, playing Lt. Theo Kojak, respond to another officer's urging to hurry up by saying something along the lines of, "What do you think I'm doing here, playing Potsy?"

And our mind immediately went to another 1970s television series, Happy Days, and the character played by Anson Williams. That character's name was Potsie Weber.

Did I just stumble across the genesis of Potsie Weber's nickname? Was he called "Potsie" because of a game named Potsy?

The answer, it turns out, is no. Which you might have guessed by the different spellings of Potsy and Potsie. But asking that question, and then seeking out the answer, did cause us to learn what the game Potsy is, and to learn why Potsie Weber was called "Potsie." So, thanks Kojak!

The Game Named Potsy

So what is the Potsy game? Basically, it's hopscotch. Just about every kid in America and many other places around the world has played hopscotch at some point. Potsy is what the game is called in New York City.

It is common for the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation to paint hopscotch grids onto park grounds. And that agency's website even includes an explainer on Potsy that states "Potsy is just New Yorker-speak for hopscotch."

The name of the game derives from the name of the object that is tossed into the squares of the hopscotch grid. That object, whatever its form might take, is known as the potsy. From the NYC Parks & Rec website:

"Potsy refers to the object used in the game. Traditionally, potsy is made from three safety pins clipped together, but one can always substitute a rock or a penny or a Parks pager. Now, for those of you that don’t know how to play Potsy, here are the ground rules: Toss potsy into the first box; jump with one foot at a time into every other numbered box until you get to the end (don’t touch the lines); when you get to the end, turn around and come back; on your way back, pick up potsy; throw potsy into the next box and start again."

And the Real Reason Potsie Weber Was Called 'Potsie'

Now let's turn to the Happy Days character of Potsie Weber. And let's be frank: Potsie is a dumb nickname. In the early episodes of Happy Days, it was clear that some of the other characters used "Potsie" more as an insult than as an affectionate nickname — Potsie had just a bit of a loser aura about the character in the early days of Happy Days.

But it was in one of those early season episodes that Potsie once explained how he got his nickname. In the sixth episode of Season 1, another character asked Weber how he got his nickname. And Weber replied:

"They call me Potsie because when I was a young boy I used to like to make things with clay, and one day my mother called me Potsie."
Well, OK then. Young Warren Weber liked to play with clay, and, presumably, was having some fun one day trying to make a clay pot. His mother teasingly called him "Potsie," and that became his nickname for all time.

It would have been better if Potsie had been named after Potsy, wouldn't it?

Remembering the James Garner-Mariette Hartley Polaroid Commercials

It was while watching an episode of The Rockford Files that we were reminded of the old television commercials for Polaroid. That's because this particular episode — Episode 1 of Season 6 — guest starred Mariette Hartley.

I assume the Rockford Files poobahs, including star James Garner, were hoping for a ratings boost. Because at that time (1979), Garner and Hartley were the stars of an ongoing TV advertising campaign by the Polaroid (affiliate links used in this post) camera company that was, quite possibly, more popular than The Rockford Files was.

It's funny (or is that weird?) to think that there are many people alive today who don't know Garner, Hartley or Polaroid. But in the late 1970s/early 1980s, when the commercials were running, they were extremely well-liked and very widely known and admired.

While Garner was, and had been for a while, a big star, and Hartley had acted on TV and in movies for a long time, one could argue that it was the Polaroid commercials that gave Hartley her widest recognition. The easygoing chemistry between the two commercial stars was so endearing and seemed so authentic that many television viewers became convinced they were married in real life. (They weren't.)

And so, as Season 6 of The Rockford Files began in 1979, it is easy to think that the show's creators and runners were hoping for a ratings boost by casting Hartley as the Episode 1 guest star. We don't know if the show actually got a boost, but it might surprise you to learn how badly the show needed a boost.

The Rockford Files, it turns out, was never a highly popular show during its initial run on television. It did manage to finish 12th overall in Season 1 (1974-75), a very good start. But it declined rapidly, falling to No. 32 at the end of its second season. It never made the Top 40 again, and by its final season was in the bottom third of the Nielson ratings.

The Polaroid that exists today is not the same company that James Garner and Mariette Harley were pitching for in those camera commercials. The original Polaroid company dates to 1937 and became famous as the makers of instant cameras using instant film. Snap a photo, out pops the film, wait a short time and the image appears before your eyes. Polaroids were very cool in the 1960s and 1970s, and the company stayed strong into the 1990s.

