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The Consumerist

Chili Dogs, Sandwiches And More Than 150 Other Foods Recalled For Possible Listeria Contamination

Mon, 2014-10-13 17:12

foodsNo picnic is complete without chili dogs, sandwiches, hamburgers and listeria monocytogenes? Okay that last one doesn’t exactly scream party, but it was found in all of the aforementioned food times, necessitating a large recall from SunBurst Foods.

Nearly 150 food products under the names SunBurst, Fresh Bites and private labeled products sold in North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and Georgia were recalled over the weekend, the Food and Drug Administration reports.

The recall was initiated after a sampling by the North Carolina Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services found traces of listeria.

Recalled items include a variety of cold sandwiches, salads, breakfast meals, packaged fruit, desserts and snacks. A full list of recalled products can be found online.

Private labels included in the recall include River Edge Farms, CFW, Southern Zest, CJ’s Vending, Binford Street Deli, Middle Georgia Vendors, Roanoke Foods, Select Foods, and Jesse Jones.

SunBurst Foods is unaware of any illnesses related to the recalled products. Consumers who may have purchased the affected products are urged to destroy the items or return them to the place of purchase for a refund.

Products contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Although healthy individuals may suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea, Listeria infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.

Sunburst Foods Recalls Products Because Of Possible Health Risk [FDA]

Employee Upset Over Working Conditions Allegedly Steals, Then Crashes Train

Mon, 2014-10-13 16:33

(Scott Lynch)

(Scott Lynch)

When employees are unsatisfied with their working conditions, they might quit or form groups to protest their employer. Rarely do we hear of workers stealing and purposefully crashing a train to prove a point. But that’s exactly what authorities say happened in Wyoming last week.

The Gillette News Record reports that a 22-year-old employee of a mining company allegedly stole a train from his employer after becoming upset with his supervisor’s repsonse over working conditions.

Authorities report the employee unhooked the train cars and drove the locomotive onto a main rail line. At that point, the man tells police that he called rail dispatch to advise personnel that he was going onto the main line.

Police report that the train passed through a construction area near a highway crossing. The employee tells authorities in an affidavit that he blew the train’s horn while passing the area and that there were “a lot of workers there.”

After traveling between 50 mph and 70 mph for approximately 13 miles, the man allegedly crashed into another trail located at a line junction.

According to the police affidavit, the man says he “wanted to see what it was like to hit something, so I hit at it.”

After the first crash, the man reportedly backed up and hit another train. Police estimate the speed of both collisions was under 10 mph.

The man then allegedly fled on foot before being apprehended by deputies. He reportedly told officers that he was having a bad day and trying to prove a point.

The Gillette News Record reports that the man was charged with reckless endangering, felony destruction of property and felony distraction, obstruction or removal of railroad track or fixtures.

Disgruntled employee steals train [The Gillette News Record]

Ultra HD 4K Kevin Spacey On Netflix Now Costs $3 Extra

Mon, 2014-10-13 15:58

(Jeffrey)

(Jeffrey)


Ultra high definition 4K video is still a pretty new thing. The TVs themselves are still pretty expensive, and there’s not all that much 4K content out there to watch on them. On top of all that, now, there’s another price penalty for early adopters to pay: Netflix is raising the price for their 4K streaming video.

Until recently, as Variety reports, the few folks out there who had both the ultra-HD TV to view it on and the high-speed broadband to stream it on could use their regular, $9 subscription to access what 4K programming Netflix has.

But now, those who want every pixel of Bryan Cranston or Kevin Spacey’s grizzled faces to metaphorically leap out of the screen at them will have to pay up. 4K streaming is now only available on the $12 “family plan.”

Why the change? Because, unsurprisingly, both producing and acquiring 4K content costs more. So Netflix has “repositioned” 4K content as “a premium offering.”

This is not the first time Netflix has charged slightly more to cover the costs of a newer tech: back in ye olden days of Just A Few Years Ago when blu-ray began to supplant DVD and most of us had Netflix mail us actual discs, the company added a $1 monthly surcharge for that upgrade, too.

Customers who signed up for Netflix 4K service prior to August 12 of this year are having their old plans grandfathered “indefinitely,” but new customers will have to sign up at the higher rate.

Right now, House of Cards, The Blacklist, and Breaking Bad are Netflix’s banner 4K offerings, although according to Variety you can also watch Smurfs 2, Ghostbusters, and Ghostbusters 2 in 4K… for all your super high-res gooey Stay-Puft marshmallow needs.

Netflix Now Charging Extra for 4K Ultra HD Content [Variety]

A Trip To McDonald’s Ends With Woman Giving Birth In The Bathroom

Mon, 2014-10-13 15:44

(Lori)

(Lori)

Over the years there have been a number of births at fast food and retail stores across the country. This weekend McDonald’s was added to the list.

The Star Tribune reports that a woman gave birth in the bathroom of a St. Paul-area McDonald’s on Saturday.

The ordeal began around 5:20 p.m. when the manager, who was working in the back office, heard screaming coming from the lobby.

At that point, the woman’s mother yelled for someone to call 911.

When police and an ambulance arrived they blocked new customers from entering the building and notified management that there was a baby in the bathroom.

The assistant manager tells the Tribune that a short time later he saw the woman being carted to the ambulance.

