Tuesday, April 30, 2013

7 Secrets Only Two Living People Know (For Some Reason)

By: Kathy Benjamin

What do you suppose are the most well-kept secrets in the world? The launch codes for the American nuclear arsenal? The location of Jimmy Hoffa's bones? Not even close. Below are secrets that only two people on planet Earth know. Sometimes they have very good reasons to keep these secrets so fiercely. Other times, not so much.

#7. The Formula for Coca-Cola
What is it?
It's no surprise that one of most profitable companies ever would want to keep their formula a secret. Even with hundreds of imitators, Coke still dominates world-wide sales of caramel colored drinks. But doesn't that stuff only have, like, four ingredients? Fizzy water, high fructose corn syrup, caffeine and Brown Dye #4? There isn't exactly a vibrant symphony of flavors in each can. Yet, the formula is so fiercely protected that the company even pulled out of India in the 1970s because they would have been legally required to divulge their ingredient list to their government.
It even managed to stall a divorce case. When one of the Coke heirs ended his marriage to his wife, she demanded some of his great-grandfather's (the founder of Coca-Cola) original notes as part of her settlement. The company had to get involved and put a stop to it out of fear the notes could contain information on the formula.
Who Knows:
Only two Coke executives know it. Urban legend says they each only know half, but that's false - that part was invented for an old ad campaign.
How it is Kept Secret:
The original copy of the formula is kept in an undisclosed SunTrust Bank in Atlanta. To keep SunTrust on the side, Coke gave them some 48.3 million shares of stock as well as having executives from each company sit on the other's board of directors. The company has policies surrounding the secret that range from the paranoid (the two executives who knew the formula could not fly on the same plane) to the bizarre (no one could view the formula without God, Jesus and Elvis present or something to that extent).
All of this is pointless in the end. Coca-Cola still derives some of its flavor from the coca plant; the same place that cocaine comes from. Due to the obvious drug related issues that would arise from importing lots of coca plant into America legally, only one company has government permission to do it. That company is Coca-Cola. So even if someone broke into the bank and managed to take the formula, they would never be able to produce an exact Coke rip-off. And if another company did somehow get permission to import coca, hell, there is at least one better way to make money with it.

#6. KFC's 11 Herbs and Spices
What is it?
The secret KFC recipe dates back to the 1930s when Harland Sanders served chicken to people who stopped at his gas station in North Corbin, Kentucky. It was an amazing success. And while he never joined the military, in 1936, he was given the title of honorary Kentucky Colonel by the governor in recognition of his contribution to the state's cuisine.
Other contributions to Kentucky's cuisine.
Eventually, Sanders expanded his restaurant into a chain. While KFC has diversified its menu over the years, the main thing that sets the restaurant apart is still its special blend of 11 herbs and spices. And boy do they know it.
Who Knows:
As with Coke, only two executives have access to the recipe for KFC's 11 herbs and spices. Man, wouldn't it be weird if it was the same two guys?
How it is Kept Secret:
The recipe is at KFC's headquarters. But unless you are Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible, you have no chance of getting it.
We'll let security expert Bo Dietl speak for himself:
"We fortified the ceiling and the floor around here with concrete bricks two feet thick," Dietl said. "We put in motion sensors also CCTV that's hooked up to security downstairs. They have 24/7 armed guys downstairs, so in the amount of 30 seconds you'll have somebody up here. Once in here, you have to have two people with two keys and two different PIN numbers, and that's what you have to have. This safe is bolted down and there is no way anybody can get in here unauthorized without us knowing about it."
Holy. F***.
But will this be enough to thwart the hordes of people who are trying to steal the secret recipe? Just in case it's not, half of the ingredients are mixed at one location, half at another, and they are combined at a third. This is chicken we're talking about. CHICKEN! Fast food chicken. See, we're going to share a little secret with you guys who're risking your lives to protect that recipe: no one eats at KFC because they have the best chicken in the world. People eat it because it's a pain in the ass to make at home and the line was too long at Popeye's.

