Ridiculous History


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History is beautiful, brutal and, often, ridiculous. Join Ben Bowlin and Noel Brown as they dive into some of the weirdest stories from across the span of human civilization in Ridiculous History, a podcast by HowStuffWorks.

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How Oliver Cromwell Got Executed Several Years After His Death

28:16 | Apr 16th

Today, Oliver Cromwell is known as one of the most famous figures in English history -- he was a Puritan with no military experience when the Civil War broke out in 1642, but within a decade he rose to the position of Lord Protector, essentially ruli...Show More

Hong Xiuquan: The Younger Brother of Jesus Christ Who Led a Bloody Rebellion in China

38:51 | Apr 11th

When the schoolteacher who would come to be called Hong Xiuquan first heard of the Christian religion, he wasn't particularly bowled over. However, when he had a nervous breakdown after failing his scholarly exams, he experienced a series of visions ...Show More

How Big Bill Speakman Fought Off North Korea With Beer Bottles

26:39 | Apr 9th

Bill Speakman, better known as the “Beer Bottle VC”, single-handedly took on a brigade of Chinese People’s Army Infantry in four hours of close-quarters combat. As he ran out of actual weapons, he began throwing beer bottles -- and, somehow, survived...Show More

Teddy Roosevelt May Just Have Saved Modern (American) Football

25:50 | Apr 4th

In recent years the public has become increasingly aware of the long-term dangers posed by sports injuries -- but at the turn of the 20th century this wasn't the case. Football players didn't wear protective gear, and in 1905 alone more than 15 playe...Show More

Prohibition, Prescriptions and the Rise of 'Medicinal' Booze

32:58 | Apr 2nd

From 1920 to 1933, the United States was, technically speaking, a dry country. The National Prohibition Act made the manufacture, transport and sale of alcohol illegal for the vast majority of the population. However, there were several loopholes ava...Show More

Introducing It Could Happen Here, An iHeartRadio Original Podcast

03:13 | Mar 29th

Boy, politics really has gotten hideous, hasn’t it? And protests seem a lot more violent than they were a couple of years ago. Are things getting worse? Could the U.S.A. be on the road to a second civil war? Robert Evans says ‘Yes!’ and by the time y...Show More

Did Robert E. Lee hate Confederate Memorials?

31:07 | Mar 28th

From 1861 to 1865, the United States of America was a country divided. More than a century later, it remains America's bloodiest war. After the cessation of conflicts and the surrender of the Confederate army, General Robert E. Lee found himself cons...Show More

California Schoolchildren and the Great Squirrel War

30:20 | Mar 26th

In 1918, as the planet was consumed by World War I, the government of California found itself combating an unexpected and catastrophic enemy: Ground squirrels. The rodents were wreaking havoc across the countryside, consuming crops left and right. St...Show More

When West Virginia Begged the USSR for Foreign Aid

31:51 | Mar 21st

Were it not for the coal mine, the town of Vulcan, West Virginia may well have never existed. As a rural and geographically isolated community, Vulcan relied on a single, small bridge for its connection to the larger world. When the bridge failed, th...Show More

Idiomatic for the People II, Part II

39:38 | Mar 19th

Language is beautiful and, in many cases, continually evolving. As a result, we end up with hundreds of strange idioms and figures of speech that we use on a daily basis, with little to no understanding of what they originally meant. Join the guys wi...Show More

Idiomatic for the People II, Part I

51:19 | Mar 14th

Language is beautiful and, in many cases, continually evolving. As a result, we end up with hundreds of strange idioms and figures of speech that we use on a daily basis, with little to no understanding of what they originally meant. Join the guys wi...Show More

The Statue of Liberty Almost Lived in Egypt

35:19 | Mar 12th

Today the Statue of Liberty is one of the most famous landmarks in the United States -- but it almost didn't make it to Ellis Island. Join the guys as they explore the strange story of Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi and his quest to build this iconic mon...Show More

Agent Garbo: The Strange Tale of the Man Who Saved D-Day

41:51 | Mar 7th

When Juan Pujol first volunteered to spy for the British during World War II, they didn’t take him seriously. That all changed when he got a gig spying for the German government. Listen to learn the story of one of World War II’s most successful doub...Show More

The War of the Stray Dog: How Far Would You Go For Your Pet?

37:42 | Mar 5th

After the fall of the Ottoman Empire, it didn't take the newly-independent nations of Greece and Bulgaria long to begin bickering over their borders. Throughout the early 1920s, small bands of peasants from both countries routinely crossed the border...Show More

The Tragic Origin Story of Morse Code

36:08 | Feb 28th

The telegraph and the communication system known as Morse code revolutionized the way we transmit information, but how did it get here? Join the guys as they explore the tragic life and time of Samuel Morse.Learn more about advertising on the HowStuf...Show More

Operation Gunnerside: How a Crew of Military Skiers Ruined the Nazi Bomb

28:01 | Feb 26th

On February 27, 1942, nine saboteurs set out in the middle of the night to blow up a Nazi-controlled heavy water plant in Norway. This operation was as crucial as it was complicated -- if the plant continued to function, the Nazis very well may have ...Show More

How far did Isaac Newton go to hunt down forgers?

30:21 | Feb 21st

Today, Isaac Newton is best known for his scientific pursuits -- but he also served as Warden and, later, Master of the Royal Mint. And this wasn't some sort of honorary position, either: Newton took his job of hunting down forgers seriously, and may...Show More

How Admiral Horatio Nelson Ended Up Dead in a Barrel of Brandy

36:08 | Feb 19th

Naval legend Admiral Nelson died on October 21st, 1805 shortly after being shot by a French sniper while standing on the deck his ship, Victory. Following the British victory at the Battle of Trafalgar, the survivors of the conflict were left with a ...Show More

English Men Used to Sell Their Wives

25:07 | Feb 14th

In late 17th-century England, it was almost impossible for anyone outside of the upper class to successfully get a divorce -- the process was expensive and required approval from both the church and the government. As a result, some couples agreed to...Show More

How Louisiana Almost Became a Hippo Ranching Hub

43:32 | Feb 12th

Nowadays beef, chicken and pork are the most common meats in the US -- but, not so long ago, that could have all changed. Join the guys as they travel back to the early 1900s, when Louisiana congressman Robert Broussard proposed an unorthodox solutio...Show More

The Weird Life of George Washington, Part 2

34:27 | Feb 8th

Join Ben, Noel, Casey and returning guest Christopher Hassiotis as they continue exploring the strange life and times of George Washington in the second part of this two-part series. Listen in to learn more about Washington's weird hair routine, his ...Show More

The Weird Life of George Washington, Part 1

45:14 | Feb 5th

Returning special guest Christopher Hassiotis joins the guys today for a round-robin discussion of the very weird life of George Washington, first President of the United States. (As you may have guessed from the title, there's more weirdness than we...Show More

Who was the highest paid athlete in history?

