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Pop Culture

Here are 17 things people really miss the most about living in the '90s

the 1990s, Kurt Cobain, Bill Clinton

Kurt Cobain, Blockbuster Video, Bill Clinton.

The 1990s was a sweet spot in American history. The stifling Cold War with the Soviet Union had just come to the end in 1989 and it would still be 12 years before a new era of fear after the 9/11 attacks.

The 1990s was also a time of prosperity that lifted up Americans across the socioeconomic spectrum and an era that saw unprecedented peace in the world. In fact, things were going so well in America that President Clinton managed to have a budget surplus four years in a row.

The '90s was also the last gasp of the analog era when people couldn't contact you 24/7 and did things for the pure joy of it instead for the likes and shares.

To say that the '90s was the last great American decade may be looking back with rose-colored glasses but it's obvious that as we've entered this new era dominated by technology, we left behind a lot of things that brought us joy. Many of us wouldn't mind having them back.

A recent Reddit thread asked "What do you miss about the '90s?" and the answers will take you back to a time that most of us remember fondly. Will people ever say that about the 2020s? Only time will tell.


1. You made plans without having to text people.

"Before we had mobile phones, my wife and I would plan to meet at a certain street corner at a certain time after work. We sometimes had to wait for the other person to show up, but we knew they would." — i_will_be_dead

2. The world was clearly changing for the better.

"There was a period between the Cold War and the War on Terror when it seemed like there was hope for the world." — igetasticker

3. Friday nights at home with the family.

"Blockbuster/Pizza Hut on Friday nights." — EdwardPackard

4. People left you alone.

"Not being contactable 24/7. Peace of leaving school/work and not having to deal with their nonsense till tomorrow." — Soma_Tweaker

5. Air travel without the stress.

"Did you know that before 9/11, it wasn't a massive pain in the ass to go fucking anywhere?! Loved ones could walk you right to the gate. You could bring snacks, sandwiches, and drinks onto the plane with you. The prices at Hudson News were perfectly reasonable, because if they weren't, you could just walk out of the terminal and grab something." — GavinBelsonsAlexa


6. The mall.

"Malls were awesome, and I hate that the strip mall style has taken over. Especially up in Canada, where it gets to -40 in the winter. Back in the day you could legitimately spend hours wandering the mall, indoors and warm. Now it is depressing. Maybe the big malls like Mall of America or West Edmonton Mall are still okay, but the ones in my city are shit." — Lexi_Banner

7. Following a scene.

"In the '90s I would walk to my local record shop and talk to the guy. He would recognize me and ask about my thoughts on the Offspring album I bought last time I was in, and then recommend something that just came in from some guys called Green Day.

I'd then give a listen on the wall-mounted headphone player and take it home. Then, the whole next week would listen to nothing else... It was kind of great." — Koro

8. A genuine good time.

"I think people are more concerned with posting something and going viral now. I really hate that you can just be minding your business, doing something with family or friends and enjoying yourself, and somebody will randomly record what you're doing so they can call you 'corny' and get likes and views." — Enviornmental-Bank81

9. Magazines.

"Everyone had their favorites for whatever hobby or interest you had. For me it was 'Guitar World,' picking up the issues with bands I loved and plinking along to the tab on my crappy electric guitar! For my wife it was 17, checking out the most recent trends!" — JackFairy80

10. Hanging out.

"Honestly the thing I miss the most, and the thing that is so hard to explain to modern kids, is 'hanging out.' Before cell phones, people used to just go to each other's homes, or to some public space, and just spend time together." — Vambot5

11. Making mix tapes.

"It was so much fun to make them, carefully trying to fit as much as you could in the limited amount of time that you had, but still making each song work with the next. Getting one was just as thrilling, especially if you just put it on without looking at the tracklist (if whoever made it included one) and being surprised by each new song." — Edgar

12. Music mattered more.

"Music felt more special because you kind of had to take some risks when buying a cd. At best you could listen to it at one of the stations in the store, but other times you might have heard a song on the radio or watched a music video on MTV. I bought some albums where only the song I liked was good, but still tried to appreciate it all." — plentyfunk66

13. Less pressure to be perfect.

"Nowadays due to social media, especially sites like Instagram, so many young people feel like it's necessary to always be dressed well, always wear a full face of make-up, etc. Sure, we had unrealistic beauty standards and plastic surgery before, but to me it feels like it's gotten much, much worse and also much more uniform than before." — Owezara