#5. The Location of Oliver Cromwell's Head
What is it?
The top part of this guy:
Oliver Cromwell - an Englishman from the 1600s who pretty much single-handedly ended the monarchy and took over ruling the country himself. After he died of natural causes and the monarchy was restored, King Charles II ordered his body dug up so it could be "killed" again.
Because why let God getting there first stand in the way of your revenge?
After hanging from a scaffold for over 12 hours (hey, if you are going to kill someone who's already dead you need to put in the extra effort) the body was cut down and the head placed on a spike. Eventually it fell off and was passed around museums and private collectors. Yes, apparently there are collectors of decapitated heads. Their conventions must be awesome. When the last owner, who sometimes showed the head to school children, died in 1957, his son decided not to continue the illustrious family tradition of being a head collecting weirdo. He tried to give it a proper burial, but it took him over three years to find a place that would accept it. Why? Because even 300 years after Cromwell died, there was a very real fear that royalists, who should really just let it fucking go already, would dig up the head and do unspeakable things to it.
Let your imagination run wild.
Seem a little paranoid? Only 60 years before, a proposed statue of Cromwell led to fierce debate in Parliament and the threat of riots. Finally, the college Cromwell had attended for one year decided to take their chances with the damn head.
Who Knows:
Two professors at Cambridge University's Sidney Sussex college.
How it is Kept Secret:
Only a small group of people was present at the internment. There is no marker, only a plaque on a wall saying that the head was buried "nearby." Worrying even this wasn't super-secret enough, there was no announcement of the burial for another two years. Since then, only a handful of people other than the original group have known the location. The currently accepted system is that when a clued-up professor retires he or she tells another professor precisely where the head is located. Everyone knows that if they should ever let the location slip, somebody's going to be rubbing that skull in dog poop within the hour. Or at least posing it in some kind of ridiculous hat.

#4. The Location of Lena Blackburne's Baseball Rubbing Mud
What is it?
So, there is this special mud, and Major League Baseball absolutely depends on it. A brand new baseball just out of the box is slippery; so much so that a pitcher has no control when throwing one unless it's dirtied up a bit first. So, an umpire spends a lot of his time before a game rubbing mud into dozens of balls. But not just any mud works.
Before the 1930s, teams tried all kinds of substances, including tobacco juice and shoe polish, but nothing really worked. Then one day Lena Blackburne, a no-name player turned coach, was taking a walk near his house in New Jersey when he stumbled upon some strange mud. Obviously having a "Eureka!" moment to rival Archimedes', Blackburne took some home and tried it out. It worked brilliantly. By 1938, the American League was using Blackburn Rubbing Mud exclusively on all their balls. The National League wouldn't use it until the 1950s, mostly because Blackburn refused to sell it to them, but they've been using it ever since.
Who Knows:
Mud business owner Jim Bintliff and his wife.
How it is Kept Secret:
Mud Tycoon Jim Bintliff.
The location of the mud has been a closely guarded secret since Blackburne stumbled upon the source in the 1930s. All that is known is that it is found on a tributary of the Delaware River, somewhere near Palmyra, New Jersey. Blackburne and his business partner, John Haas, never revealed the location to anyone, going so far as to shovel 500-pounds of the mud themselves every year, well into their 80s. When Blackburne died, probably due to a massive heart attack during one of these rigorous excursions, Haas brought his son-in-law, Bintliff, in on the secret. Bintliff made the yearly trip into his 70s, along with his son Jim, to gather all the mud needed for a whole year. Just one barrel lasts a Major League team an entire season, but it's crucial to their operation. You can just imagine what they charge for this amazing, rare substance that can only be found in one part of the world.
Actually, it's $24.
Wait, that's what all the secrecy is about? That'd be like sneaking into Fort Knox and just finding a coffee can full of quarters there.