30:53 | Jan 31st

Today, most people probably don't remember the career of once-famous charioteer Gaius Appuleius Diocles -- however, in his day we was a cultural icon, one of the most famous athletes in Rome. Join the guys as they explore the story Diocles and trace ...Show More

Clara, The World's Most Famous Rhinoceros

46:53 | Jan 30th

For centuries most people in Europe thought of rhinos as another form of mythical creature, like unicorns or griffins. However, this all changed when an enterprising sea captain brought a young, orphaned rhino named Clara back to his home country aft...Show More

How the Monopoly Board Game Became a World War II Escape Kit

31:36 | Jan 24th

Monopoly is a pretty divisive game, and people tend to either love it or hate it. However, for hundreds of Allied POWs captured during World War II, Monopoly became more than a mere diversion -- it became, instead, their ticket to freedom. Join the g...Show More

Idiomatic For The People, Part I

1:04:51 | Jan 23rd

Language is beautiful and, in many cases, continually evolving. As a result, we end up with hundreds of strange idioms and figures of speech that we use on a daily basis, with little to no understanding of what they originally meant. Join the guys an...Show More

Was there a real-life Rapunzel?

30:15 | Jan 17th

Most people in the West are familiar with the old Rapunzel fairy tale -- a beautiful princess is confined to a tower until a prince, captivated by her beauty, uses her hair as a ladder and comes to her rescue. But where did this story come from, exac...Show More

Benjamin Franklin's Advice On "Finding A Mistress"

31:48 | Jan 15th

Founding Father Benjamin Franklin was a man of many interests, but his endeavors were by no means limited to technical innovation, philosophy and politics. In fact, throughout his life he had a reputation as an irredeemable lech -- literally, in late...Show More

What does "Idaho" actually mean?

25:40 | Jan 10th

Idaho was the 43rd state admitted to the Union, and today it's well-known for potatoes, mining, and stunning forests -- but, even in the modern day, Idaho is home to a surprising mystery: What does its name actually mean? Join the guys as they explor...Show More

Uncle Sam Tried to End World War II With Bat Bombs

37:33 | Jan 8th

It sounds like something straight out of the cave beneath Bruce Wayne's Manor, but thanks to the passion of a part-time inventor named Lytle Adams, the United States military really did spend millions attempting to arm bats with incendiary devices an...Show More

The American Soldiers Who Defected to North Korea and Became Movie Stars

35:56 | Jan 4th

Often described as one of the most isolated countries in the world, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea has been ruled by the Kim dynasty since 1948. And while most reports of defectors focus on harrowing stories of North Koreans escaping to fr...Show More

How a Broken Toilet Foiled a German Sub

26:06 | Jan 1st

Toward the end of World War II, the German Type VIIC submarine was acknowledged to be one of the most advanced -- and deadliest -- predators on the seas. Yet, in at least one case, some of the same technological breakthroughs that made these subs ast...Show More

Creature Feature: The Dark Tetrad

1:05:26 | Dec 27th, 2018

Join the guys as they make an appearance on Creature Feature, the podcast that takes a critter’s eye view to explore how animal behavior parallels the behavior of humans. In this episode, Katie Goldin and the guys explore the dark tetrad in the anima...Show More

Gustaf Broman Tried to Cross the Atlantic in a Canoe . . . Or Did He?

40:43 | Dec 25th, 2018

In 1895, Gustaf Broman announced he would sail across the Atlantic in a 13-foot-long sailboat crafted from a cedar log. His route had an odd beginning -- he planned to start at Oregon, sail down to California, then put the boat on rails and ride it u...Show More

The Weird, Surprisingly Recent Origin of the Tooth Fairy

29:18 | Dec 20th, 2018

For millions of kids in the West, the story is as mysterious as it is profitable: Once your baby teeth begin falling out, hide them beneath your pillow. Sometime in the night, the Tooth Fairy will retrieve the tooth, leaving you some cash -- perhaps ...Show More

When Vikings Loot The Wrong Town

40:41 | Dec 18th, 2018

Like many Viking leaders, Halfdan and Bjorn wanted to be known for their fearlessness in battle and their ability to locate the finest spoils -- they wanted the community to tell stories of their valor for generations to come. Their father Ragnar bui...Show More

Were Tulips Really The Bitcoin of the 1600s?

31:57 | Dec 13th, 2018

In the 1600s, residents of the Dutch Republic were -- according to the story -- absolutely bonkers for tulips. A market sprang up around the tulip trade, and people began paying in advance for tulip bulbs, negotiating increasingly extravagant financi...Show More

(Some of) History's Dumbest Military Prototypes

56:44 | Dec 11th, 2018

It's true that the world's militaries often pioneer technological innovation -- but don't let all those great successes fool you! The world's militaries have at least as many failures as they do breakthroughs. Join Ben, Noel and special guest Christo...Show More

The Forty Elephants: London’s All-Female Jewel Thieves

43:53 | Dec 6th, 2018

For at least 200 years, part of London’s criminal underground was ruled by a gang of brilliant, all-female jewel thieves. Join the guys as they explore the rise and fall of the notorious Forty Elephants.