Authorities declined to provide additional information about the birth or the new mother, except to say the woman was in her 20s.

The McDonald’s manager says he was told the baby was born prematurely.

Woman gives birth at McDonald’s in north metro [Star Tribune]

Kmart Announces Credit And Debit Card Breach That Began In September

Sat, 2014-10-11 01:24

(improbcat)

(improbcat)

Remember how this morning, we explained why it is inevitable that if you shop anywhere, your payment data or personal information will be part of a hack? On Friday evening, Kmart dropped the news that they have also been hacked, with malware installed in their in-store payment system. They have not yet announced how many customers have been affected.

Similar to the Dairy Queen/Orange Julius breach that was confirmed today, as well as the Jewel/Osco hack before that, and the Jimmy John’s, Home Depot, and Target payment data breaches before that, in-store payment systems were infected with malware, and an unknown number of credit and debit card numbers were stolen. Kmart’s parent company, Sears Holdings, says that so far, their investigation doesn’t show that any names, addresses, phone numbers, e-mail addresses, PINs, or Social Security numbers were part of the breach. The company also says that the Kmart website was not affected.

The breach began in September, and according to Kmart’s statement to customers, the breach was discovered only yesterday. If you shopped at at Kmart store between the beginning of September and yesterday, watch your credit or debit card statements carefully and get ready for a fresh new credit card.

Sears’s Kmart Says Hackers Stole Payment-Card Data in Attack [Bloomberg News]
Kmart Investigating Payment System Breach [Kmart]

FURTHER READING:
Do You Ever Shop Anywhere? Congratulations: Your Data Will Be Hacked

Snapchat Photos Stolen, Company Blames Users Of Third-Party Apps

Sat, 2014-10-11 00:24

snapchat guySnapchat is a mobile app that allows users to communicate through photos that self-destruct after ten seconds. Taking advantage of this feature, many people use it to take photos of their private parts. However, there are third-party apps that you can use to sign in to Snapchat, then send and receive files.

The source of the photos was apparently a Web-based Snapchat app that was hacked, and the photos have now done the exact opposite of self-destructing. A cache of 13 gigabytes of stolen selfies, belonging to about 200,000 Snapchat users out of the tens of millions of people estimated to use the app, was available to download and linked on the online mischief hub 4chan, but the site where it was hosted is now down. That may be because the people in some of the sexier snaps might be underage, which would technically make the files child pornography.

Snapchat has acknowledged the hack, but points out that it’s users’ own darn fault for sending their photos through outside apps. In a statement to VentureBeat, the company said:

Snapchatters were victimized by their use of third-party apps to send and receive Snaps, a practice that we expressly prohibit in our Terms of Use precisely because they compromise our users’ security.

The company does know something about security breaches, having made its systems more secure after one at the beginning of this year. Snapchat wants to assure users that their service has not been breached, and users’ passwords haven’t been stolen, either. That said, be careful which outside apps you use to access certain sites, especially if you send photos that you’d rather have self-destruct.

Snapchat blames users of ‘illegal third-party apps’ for nude photo hack [VentureBeat]

Do You Know This Mysterious Man Who May Be A Lottery Winner?

Fri, 2014-10-10 23:41

The Hot Lotto is a Powerball game that’s available to lottery fans in fourteen states and the District of Columbia. Somebody won $14.3 million in Iowa in December 2010, but here’s the problem: nobody knows who. A mysterious company based in Belize tried to claim the ticket, but the original ticket purchaser has to claim the cash. He never has.

Lottery winners have one year to come forward and claim their prizes. Shortly before the deadline, a lawyer in New York representing a corporation in Belize tried to claim the prize, but the ticket was bought in Iowa, where the lottery won’t hand over winnings unless the ticket holder or ticket holders are identified. The state wouldn’t turn over their winnings to charity as requested, either: the money went back to the states that are part of Hot Lotto.

State authorities suspect some kind of fraud in this situation, though it isn’t clear exactly what kind of fraud that would be or how it works.

After investigating this case for years, Authorities recently released surveillance camera footage of the man who bought the winning ticket (and two hot dogs) to find out whether anyone recognizes him. His face is obscured by a hat and a hood: he may have been trying to avoid being recognizable on the camera, or it may be that he was in the Midwest in December and was trying to keep his ears warm.

Why are they turning to the public for help now? There’s a three-year statute of limitations on fraud in Iowa, and the end of this year will mark three years since the trust tried to claim the lottery prize. Investigators have no idea whether the man was part of the scheme (if there even was a scheme) or whether he may be the victim of a crime. He could be from Iowa, but the store where he bought the ticket is near the interstate, so he could be a traveler or a truck driver.

If you recognize the man in the video, or if you know anything else about this case, Iowa’s Division of Criminal Investigation would like to hear from you.

Investigators need help finding lottery ticket purchaser [Des Moines Register] (Warning: auto-play video!)

Mitsubishi Recalls Small Cars, SUVs For Engine Stalling Issue

Fri, 2014-10-10 22:49

mitsubishiIt seems like just hours ago that we wrote about a vehicle recall. Oh yeah, that’s because it was. This time around Mitsubishi is recalling nearly 166,000 small cars and SUVs for issues that could cause the vehicles to stall.

