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A weekly show where knowledge junkies get their fix of trivia-tastic information. This week, John takes a fond look back at the '80s.


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Hi I'm John Green. Welcome to my salon. This is Mental Floss on YouTube and did you know that Clara Peller who said the "Where's the beef?" line in Wendy's ads got fired from Wendy's when she did a commercial for Prego spaghetti sauce in which she said, "I found it!". According to Wendy's, that implied quote, "That Clara found the beef at somewhere other than Wendy's restaurants." We all know there is only one location for the beef.

Anyway, that is the first of eighty facts about the 1980s I'm going to share with you today in this video presented by our friends at Geico.

(Intro)

The 1982 song, Mickey may now be a high school cheerleader anthem but Toni Basil was thirty-eight years old when she recorded it.

Hacky sack has been around since 3000 BCE when Chinese Emperor Wong Ti used to kick around a leather ball filled with hair.

Sony named the Walkman after the pressman audio recorder in Superman

And speaking of things you don't hear much about since the 80s; Michael Dukakis is famous for losing to George H.W. Bush in the 1988 presidential election. But people forget about his larger contributions to history, like for instance, he declared April 24, 1989 New Kids On the Block Day in Massachusetts. 

In 1987, 25% of all mattress sales were waterbeds. That is disturbing.

The crimping iron was invented after a hair stylist who spent hours braiding and unbraiding Barbra Streisand's hair for a photo shoot.

Here's a disturbing fact, Casey Kasem did voice work for the Transformers cartoon but he quit when he read a racist script containing an Arab character named Abdul, King of Carbombya.

Roald Dahl struggled to write Matilda because he was genuinely afraid that books in general were becoming unpopular. I'm glad to know that's not a new thing.

In 2012, Teddy Ruxpin creator Ken Forsse announced that he hated the way teddy bears were portrayed in the Seth McFarlane movie Ted. I just hope he's okay with how teddy bears are portrayed on our wall. By the way, Cellophane, Mark's actual childhood teddy bear, born in the 1980s.

Before the Karate Kid movie, The Karate Kid was a completely unrelated DC Comics superhero. DC Comics actually appears in the thank yous in the movie's credits because they let Columbia Pictures use the name.

According to songwriter Steve Kipner, the Olivia Newton John song Physical was originally written for quote: "a macho male rock figure like Rod Stewart."

Meredith, that can't be correct. Is that correct? It was a strange time, the 80s.

Anyway, speaking of Olivia Newton John, after John JB Wilson watched a double feature of Can't Stop the Music and Xanadu he was inspired to start the Golden Raspberry Awards, a.k.a. "The Razzies."

According to boombox expert Fred Brathwaite, these boxes were so heavy that some cats would develop massive forearms.

In the 80s Christian Bale starred in a commercial for Pac-Man cereal thus giving us the name for his inevitable autobiography From Pac-Man to Batman.

By the way, when Ms. Pac-Man was introduced in 1982, her tagline was: "The femme fatale of the game world."

In 1981, Rick Springfield accepted a role on General Hospital after recording his album. The show got around 14 million viewers daily, which may be why Jesse's Girl hit number one that year. Also, by the way I thought the central lyric to that song was, "I wish that I was Jesse's girl," until about last year.

1986 was the first time that Halley's Comet was observed via spacecraft, but Chinese astronomers first noticed it in 239 BCE

And speaking of things that you can see from space, Simon Le Bon showed up for his Duran Duran audition in pink leopard prints pants. Nick Rhodes said, "Anyone who looks that stupid is positively the one."

It cost over half a million dollars to make Eddie Murphy's album How Could It Be, featuring the infamously bad single Party All the Time, which is now in my head, thank you Meredith.

The 1988 song Don't Worry, Be Happy still has many fans, including Hilary Clinton, who received a teddy bear that sings the song from former Secretary of State George Schultz. Her memoir claims, quote, "I kept it in my office, first as a joke, but every so often, it really did help to squeeze the bear and hear that song."

In 2002, Aqua Net Hairspray had an unlikely comeback when the musical Hairspray started on Broadway, because nothing says fashion like a musical that takes place in 1960s Baltimore.

And speaking of hairspray, let's discuss Jon Bon Jovi. He didn't like the song Livin' on a Prayer at first. The band included it as a hidden track on an album because he didn't deem it worthy to be a regular track.

When he turned 18, Laurence Tureaud legally changed his name to Mr. T, because he wanted people to call him Mr, which he considered a sign of respect.