The Malleus Maleficarum: A Real-life Witch Hunter's Bible

35:35 | Dec 4th, 2018

During Europe's period of witchcraft hysteria, one enterprising (and failed) witch hunter sought to bolster his reputation by creating an authoritative text on the existence, discovery and persecution of witches. While it may seem silly now, the Mall...Show More

The Great London Beer Flood of 1814

27:50 | Nov 29th, 2018

In 1814, a poor neighborhood in London fell victim to a strange, tragic and boozy disaster -- this calamity would eventually leave eight people dead. So what exactly happened? How could an entire neighborhood flood with a deadly deluge of beer? Tune ...Show More

Dr. Seuss Wrote His Most Famous Book On A Bet

36:45 | Nov 27th, 2018

Nowadays, world-famous children's author Dr. Seuss is one of the most well-known writers on the planet. "Green Eggs and Ham", one of his most successful books, sold over 8 million copies by 2016 -- but would you believe he wrote it based entirely on ...Show More

Feral Children and the True Story Behind The Jungle Book

31:08 | Nov 22nd, 2018

What inspired Rudyard Kipling to write The Jungle Book? Join the guys as they explore the real-life, tragic stories of feral children abandoned by their human parents, adopted by animals and raised in the wild.

When Dentist Sold Dentures Made with Corpse Teeth

33:48 | Nov 21st, 2018

Here in the modern day, most people don’t love going to the dentist — but we still have it much better than the dental patients of yesteryear! Join the guys as they dive into a strange, grisly story from the early days of dentistry.

The Laxative-laden Journey of Lewis and Clark

31:44 | Nov 15th, 2018

Before Lewis and Clark set out to explore the western side of the continent, they tried to prepare for every possible contingency — including medical conditions like constipation. Join the guys as they explore how a dangerous laxative didn’t just sav...Show More

The Strange and Spectacularly Disgusting Story of the Great Kentucky Meat Shower

37:28 | Nov 13th, 2018

On March 3rd, 1876, residents of Bath County, Kentucky were startled to see what appeared to be chunks and flakes of meat falling from the clear, cloudless sky. The rain, which only lasted a few minutes, captured national attention. People across the...Show More

The Bizarre Origin of the Oxford English Dictionary

46:04 | Nov 8th, 2018

With 600,000 words and 3 million quotations, the Oxford English Dictionary is a massive tome. Work began on the dictionary in 1857, but the first edition wasn't published until 1884. Compiling the dictionary was a Herculean task, and James Murray, th...Show More

How Conman Victor Lustig Sold The Eiffel Tower (Twice)

1:03:07 | Nov 6th, 2018

Born Robert Miller, the man who would later become known as Count Victor Lustig traveled across Europe and the US bilking hundreds of people out of hundreds of thousands of dollars. He had many, many scams, and posed as everything from an elite theat...Show More

George Carlin Gets Quoted in the Supreme Court: Ridiculous Stand-up Stories with Wayne Federman

26:56 | Nov 2nd, 2018

In the second part of this two-part series, special guest Wayne Federman explores the strange, curse-word-riddled stand-up bit that resulted in George Carlin setting a legal precedent with the Supreme Court. Listen in to learn how curse words changed...Show More

The People vs. Lenny Bruce: Ridiculous Stand-up Stories with Wayne Federman

34:05 | Oct 31st, 2018

Lenny Bruce is a legend in the history of stand-up comedy, and while his use of explicit language thrilled audience members, it didn't win him any friends in law enforcement. In fact, Bruce was arrested multiple times for his use of 'obscenities', sp...Show More

The Life and Times of Ol' Knife Hand

29:53 | Oct 23rd, 2018

A necropolis in what is now Northern Italy holds a strange and, at first glance, terrifying corpse. A Lombard man, aged somewhere between 40 and 50 years old, lost his right arm in a brutal accident. Normally this sort of wound would be a death sente...Show More

The Ridiculous Story of the World’s First (Documented) Serial Killer

37:21 | Oct 18th, 2018

Locusta of Gaul, also known as Lucusta The Poisoner, was one of the most infamous criminals of ancient times. Alternately sponsored and betrayed by the noble class, she committed crimes with impunity for years — even, at one point, opening an academy...Show More

Back When the Rich Ate Corpses

37:09 | Oct 16th, 2018

Nowadays it's safe to say that cannibalism isn't a widely-accepted practice, but not so long ago it was considered the bleeding edge (get it?) in medicine throughout Western Europe. Join Ben and Noel as they explore the odd practice of consuming huma...Show More

The Mummies of Guanajuato

31:23 | Oct 11th, 2018

When the city of Guanajuato instituted a grave tax, they included some harsh penalties for those who couldn't pay -- if you went more than three years without paying the tax on your loved one's resting place, the body would be disinterred and taken f...Show More

The Curious Rise of SPAM

48:23 | Oct 9th, 2018

Nowadays the iconic 'SPAM' logo is recognized around the world -- whether you're traveling in the US state of Minnesota or Busan, Korea, you'll more often than not run into a couple of Spam cans in the local grocery store. But what made this particul...Show More

The Smooth-talking Takeover of Tabor Bridge

32:34 | Oct 4th, 2018

In 1805, two French Marshals found themselves in quite a pickle -- Jean Lannes and Joachim Murat needed to cross the Danube at the Tabor bridge (a series of three bridges, actually) to reach Vienna. However, Austrian forces held the bridges and were ...Show More

History's Coolest (Non-Human) Political Candidates, Part I

56:35 | Oct 2nd, 2018

It's no secret that politics can be a minefield of quirky events, and strange things happen in the lead up to elections. But just how strange can it get? Join the guys and returning guest Christopher Hassiotis as they explore bizarre tales of non-hum...Show More

Attack of the Aswang: How the CIA Used Vampires as Weapons of War

32:34 | Sep 27th, 2018

Horror fans can tell you there's more than one type of vampire -- in fact, there are hundreds of vampire-like fiends in cultures around the world. In most cases these are dismissed as spooky stories for children or ancient myths, but when the CIA nee...Show More

A Dead Pope Goes To Court

27:50 | Sep 25th, 2018

The Catholic Church is no stranger to scandal and controversy, but in January of 897 the institution was home to a new and unique scandal that put the garden variety tales of adultery and financial corruption to shame. Listen in to learn what drove P...Show More

Who are the Hartlepudlian Monkey Hangers?