The Associated Press reports that Mitsubishi issued a recall for 165,923 model year 2008 to 2011 Lancer and Lancer Evolution vehicles, model year 2009 to 2011 Lancer Sportback, as well as model year 2008 to 2011 Outlander and model year 2011 Outlander Sport vehicles.

The affected vehicles have pulleys that can experience unusual wear and damage the drive belt. If the belt is damaged it can detach, preventing the battery from charging or disabling power steering.

Officials with Mitsubishi report they are unaware of any crashes or injuries related to the issue.

Owners of affected vehicles will be notified and dealers will replace worn belts and pulleys at no cost.

Mitsubishi Recalls Cars, SUVs for Stalling Problem [The Associated Press]

Brands Are Scanning Your Selfies And Party Photos To Look For Their Logos

Fri, 2014-10-10 22:18

(funky_abstract)

(funky_abstract)

Let’s say that you’re a brand, like Nabisco or the North Face, and you want to see what people are saying about you online. You could do a text search of Facebook and Twitter, but that’s soooo 2009, and you can’t guarantee that people will always label the photos they take. Instead, third-party companies are slurping up every public photo that you upload online and scanning them to see what you’re eating, drinking, and wearing.

So Starbucks knows that there’s a picture of me holding one of their cups and smiling that I posted to Instagram. So what? People who are savvy about the Internet and about privacy simply assume that any picture they post online can be used for any purpose. Not everyone is that savvy, though, and even people who are that savvy probably don’t suspect that their photos are being scanned and analyzed to find smiles, trends, and “influencers.” This week, the Wall Street Journal broke down how this works and how your photos might be repurposed.

When you agree to the terms of service for a social media site, you might be agreeing to third-party use of your photos, but you may not have thought that sites like Tumblr were selling “firehose” access, or a blast of every picture posted on the site to be scanned for facial expressions and brand logos. Well, they are, to Ditto, a company that helps companies analyze how they “look” online. Are images of your logo in readers’ own photos or in

Here’s what the Ditto Labs “firehose” looks like. Anyone can watch it in real time, not just clients.

firehose

How can you protect yourself from being part of such a marketing effort? Well, you can’t, unless you refuse to post photos online that are accessible to the public, and also forbid friends, co-workers, and event photographers from doing so as well. You could never take a picture of a brand logo, or blur them all out of your photos before uploading.

Smile! Marketing Firms Are Mining Your Selfies [Wall Street Journal]

“Don’t Flush Feminine Products” Signs In AirBNB Rentals? $10,000 In Damages Makes A Good Case

Fri, 2014-10-10 22:08

(frankieleon)

(frankieleon)

A Los Angeles AirBNB host probably wishes she had hung one of those “Please place feminine products in the trash” signs up in her condo’s bathroom. Doing so may have saved her more than $10,000 in damages after a renter allegedly repeatedly flushed the products down her toilet causing a blockage and massive leak.

Business Insider reports that the pipe back up caused a leak that poured water into the hallway and lobby of the woman’s condo building, eventually seeping into her neighbor’s apartment.

The woman, who rents several units through AirBNB, says she didn’t learn of the damage until a second group of renters called to tell her the toilet was clogged.

Between hiring an emergency water cleaning crew and fixing damage to both the host’s apartment and the neighbor’s apartment costs for the stay reached more than $10,000.

Despite AirBNB’s Host Guarantee, which promises to pay for up to $1 million in damages, the woman says she’s left footing the bill.

According to the woman, an email she received from AirBNB said the company would only pay for the $78 plumber’s fee.

The email details that the woman’s claim was denied because the Host Guarantee only covers the actual rented unit and is void if more guests stay after the damage is incurred.

A spokesperson for AirBNB tells Business Insider that problems are rare when it comes to rentals.

“We were incredibly sorry to hear about this matter and we’d encouraged the host to use our resolution tools to work with her guests on this matter,” the spokesperson says.

As a result of the damage allegedly caused by the AirBNB renter, the woman’s condo association has banned its owners form renting through the service.

Additionally, the woman says she’ll stop renting through AirBNB once her current reservations are finished.

“We’ve been using it since 2011. We were an early adopter,” she says. “AirBNB sent us great people for two years. They appreciated the concept of sharing and staying in an at-home-like environment. Then things start to get bad from last year and especially this year.”

Airbnb Banned From Condo Complex After Guest Caused $10,000 Of Damage [Business Insider]

IKEA: Where You Can Buy A Bookcase And Now Insurance

Fri, 2014-10-10 20:38

(Steve)

(Steve)

A trip to IKEA could soon include a lot more than just buying shelves, bedding, and other home items. The retailers is reportedly rolling out trial sales of range of insurance policies.

The Wall Street Journal reports the company began selling child and pregnancy insurance at select stores in Sweden last week.

Currently the Omifall plans are targeted to the 2.5 million members of IKEA’s loyalty program. In the future the company could expand offerings to the company’s 59 million global members.

The pregnancy and child insurance plans cover accidents while women are pregnant and then transform into child accident protection after birth. According to the Omifall website, the plans are “valid even if you have other insurance. OMIFALL pregnancy and child insurance will be combined with any existing coverage you may have. This means that the amount paid from us will be paid in addition to any other compensation given from other insurance.”