14. No 24-hour news cycle.

"Maybe I'm in a minority, but I for one REALLY miss NOT having a 24-hour news cycle. Once that became a thing, it basically prevented journalists from actually doing thorough research before splitting 'information' on TV to satiate their corporate owners." — Minerva_Madin

15. People talked to one another.

"I miss going to coffee shops or bars and being able to meet new random people. I made some of my best friends that way. Now folks just leer up from their phones more often than not." – Shiller_Killer

16. People watched concerts instead of filming them.

"Concerts weren't a sea of phones in the air. People are so concerned with people knowing they were at a concert via social media, that they don't even pay attention or experience the show. It's so dumb." — thebestmike

17. Brick-and-mortar stores.

"I still think this is underrated. Yes now we have a much much wider selection of stuff available instantly, but it used to be extremely fun to go out on a Sunday, go to a record store or video rental store with your friends, discuss options and settle on one." — Humble Shoulder

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3 organic recipes that feed a family of 4 for under $7 a serving

O Organics is the rare brand that provides high-quality food at affordable prices.

A woman cooking up a nice pot of pasta.

Over the past few years, rising supermarket prices have forced many families to make compromises on ingredient quality when shopping for meals. A recent study published by Supermarket News found that 41% of families with children were more likely to switch to lower-quality groceries to deal with inflation.

By comparison, 29% of people without children have switched to lower-quality groceries to cope with rising prices.

Despite the current rising costs of groceries, O Organics has enabled families to consistently enjoy high-quality, organic meals at affordable prices for nearly two decades. With a focus on great taste and health, O Organics offers an extensive range of options for budget-conscious consumers.

O Organics launched in 2005 with 150 USDA Certified Organic products but now offers over 1,500 items, from organic fresh fruits and vegetables to organic dairy and meats, organic cage-free certified eggs, organic snacks, organic baby food and more. This gives families the ability to make a broader range of recipes featuring organic ingredients than ever before.


“We believe every customer should have access to affordable, organic options that support healthy lifestyles and diverse shopping preferences,” shared Jennifer Saenz, EVP and Chief Merchandising Officer at Albertsons, one of many stores where you can find O Organics products. “Over the years, we have made organic foods more accessible by expanding O Organics to every aisle across our stores, making it possible for health and budget-conscious families to incorporate organic food into every meal.”

With some help from our friends at O Organics, Upworthy looked at the vast array of products available at our local store and created some tasty, affordable and healthy meals.

Here are 3 meals for a family of 4 that cost $7 and under, per serving. (Note: prices may vary by location and are calculated before sales tax.)

O Organic’s Tacos and Refried Beans ($6.41 Per Serving)

Few dishes can make a family rush to the dinner table quite like tacos. Here’s a healthy and affordable way to spice up your family’s Taco Tuesdays.

Prep time: 2 minutes

Cook time: 20 minutes

Total time: 22 minutes

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 packet O Organics Taco Seasoning ($2.29)

O Organics Mexican-Style Cheese Blend Cheese ($4.79)

O Organics Chunky Salsa ($3.99)

O Organics Taco Shells ($4.29)

1 can of O Organics Refried Beans ($2.29)

Instructions:

1. Cook the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat until thoroughly browned; remove any excess grease.

2. Add 1 packet of taco seasoning to beef along with water [and cook as directed].

3. Add taco meat to the shell, top with cheese and salsa as desired.

4. Heat refried beans in a saucepan until cooked through, serve alongside tacos, top with cheese.

tacos, o organics, family recipesO Organics Mexican-style blend cheese.via O Organics

O Organics Hamburger Stew ($4.53 Per Serving)

Busy parents will love this recipe that allows them to prep in the morning and then serve a delicious, slow-cooked stew after work.

