Archived entries for Who Knew?

Fordlandia, Henry Ford’s American city in the Amazon

Here is the story of one brilliant man taking it to far. Henry Ford’s failed attempt at cornering the market on rubber all while forcing American culture on his Brazilian workers.

There are more images, as well as image credits, in the Fordlandia Then Flickr page and the Fordlandia Now Flickr page.

Text by Brendan McFadden.

In 1927, Ford, then the richest man in the world bought a piece of land in the Brazilian Amazon. He wanted to produce his own rubber, to create the largest rubber plantation on the planet. Around the plantation Ford paved the streets, built white clapboard houses with wicker patio furniture, a library, a hospital a golf course, a dance hall, and as the settlement grew restaurants, butcher shops, and bakeries were added.

Ford exported many American workers to help run the plantation but the majority of the employees and ‘residents’ of Fordlandia were Brazilian natives who Ford forced to live an ‘American lifestyle. They lived in the clapboard houses, ate hamburgers, attend poetry readings, square dances, and alcohol was forbidden even within the workers homes.

Ford was distrustful of experts and never bothered to consult botanists as to the feasibility of growing plantation rubber in the Amazon. They planted about two hundred trees per acre despite the fact that there were only about seven wild rubber trees per acre in the Amazon jungle. The pests and the fungi and the blight that feed off of rubber are native to the Amazon, so when you put trees close together you create an incubator. The resulting plantation actually accelerated the production of caterpillars, leaf blight and other organisms that prey on rubber.

While the trees were dying at a rapid pace worker discontent was growing. The Americans imported to Fordlandia found the Amazon inhospitable, and native Brazilians began to revolt against the implementation of American culture that the Ford company was shoving down their throats. For instance, they were accustomed to working before sunrise and after sunset to avoid the heat of the day– but were forced to work proper “American” nine-to-five shifts under the hot Amazon sun, using Ford’s assembly-line philosophies.

They’re dissatisfaction culminated in a riot that required the intervention of the Brazilian military. Ford would refuse to give up, he eventually hired a botanist, but never found success, and by the forties scientists had developed an economical synthetic rubber. Fordlandia, and undertaking that had cost Ford upwards of $200 million dollars was abandoned. Ford had tried not simply control rubber production, but to export the American way life, to force his will on the natural world, and both respects he failed colossally.

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— Via Bobulate, City Planning

The etymology of the Shamrock Shake

I found this on Bobulate this morning and thought i should share it. Its a little known fact about the McDonalds Shamrock Shake and its origin in Philadelphia. Now if only it was a real milk shake and not a milk product shake.

McDonalds - Shamrock Shake

The Shamrock Shake

The real story behind the minty green treat

Since first launching in the U.S. in 1970, the Shamrock Shake has built an almost cult-like following who eagerly await its yearly return to the menu at select McDonald’s restaurants for those magical few weeks leading up to the St. Patrick’s Day holiday. But the beloved minty green treat has another legacy that even its most loyal fans may not know.

It all began with a little girl, a football team, and a visionary doctor. When Philadelphia Eagles tight end Fred Hill’s 3-year-old daughter, Kim, was being treated for leukemia in 1974, his life changed. He and his wife, Fran, camped out on hospital benches and sat in cramped waiting rooms during Kim’s three years of treatment. The Hills watched other parents and families of seriously ill children do the same thing. Many of the families had to travel long distances for their children to receive medical treatment and couldn’t afford hotel rooms.

The Hills knew there had to be a solution. Fred rallied the support of his teammates to raise funds. Through Jim Murray, the Eagles’ general manager, the team offered its support to Dr. Audrey Evans, head of the pediatric oncology unit at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Evans had long dreamed of a “home away from home” for families of children being treated at her hospital.

Murray called Don Tuckerman, a friend from the local McDonald’s advertising agency. “What’s your next promotion?” he asked. “St Patrick’s Day,” Tuckerman said. “Shamrock Shakes.”

It was perfect: The milkshakes were green – the Eagles’ color! With the support of McDonald’s founder Ray Kroc and regional manager Ed Rensi, Tuckerman launched a week-long promotion around the Shamrock Shake, with all profits to be donated to the cause.

Enough funds were raised to help buy an old four-story, seven-bedroom house Evans had found near the hospital. It opened in 1974 as the first Ronald McDonald House.

— Taken from About McDonald’s, Via Bobulate and The Big Apple



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