The plans are handled by an entity within the IKEA empire called Ikano Group, which is owned by the three sons of 88-year-old IKEA founder Ingvar Kamprad.

In the past, IKEA used its large customer base to expand into other businesses. The WSJ reports that in 2012, the company launched an trial for selling televisions and loudspeakers. That program was later expanded internationally.

IKEA Gets Into Insurance Business [The Wall Street Journal]

New Vaccines May Have Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus Under Control

Fri, 2014-10-10 20:05

(Adam Fagen)

(Adam Fagen)

We’ve been discussing porcine epidemic diarrhea on the site in the past, mostly in the context of it causing an increase in pork prices because millions of piglets have died. Good news for bacon-lovers and newborn piglets alike: there are two new vaccines conditionally approved to prevent PEDv, and another on the way.

The disease is exactly what it sounds like: a highly contagious disease that causes severe diarrhea in pigs. While adult pigs usually survive the disease, piglets do not. Until now, there were no treatments or vaccines for the disease, and farmers’ best hope was that sows either wouldn’t be exposed to the virus, or would already be immune before having a litter.

The senseless death of millions of piglets is causing an unanticipated problem: millions of piglet corpses. Piglets normally grow up to be pigs who are eaten, after all, so pig burials aren’t a normal occurrence. Environmentalists are concerned that the unprecedented numbers of pig burials could contaminate groundwater as the animals decompose.

Pigs that have had the virus pose no known risk to the pork-eating public: the disease is not communicable to humans.

Farmers Gain Weapon Against Devastating Pig Virus [New York Times]

A Brief History Of Car Colors — And Why Are We So Boring Now?

Fri, 2014-10-10 20:00

You don’t know their names, but you see them everywhere: countless shades of reds, greens, blues, grays, tans, taupes, whites, off-whites, charcoals, blacks, gold and silver. Really what you’re seeing is Vanilla Shake, Tahitian Pearl and Torched Penny. Cars are everywhere, and so are the colors they’re cruising around in, their own distinctive skins. Paint is one of the most important design aspects parts of a car — the right paint job can mean the difference between luxury and sport utility, can turn Grandpa’s jalopy into a teen dream machine, and forever change a car from a vehicle you use to get around to a statement on free love and drugs.

TL; DR Version
• Everyone remembers their favorite car’s unique color, so when did we fade to black?

• Yellow, green and teal cars may fetch you a higher resale value due to relatively few of them

• Cars were first painted like carriages, color was expensive, didn’t last

• Henry Ford offered cars in black asphalt enamels because that color dried the fastest and was more durable than oil-based paints

• General Motors and Dupont partnered up for Duco, a new paint that made it easier to apply colorful paints that dried even faster than before

• Car manufacturers stared color advisory boards to suss out trends in popular culture and report back

•Everyone got wacky on colors for a while, including in the ‘60s and ‘70s

• We’re boring these days, choosing mostly black, white and gray/silver

• The recession scared people into a neutral colors phase, giving rise to the popularity of black, white and silver/gray

• The future is bright once again, however, as experts see colorful paint jobs coming back

This came up in the Consumerist newsroom we call a conference call — everyone remembers that one car with the special paint color — Polynesian Green, Clover Green Pearl, Deep Maroon 347 — perhaps more than any other aspect of the beloved former ride.

But when you look around on the road and in your neighbors’ driveways, not everyone is driving in the technicolor lane. It feels more like the Model T days, of which Henry Ford wrote in his autobiography: “Any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants so long as it is black” (more about that later).

In fact, if it feels like we’ve returned to our grayscale roots, we have: Last year for example, the most popular car color in North America was white, reports Forbes, followed by black, gray and silver.

And yet in that same article, Forbes discusses how popular a color is doesn’t mean it’s necessarily the best value, noting how a yellow car bought new will have a higher resale value down the road — pun completetly intended — than your more everyday tones.

As it turns out, during the recent recession, consumers were a bit shy of flashy things and tended to play it safe when and if they took the big step of buying a new car, and that trend has persisted over the years. Meaning the likelihood of a flood of yellow cars on the market is not great, hence, the rarer it is, the higher price tag it can command.

This effect also works for green cars (Polynesian Green!) and orange (Tangerine Scream!) as well as teal (Just Teal [not a real color but should be]).

The Bold And Bright Early DaysImage courtesy of Gundula Tutt, Omnia Restoration Section Permalink Bookmark Section Share on Facebook Share on Twitter

So now that we know the reason for popular car colors now, we wanted to figure out why, if perhaps trends are always or often tied to current events like a recession or depression.

Back to Henry Ford and his “any color as long as it’s black” statement: To quote Jerry Seinfeld, “What was the deal?” Was it because everyone was just in a a really cranky mood and just didn’t feel like happy colors?

Not really — and as it turns out, there were some pretty spectacular car colors around the turn of the century, explains Gundula Tutt, an automotive color historian, conservationist and restorer living in Vörstetten, Germany. Her doctoral thesis is titled “History, development, materials and application of automobile coatings in the first half of the 20th century,” and she’s a member of the Society of Automotive Historians. So she knows her stuff, it’s safe to say.

Back around 1900, Tutt says, cars were basically motorized carriages and thus, painting methods were derived from the oil-based coating formulations used for traditional horse drawn carriages.