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 7 hours

Total time: 7 hours 15 minutes

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 ½ lbs O Organics Gold Potatoes ($4.49)

3 O Organics Carrots ($2.89)

1 tsp onion powder

I can O Organics Tomato Paste ($1.25)

2 cups water

1 yellow onion diced ($1.00)

1 clove garlic ($.50)

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

2 tsp Italian seasoning or oregano

Instructions:

1. Cook the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat until thoroughly browned; remove any excess grease.

2. Transfer the cooked beef to a slow cooker with the potatoes, onions, carrots and garlic.

3. Mix the tomato paste, water, salt, pepper, onion powder and Italian seasoning in a separate bowl.

4. Drizzle the mixed sauce over the ingredients in the slow cooker and mix thoroughly.

5. Cover the slow cooker with its lid and set it on low for 7 to 8 hours, or until the potatoes are soft. Dish out into bowls and enjoy!

potatoes, o organics, hamburger stewO Organics baby gold potatoes.via O Organics


O Organics Ground Beef and Pasta Skillet ($4.32 Per Serving)

This one-pan dish is for all Italian lovers who are looking for a saucy, cheesy, and full-flavored comfort dish that takes less than 30 minutes to prepare.

Prep time: 2 minutes

Cook time: 25 minutes

Total time: 27 minutes

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 tbsp. olive oil

2 tsp dried basil

1 tsp garlic powder

1 can O Organics Diced Tomatoes ($2.00)

1 can O Organics Tomato Sauce ($2.29)

1 tbsp O Organics Tomato Paste ($1.25)

2 1/4 cups water

2 cups O Organics Rotini Pasta ($3.29)

1 cup O Organics Mozzarella cheese ($4.79)

Instructions:

1. Brown ground beef in a skillet, breaking it up as it cooks.

2. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic powder

3. Add tomato paste, sauce and diced tomatoes to the skillet. Stir in water and bring to a light boil.

4. Add pasta to the skillet, ensuring it is well coated. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

5. Remove the lid, sprinkle with cheese and allow it to cool.

o organics, tomato basil pasta sauce, olive oilO Organics tomato basil pasta sauce and extra virgin olive oil.via O Organics

Woman shocked to learn about the history of the English alphabet.

An eye-opening video on TikTok by @ZachDFilms3 is an excellent example of how language constantly evolves. In a video with over 900,000 views, he explains that the English language had a 27th letter a little more than 200 years ago.

ZachDFilms3 is popular on TikTok for creating videos that explain surprising facts about science and history.

In a video posted on March 6, he surprised many by revealing that the ampersand ( or "&") once came after the letter Z in the English alphabet. “This is an ampersand and believe it or not, it used to be the 27th letter in the alphabet. You see, back in the day, this symbol came after the letter Z and signified the word 'and,’" he shares in the video.

However, incorporating the letter into lessons for English-speaking kids was a problem.



“But when reciting the alphabet, students weren't allowed to just say 'and' after Z. Instead, they were taught to differentiate the symbol by saying 'per se' before it, which sounded something like this: Q R S T U V W X Y Z &. And 'per se &' ampersand."

@zachdfilms3

Why Highway Signs Are Green 🤨

The melding of the words “and per se” eventually led to the strange symbol called the “ampersand.” According to ON Words, other names for the symbol included ampazad and zumy-zan, but they failed to take hold with the general public.

It’s believed that the symbol got its name around 1835, but it ceased to be part of the English alphabet by the late 19th century.

The symbol dates back to over 1700 years ago when Roman scribes wrote in cursive and commonly used the Latin word “et,” which means “and.” So, the cursive combinations of the E and T together came to symbolize “and.” The symbol evolved over decades into the ampersand we know and love today.



These days, the ampersand is relegated to informal English and is mainly used as an abbreviation or in the names of businesses (AT&T, US News & World Report) or partnerships (Simon & Garfunkel, Jacoby & Meyers). However, it’s doing far better than the 5 other letters ditched from the original Old English alphabet recorded in 1011 by the monk Byrhtferð.

In the original Old English alphabet, there were 29 letters, which included the ampersand and 5 additional English letters: Long S (ſ), Eth (Ð and ð), Thorn (þ), Wynn (ƿ) and Ash (ᚫ; later Æ and æ). During that time, 3 new letters were added: J, U and W.

So whenever people get stuffy about new slang that they are using or changes in style or grammar, remind them that language is ever-evolving and that what we accept as standard today may be archaic in just a few decades. As the writer Rita Mae Brown once remarked, "Language is the roadmap of a culture. It tells you where its people come from and where they are going." So, when a language becomes static, it’s safe to say that those who use it have failed to evolve as well.

Images provided by P&G

Three winners will be selected to receive $1000 donated to the charity of their choice.

True

Doing good is its own reward, but sometimes recognizing these acts of kindness helps bring even more good into the world. That’s why we’re excited to partner with P&G again on the #ActsOfGood Awards.