But the original Polaroid Corporation went bankrupt in 2001. A new company was formed and acquired the name, and it went bankrupt in 2008. Then another company acquired the name, and in 2017 the brand and its instant cameras were re-launched.

James Garner and Mariette Hartley were first paired for Polaroid commercials in 1977, and their spots were an immediate hit with viewers, which means they were a hit for the company. The pair continued doing the spots into the mid-1980s.

Here is James Garner many years later speaking briefly about the ads:

Garner and Hartley made a lot of Polaroid commercials, and you can find many more of them on Youtube. If you want to see what products today's Polaroid company makes, check 'em out on Amazon.com.

Edge Brownie Pan from Baker's Edge: Does It Work?

A company named Baker's Edge makes a product called the Edge Brownie Pan (affiliate links used in this post). What is the promise? That it will make brownies even better than brownies already are by creating even more edge. Who doesn't love the chewy edges of the corner brownies that come out of the four corners of a traditional pan? Those corner pieces have two chewy edges. Brownies cut from along one side of a traditional baking dish have one chewy edge. Brownies that are cut from the center have no chewy edges. The Edge Brownie Pan by Baker's Edge solves that "problem" with its three interior walls, guaranteeing that each brownie you cut from this pan has at least two chewy edges.

The video above is an explainer from the Baker's Edge company about why they developed the pan. (They also make a pan that creates those chewier, cripy edges on lasagna, and their lasagna edge pan is featured in the above video, too.)

The company first came to prominence when the founders made a pitch on the television show Shark Tank. You can watch their Shark Tank appearance here:

But does the Edge Brownie Pan work? Does it really create those chewy edges, and do the brownies bake up as well as they do in regular baking pans? The consensus is ... yes. The website Buzzfeed included the Baker's Edge Brownie Pan in its article about "23 as-seen-on-TV" products that actually work. The website WideOpenEats.com also raves:

"This is a game-changing kitchen gadget for those chewy edge lovers. The interior walls will improve the baking performance of your brownie mix by circulating heat to the middle of the aluminum pan. This is easier than baking with a silicone mold! I think you'll have your best brownies yet with a nonstick edge brownie pan!"
What about Amazon users? As of this writing, the Edge Brownie Pan has nearly 4,000 reviews on Amazon, with an average rating of 4.8. A whopping 87-percent of those reviews are 5-star.

We can't wait to give this product a try ourselves. If you'd like to check one out, take a look at the price on Amazon.com.

What Does 'IKEA' Mean?

IKEA is the most-famous furniture brand in the world, and the largest furniture retailer in the world. But do you know what the word "IKEA" means?

IKEA is a company that was born in Sweden, so is IKEA a Swedish word? No. Does IKEA stand for something — are the letters in IKEA initials? Yes, that's the ticket.

"IKEA" is an acronym. The "I" and the "K" are the initials of the company's founder. The "A" comes from the village nearest the family farm where he was born, and the "E" stands for the name of that farm.

The founder of IKEA was Ingvar Kamprad, who was only 17 years old when he started the company in 1943. He was born on his family's farm, which was named Elmtaryd. And Elmtaryd was located close to the village of Agunnaryd in Sweden.

So there you go, IKEA:

Ingvar
Kamprad
Elmtaryd
Agunnaryd

Check IKEA prices on Amazon.com

(Affiliate links used in this post.)

Baby Oil and Iodine for Tanning?

One of the things we enjoy doing to pass the time is watching 1970s detective shows on the various free streaming services. Recently we caught an episode of The Rockford Files in which Rockford is speaking to a man who is tanning by the pool. The man glistens with lotion. "Be careful of the sun," Rockford cautions him. "Oh, I'm using baby oil and iodine so it's OK," the glistening man replies.

Baby oil (affiliate links used in this post) and iodine for tanning? Was (is) that a real thing? And was (is) it safe? The answers are yes, it was (is) a real way of tanning, and no, very much no, it was (is) not safe.

Modern sunscreens didn't begin appearing until the 1970s, and those with very high SPF ratings came even later. Before that, beginning in the 1950s, there were commercial "sun tan lotions" that had virtually no protective qualities.