It was a complicated, expensive procedure to to apply the paint, and the drying time took several weeks. The color was luxurious, providing for brilliant paint jobs, but the paints couldn’t stand up to time and would end up turning yellow. There was no binding medium, Tutt says, so every time a color would fade or yellow, it’d have to be repainted. It gets expensive.

That long, expensive process is what prompted Ford to develop asphalt-based baked enamels for his cars — dark colors lasted longer, it fit in with the assembly line process and didn’t take as long to dry.

“This marked a big step for industrial mass production of the Model T and other low cost automobiles, since it synchronized the painting action to the frequency of the assembly line,” Tutt writes in her thesis.

In other words, this change in how cars were painted might seem simple now, but think about it this way — without these kinds of innovations, cars would’ve proven too expensive for most people and thus, a whole lot more of us might be on bikes.

The asphalt enamel method wasn’t without its downsides, however, as it did require a large amount of space with nary a stray bit of lint or hair to mar an otherwise perfect paint job.

The painters would even paint naked, Tutt added with a chuckle.

“I think I would have liked to see that!” she said, and was immediately agreed with by yours truly.

Peacetime Is Paint Time
More innovations followed after World War I ended, when the world was at peace again and the automotive industry could turn its attention from tanks and wartime vehicles to civilian cars.

New methods using Chinese wood oil (or tung oil as it’s sometimes known) could be sprayed or painted on, and made for much faster drying times in 1918, at about one third the time compared to the oil-based paints, Tutt says. Drying tunnel ovens shortened time even more, and were worked into conveyor systems already in place on assembly lines.

And to add to the bonus of a speedy dry job, these “spar-varnishes” and “spar-enamels,” as they were known then, allowed for colors for the first time. Like Dorothy stepping out of the house into Oz, manufacturers started to produce brilliant colors.

The early 1920s saw brilliant shades — the colors of the time were exotic, Tutt explains, with two, three and even four colors ont he same car, as well as painted birds and butterflies on some Lincoln models.

Lincoln ads from 1927 (first two from left) and 1928 advertising exotic color schemes.

Lincoln ads from 1927 (first two from left) and 1928 advertising exotic color schemes.

Fast forward to the 1920s, when General Motors worked with the Dupont chemical company to create something known as pyroxylin, a substance that could be mixed with pigments to come up with new automobile coatings in a rainbow of colors, was more durable than previous pigments, and even better — could dry in minutes instead of hours.

In 1923, the new Duco paint (as it was called) pyroxylin colors debuted at the New York Auto Show on GM’s Oakland Motor Car Company’s cars, known as the “True Blue Oakland Sixes.”

“Alfred P. Sloan, who had become GM president in May 1923, believed that consumers buying lower-priced cars would appreciate a range of color choices, particularly if the paints lasted,” notes the Chemical Heritage Foundation.

All seven touring cars were painted with Duco, each receiving two different shades of blue and accented with racing stripes of red or orange.

“Blue is a complicated color,” adds Tutt,” because it yellowed easily before. Now there was much less yellowing and upkeep, it was a cheaper, garageless car,” which was nice for consumers, as you could have a car without the bothersome expensive of having a garage.

An attractive product more people could afford? We were off — color was the new thing.

StripingColors1920ies

"These colors were used to do stripings and detailed decoration on vehicles shortly after 1925 (pyroxilin base), often combining two bright colors on the body with another contrasting striping color," says Tutt.

“These colors were used to do stripings and detailed decoration on vehicles shortly after 1925 (pyroxilin base), often combining two bright colors on the body with another contrasting striping color,” says Tutt.

Try telling that to Henry Ford, however, as Tutt says he resisted the change because of the elaborate process he already had built for painting his cars. In fact, Tutt says, any Model Ts that were repainted in a different color other than black would have their warranties voided.

It was too late, now that the colors had been turned on, they couldn’t be turned off. Dorothy, meet Oz.

Let The Color Revolution BeginImage courtesy of Rich_Lem Section Permalink Bookmark Section Share on Facebook Share on Twitter

Around that time, GM started a color advisory service, sending people to watch the shows in Paris, ask people what they’d like and develop new color systems, Tutt says. Such a service was very much at the pulse of consumerism, as the industry tried to figure out what people would buy other than black.

There was a bit of a pause in the color parade when the market crashed in 1929, Tutt notes — colors got dimmer, more depressing, in somber greens and grays. And when cars were colorful, fenders were often painted black in a melding of the practical and the aesthetically pleasing: Dinged fenders could be easily and cheaply painted with asphalt paint, saving on repairs.

Despite the downtrodden economic times, the 1930s saw the addition of metallic paints, which were first made from actual fish scales and reserved only for the very rich.

It would’ve taken 40,000 herring to make one kilo of paint, Tutt says, but they’d give paints a mother of pearl sheen that could show off the curved forms of the cars of that day.

But for most folks, expensive fish scale paint wasn’t a practical possibility. American paint companies used aluminum flakes in their metallics, which were much cheaper than fish scales. Color names still paid homage to their fishy predecessors, with colors like Fish Silver Blue.