33:50 | Sep 20th, 2018

Years ago, if you wanted to start a fight in Hartlepool in north eastern England, all you'd have to do is start calling people 'monkey hangers'. But why? Join the guys as they explore how the Napoleonic War, a terrified village and one incredibly unl...Show More

William Walker: Filibuster and (Fantastically Bad) President

43:37 | Sep 18th, 2018

The adventurer and filibuster William Walker was, in his heyday, lauded as an American hero for his repeated failed invasions of areas of Mexico and Nicaragua. But what led this man on a fanatical mission to invade these regions? Perhaps more importa...Show More

Lawsonomy: How the Father of the Modern Airline Started His Own Religion

52:32 | Sep 13th, 2018

When middling baseball player Alfred Lawson first learned of the Wright Brothers, he experienced a revelation that would guide the greater part of his life: Aviation, he believed, was the future of more than just transit -- it would become one of the...Show More

War and Candy: The Infamous Tootsie Roll Air Drop

33:04 | Sep 11th, 2018

During the battle of the Chosin Reservoir during the Korean War, the First Marine Division seemed doomed. Surrounded, outnumbered, outgunned and running dangerously low on ammunition, the Marines called for an airdrop of ammo only to receive... palle...Show More

The Man Who Assassinated Abe Lincoln's Assassin

36:07 | Sep 6th, 2018

On April 14th, 1865, John Wilkes Booth assassinated President Abraham Lincoln in Ford's theatre, escaping shortly thereafter and going on the run. The Federal troops in pursuit of the assassin had orders to bring Booth and any of his conspirators bac...Show More

The Cock Lane Ghost: Haunting, Hoax, Hysteria… or Hilarious?

41:32 | Sep 5th, 2018

In 1762, crowds from across London gathered in hopes of seeing something the papers called "The Cock Lane Ghost". This alleged spirit was known to communicate in knocks and scratches, reacting to yes or no questions and, according to some observers, ...Show More

Roland the Farter and the Weird World of Professional Flatulence

36:19 | Aug 30th, 2018

Regardless of what polite societies often want us to believe, everyone farts. And we fart often! And, believe it or not, a few rare individuals have been able to turn this embarrassing bodily function into a full-time job. Join Ben and Noel as they e...Show More

Gregor MacGregor Invented a Country and Convinced People to Invest in It

57:52 | Aug 28th, 2018

When His Serene Highness Gregor the First, Sovereign Prince of the State of Poyais and its Dependencies, and Cacique of the Poyer nation visited London, he made a huge impression. Hundreds of people jumped at the chance to buy land in his remote, Cen...Show More

Angry Feds and Deadly Booze: The Story of the Chemists' War

31:20 | Aug 23rd, 2018

From 1920 to 1933, the U.S. government attempted to ban (recreational) alcohol throughout the nation. In a stunning -- we're being sarcastic here -- turn of events, people circumvented the law and found ways to keep drinking and organized crime bloss...Show More

Project A119: The Cold War Plan to Nuke the Moon!

29:31 | Aug 21st, 2018

It sounds like something straight out of your favorite sketch comedy show -- what if a crack team of scientists joined forces with the world's most powerful military on a mission to nuke the moon? Don't waste too much time asking why we'd want to do ...Show More

Adidas Versus Puma: A Tale of Two Brothers

44:18 | Aug 16th, 2018

Today Adidas and Puma are two of the industry's most well-known tennis shoe makers, and people around the world prize the footwear for its unique design and reliable craftsmanship. Yet there's a strange, bitter origin story behind these giants of the...Show More

Fanny and Stella: The Cross-Dressing Scandal of Victorian England

37:07 | Aug 14th, 2018

In April of 1870, a shocking court case captivated Victorian England: Fanny and Stella, also known as Frederick Park and Ernest Boulton, were arrested after attending a play at The Strand (in what was then considered inappropriate dress) and held on ...Show More

Kansas Imprisoned Women For Having STDs

32:53 | Aug 9th, 2018

At the close of World War I, American soldiers returned home from abroad with scars, wounds, stories and, in some cases, infectious diseases of which their romantic partners were unaware. When cities in Kansas noted the spike in sexually-transmitted ...Show More

The WWII Naval Battle Won Using Potatoes

34:34 | Aug 7th, 2018

The U.S.S. O'Bannon was a Fletcher-class navy destroyer with an impressive array of weaponry and a solid track record in conflicts in WWII. However, even the most experienced sailors aren't perfect -- and when the O'Bannon happened upon a hapless Jap...Show More

The Korean Soldier Who Fought for 3 Armies During WWII

25:38 | Aug 2nd, 2018

Born in what is now North Korea, Yang Kyoungjong didn't set out to become a soldier -- but fate had other plans. Join the guys as they trace one man's journey through prisons, battlefields and multiple armies in a desperate bid to survive World War I...Show More

Oregon Was a White Supremacist Paradise

44:22 | Jul 31st, 2018

Today Portland, Oregon is often portrayed as a left-leaning haven for hipsters across the country, but the original Oregon was a vastly different place. Listen in to learn more about the ridiculous aims of the white supremacists who sought to found O...Show More

Why did people hate the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge?

33:11 | Jul 26th, 2018

Nowadays most people are fans of national parks, but this wasn't always the case. Join the guys as they delve into the strange 'birds vs. babies' conflict over Lake Malheur.

