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Extraordinary Origins of Everyday Things
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Extraordinary Origins of Everyday Things

4.04 of 5 stars 4.04  ·  rating details  ·  458 ratings  ·  40 reviews
For lovers of facts, students of popular culture, history buffs, and science enthusiasts, the fascinating stories behind 500 everyday items, expressions, and customs--from Kleenex to steak sauce, Barbie Dolls to honeymoons.
Paperback, 463 pages
Published October 17th 1989 by William Morrow Paperbacks (first published 1987)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,375)
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Mary JL
A good blend of history and speculation. The author sorts by various criteria--origins of superstitions; holidays; customs; inventions and much more!

Many people might just dip into this type of book just looking for certain infomration--but I read it entirely and found the writing well well organized and fun.

The illustrations from older books reprinted here I found added much to my please. a picture is worth a thousa nd words, they say--and I always enjoy old phtographs and engravings.

Of course,
...more
Andrew
I will start by saying this is a tricky one not only to read but also to rate. Its a great book don't get me wrong - its just the classic dip in dip out type where you want to read it a bit at a time - all in one go and you may lose the will to read again. Its packed full of facts and interesting details just thats its problem - there are too many with too much information - hence why i struggle to choose the right rating for it. Some of the details are brilliant and i honestly was surprised oth ...more
Cambria
I bought it. Ever wonder why their called 'bobby pins' or why do celebrate certain holidays, or where the kitchen stove idea came from? This book is the history behind the many, many things we use everyday. I found it really interesting. Check it out!
Kevin
Awesome book. Great for just a reference to some holiday, saying, tradition or whatever. Perfect for an inquisitive mind. I think it has anything and more you can possibly think to ask.
Cathie
Some interesting historical facts about items, rituals, celebrations and language we use in our lives today. I would have liked to read more detail on most of the information.
Ellen
I wonder about the authenticity of some entries, but it's undeniably a fun and interesting read.
sun
Still reading... its gives you the origins of such things as holidays, superstitions, traditions, things we use and say everyday. Very interesting. I learned I'm holding my New Years Celebration on the day that New Years actually used to be, which was originally March 25th, til Julius Ceaser changed it to January 1... April Fools is also has the same origin where the New Years celebration used to go on for a week until April 1 when the gift giving and such stopped. But when people resisted and k ...more
Ana
I've been reading this book for years.
Little by little, night by night, reading a factoid here and there.

It's been my go-to 'i'm-just-about-to-fall-asleep-but-i-need-to-read-just-one-more-thing' book for years on end. This is not to mean that it's a boring, dull book in the least. It's just that my brain likes to devour facts right before it finally relaxes into sleep.

