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 (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.

Why John Grisham Got Woody Harrelson Fired from a Movie

A Time to Kill was a John Grisham movie starring Matthew McConaughey
The movie A Time to Kill, an adaptation of prolific author John Grisham's first novel, was released in 1996, and it was the movie that made Matthew McConaughey into a star. But McConaughey wasn't the actor the director of the movie wanted. The director, Joel Schumacher, wanted Woody Harrelson to star. The only problem: Grisham refused to let Harrelson take on the role.

Grisham is one of the most successful novelists of his era. His second book, The Firm, had already been turned into a huge motion picture starring Tom Cruise. Off that success, Hollywood came calling for the movie rights to his first novel, A Time to Kill, which he wrote in 1989 and whose main character was based on himself.

Grisham was reluctant to sell the rights to that novel, but when the bidding reached a reported $6 million and the right for him to approve of all casting decisions, Grisham finally agreed.

Director Schumacher settled on Woody Harrelson as his choice to play the lead in the movie. But Grisham invoked his cast approval rights and nixed Harrelson. Why? What did Grisham have against Harrelson?

Harrelson had previously starred in the Oliver Stone movie Natural Born Killers, a hyper-violent story about two murderers on the run. Ironically, one of Natural Born Killer's themes was how the media fascination with murder and mayhem gave attention to bad people who then influenced others to do bad things — and then bad people cited the movie for inspiring them to do bad things in real life.

Grisham hated the violence of Natural Born Killers and even, when it was released, called for a boycott. He and Oliver Stone wrote dueling newspaper opinion pieces arguing their positions around the movie. Grisham had nothing against Woody Harrelson personally or professionally. He just didn't want anyone association with Stone's movie to be playing a role that was based on Grisham himself.

Grisham also had a very personal reason for hating Natural Born Killers. Shortly after that movie came out, one of Grisham's acquaintances was murdered. The two killers cited Natural Born Killers in their statement about why they had done the murder.

Matthew McConaughey himself talked about it in an interview years later, saying, "They were looking at Woody but Woody had come out in Natural Born Killers. Oliver Stone and John Grisham got in an editorial fight because there was a copycat murder in Mississippi of someone that garnered some news. I heard John Grisham was going, 'Oh, no way that guy, Woody, who played Mickey, is going to play me.' That moves him out."

Harrelson badly wanted the part, and wanted to speak to Grisham to make an argument for himself, but Grisham avoided him. Harrelson later said:

"I called his house. I said, 'Let's talk about it.' I wanted him to understand what was going on. They said he wasn't home."

So the movie A Time to Kill came out in 1996 with McConaughey as the star. And the role turned him into a matinee idol, so Grisham's casting kibosh of Harrelson worked out in the end for the movie.

And, of course, McConaughey, Harrelson and Grisham all went on to make lots and lots of money over their very successful careers. So don't cry for Woody. But that is why Grisham once said no way to Woody Harrelson in A Time to Kill.

Stream or buy 'A Time to Kill' movie

(Affiliate links are used in this post.)

Yes, the 'Luminous Butt Bucket' is a Real Product

Have you heard of the "Luminous Butt Bucket"? Sounds like a Victorian-era insult, doesn't it? That's what prompted this tweet from comedian Patton Oswalt:

Patton Oswalt Luminous Butt Bucket tweet

As you may be able to see from the text in the photo, the Luminous Butt Bucket is an "extinguishing ashtray." That is, an ashtray into which you drop your cigarette butts, and the ashtray putts out your cigarette by cutting off its oxygen supply. Does that really save you anything compared to just crushing out that butt as in a normal ashtray? Well, the Luminous Butt Bucket is also supposed to cut down on cigarette smoke odors by capturing and holding the last smoke from that extinguished butt inside the ashtray.

It seems like if you really cared that much about cutting down on cigarette smoke odors you would ... consider quitting smoking? Quitting is hard, though.

Here's the selling point to smokers for the Luminous Butt Bucket: It is small and shaped like a cup, the kind of cup you might sit down into the cupholders in your vehicle. Maybe you don't want to crush out that ciggy while driving. Drop it into the butt bucket. But it's small. The product description notes that it "holds several cigarettes."

Alas, we were unable to find any reviews of this product. But if you want to try to the Luminous Butt Bucket, check it out on (affiliate links in this post), or view other extinguishing ashtrays.

If you need help quitting smoking, please visit this help page from the American Lung Association.