When American Greetings was developing Care Bears, they were top secret and only called Project 2. Project 1, by the way, was none other than Strawberry Shortcake.

Incidentally, Strawberry Shortcake has her own annual convention in Cleveland that's been going on since 2003.

The Cheers premiere in 1982 was ranked almost last in ratings, but its finale 11 years later brought in 80.4 million viewers.

And speaking of sitcoms, Alf was very popular in Germany. The country actually has a city named Alf, and people kept stealing the sign due to the show's popularity.

John Hughes wrote Sixteen Candles after an agent sent him a stack of actresses' head shots, including Molly Ringwald's. He put her picture over his desk and wrote the bulk of the film in one weekend. But Hughes often wrote pretty quickly, in fact, the script for Ferris Bueller's Day Off took him just six days.

Russell Simmons actually came up with the name "Run DMC", which the rest of the group hated. They wanted to be called the "Devastating Two" or the "Dynamic Two MCs".

There's a Rainbow Brite museum in North Carolina made up of 1500 items of memorabilia from one woman's Rainbow Brite collection.

The line, "I'll be back," from the Terminator movies was written in the movie's novelization as, "I'll come back."

In 1984, if you wanted a phone shaped like lips, like the one that D.J. had in Full House, it would cost you $70. Nowadays, no one even knows the price of a landline phone. And that's sad because my cell phone can do a lot of things but one thing it can't do is be a hamburger phone or a banana phone or a Mickey Mouse phone or one of those transparent phones where you could see all the wires inside.

Stickers for your car that said "Baby on Board" were very popular in the 80s but according to a 2012 study, 1 in 20 drivers blame such stickers for obscuring vision and causing accidents.

Another brand that did well for itself in the 80s - Members Only. Thanks to their famous jackets, the company brought in $100 million a year.

Jane Fonda gets some of the credit or, arguably, blame for making leg warmers trendy. She wore them in her very first workout video and encouraged people to wear them to "feel like athletes," which is easy to make fun of, but then again, that's why I'm wearing tennis shoes right now.

Another reason for the leg warmer craze - the movie Flashdance, which also gave us the collarless sweatshirt. Actress Jennifer Beals once shrunk a sweatshirt in the dryer then cut around the collar so it could fit, she wore that to her audition and the style made it into the movie.

The Clapper is notorious thanks to its commercial jingle, but the exact same song was actually used earlier in the 1980s in a commercial for Sine-Off cold medicine.

Both Dave Coulier and Howie Mandel voiced Animal on the show Muppet Babies. What a great program.

And speaking of muppets, Fraggle Rock was HBO's first original series. It was a lot like the content that HBO makes now, but there was less violence than there is in Game of Thrones, less nudity than there is in Girls, less drinking than there is in Boardwalk Empire, far less Jeff Daniels than we have in The Newsroom... times were so different then.

In the 80s, Van Halen famously requested M&Ms with all the brown candies removed backstage at their shows. They did this not to be jerks, but instead they snuck it in to their contracts to make sure that people running the venue actually read the entire rider. If they saw brown M&Ms, they know that there might be some technical errors in the show.

When MTV premiered in the 1980s, they wanted to use footage of Neil Armstrong's moon landing, but Armstrong refused, so they went with Apollo 11.

The opening act for Madonna's first ever tour? The Beastie Boys, who often got booed for screaming obscenities.

The Beastie Boys, by the way, wrote (You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (to Party) as a parody of rock songs. It was a joke. They refused to play it live, and in fact haven't played it live since 1987.

In 1985, in order to convince stores in New York City to carry the new Nintendo Entertainment System, a Nintendo exec promised that they could send back the ones they didn't sell free of charge, but they ended up selling 50,000 that holiday season.

Most popular plumber ever. Oh, it's awkward because Luigi heard me say that.

The last names of Jem and the Holograms were the names of real scientists who worked on hologram technology.

Gelly Roll pens were invented in the 1980s, but it took a while to come up with the perfect ink formula after trying things like grated yam and egg whites. A member of the team saw an ad for the food additive xanthan gum, which turned out to be the missing ingredient!

Thanks to Dynasty and Working Girl, shoulder pads in women's clothing became very popular during the 1980s, but designer Elsa Schiaparelli actually invented the style in the thirties. Also people have been perming their hair since 1872. 

In the movie Juno, Juno yells, "Thundercats are go!" but that wasn't the catchphrase of the eighties cartoon. Juno probably meant to say, "Thunderbirds are go!" like the show from the sixties.