The #ActsOfGood Awards recognize individuals who actively support their communities. It could be a rockstar volunteer, an amazing community leader, or someone who shows up for others in special ways.

Do you know someone in your community doing #ActsOfGood? Nominate them between April 24th-June 3rdhere.Three winners will receive $1,000 dedicated to the charity of their choice, plus their story will be highlighted on Upworthy’s social channels. And yes, it’s totally fine to nominate yourself!

We want to see the good work you’re doing and most of all, we want to help you make a difference.

While every good deed is meaningful, winners will be selected based on how well they reflect Upworthy and P&G’s commitment to do #ActsOfGood to help communities grow.

That means be on the lookout for individuals who:

Strengthen their community

Make a tangible and unique impact

Go above and beyond day-to-day work

The #ActsOfGood Awards are just one part of P&G’s larger mission to help communities around the world to grow. For generations, P&G has been a force for growth—making everyday products that people love and trust—while also being a force for good by giving back to the communities where we live, work, and serve consumers. This includes serving over 90,000 people affected by emergencies and disasters through the Tide Loads of Hope mobile laundry program and helping some of the millions of girls who miss school due to a lack of access to period products through the Always #EndPeriodPoverty initiative.

Visit upworthy.com/actsofgood and fill out the nomination form for a chance for you or someone you know to win. It takes less than ten minutes to help someone make an even bigger impact.

Family

Smart mom leaves babysitter a list of 'add-on' chores to make more money if she chooses

“You are more than welcome to hang out and watch TV all night, but if you want to make some extra $, these jobs are up for grabs.”

via KIvanKC/TikTok and KIvanKC/TikTok. Images used with permission.

Katrina Ivan's list for her babysitter.

A mother in Missouri has found a way to maximize date night with her husband. She left a note for her babysitter, giving her options to make more side cash by completing small tasks around the home.

The goal was to have a night out and to return to a cleaner and better-organized home. It makes sense. Most of the time, babysitters just sit around while the kid sleeps, so why not make their time more productive and profitable?

Katrina Ivan, a science teacher, posted the list she sent her babysitter on TikTok and the video received over 1.5 million views.


​“You are more than welcome to hang out and watch TV all night, but if you want to make some extra $, these jobs are up for grabs,” Katrina wrote to her babysitter, a senior in high school whom she’s known for 4 years.

babysitters, babysitter prices, katrina ivan

Katrina's list for the babysitter.

via KIvanKC/TikTok Used with permission.

When the babysitter saw the list, she was excited to get to work and started cleaning the windows 10 minutes after Katrina and her husband left the house. Katrina realized her plan was working when she saw her cleaning the windows through her Ring camera. “She was like, ‘Heck ya!' and got to work right away,” Katrina told Today.com. "I left all the supplies out for her so she didn't have to feel weird hunting around for things."

By the end of the night, the babysitter was able to clean the mirrors and windows, organize the toys, vacuum the couch and scrub and organize the silverware drawer.

"I think this is a great opportunity for your babysitter. You’re giving a choice, and I love that," Lisa B wrote in the comments on the video. "This is a great idea!! Sometimes it’s boring to just to sit and watch TV. This makes time go by quicker and sometimes it’s things I would do to help," Del added.

Most commenters applauded Katrina’s idea, although some thought she could pay a little better.

"I think $10 is too cheap for some of these tasks considering the amount of work/size of the mess," Liz wrote. In a follow-up video, Katrina broke down the money she paid the babysitter that night.

@kivankc

Replying to @LISA B │✨ what i'm learning ✨ #greenscreen

Katrina agreed that the prices could go up a bit. "I’ll definitely be restructuring the prices to make this more fair in the future," she wrote. However, she added that she paid the babysitter $75 for the night just to watch her 2-year-old son, who was asleep most of the time.

All in all, the sitter made $28.75 an hour, tax-free. Not bad at all.

In another follow-up, Katrina interviewed the babysitter, who said she enjoyed making some extra money. “That sounds great,” she said.

What questions do you have for the newly famous babysitter? She’s along for the ride, and enjoys the spotlight. Loving the money, and crushing the jobs we leave for her. Sorry friends, but she’s not available to book-this kid is wayyy to busy between date night babysitting for us, earning perfect grades, being involved in a zillion after school activiites, and taking night time Fire/EMS classes at night so she can start her CAREER fresh out of high school. Do I sound a little proud?!?