#3. The Farmer's Almanac Weather Formula
What is it?
The Farmer's Almanac has interesting facts, stories, light humor, charming woodcuts and much, much more. Hell, we don't need to tell you. You probably own several copies already. This is great and all, but other almanacs have that stuff, also. How can Farmer's keep its edge over classics like Poor Richard's? By being the best at what farmers care about: predicting the weather.
Just look at that farmer. He is f***ing all about the weather.
This super-special formula was devised in 1792, by the Almanac's founder Robert B. Thomas. A "top secret mathematical and astronomical formula, which relies on sunspot activity, tidal action, planetary position and many other factors," to do what science believes impossible: predict long term patterns in weather. This in turn helps farmers, you know, farm.
Who Knows:
Farmer's Almanac editor Sandi Duncan and an anonymous meteorologist.
They call him The Mysteriologist!
How it is Kept Secret:
The formula is kept locked in a black box somewhere in the Almanac's headquarters in New Hampshire. The box can withstand almost any attempt to open it. As crazy as it seems, they keep it secret for good reason. The average seven to 14 day weather report, using up to the minute information and state of the art Doppler radar systems, is often no more accurate than what you, the Cracked reader, could predict. This 200-year-old formula has an 80 percent accuracy rate even though predictions are made 2 YEARS IN ADVANCE. How do we know that? The Almanac told us. How do we know they're right? We just told you. They're accurate 80 percent of the time.

#2. The Subject of "You're So Vain"
What is it:
As we pointed out previously, Carly Simon's "You're so Vain" is one hell of a revenge song. The list of people it is rumored to be about is at least a dozen men long, including such luminaries as James Taylor, Mick Jagger, Kris Kristofferson and Warren Beatty. Whoever the guy is, he did Carly Simon bad, and worse for him it's now considered the 72nd best song of all time.
To put that in perspective, "Billie Jean" is #71.
All we know for sure is 1) Simon is never going to tell us who it's about and 2) we're real assholes if we think it's about us. Which it totally is. Bitch.
Who Knows:
Carly Simon and Dick Ebersol.
How it is Kept Secret:
Despite being asked in virtually every interview she has ever given, Simon has never admitted who the song is about. In 2003, an auction was held on Martha's Vineyard where one of the lots was the chance to know just who "You're so Vain" was referring to. Dick Ebersol, president of NBC won with a bid of $50,000. To be fair, he's loaded, it was for a good cause and he was also given a private performance by Simon.
The stipulation to Ebersol's winning bid was that he had to sign an agreement promising that he would never reveal the identity of the person to anyone, ensuring that no one who doesn't have $50,000 to spend on the answer to a trivia question will even know the truth. He was, however, allowed to give the least useful clue of all time: The person's name had the letter E in it. Thanks, Dick.

#1. How Do Sea Monkeys Work?
What is it?
If you ever saw the back pages of a comic book growing up, you know what Sea Monkeys are. For generations kids around the world have experienced the profound disappointment of ordering Sea Monkeys, dumping the dried powder into water and watching the tiny things squiggle around, doing nothing interesting.
They still sell what you, as a jaded adult, now know are nothing more than freeze dried brine shrimp. Harlod von Braunhut developed the process in 1957. The solution the eggs are soaked allows the small, sperm-like animals to survive the shipping process, come to life within minutes and stay alive long enough to not entertain a child. It may seem a bit ridiculous, but compared to some of his other inventions this was Nobel Prize winning science. Braunhut held 193 patents for such gems as X-Ray Spex (that didn't see through anything) and invisible goldfish (guaranteed to remain invisible, which is good, because we'd be pissed off if we found out we'd paid money for a temporarily invisible animal instead of, you know, NOTHING).
Oh fuck, please turn invisible again.
Braunhut continued to tinker with the formula for his entire life, trying to get sea monkeys that would grow larger and live longer. Even at the age of 75, Harold was still involved in the day to day running of his company.
Who Knows:
Until his death in 2003, only Harlod von Braunhut and his wife, Yolanda.
How They Keep it Secret:
No matter how many times he changed the formula to Sea Monkeys, or how huge the operation grew (to the tune of tens of millions of dollars a year) Braunhut never told anyone but his second wife about it. Not even his most trusted associates at his company were told, no matter how many times they asked. Harold was very, very good at keeping secrets. This might have something to do with the fact that he might have been a Nazi.
We don't mean that in a metaphorical sense. There is strong evidence that money from many of his inventions was funneled directly to the Aryan Nation. Braunhut, who was ethnically Jewish, wrote for their newsletter, was keynote speaker at their rallies and even lit a burning cross. We're not saying the Sea Monkeys were a result of a failed experiment to breed aquatic Nazi super soldiers. But we're not saying they weren't, either.

Source : http://www.cracked.com

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