7UP. Pennies. Charles Dickens. It's time for your favorite bag of facts. Fact Bag is back!
OPHIRA EISENBERG, HOST:
While Jill and Liz get ready for our final round, it's time for us to play a game. This is Fact Bag. I have a bag full of trivia questions. Jonathan and I do not know the answers. Every question is written on an envelope. I'm going to read a question. Jonathan and I will discuss, and then we'll open the envelope and find out the real answer.
JONATHAN COULTON: It's a real bag, everybody.
EISENBERG: OK. Here we go. The lemon-lime soda 7UP was introduced in 1929. About 20 years later, what ingredient was quietly removed from its formula?
COULTON: Was removed from its formula.
EISENBERG: Cocaine. Someone said that. I agree with that.
COULTON: Cocaine - right.
EISENBERG: No, that was Coke.
COULTON: All the sodas had cocaine in them.
EISENBERG: They all did, right?
COULTON: I don't know. Coca-Cola certainly did. Well, it's not lemons. It's not lime.
EISENBERG: Oh, yeah. I'd love it if it was lemon.
EISENBERG: OK, let's say caffeine.
COULTON: Let's say caffeine.
EISENBERG: That's smart. Oh, great, lithium.
EISENBERG: Yeah, I cannot believe there's not a lobby to get that back in.
EISENBERG: Now you know why it was 7UP.
EISENBERG: Hey. 7UP used to contain a small amount of lithium, which is a psychiatric medication and an element used in batteries. Well, we really - that - what amazing uses.
COULTON: See (laughter).
EISENBERG: 7UP's original name was Bib-Label Lithiated Lemon-Lime Soda.
COULTON: It's not very catchy.
EISENBERG: Yeah, that was...
EISENBERG: ...Hard to get on a label.
EISENBERG: Lithium's use in soda was outlawed in the late 1940s.
EISENBERG: Yeah. OK. The first official American penny featured a motto that has since been removed from our currency. Take a penny, leave a penny.
EISENBERG: That would be weird if that was the first motto (laughter).
COULTON: Used to be the currency. Yeah, I don't know. I haven't looked at a penny in a million years. That's how rich I am.
COULTON: E. Pluribus Unum is the thing that's on the currency now. I don't know if that's coins - it's really - we're really terrible at this.
EISENBERG: Listen. That's pretty good.
COULTON: We don't know a damn thing.
EISENBERG: I'm going with that. Oh.
JONATHAN COULTON AND OPHIRA EISENBERG: That's still on currency.
COULTON: It's not going to be that.
EISENBERG: OK. So...
COULTON: Don't tread on me.
EISENBERG: It's a good one. God bless America.
COULTON: God Bless America. I don't think they ever put that on a penny.
EISENBERG: How about - let's see. We're all doomed. The empire will fall.
COULTON: Yeah, that sounds good. We're all doomed. The empire will fall. Let's see if we're right.
EISENBERG: OK. Let's see if that's what it is. (Laughter) Mind your business.
COULTON: What? Mind your business.
EISENBERG: That's right. Benjamin Franklin is thought to have designed this penny, which has a picture of a sundial on one side. It's unclear how the motto mind your business was intended to be received. Oh, it's unclear? I'll tell you how it was intended. Mind your business.
COULTON: Yeah. Quit bothering me, says Ben Franklin. And he put it on a penny.
EISENBERG: Mind your business.
COULTON: I feel like we could not have guessed that.
EISENBERG: There's no way we could have guessed that.
COULTON: That's the nature of Fact Bag, though.
EISENBERG: OK. Charles - this is our last one. Charles Dickens owned a cat named Bob.
EISENBERG: After Bob died, what did Charles Dickens do with the cat's remains? Great. It's, like, not normal...
EISENBERG: ...Or it wouldn't be worth a fun fact. Maybe he, like, fed them to P.T. Barnum or something like that.
COULTON: (Laughter) He fed them to P.T. Barnum.
EISENBERG: That was his rival - one of his rivals.
COULTON: Maybe he stuffed him. Could he have stuffed his cat Bob?
EISENBERG: Little taxidermy action.
COULTON: That seems like a thing Charles Dickens would do.
EISENBERG: Yeah. He was, like, a Brooklyn guy before Brooklyn.
COULTON: Yeah, he was a hipster (laughter).
EISENBERG: I like that idea.
COULTON: Oh, my God.
EISENBERG: He turned Bob into a letter opener.
COULTON: Oh, what?
EISENBERG: Dickens was distraught when his cat Bob died. He preserved one of Bob's paws and turned it into the handle of a letter opener with an ivory blade. It bears the inscription in memory of Bob, 1862.
EISENBERG: The object is now part of hell. No, the object...
EISENBERG: The object is now part of the New York Public Library's collection. Just another delightful reason.
COULTON: It is 49 percent sweet and 51 percent creepy.
EISENBERG: (Laughter) Exactly.
EISENBERG: Another good idea.
COULTON: From Charles Dickens, from the mind of Charles Dickens.
EISENBERG: (Laughter) That's right. All right. Well, that was Fact Bag, everybody. Let's give it up for Fact Bag.
(CHEERING) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.