And before that, some people mixed iodine into baby oil and slathered that on themselves. Some people still do it today. The reason for the baby oil is clear: it concentrates the sun's rays and leads to a faster, darker tan. (That is also why you should never use it: fast, dark tans are dangerous.)

Why people added iodine to the baby oil is harder to pin down. Some sources claim the iodine deepened the penetration of the sun's UV rays into the skin (again: that is a terrible thing you do not want to do!). But what the iodine was probably doing was coloring the skin a bit — adding a bit of a spray-tan, so to speak, on top of the real tan that came from using the baby oil.

Using the iodine is not just a terrible idea from the perspective of skin damage and possible future skin cancer, however. Iodine is a drug, and like all drugs it comes with possible side effects. The more of it you put on your skin, the greater the possibility of having a side effect, and the greater the possibility of that side effect being bad.

So, yes, a baby oil-and-iodine combination really was used for tanning (and some people still do use it). But doing so was and is a terrible, terrible idea. Do not do it!

A tan is nothing more than skin damage, and any amount of tanning is too much. If you must be in the sun for extended periods, protect your skin, don't fry it.

The Inflatoplane: An Inflatable Airplane that Flew

Would you believe there was once an inflatable airplane? It's true. You can see it in the video above — wheel out the packed-away airplane, attach an air hose, inflate it, and take off. It was called the Goodyear Inflatoplane, and it actually flew.

The Inflatoplane was built by Goodyear as an experimental aircraft for the United States military. The company, famous for its blimps (oh, and also its tires) built 12 prototypes between 1956 and 1959, and testing of the inflatable plane continued until the early 1970s. It was then that the military finally lost interest, so no Inflatoplanes were ever actually manufactured for purchase. Still, it's a pretty cool piece of aviation history.

Who Are the A and W in A&W Root Beer and Restaurants?

A&W is a well-recognized brand in North America, best-known for its root beer but also for its branded chain of fast-food restaurants: A&W Root Beer and A&W Restaurants. But what does "A&W" mean? Does it stand for something, or for someone? Someone's initials, perhaps?

The "A" and the "W" in A&W are, indeed, initials: the initials of the two men who created the brand way back in 1922. But one of those guys was far more important that the other — the "A" is the one who made the root beer famous.

In 1919 (and this is why the "since 1919" appears in the logo), Roy W. Allen created the root beer business. He opened a roadside root beer stand in Lodi, California, in 1919. Allen didn't invent the A&W Root Beer formula, he bought it from a pharmacist, but he's the one who took the formula and ran with it.

Allen start expanding and within a year had drive-ins in Stockton and Sacramento, too. And that's when the "W" enters, briefly, the picture.

The "W" is for Frank Wright, the man with whom Allen partnered, and whose name, along with Allen's, provided the A&W branding for the root beer. But Wright wasn't around for long. In 1924, Allen bought him out. But the A&W Root Beer brand was established by then, so he stuck with it.

In 1924, Allen launched the A&W Restaurants chain, one of the first in the United States. Interesting note: the restaurants were franchised and franchise owners had a lot of leeway to sell whatever food they wanted to. But they had to stock A&W Root Beer, of course, and they had to follow, exactly, the A&W Root Beer formula. Within a few years, there were 170 A&W Restaurants selling A&W Root Beer.

So that's the answer to the question in the headline: The "A" in A&W is for Roy Allen; the "W" in A&W is for Frank Wright.

Allen remained in charge of the company until he sold out in 1950. At their height, there were more than 2,000 A&W Restaurants in the United States and Canada. There are still several hundred today. And A&W Root Beer remains one of the best-known root beer brands. A&W Root Beer and A&W Restaurants are no longer under the same ownership, however.

Browse A&W Root Beer products on Amazon (affiliate links used in this post)

What Happened to Winn's Stores?

Do you remember Winn's stores? If you grew up in Texas in the 20th century, you probably do. They were officially named Winn's Variety Stores, but most people knew them as five-and-dimes, or "dimestores."

At their peak, there were hundreds of Winn's stores across Texas and in a few surrounding states. But Winn's is long-gone today. What happened to Winn's?

Winn's was founded by San Antonio businessman Murray Winn in 1926. His first store opened at 913 South St. Mary's Street. In 1947, when there were 12 Winn's stores, Murray Winn decided to sell to the Spears brothers, Roy and Lynn. By 1971, the Spears brothers had expanded Winn's to 106 locations around Texas.