All the cool eighties kids had a Polaroid 660. The brand itself was started in 1944 by Edwin H. Land because his three-year-old daughter didn't understand why she couldn't see a picture right after it was taken, so he fixed that problem for her and then became a billionaire. 

Doc Brown had a chimpanzee in early drafts of Back to the Future but the head of Universal said no movie with a chimpanzee ever made any money. Which is just completely unfair, I mean granted MVP: Most Valuable Primate hadn't been made yet, but surely that exec was familiar with the Ronald Reagan movie Bedtime for Bonzo

By the way, in early outlines for The Empire Strikes Back, Yoda was named Buffy. 

While Jay McInerney was working on his novel Bright Lights, Big City, his publisher said that no great American novels took place in New York, to which Jay McInerney probably said, "Have you read Gatsby?"

Famous guitarist Slash auditioned for Poison but realized he wasn't right for the job when they asked him if he'd wear make-up. 

Similarly, Richard Page, the lead singer of Mister Mister turned down the lead singer job in two other bands, Toto and Chicago, because, you know, he was waiting for Mister Mister to come along. 

Believe it or not America lived in ignorance of McDonald's Chicken McNuggets until the 1980s. Supposedly, by the way, they come in four shapes: the boot, the ball, the bowtie, and the bell. 

It cost twenty thousand dollars to create the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man suit for Ghostbusters. The crew had to make three of them, which were all destroyed during filming. 

Sonny Crockett's car on Miami Vice was originally a Corvette that the crew made to look like a Ferrari, but eventually Ferrari gave the show a Testarossa. 

Eleanor Bergstein, who wrote and produced Dirty Dancing was friends with Dr. Ruth, whom you will remember was a sniper in the Israeli army before she was a sex expert. Anyways, Bergstein wanted to cast Dr. Ruth as Mrs. Schumacher, but Dr. Ruth declined when she realized the character was a thief. 

In the 1980s, the book Real Men Don't Eat Quiche spent 55 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. According to the book, here are a few things that real men don't do: have meaningful dialogues, catch rays, drink light beer, or wear gold chains or anything with more than three zippers. Ah I don't know, Captain Jack Sparrow both catches rays and wears gold chains, and for the record, I think I'm a real man and I love quiche. 

Okay let's speed up. Lisa Frank has her own patented proprietary ink formula. It's a mixture that makes colors brighter. 

Cindy Lauper sang the theme song for Pee-Wee's Playhouse

Eddie Van Halen did the guitar solo in Michael Jackon's Beat It

Fred Astaire almost cameoed Michael Jackson's music video for Thriller. He even attended a rehearsal. 

Pat Benatar's Love Is a Battlefield music video was the first ever to feature spoken dialogue, and Paula Abdul choreographed ZZ Top's Velcro Fly video. And people say she's not talented. 

Jolt Soda used the same slogan, "all the sugar and twice the caffeine," for 24 years straight. 

Spandex is an anagram of expands and hair mousse is named after the French word for foam.

It took Erno Rubik a month to solve his own invention, the Rubik's Cube. 

The Baby Sitter's Club author Anne M. Martin ghost wrote the first Sweet Valley Twins book, Best Friends.

Daniel Waters made the movie Heather's hoping that Stanley Kubrick would make it into a three-hour long dark comedy. 

Drummer Rick Allen joined Def Leppard when he was just 15 years old. His mom responded the the band's ad for him. 

Manic Monday by the Bangles was written by Prince under the pseudonym Christopher. That was before his pseudonym was a symbol. 

People at the actual Top Gun School receive a five dollar fine every time they quote the movie Top Gun. And speaking of which, after Top Gun was released, sales of Ray-Ban Aviator sunglasses increased by 40%.

But if you think that's impressive, after E.T. came out, Reese's Pieces sales increased by 65%.

And finally I return to my salon to tell you that the recording for the star-packed song We Are the World lasted until 3 am because Stevie Wonder wanted to record a verse in Swahili, and was waiting for a phone call about correct pronunciations.

He should have taken a lesson from me. It doesn't matter if you pronounce things correctly.

Anyway when the call finally came, Ray Charles said, "F***, man, it's 3 o'clock in the morning. I can't even sing in English." And Wonder responded, "Just relax, we'll do it in one take, and then I'll drive you home."

Thanks for watching Mental Floss here on YouTube which is made with the help of all of these nice people and made possible by our friends at Geico. Thanks again for watching, don't forget to subscribe, and as we say in my home town, don't forget to be awesome.