Someday when I make it on Jeopardy - it'll happen :) - I'll probably be able to thank this book for a lot of the answers I get r
...more
Volkan Kurt
Cok sıradan cok bilidik konular var icinde ve sanki vikipediadan toplanmıs gibi bir kac bolüm haric genelini beyenmedim. Yazar daha ilginc konular secip onları acıklamalı
Lisa Tangen
at the risk of turning into Cliff, it was a fun cover-to-cover read...some very interesting notes...esp how many things started much sooner than one might expect.
Ann
Top 5 Pop Culture - PLA
Kaethe
Another one for the miscellaneous shelf. I enjoy learning just a tiny bit about anything.
Diana
I actually started reading it one day to see how far I could get but there's only so much useless information I can take; so I've mostly only used it as a reference guide when I actually want to know something. The sections I have read are pretty cool though, and truthfully once you know the information it's not that useless. And I enjoy letting people know that I know where the idea of nail polish originated.
Gracee
Mar 27, 2009 Gracee rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: ANY age
Recommended to Gracee by: mom!
Shelves: own
This is one of those books that is always sitting on a table or on a bookshelf somewhere in my house. Right now it's on the kitchen table - I looked up the meaning of "ring 'round the rosey"
It's a great "I only have minutes to read something and don't want to get too involved" or if you have limited attention span ;) Lots of quirky "how it got started" stories. Fun read for any age
Clarissa
I think this book is out of print now, but you can still get it, and you should. I've flipped through it so many times that my copy is falling apart. Want to know the origin of Christmas? of Little Red Riding Hood? of Toilets? Zippers? Makeup? Superstitions?...It has it all. I'm constantly amazing (or is it boring?) people with knowledge I got from this book.
Amber the Human
Okay, you guys, I finally did it! It's a very long book, over 400 pages, and it's not like I need to be like oh, wait, I can't remember what the origin of Father's Day is, so I can't figure out the origin of ice cream! I love knowing more facts and be able to bust out "Actually ..." and then explain what I've learned!
Diana
The sheer volume of information in this book is amazing. My favorite section was about how various superstitions evolved. So interesting to see the arc of cultural and technological evolution over time. Definitely great for conversation starters and random useless knowledge to have on hand.
Sarah
This book was very interesting. Granted, it had so many things to learn about, many I didn't really care. I skipped a majority of things, but read a lot as well. I recommend this book to any who are curious on how things were discovered, and why they are around. A good informational book!
Robert
This was a fun book. Great for the reference shelf especially if you get those kids questions. Dad where did ____ come from? Who made the first potato chip Dad? Yep, a great book to keep you from saying 'I Don't Know'. It satisfies curiosities, puts to bed those nagging 'I wonders'.
Laura Crawford
Aug 02, 2007 Laura Crawford rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: the curoius type
Shelves: reference
Ever wonder who invented toothpaste? It's in here. A reference book that will intrigue and disgust. I've read it so many times my copy is falling apart.

Oh, as to who invented toothpaste...the Egyptians...let's just say ewww...read the chapter and find out why.
Lindsay Campbell
Aug 27, 2007 Lindsay Campbell rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: ALL
this book is out of print but you can still order it on amazon. please do so. this book is deeply etched in my psyche. it taught me so many of the useless and useful factoids that i know. it is the ultimate bathroom book. i love giving it as a gift.
Rachel
My boy toy loves these nerdy type books, so we've read a lot of the entries out loud to each other. It's pretty interesting, but sometimes more in detail than I care to read. Not the kind of book you just sit down and read cover to cover.
Jessica
An interesting collection of different tidbits, however, I think it would be more interesting as a reference book or to refer only to those chapters or items that are of particular interest to prevent some of the monotony.
Joanna
Sep 16, 2007 Joanna rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: the curious
Shelves: nonfiction, alpha
So fun to browse through this encyclopedia-like book. Where did zippers come from, anyway? Whoever thought up the whistling teakettle? Answers to these questions and many more can be found in this amazing book!
Chase Parsley
My favorite was the origins of our holidays! Panati must have researched a ton to put this book together. It got a bit dry for me by the end though - it is more of a reference book.
Rob
It was very fun to read the stories behind simple things that we take for granted.

It also gave me an historical insight to various successful launches of consumer products of the past.
Courtney
I find this stuff so interesting...where did toilet paper come from? who invented pantyhose? the sandwich? curlers? different sayings? Hours of fun, I tell you!
Yuki
This is a really terrific bathroom book. Or leave it on the coffee table while you are on vacation. Great browsable book.
May Abbey
What a fun book full of wacky info. Love it. It's also great for writers because it tells the evolution of a lot of items.
Mark
Dated and shallow, a reiteration of common misconceptions and suppositions that have largely been debunked already.
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Panati's Extraordinary Endings of Practically Everything and Everybody قصة العادات والتقاليد وأصل الأشياء Sexy Origins and Intimate Things: The Rites and Rituals of Straights, Gays, Bis, Drags, Trans, Virgins, and Others Panati's Parade of Fads, Follies, and Manias: The Origins of Our Most Cherished Obsessions Panati's Brower's Book of Beginnings

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