The 1930s and 1940s saw a rise of chrome trim and single-color cars, Tutt says, especially after World War II when new innovations brought us sun-resisting clear coats for metallics to help them stay bright and not yellow. These coats helped protect bright shades from fading, another pro for consumers who wanted their cars to last.

Advisory panels became de rigueur for manufacturers after WWII, Tutt says, with companies once again asking customers what they wanted for their vehicles as paint methods continued to develop.

By the time the 1950s hit, consumption was a patriotic duty.

Car colors and popular culture had hopped in bed together and from now on were closely married — just look at Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters touring America in the 1960s in Further, a hippie bus in every sense of the word in not only its passengers but the wild, bright splashes of color decorating it.

Other world events beyond the fashion shows and celebrities of the time affected car colors as well, Chris Wardlaw, who previously worked in the automobile industry with previously worked for Vehix.com, J.D. Power and Associates and Autobytes, tells Consumerist.

“In the 1970s there was the gas crisis of the early 70s, so I think there was a more ecological mindset among Americans and we started to see a lot of earth tones out there, especially brown,” Wardlaw says.

He adds that the one exception was 1976, the year of the Bicentennial, the year of the decade when the most popular colors were red, white and blue (separately, not combined on one car in some kind of flag thing).

Why Are We All So Boring Now?Image courtesy of cavale Section Permalink Bookmark Section Share on Facebook Share on Twitter

I don’t think there’s one clear reason why we’ve been stuck on shades of gray, white and neutrals in the 2000s — but a quick glance at popular gadgets of our day, devices that play a big part in our everyday lives today. It makes sense, then, if you like your iPod (or later iPhone) in white, maybe you want your car in that color, too. Like the silvery gray of your HTC One? It could show up in your car too.

White’s comeback can partly be attributed to Apple, explains Barb Whalen, designer manager, color and materials at Ford Motor Company. She says that though you might think white is just a boring color that’s never going to change, Apple “helped that trend move on.”

After all, white isn’t just white — there are luxury whites with tricoat paint jobs, and then there are the simpler, sportier whites.

Because of the tried-and-true trio of white, silver/gray and black, many manufacturers will use those basic colors on more than one model, because why mess with a good thing?

“There’s a group of customers that always just goes for those basic colors, and that’s what they’re going to come back to,” Whalen says. “But there are definitely customers out there who want to be on trend that strive for something different. When they lease their vehicle for two years they want to come back with the latest and greatest color.”

But on that note, not every wild and craaaazy color is going to work on every vehicle. Some are niche-specific, Whalen explained to Consumerist.

“Certain colors are appropriate for certain vehicles,” she says. “For example, the Green Envy you would see on a Mustang, you would never put that on an F150. It would just be kind of comical, I think.

“But a Mustang customer loves that bright green on that vehicle and it’s appropriate, it’s inspired and it’s sporty and there’s a customer out there that wants that attention, that wants to say, “Hey, look at me and look at my car.”

We wondered about those names — what’s it like to come up with those unique monikers?

Car manufacturers these days have taken color advisory boards of the past and started employing color development teams, which dedicated to coming up with that name you’ll always remember, or the one you’ll forget but appreciate that it wasn’t just “gray.”

“We have a lot of fun with naming colors,” Whalen says.

The team comes up with a color first, one that’s inspired by design and trend information from Ford’s suppliers, and then that color, purple, perhaps might trigger an image of something, say, of Tahiti. And there you have it, Tahitian Pearl.

As to why companies think we want Tahitian Pearl, Whalen says that at Ford, they don’t ask the customers what they’d prefer, because colors are developed for years ahead of time. As trends change every couple of years, so will consumer preferences.

“Color preferences are personal and if you’re asking a customer that will ever buy a black car if they’re going to ever enjoy a Bronze Fire or a Deep Impact Blue vehicle, their preference is always going to be black, so don’t ask them.”

Instead, Whalen and her team work with suppliers to gather research and look at trends to develop the company’s car palette. Core colors like (sigh) white, silver/gray and black “don’t change a whole heck of a lot throughout the years” barring any change in technology.

“The colors we tend to change more often are trend colors, and those might change every couple of years,” Whalen says.

Are We Totally Over The Rainbow Or Is The Future Going To Be Bright Again?
Whalen agrees that the recession dampened car buyers’ appetite for bright colors, saying consumers were a bit “leery” for a little while, leading to the rise of the neutral set. But the future is bright, she thinks.

“We’re optimistic” about color’s comeback she says, adding, “It was only four years ago that neutrals and whites really were the most popular, you would rarely look in a parking lot and see anything other than those colors,” and now, colors are coming back to those lots.

There are other trends making a splash in the car world these days, Christian Wardlaw points out — including the “stealth” trend that employs matte paint colors and dark windows.

“Among car enthusiasts, especially younger male car enthusiasts, matte has become, I wouldn’t say it was a status symbol but it became popular because it’s different. It lacks luster, so it’s more stealthy.”

Will we ever get a future of made-to-order customizable colors for our cars in any one of say, hundreds of options? Not likely, Wardlaw thinks, mostly because of the associated costs with factory-applied paint. But much like that phone cover you can swap out at whim, there’s always the option to have a temporary wrap applied to a car, like the local bakery/taco place/dry cleaners did with their delivery SUV.