The 1904 Summer Olympic Games in St. Louis Hosted a Racist 'Special Olympics'

35:16 | Jul 24th, 2018

A few years after Baron Pierre de Coubertin revived the ancient sporting event known as the Olympics, he brought the games to the U.S. for the first time. The 1904 Summer Olympics were held in St. Louis, Missouri, coinciding with the 1904 World's Fai...Show More

When Heineken Made Bottles That Could Be Used as Bricks

34:27 | Jul 19th, 2018

Heineken is one of the world's most well-known, popular beers, and people across the planet can instantly recognize the iconic green bottle and red star. But in the 1960s Freddy Heineken dreamed of a bottle that could do more than just hold beer -- h...Show More

Why British Soccer Players Saluted the Nazis

42:01 | Jul 17th, 2018

As global tensions grew to a breaking point in the lead-up to World War II, European nations used every available avenue to pursue their geopolitical goals, including the propagandistic power of sporting events. Join the guys as they explore the stra...Show More

The United States That Never Were

46:31 | Jul 12th, 2018

Nowadays the number of U.S. states seems set in stone -- since 1959 the country has been comprised of fifty states, with one star for each on the flag. Yet in the not-so-distant past the concept of statehood was both contentious and fluid, with multi...Show More

Philadelphia's Transylvanian Doomsday Cult: The Cave of Kelpius

47:32 | Jul 10th, 2018

There's a nifty bit of hidden history tucked away in Philadelphia's Wissahickon Valley Park -- a cave that, legend has it, was home to a doomsday cult. In today's episode, the guys follow the strange journey of Johannes Kelpius and his followers from...Show More

Enough About Us: What About You?

39:07 | Jul 5th, 2018

When we're talking about Ridiculous History, one thing's for sure: The story doesn't stop when the podcast ends. You've probably heard Ben and Noel mention the Ridiculous Historians page in previous shows -- the place where you and your fellow listen...Show More

Weird Wars Fought For Dumb Reasons

46:49 | Jul 3rd, 2018

What do a camel, a bucket and an ear all have in common? Each was, at some point, responsible for starting a war. Join Ben and Noel as they dive into true stories of weird wars fought over cartoonishly dumb things.

The FBI's Quest to Understand "Louie, Louie"

48:47 | Jun 28th, 2018

The Kingsmen's cover of "Louie, Louie" is one of the world's most famously unintelligible songs -- and this haunted the FBI. In this episode, Ben and Noel recount the evolution of "Louie, Louie", as well as Uncle Sam's insanely thorough (and hilariou...Show More

The Time a Soviet Premier Was Banned From Disneyland

45:32 | Jun 26th, 2018

At the height of the Cold War a series of debates in a model kitchen in Moscow (true story!) led Nikita Khrushchev to visit the US on a whirlwind publicity tour. The Soviet leader hobnobbed with politicians, celebrities and business tycoons, soaking ...Show More

Kidnapping, Binge Drinking and Costumes: Voter Fraud in the 1800s

35:18 | Jun 21st, 2018

Allegations of U.S. voter fraud have made the rounds in recent years -- but, once upon a time, these were much more than allegations. Join the guys as they explore the massive voting fraud operations that riddled U.S. politics throughout the 19th cen...Show More

Why don't Americans use bidets?

32:40 | Jun 19th, 2018

Whether you're royalty or a roaming vagrant, a President or a pauper, one thing's for sure: At some point, you'll have to use the restroom. While sanitation isn't often brought up in polite conversation, it plays a vital role in human health, and ove...Show More

The Earliest Recorded Mooning Killed Thousands

38:12 | Jun 14th, 2018

You've heard of mooning -- the practice of bearing one's butt as an insult -- but where did it come from? Join Ben and Noel as they dive into the deadly story of the world's first recorded mooning, along with some other notable moments in keister his...Show More

The Presidential Reason Fido Became the Default Name for a Generic Dog

40:41 | Jun 12th, 2018

If you're like most English speakers, the first thing you think of when you hear the name "Fido" is, of course, a dog. But why? Join Ben and Noel as they delve into the story of Abraham Lincoln's favorite pooch, and how this little yellow pup became ...Show More

Dock Ellis and the Legend of the LSD No-hitter

38:55 | Jun 7th, 2018

Almost 48 years ago, Pirates pitcher and notorious party animal Dock Ellis pitched a no-hitter while under the influence of LSD. How did this man accomplish one of the rarest feats in baseball history while, by his own admission, tripping balls? Join...Show More

Maryland’s State Song was a Diss Track

41:05 | Jun 5th, 2018

On the first listen, Maryland's old state song sounds pretty innocuous. There's the usual lauding of the state, a refrain based on "O Tannenbaum" and so on. Yet the lyrics of this song refer to "Northern scum" and call for out and out war with variou...Show More

The Story of Max, South Africa's Famous, Crime-fighting Gorilla

51:43 | May 31st, 2018

When confronted with a home invasion, Max the gorilla brought international fame to the Johannesburg Zoo and briefly became the city's most famous crime fighter. He received numerous endorsements, and a statue was erected in his honor. But what broug...Show More

How Santa Anna Lost His Leg Twice, and Held a Funeral for It

44:15 | May 29th, 2018

Often called "The Napoleon of the West", mainly by himself, Santa Anna was a legendary, larger-than-life politician, general and exile. While hundreds of stories have been told about this man, one in particular stood out to Ben and Noel: Santa Anna l...Show More

That Time Chewbacca Needed Bodyguards

42:53 | May 24th, 2018

Inarguably the most well-known Wookie in the Star Wars universe, Chewbacca also bears a strong resemblance to another popular creature in American culture -- the towering, hirsute cryptid known as Bigfoot. So much so, in fact, that during filming the...Show More

Napoleon Bonaparte Was Attacked by Bunnies -- And Lost

38:20 | May 22nd, 2018

Born in Corsica, Napoleon Bonaparte rose from obscurity during the French Revolution, crowning himself Emperor of France in 1804. This brilliant, ruthless tactician changed the course of French history. Despite his meteoric rise and bloodied fall, Bo...Show More

California Was Named for a Fictional Island Ruled by a Black Amazon Queen

33:57 | May 17th, 2018

California was admitted to the United States as the 31st state in 1850, but it acquired its unique name much, much earlier. Join Ben and Noel as they trace the strange story behind California's name, from the fiction that inspired it to the loss and ...Show More

Ancient Mayan Ritual Alcohol Enemas

51:00 | May 15th, 2018

Like many ancient cultures, the civilizations of Mesoamerica had a vast and rich history of unique cultural practices, spiritual beliefs and ceremonies, some of which may seem bizarre to people in the modern day. In this episode, Ben and Noel examine...Show More

Vermont Was an Independent Republic

46:04 | May 10th, 2018

Today Vermont is known for its progressive politics, beautiful forestry, Bernie Sanders and Ben and Jerry's. It's not a state you'll hear much about outside of the US and, for many Vermont natives, that's just fine. But once upon a time, Vermont was ...Show More

The Capture of Guam Was Bloodless and Quick, All Due to a Misunderstanding

40:57 | May 8th, 2018

Located about 1500 miles to the east of the Phillipines in Micronesia, Guam is a small US territory with a tiny population, beautiful beaches and an incredibly complicated history. For almost four centuries it was a colonial possession of Spain -- bu...Show More

Are all US Presidents actually related?