@kivankc

What questions do you have for the newly famous babysitter? She’s along for the ride, and enjoys the spotlight. Loving the money, and crushing the jobs we leave for her. Sorry friends, but she’s not available to book-this kid is wayyy to busy between date night babysitting for us, earning perfect grades, being involved in a zillion after school activiites, and taking night time Fire/EMS classes at night so she can start her CAREER fresh out of high school. Do I sound a little proud?!? #sorrynotsorry #sillyinterview #babysitter #bestbabysitter #sidequests #meetmybabysitter #cheers #toddlermom #momlife

This article originally appeared on 2.6.24

via wakaflockafloccar / TikTok

It's amazing to consider just how quickly the world has changed over the past 11 months. If you were to have told someone in February 2020 that the entire country would be on some form of lockdown, nearly everyone would be wearing a mask, and half a million people were going to die due to a virus, no one would have believed you.

Yet, here we are.

PPE masks were the last thing on Leah Holland of Georgetown, Kentucky's mind on March 4, 2020, when she got a tattoo inspired by the words of a close friend.



"We were just talking about things we admire about each other and he said, 'You courageously and radically refuse to wear a mask,' like meaning that I'm undeniably myself. I thought that was a really poetic way of saying that," Holland told Fox 13.

So, she had "courageously & radically refuse to wear a mask" tattooed on her left forearm. It's a beautiful sentiment about Leah's dedication to being her true self. It's also a reminder for Leah to remain true to herself throughout her life.

However, the tattoo would come to have a very different meaning just two days later when the first case of COVID-19 was reported in Kentucky.

"It basically looked like I'm totally, you know, anti-mask or whatever, which is not the case," said Holland.

Now, she was embarrassed to be seen with the tattoo for fear she'd be associated with the anti-maskers who either deny the existence of the virus or refuse to wear a mask to protect others. Either way, it's a bad look.

So Leah started wearing long-sleeve shirts and cardigan sweaters whenever in public to cover up the tattoo.

On Monday, TikTok users asked each other to share their "dumbest tattoo" and she was pretty sure she had the winner.

In her video, she talks about how her tattoo was about "not pretending to be something you're not," but then revealed it to show how — after a historical twist — it made her out to be someone she isn't.

"I just kind of wanted people to laugh with me because I think it's funny now, too," said Holland.

Plenty of people on TikTok laughed along with her with one user suggesting she update the tattoo with the phrase: "Hindsight is 2020."

"I was dying laughing. I'm like, I'm glad there are people that find this as funny as I think it is," said Holland.

"It will be a funny story to tell years from now," she said. "I don't think it will ever not be a funny story."

Unfortunately, even when the pandemic is over, Leah will still probably have to explain her tattoo. Because most won't soon forget the COVID-19 era in America and there's no doubt many will still feel passionate about those who refused to wear a mask.


This article originally appeared on 02.24.21

Pop Culture

Nicole Kidman shares the unconventional marriage rule she has with husband Keith Urban

They've had this communication rule since the very beginning of their 18 year relationship.

Keith Urban (left) Nicole Kidman (right)

Long before Nicole Kidman began her long-term relationship with AMC theaters, she was committed to husband and country singer Keith Urban. The two have happily been together since 2006—which is a good run for any modern day marriage, but most certainly a Hollywood one.

And perhaps their nearly decades-long success can be partially attributed to one surprising communication rule: no texting.

While appearing on the Something To Talk About podcast in 2023, Kidman shared that she was the one who initiated the unconventional agreement.

"We never text each other, can you believe that? We started out that way – I was like, 'If you want to get a hold of me, call me…"I wasn't really a texter.,” the “Moulin Rouge” actress shared.

She added that while Urban did attempt texting her a few items early on, he eventually switched when Kidman wasn’t very responsive. And now, 18 years later, they only call each other.

“We just do voice to voice or skin to skin, as we always say. We talk all the time and we FaceTime but we just don’t text because I feel like texting can be misrepresentative at times…I don’t want that between my lover and I,” she told Parade

.

There are, of course, some pros and cons to calling over texting. Research has shown that people who call feelmore connected to one another vs. texting, with the voice being an integral component of bonding. As our society becomes increasingly more distant and lonely, finding those moments might be more important than ever.