I’m Feeling Crazy — Should I Buy A Car In A Wild And Wacky Color?
Different strokes for different folks — so yes, if you really love that yellow bit of canary-inspired sporty sunshine, go for it, but keep in mind that not all weird colors are rare. There’s a reason there aren’t always a lot of yellow cars, Wardlaw thinks.

“A lot of companies will only offer [colors] that they know will sell in big numbers because they’re not going to take the risk,” he says.

Whether or not you take that risk, it’s up to you. But at least you don’t have to order it in black, if you don’t want to.

Nissan Recalls 220K Altimas Because Hoods Are Only Suppose To Fly Up In The Movies

Fri, 2014-10-10 19:30

(Russ Swift)

(Russ Swift)

The only time you might expect to see the hood of a car fly up while driving down the road is in an action movie. But for hundreds of thousands of Nissan Altima owners that scenario could happen at just about anytime, and that’s a big problem.

Nissan recently announced the recall of about 220,000 model year 2013 Nissan Altimas, USA Today reports.

Officials with Nissan say the problem involves an inner panel on the hood and the secondary latch lever of the vehicle.

The combination of debris and corrosion could cause the secondary latch lever to bind and remain in the unlatched position when the hood is closed.

If for some reason the primary latch is inadvertently released and the secondary latch is not engaged, the hood could open while driving.

Nissan will contact owners of affected vehicles. Dealers will be instructed to modify the bend angle on the hood actuation lever to eliminate potential interference with the hood inner panel.

If dealers view significant corrosion is observed, the latch assembly will be replaced.

Recall: Hoods can fly open on 220K Nissan Altimas [USA Today]

Olive Garden Overhaul: Darden Loses Board Seats To Breadstick Police Investors

Fri, 2014-10-10 18:41

(David Buchwald)

There might be fewer breadsticks in the basket next time you visit Olive Garden. Okay, fine we don’t really know if that’s true, but we do know that Darden Restaurant Inc., the parent company of the Italian restaurant, lost all of its board seats to investors turned breadstick police Starboard Value LP today.

Reuters reports the entire Darden board was ousted at a meeting in what they call a rare victor for dissident investors.

While we don’t exactly know what the takeover by Starboard means, you might remember that just last month Starboard publicly criticized the performance and mismanagement the Olive Garden chain.

The investors issued a nearly 300-page proposal outlining a plan to turn around the Italian chain, while criticizing the restaurant’s employees of straying from policy – including overloading customers on breadsticks.

The proposal included plans to sell Darden’s real estate, franchise its restaurants, spin-off The Capital Grille, Yard House and other chains.

As for Olive Garden, the investors said in the proposal that they plan to boost the chain’s alcohol sales, use technology to eliminate “false waits” for tables and implement more cost-effective marketing.

Following Starboard’s presentation, Darden shot back a shorter, 24-page analysis that included defending the policy of giving customers as many breadsticks as they can shove down their throats.

The company said that “Olive Garden’s salad and breadsticks have been an icon of brand equity since 1982″ and that passing out the free baskets of dough conveys “Italian generosity.”

Darden loses full board in activist sweep [Reuters]

Family Abandons Home Due To Massive Spider Infestation

Fri, 2014-10-10 18:23

Actual house and spiders not pictured. (Scott Lynch)

Actual house and spiders not pictured. (Scott Lynch)

There’s a lovely home near St. Louis that was once worth around $450,000, and now sits abandoned and in foreclosure. The last owners won a lawsuit against the previous owners for failing to disclose one really, really important thing about the house: it is infested with thousands of brown recluse spiders.

That’s a species of spider that is venomous, but rarely lashes out and attacks people. You know, that’s why they’re called “recluses.” Still, no one wants six thousand roommates, venomous or not, and the family was not happy about the infestation and less happy that the previous owners of the house hadn’t warned them.

The first hints of trouble were when the family noticed large spider webs on the light fixtures that hadn’t been there when they did their final walk-through before purchase. After they moved in, they began to find spiders everywhere: falling from the ceiling, crawling out of the walls, scampering up the window treatments.

Here’s where things get kind of weird: the previous owners’ insurance company, State Farm, defended them when the new owners sued them. There was a trial with a jury, and the new owners won an award of $472,110. However, they weren’t able to collect: the previous owners declared bankruptcy, and State Farm refused to pay the claim. Why? A spider infestation doesn’t count as actual damage to a home. Also, the policy rules out some very specific things, which include infestations of insects. The scientific argument that spiders are not “insects” didn’t work on State Farm.

Fannie Mae owns the house now that it has gone into foreclosure. This week, the house will be tented and fumigated, a pest control method normally associated with termite infestations, or with a plotline from the fifth season of the TV show “Breaking Bad.” Will this work where other pest control methods haven’t? “There’ll be nothing alive in there after this,” the man tasked with killing the spiders told he St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Tenting houses is a new method for dealing with brown recluse spiders that wasn’t in use three years ago when the family abandoned the house.

Extreme case of brown recluse spiders drives owners from Weldon Spring home [St. Louis Post-Dispatch]

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Women Claim Their McDonald’s Iced Tea Came With A Free Worm

Fri, 2014-10-10 18:03

(Steve)

(Steve)

Typically when you order a drink at the local fast food drive-thru, the only surprise you get is maybe the wrong type of soda in your cup. A Virginia family says they received a much more slimy shocker: A small worm.

