James Burke

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There are few things more relaxing than a stick of gum. Unless, of course, it’s a plate of vermicelli. Some of which was electrified, back in the eighteenth century, by Charles Darwin’s father.

More on that in sixty seconds.

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Charles Darwin’s father, it seems, was a pretty exciting chef…even applied voltage to vermicelli. Claimed it made the pasta come alive.

And that inspired novelist Mary Shelley to write “Frankenstein”.

Mary’s Shelley’s dad, William Godwin, was a kind of early anti-globalist. An attitude shared by fellow-libertarian and businessman Robert Owen -- who high-tailed it to New Harmony, Indiana and set up a commune.

Went wrong of course.

Owen moved on to Mexico and talked to the government about setting up another utopian colony, in Texas -- Mexican at the time.

Talking to the government meant talking to General Santa Anna, who was the government. But, Santa Anna had better fish to fry -- like attacking the Alamo.

He ended up exiled - to Staten Island of all places. Where one day he shared a bit of chicle with a young photographer named Adams. Who changed its name to chewing gum. Opened up a whole new field for him and then William Wrigley Jr…who really hit the home run.

I’m James Burke, making connections.