At the same time, calling can invoke a lot more anxiety compared to texting, which could lead someone to not communicating at all. Also, I don’t know about you, but the thought of having to call my partner for mundane things like “don’t forget the eggs” would drive me crazy.

But regardless of whether or not you adopt Kidman and Urban’s no-texting rule, perhaps the bigger takeaway is that relationship longevity depends on being able to establish your own rules. One that feels good and that each partner is able to stick to. Especially when it comes to communication.

As Urban himself told E! News at the CMT Music Awards, "I have no advice for anybody,You guys figure out whatever works for you…We're figuring it out. You figure it out. Everybody's different. There's no one size fits all."

Luckily, there are many ways to have good text hygiene, without having to do away with it completely. Very Well Mind suggests to avoid texting too many questions, and to be respectful of your partner's schedule (probably best to not text them while they’re sleeping just to say “hey,” for example). Nor should texting be used to argue or deal with conflict. Lastly, probably save the lengthy, in-depth conversations for a phone call. Fifteen heart emojis are totally fine though.


This article originally appeared on 4.17.24

More

11 fascinating facts—and one myth—about the American flag that you probably didn't know

Did you know this famous symbol of freedom came from a B- school project?

Photo by Robert Linder on Unsplash

There's a whole lot of story behind the American flag.

The Stars and Stripes, Old Glory, the Star-Spangled Banner — whatever you call it, the United States flag is one of the most recognizable symbols on Earth.

As famous as it is, there's still a lot you might not know about our shining symbol of freedom. For instance, did you know that on some flags, the stars used to point in different directions? Or that there used to be more than 13 stripes? How about a gut-check on all those star-spangled swimsuits you see popping up in stores around the Fourth of July?

We'll explore these topics and more in this fun list of 12 facts about the U.S. flag that you might not know about.


1. Betsy Ross, the woman often credited with sewing the first American flag, probably didn't — or at the very least, there's no proof that she did.

Legend has it that in 1776, a seamstress named Betsy Ross was approached in her shop by George Washington himself and was asked to help develop a flag for this soon-to-be-nation. Supposedly, she rejected the designs Washington presented to her and made a number of suggestions that would end up in the final version of the first American flag.

It's a great story that humanizes Washington as a man humble enough to take feedback and gives Ross a boost as being uncharacteristically assertive for a woman in 18th-century America.

But the bad news is that this probably never happened. It was nearly 100 years before anybody spoke of Betsy Ross or her role in designing the flag. Most of what we know of this story came from her grandson, William Canby.

Unfortunately, though historians have long tried to verify any of the facts involved in Canby's story, there's nothing to suggest that Washington set out to commission a flag in 1776. In fact, it wasn't until 1777 that Congress even passed a resolution ordering a flag to be made. Sure, it's possible that Camby's account of his grandmother's story happened, but it's more likely that this is simply an unverifiable piece of American lore.

2. It wasn't until 1912 that the government standardized the proportions of the flag and the arrangement of its stars.

While most countries's flags are rectangular, there are a few exceptions. In 1912, President Taft issued an executive order creating a uniform look for the flag — as prior to that, there were some interesting designs, with multiple flags sometimes in use simultaneously.

The executive order mandated that stars on the flag point upward, all in the same direction, and be placed in six horizontal rows of eight.

3. We all know the flag has 13 stripes, but for 23 years, it had 15.

Up until 1795, the flag had one stripe and one star for each of the 13 states. After Vermont and Kentucky were added to the union in 1791 and 1792, respectively, the flag was due for its first major redesign in the country's history. Not only were two stars added to the blue field to represent the new states (a tradition that continues to this day), but designers also added two stripes.

The 15-star, 15-stripe flag existed from 1795 until 1818, when five more states were added. Designers realized that adding more stripes would quickly become unwieldy, so they dropped the stripe count back to 13.

Kentucky, Vermont, American flag, Union, 1795

After Kentucky and Vermont joined the union 2 stripes and stars were added to the flag.

www.gettysburgflag.com

4. We still honor the 15-star, 15-stripe flag today, as it's the specific flag that inspired Francis Scott Key to write "The Star-Spangled Banner."

The outcast of all American flags lives on through the power of song. Key wrote "Defence of Fort M'Henry," a poem about his experience watching from the Baltimore harbor as an American fort took fire from British troops during the War of 1812. In 1916, more than 100 years after its first publication, Key's poem became our national anthem.