The ordeal began last week when two sisters paid a visit to the local McDonald’s drive-thru and ordered iced tea, The Charlottesville Newsplex reports.

When the women returned home, one sister says she took a drink of the tea only to feel something hit the back of her throat.

“I turned the light on and I seen something going like this [gestures worm motion] and it was a worm in my tea,” one of the women says. “I sipped it up through my straw.”

The sisters visited a doctor as a precaution and were prescribed antibiotics.

An inspector for the Virginia Department of Health visited the fast food restaurant following the incident and found no worms inside the drink machine or the ice dispenser.

However, the inspector did find a worm living under one of the pieces of equipment inside the building.

The inspector also noted in the preliminary inspection that there were “rodent droppings under front counter and throughout facility,” the inspector writes. “Premises are not being routinely inspected for evidence of pests.”

In a statement McDonald’s says their main focus is on providing high quality food for customers.

“We take matters concerning the safety of our food very seriously,” the statement reads. “The Health Department has informed us that upon inspection, they came away with no findings regarding this matter. While this claim is unsubstantiated, we will continue to cooperate with the Health Department in their investigation.”

WARNING: Video contains wormy grossness.

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Update: McDonald’s Responds to Claim of Worm Found in Iced Tea [Charlottesville Newsplex]

College Students Pitch In To Tip Delivery Driver $1,268 For Two Pizzas

Fri, 2014-10-10 17:56
(WISHTV.com)

Reading through notes given to him by the students. (WISHTV.com)

Tipping a lot for pizza isn’t unusual — how else can one adequately express thanks for delivering a cheesey piece of heaven? — but in most cases, “a lot” means maybe $10. But when a bunch of college students pooled their resources to make one pizza guy’s night, they managed to drop a pretty hefty chunk of change on just two pizzas, giving him a $1,268 tip.

Students at Indiana Wesleyan University surprised the pizza delivery guy when he showed up to the university’s chapel service, reports WISHTV.com. He figured it was just a normal delivery, totaling $12.50 for the two pies… until he was invited up on stage by the chapel’s speaker.

The speaker had handed out note cards to students to write the man a note, and encouraged them to pitch in to give the man “the biggest tip of his life,” which also included $70 in gift cards.

“I was just in awe I really couldn’t say too much,” the delivery driver explained.

“We can do little things and when we’re gathered together, that little thing becomes a big thing of encouraging other people,” said a faculty member.

The students were pretty happy to see immediate effect of their efforts.

“You got to be able to see what his reaction was — complete shock. It was so cool,” said one student.

The driver says his kids will have a good Christmas now, and he’ll pay off bills, fix his car and roof, and remember that day forever.

“It just, I just couldn’t believe it that somebody could be so nice to people out there,” he said.

Indiana Wesleyan surprises pizza delivery man with once-in-a-lifetime tip [WISHTV.com]

Pepsi Introduces A “Craft” Soda Made With Cane Sugar

Fri, 2014-10-10 17:32

Crafty.

Crafty.

PepsiCo is hopping on the ye olde bandwagon and going back to the days when soda was sweetened with sugar, and free of artificial sweeteners or high-fructose corn syrup. Dubbing its new craft soda Caleb’s Kola, Pepsi says the drink is made with cane sugar, “a special blend of spices” and a kola nut extract.

The beverage is named after Caleb Bradham, a pharmacist who came up with the Pepsi formula in the 1890s, reports the Associated Press, further rooting the drink’s image in the sepia-toned past.

Each 10-ounce bottle comes with 110 calories and 29 grams of sugar, as well as an entourage of marketing hashtags meant to position this drink among the other old timey sodas known as craft drinks — #craft, #mixology, #honorincraft, you get the point. Gotta get those millenials!

Caleb’s Kola will hit shelves at certain Costco locations in New York, Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia, with plans to expanded wider later.

Pepsi Is Launching A ‘Craft’ Soda [Associated Press]

Barcelona Comedy Club Charges Customers Per Laugh

Fri, 2014-10-10 17:00

Tablets equipped with facial recognition software records how often customers laugh during comedy shows.

Tablets equipped with facial recognition software records how often customers laugh during comedy shows.

I love comedy clubs. From well-known venues like the Upright Citizen’s Brigade in New York to the smaller haunts like Sanford’s in Kansas City, step foot any one of the hundreds of comedy clubs around the country and you’ll likely laugh – a lot. That’s usually not a problem, but if you’re heading to a club in Barcelona either come armed with a lot of cash or a straight-up poker face, because you’re about to be charged per laugh.

The BBC reports that a comedy club in Barcelona is currently experimenting with the new payment system that uses facial-recognition technology to track how much visitors enjoy the show.

The facial recognition software is installed on tablets attached to the back of each seat in the club. For each laugh customers emit they’ll be charged 0.30 euros, or $0.38, up to a maximum of 24 euros, or $30.45 per visit.

Officials with the club say the pay-per-laugh system was a project developed to combat falling audience numbers after the government increased taxes on theater tickets.

So far, the club says, the experiment has proved to be a positive experience, with overall ticket prices up.

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Comedy club charges per laugh with facial recognition [BBC]

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