33:37 | May 3rd, 2018

In 2012 a student in Salinas, California, startled genealogists when she claimed that all Presidents save one were actually related. Could it be true? Join Ben and Noel as they dive into this strange claim, separating fact from fiction while tackling...Show More

What's the deal with two-dollar bills?

59:10 | May 1st, 2018

Despite being pretty rare in comparison to other denominations, the U.S. two-dollar bill is one of the most storied notes in American folklore. So why do some people think it's lucky? Why do others think it's bad luck? Join Ben and Noel as they explo...Show More

How James Bond Created a Mexican Dia de los Muertos Tradition

28:24 | Apr 26th, 2018

The Day of the Dead is a longstanding traditional celebration in Mexico, and currently hundreds of thousands of people associate it with a gigantic parade -- you know, like the one they saw in the James Bond film ''Spectre''. There's just one strange...Show More

Did Richard Nixon Unwittingly Smuggle Drugs for Louis Armstrong?

39:13 | Apr 24th, 2018

It's become one of the strangest anecdotes in modern American history -- numerous sources will swear to you that, in a last-minute panic before reaching customs, legendary musician Louis Armstrong had Richard Nixon's unwitting assistance smuggling a ...Show More

3 Times Society Refused to Accept New Books on Science

52:34 | Apr 19th, 2018

Progress versus preservation: It's one of the eternal dilemmas found throughout every instance of human civilization. Should we embrace disruptive thoughts and science that challenges our beliefs, or should we cling to the comfort of the status quo? ...Show More

That Time We Erased a (HUGE) Waterfall

29:47 | Apr 17th, 2018

It's often been said that "the art of losing isn't hard to master", and humanity overall seems to have a knack for losing everything from car keys to entire civilizations. Join Ben and Noel as they travel (vicariously) to South America and delve into...Show More

The Poetic Justice of Death by Molten Gold

33:56 | Apr 12th, 2018

It's a grisly death familiar to many fans of fiction and fantasy -- a hapless, greedy villain meets their end by having molten metal, often lead or gold, poured upon them or down their throats. But was this morbid means of execution ever used in real...Show More

Japan, Baseball and the Curse of the Colonel

38:25 | Apr 10th, 2018

First things first: You may think Kentucky Fried Chicken is popular in the States, but we've got nothing on Japan. Join the guys as they delve into a story involving baseball, fried chicken, superstition, curses and drunken revelry in today's episode...Show More

That Time the US Built a Flying Aircraft Carrier

34:04 | Apr 5th, 2018

Nowadays airships are seen as historical relics or novelties meant to fly overhead during sports games. However, not so long ago, the US military thought airships might be the future of warfare. Today the guys delve into the strange history of the US...Show More

Yes, Those Are Corpses in the Diorama

39:48 | Apr 3rd, 2018

The Carnegie Museum of Natural History is one of the most storied institutions of its kind in the United States, and it's chockful of priceless objects from across the span of history and the globe. However, investigators only recently discovered a g...Show More

Weird People Who Built Weird Things

37:24 | Mar 29th, 2018

Simeon Ellerton spent years building a house out of stones he found and carried home, one by one. Rejected by his one true love, Edward Leeskalnin spent decades erecting a bizarre monument for her, built of giant coral stones in Florida. But what exa...Show More

What was the West Point Eggnog Riot?

44:37 | Mar 27th, 2018

Today the United States Military Academy at West Point is known as one the country's top-notch training institutions, but back in 1826 it was home to a night of pure egg-nog-fueled pandemonium. Join Ben and Noel as they retrace the drunken, crazed st...Show More

Lyndon Johnson Chatted on the Phone More than a Teenager

29:56 | Mar 22nd, 2018

The 36th President of the United States is often recalled as a complex, flawed individual responsible for profoundly important legislation. However, he was also a notorious telephone fanatic, installing loads of phones in both the White House and his...Show More

When Germany Sacrificed Sausage For War

29:58 | Mar 20th, 2018

World War I was a devastating catastrophe, the likes of which the world had never before encountered. The chaos swept across Europe, and whether on the battlefield or at home no one was left untouched. Yet the war had another, unexpected casualty: th...Show More

Arsenic: The Assassin's Dream Weapon

40:28 | Mar 15th, 2018

For centuries people from all walks of life sought to eliminate friends, strangers and enemies using the devious, subtle poison known as arsenic. Arsenic poisoning became such a well-known method of murder that people in Britain began calling it ''in...Show More

The Killer Marketing Campaign Behind Guy Fawkes

47:54 | Mar 13th, 2018

Nowadays people across the planet are familiar with the story of Guy Fawkes and the Gunpowder Plot. People even celebrate the anniversary of the event, often interpreting it as a protest against overarching government authority. However, the real sto...Show More

When Ancient India Beat Machiavelli to the Punch

31:24 | Mar 8th, 2018

Commonly regarded as one of humanity's premiere works on the art of pursuing and securing power, Niccolò Machiavelli's book ''The Prince'' has become so popular that the name of its author is synonymous with unethical behavior in the modern day. Howe...Show More

The Rise of Harvey Wiley's Poison Squad

36:49 | Mar 6th, 2018

Nowadays U.S. grocery shoppers can be reasonably certain that the foods they purchase are safe (if not healthy). But this wasn't always the case. In fact, if it wasn't for one extremely driven, imperfect man on a mission to clean up America's food in...Show More

Step Aside, James Bond: The Strange Stories of Espionage Animals

56:39 | Mar 1st, 2018

It's no secret that espionage and spycraft are common tools in the murky realm of geopolitics -- but not every spy is some sort of James Bond type character in a bespoke suit with a penchant for martinis. In fact, some spies aren't even human. Join B...Show More

How MLK influenced Star Trek

32:59 | Feb 27th, 2018

Star Trek is one of the world's most well-known sci-fi franchises, spanning decades in film, TV, books, games and more. While it's had its fair share of lighthearted moments (hello, Tribbles!), its vision of a more equal, peaceful human civilization ...Show More

What was the 'Great Stink' of London?