In 1979, Winn's was purchased by a German company named Heinrich Bauer Verlag for a reported $50 million cash. That company today is known as Bauer Media Group. Now, as in 1979, it is a media company, publishing magazines, running radio stations and TV stations. A company such as that purchasing Winn's seems like a very odd fit.

At the time the sale of Winn's to Heinrich Bauer Verlag was first announced and still pending, in 1978, Winn's had sales of $73 million and net income of $4.8 million. Winn's, at that time, operated 151 stores in 78 cities across Texas.

By 1987, Winn's was up to 230 stores and had expanded into Oklahoma and New Mexico. But trouble was brewing: In April of that year, a Winn's in Taos, New Mexico, closed due to lack of business. Before long, more Winn's locations were shuttering as the company, whose operations were still headquartered in San Antonio, began retreating.

One thing cited about the closure of the Taos store became a refrain: When Walmart opened in the city, Winn's took a big hit.

Walmart wasn't the only major national retailer moving into more and more cities with a discount department store model, either. Other companies were turning to the discount model to try to keep up with Walmart. Then dollar stores started popping up and growing across Winn's territory, too.

In 1993, a Lufkin, Texas-based chain of variety stores known as Perry Brothers, or Perry's, bought 184 Winn's locations, many of them already closed. Perry's converted them all to Perry Brothers stores.

By 1994, what remained of Winn's as a company was out of options. It filed for bankruptcy. In February 1995, the bankruptcy court approved a plan that dissolved the company and sold off its assets to pay some of its creditors. In 1996, the former Winn's Variety Stores headquarters in San Antonio, 330,000 square feet, was finally sold as the final piece to go.

Perry's, by the way, no longer exists, either, and neither does Crafts Etc., a hobby store that had been owned by Winn's and at one point had more than 50 stores.

Putting Blue Diamond Ceramic Non-Stick Pans to the Test

If you watch any amount of television, you've probably seen the commercials for Blue Diamond ceramic non-stick pans. They are the pans that, according to the ads, are "infused with diamonds."

They melt plastic and cheese and caramels in the pan and show us those things sliding right off the non-stick surface. They run egg beaters over the pan surface and show us no resulting scratches.

Here is a 2-minute version of the Blue Diamond pans infomercial:

Well, what about it? Does Blue Diamond cookware live up to the claims? One very reputable source says yes. In a survey of non-stick cookware sets under $100, Consumer Reports gave good marks to the Blue Diamond pan, writing:

"CR's take: Two of the pieces in the 10-piece Blue Diamond Enhanced Ceramic set are plastic utensils, but at this price you’re still getting a nice complement of cookware. The ad for this 'As Seen on TV' set claims the coating is scratch-resistant and shows a cook using a hand mixer in one of the pans without harming the surface. It did hold up well in our durability tests, earning a Very Good rating. In our cooking tests, water quickly came to a near-boil in the 5-quart stockpot and tomato sauce simmered slowly without scorching."
The television program Inside Edition took another look at the Blue Diamond pan, spending time melting some of the stickiest foods and other items to test the Blue Diamond's non-stick claims. Celebrity chef and author Rocco DiSpirito (affiliate links used in this post) helped put the pan through its paces, specifically testing the commercial's claims. The results were mixed:

But Rocco does say at the end that as a piece of cookware — normal use cooking everyday food items as you'd use any other pan — the Blue Diamond non-stick frying pan did well. It just didn't quite live up to some of the advertising claims.

If you want to give them a try yourself, check out the Blue Diamond non-stick frying pan or the Blue Diamond cookware set on Amazon.com. (The pans and other cookware are highly rated by Amazon users.)

What Does the CVS in CVS Pharmacies Stand For?

CVS Pharmacy is the largest chain of drugstores in the United States, with nearly (at the time of this writing) 10,000 retail locations. But have you ever wondered what the "CVS" stands for? We have, so we looked it up.

The "CVS" in "CVS Pharmacy" stands for "Consumer Value Stores."

In 1963, a holding company called the Melville Corporation (which itself was founded in 1922) opened the first Consumer Value Store in Lowell, Massachusetts. From 1963 through 1969, Consumer Value Stores expanded and were known by that full name.

But after that, the drugstores went by their initials only, CVS. So since 1969, Consumer Value Stores have been called CVS Pharmacy. And they are long since gone from the the holding company that was named the Melville Corporation, too.