5. Yes, the Flag Code is the law. No, there's no penalty for breaking it.

The U.S. Flag Code was signed into law by President Roosevelt on June 22, 1942. While it's filed under Title 18 of the U.S. Code ("Crimes and Criminal Procedure"), the Flag Code exists as more of an etiquette guide than anything else.

So if you leave your flag up past sundown, that's technically illegal — but no one's going to arrest you for it.

6. When it comes to showing respect for the flag, there are 11 specific instructions to follow.

There's a whole section of the U.S. Flag Code on how to show respect for the flag. Since this is a topic that gets discussed quite a bit lately, it's worth a quick review of some of the highlights:

  • Unless you're trying to signal distress "in instances of extreme danger to life or property," you shouldn't display it with the union (the field of blue with white stars) facing downward.
  • The flag should never touch the floor and should never be carried horizontally or flat, but "always aloft and free."
  • You're not supposed to wear the flag nor print its image on "anything that is designed for temporary use" (napkins, for example). Don't use it in advertisements, either.
  • "No part of the flag should ever be used as a costume or athletic uniform."

7. You're supposed to fly the flag on Christmas.

The Code says that "the flag should be displayed on all days," but puts special emphasis on the following holidays: New Year's Day, Inauguration Day, Lincoln's Birthday, Washington's Birthday, Easter, Mother's Day, Armed Forces Day, Memorial Day (the flag should be displayed at half-staff until noon), Flag Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Constitution Day, Columbus Day, Navy Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.

The Code adds that states should display the U.S. flag on the anniversary of their admission to the union, on state holidays, and on any day observed by presidential proclamation.

8. If the U.S. ever adds a 51st state, the flag won't be updated until the following Independence Day.

The flag won't be getting any major redesigns in the near future, save for the addition of a star here and there. The Code reads:

"On the admission of a new State into the Union one star shall be added to the union of the flag; and such addition shall take effect on the fourth day of July then next succeeding such admission."

9. Flag Day dates back to the 1880s but wasn't made an official U.S. holiday until 1949.

It's thought that schoolteacher Bernard J. Cigrand was the first person to celebrate Flag Day, commemorating the 108th anniversary of the 1777 Flag Resolution (which outlined the flag's basic design) on June 14, 1885. The tradition caught on among schools and, eventually, states.

In 1916, President Wilson established Flag Day through proclamation. In 1949, Congress passed and President Truman signed a bill making the holiday official.

10. The design for the current 50-star flag came from a high school student's U.S. history project — which initially got a B-.

In 1958, Bob Heft was a junior in high school. In a 2009 interview with StoryCorps, Heft recounted what happened when he turned in a history project featuring a 50-star flag. Heft's teacher gave him a B-, noting that he had the wrong number of stars on the flag (at the time, there were only 48 states).

When Heft expressed disappointment, his teacher said, "If you don't like the grade, get it accepted in Washington, then come back and see me."

After Alaska and Hawaii became states, the U.S. adopted Heft's flag. He got a call from President Eisenhower and, more importantly, an updated grade on his project.

11. The Pledge of Allegiance was, in part, created as a gimmick to sell U.S. flags to schools.

The pledge's history is fascinating and filled with controversy. Many know that it wasn't until 1954 that the words "under God" were added to the pledge in response to the Red Scare, but what's less discussed is the origin and purpose of the pledge itself.

Socialist minister Francis Bellamy penned the original pledge for an 1892 issue of The Youth's Companion as a way to mark the 400th anniversary of Columbus' journey. The magazine offered U.S. flags to subscribers, and Bellamy and the magazine lobbied public schools to adopt his pledge as a show of patriotism. It was successful, too, selling tens of thousands of new subscriptions and flags. In hindsight, it's a bit ironic that this lasting ode to America began as a socialist's capitalist experiment.

12. No one is sure why we chose red, white, and blue as the color of our flag, but an explanation was made retroactively.

In 1782, Secretary of Congress Charles Thomson explained the significance of the colors red, white, and blue during the design of the official seal of the U.S.:

“The colours of the pales are those used in the flag of the United States of America; White signifies purity and innocence, Red, hardiness and valour, and Blue, the colour of the Chief signifies vigilance, perseverance, and justice."

Ever since, we've just gone with that.


This article originally appeared on 4.3.16