42:04 | Feb 22nd, 2018

Every city has its drawbacks -- parking, for example, or crime, or the price of a decent pizza slice -- but in the 1800s London faced a particularly unusual and disgusting problem: the city literally stank. And this wasn't an occasional whiff of urin...Show More

How Farmers Built A Barbed Wire Phone Network

35:14 | Feb 21st, 2018

Nowadays smartphones are an ubiquitous part of many civilizations, but not so long ago telephones of any sort were a rare commodity -- and the infrastructure was enormously expensive. When telephones hit the mass market, companies focused on densely-...Show More

The Strange Story of Canadian Margarine Bootleggers

42:31 | Feb 15th, 2018

Today, most grocery stores carry a variety of margarine and butter brands -- but this wasn't always the case. In fact, both Canada and the United States once had bizarre laws banning the production or importation of margarine. So what launched the ma...Show More

When People Waged War Over Eggs

41:23 | Feb 13th, 2018

How much would you pay for an egg? Would you kill for one? Join the guys as they explore the strange story of the Gold Rush, the Common Murre and Farallon Island -- the site of California's Egg War

The Wild West Was Actually Pretty Chill

35:19 | Feb 8th, 2018

If you're like most people, the phrase ''Wild West'' conjures images of brutal gunfights in dusty, tumbleweed-ridden streets, visions of criminals slinking into the shadows of dimly-lit saloons and the vast stretch of lawless, unforgiving frontier. B...Show More

How A Grudge Match Launched the Ford GT40

49:18 | Feb 6th, 2018

Today the Ford GT40 is one of the world's most iconic vehicles -- but this award winning automotive beast is, it turns out, the result of a serious grudge match. Join the guys as they delve into the strange, spiteful history of the Ford GT40.

Vitamin Donuts Were A Real Thing

32:56 | Feb 1st, 2018

Donuts: they're sweet, delectable and dangerous. Nowadays they're best known as a sugary snack or a nice accompaniment to a cup of coffee, but this wasn't always the case. In fact, for a few years manufacturers tried to sell them as -- believe it or ...Show More

The Rotten, Sausagey Secret Origin of Botox

33:30 | Jan 30th, 2018

Today botox is one of the world's most well-known wrinkle treatments, as well as a go-to joke in the realm of pop culture. But where did this treatment come from, and what on Earth does it have to do with sausage? Join Ben and Noel as they trace the ...Show More

The Weird World of Meat Jell-O (Gelatin Origin Story)

38:38 | Jan 25th, 2018

Today Jell-O and other gelatin foodstuffs are generally relegated to world of desserts, but this wasn't always the case. In fact, gelatin took a long, strange path from ancient history to modern-day grocery shelves -- and got pretty gross along the w...Show More

London Made a Train for the Dead

34:43 | Jan 23rd, 2018

When London was in the grips of a cholera epidemic, the already-overfilled cemetaries couldn't handle the extra bodies. So when there's literally no room in the soil for another dead body, what's a city to do? To the creators of the London Necropolis...Show More

Roald Dahl: Children's Author and Secret Agent

40:13 | Jan 18th, 2018

Today author Roald Dahl is best-known for his prolific writing career -- but, as it turns out, he lived an entirely different life before he ever put pen to paper to create children's stories. Learn more about Roald Dahl's earlier life as a fighter a...Show More

When did ALL-CAPS type become YELLING?

38:01 | Jan 16th, 2018

You've seen them before, whether in a forwarded spam email, a strangely passionate Facebook post or a weirdly emphatic comment on your favorite website: THE DREADED ALL-CAPS TYPER. But where does this practice come from? How did everyone agree that t...Show More

Why does the Guinness Beer Company Track World Records?

32:34 | Jan 11th, 2018

Odds are you've heard about the Guinness Book of World Records, the famous, often inaccurate compilation of various impressive, important, and ridiculous feats from people across the planet. But how did it come about? How on earth did a brewer become...Show More

Digging Up James K Polk (For the Third Time)

36:39 | Jan 9th, 2018

The average American may not hear much about James K Polk in school today, but during his time in office the 11th U.S. President was responsible for a number of tremendously significant policy movements. Today he and his wife are interred in the Tenn...Show More

Presidents Love Their Ridiculous Pets

35:02 | Jan 4th, 2018

It's no secret that, until very recently, US Presidents were known as huge fans of pets -- and they didn't limit themselves to cats and dogs! Join Ben and Noel as they explore some of the strangest pets in presidential history, from warhorses and cow...Show More

The Atomic Whoops: When the US Air Force Bombed South Carolina

33:06 | Jan 2nd, 2018

During the height of the Cold War, both the US and the USSR constantly ran drills in anticipation of a possible nuclear conflict. While the Gregg family of Mars Bluff, South Carolina knew the Cold War was in full swing, they had no idea that they wou...Show More

Waging War With Hallucinogenic Honey

26:08 | Dec 28th, 2017

Honey is popular around the world, and for good reason. This addictively sweet substance is a common ingredient in hundreds of recipes, and people historically believe it has medicinal properties in addition to, well, being delicious! But in certain ...Show More

Ben Franklin Tried To Reinvent the Alphabet

31:41 | Dec 26th, 2017

For such a popular, well-known language, English is full of strange, seemingly arbitrary rules. Most people just accept these various idiosyncracies... but Benjamin Franklin was not most people. Tune in as Ben and Noel explore Franklin's strange ques...Show More

The Strange History of Antarctic Fruitcake

30:48 | Dec 21st, 2017

Nowadays fruitcake is considered a stereotypical, often comical holiday punchline, but even in the modern day people across the planet can agree on at least one fruitcake fact: Those things are pretty darn durable! So how long could a fruitcake reall...Show More

When the Puritans Canceled Christmas

30:39 | Dec 19th, 2017

Nowadays Christmas is a globally-recognized holiday celebrated by millions of people, but in the past this wasn't the case. In fact, some groups of Christians detested the holiday, going so far as to ban it completely. So what led Puritans to ban one...Show More

Baguettes and Vacation: France versus Bakers

27:39 | Dec 14th, 2017

You've probably heard that France takes its bread seriously -- but did you know France had specific laws governing the lives of bakers? For centuries the country regulated how and when bakers could close or take vacation. Although this may sound amus...Show More

What's the deal with smashing cake at weddings?

30:54 | Dec 12th, 2017

Weddings are an ancient tradition, and over the millenia the various rituals associated with (theoretically) life-long partnership have evolved and changed. One ritual in particular became both prominent and controversial in the West: the act of newl...Show More

Conquest via Bird Poop: One Island at a Time

34:10 | Dec 7th, 2017

If you land on a deserted island, you might be tempted to search for the basic stuff first -- food, water, shelter, and so on -- but don't forget to keep an eye out for guano! Why, you ask? Well, due to a relatively obscure law, the presence of guano...Show More

When Scientists Hid Under Beds To Spy On Kids

39:23 | Dec 5th, 2017

Let's say you're a scientist -- how far would you go to carry out a study? Back in the 1930s, two intrepid researchers went into full spy mode, stalking college students in an effort to determine how they behaved when they didn't know they were being...Show More

When People Thought They Were Made of Glass

30:21 | Nov 30th, 2017

In 1422, King Charles VI died after ruling France for more than 40 years. He was also remembered as Charles the Mad, in part because he was convinced that his body was made of glass and would shatter upon contact with other people. This condition, kn...Show More

Nazis, Churchill and Chocolate

29:52 | Nov 28th, 2017

When Lord Victor Rothschild first heard the news, he was incredulous -- surely Nazi Germany wasn't seriously planning to assassinate Winston Churchill with an exploding chocolate bar. However, Rothschild learned the intelligence reports were solid an...Show More

When (and why) did the US start calling its citizens consumers?

42:47 | Nov 23rd, 2017

Today, the terms 'citizen' and 'consumer' are often used interchangeably by authors, journalists and politicians. To some experts, this shift has disturbing implications. But how important is a word? How did this switch occur, and why?

Does the US Confederacy still exist in Americana, Brazil?

35:43 | Nov 21st, 2017

At the close the US Civil War, tens of thousands of former Confederate families fled the US for a small city in Brazil, where they sought to continue living as they had in the days before the war. Tune in to learn more about the strange history of Am...Show More

Did a real-life rainmaker almost drown San Diego?

30:50 | Nov 16th, 2017

Charles Mallory Hatfield considered himself a real-life rainmaker (or, as he preferred to describe himself, a 'moisture accelerator') and, when San Diego faced one of its most damaging droughts, Hatfield cracked a deal: He'd bring the water back to S...Show More

X-Rays, Songs and Soviets: The Stilyagi Story

33:50 | Nov 14th, 2017

Caught between the conflicting ideologies of the Cold War, Soviet teens were banned from collecting Western music -- smuggled records could be both rare and expensive. The solution? Discarded X-rays, also known as 'bone recordings'. Join the guys as ...Show More

Who solves murders in Antarctica?

29:32 | Nov 9th, 2017

Antarctica is home to one of the most brutal climates on the planet, and the few humans living on this continent face profound isolation and cramped quarters. Often, tension rises as the months between supply runs pile up -- so what happens when some...Show More

How White America Tried To Destroy Chinese Restaurants

37:40 | Nov 7th, 2017

Today Chinese restaurants serve some of the most popular cuisine in the United States, with more than 41,000 restaurants scattered around the country. Yet in the 1900s these restaurants were so controversial that labor unions, hate groups and even po...Show More

Butter: Protestantism's Secret Ingredient?

37:30 | Nov 2nd, 2017

The Protestant Reformation remains one of the most significant cultural events in the Western world. Martin Luther's 95 Theses addressed numerous concerns with the Catholic church, including corruption and the practice of granting dispensations -- al...Show More

Wharram Percy Versus The Undead

30:30 | Oct 31st, 2017

Humanity has always had a fascination with -- and fear of -- the dead. And when the small medieval village of Wharram Percy felt they might become victims of the undead, they took drastic, grisly action, committing an atrocity that would not be uncov...Show More

Why do British lawyers wear wigs?

33:17 | Oct 24th, 2017

For centuries some lawyers and judges in the U.K. have worn distinctive wigs during court proceedings. But why? Join Ben and Noel as they explore the strange history of the peruke.

The Wild Hippos of Pablo Escobar

33:35 | Oct 24th, 2017

When notorious drug kingpin Pable Escobar died, he left behind a legacy of brutal crime, opulent living and, oddly enough, four hippos. Fast forward to the modern day, and experts estimate as many as 50 hippopotamuses may roam free in the lands aroun...Show More

Ridiculous History: Episode Zero

09:23 | Oct 20th, 2017

History is beautiful, brutal and, often, ridiculous. Join Ben Bowlin and Noel Brown as they dive into some of the weirdest stories from across the span of human civilization in Ridiculous History, a podcast by HowStuffWorks. Here's a preview of our u...Show More

Ridiculous History: Trailer

01:10 | Oct 18th, 2017

History is beautiful, brutal and, often, ridiculous. Join Ben Bowlin and Noel Brown as they dive into some of the weirdest stories from across the span of human civilization in Ridiculous History, a podcast by HowStuffWorks.