Ask Mr. Know It All

Q. My favorite shoes are Birkenstocks. What does the name mean?

R.L., Nashua, N.H.

A. It means that the guy who developed the shoe had the last name Birkenstock. Johann Adam Birkenstock registered as a shoemaker in his small German village in 1774. In 1897, his grandson, Konrad Birkenstock, created a curved shoe that contoured the foot, creating the arch support and eliminating many aching feet. The Birkenstock sandal as we know it was introduced in 1964.

Q. Did Ronald and Nancy Reagan ever star in the same movie while they were married?

J.M.A., Roseburg, Ore.

A. No. But Ronald Reagan and Nancy Davis did appear together in one movie, “Hellcats of the Navy.” Although the 1957 movie was not regarded well, the romance that began while filming the movie gets high marks.

Q. Which came first, Pepsi-Cola or Coca-Cola? How did Pepsi-Cola get its name?

L.B.M., Gallatin, Tenn.

A. In 1886, Atlanta druggist John Pemberton came up with a concoction that would become Coca-Cola as a cure for his morphine addiction.

In 1898, Caleb Bradham, a New Bern, N.C., pharmacist, developed Pepsi-Cola, which he called Brad’s Drink. Within a few years, he came up with a new name — “Pepsi” because the enzyme pepsin was one of the ingredients, and “Cola” because of the kola nuts used in the formula. The soda is known simply as Pepsi now.

Q. In the TV sitcom “All in the Family,” what was the street address for the Bunkers?

R.U., Ocala, Fla.

A. Archie (Carroll O’Connor) and Edith (Jean Stapleton) Bunker lived at 704 Hauser St., in the Corona section of Queens, N.Y. The facade used in the opening credits was located at 89-70 Cooper Ave., Glendale, N.Y.

Q. I see the phrase “Semper Fi,” the motto of the U.S. Marine Corps, on bumper stickers and in ads. I studied Latin while in high school many years ago, but I’m not familiar with the Latin word “fi.” Help!

C.V., Glens Falls, N.Y.

A. The motto is “Semper Fidelis,” meaning “always faithful.” The phrase is not exclusive to the Marines — it is also used by several cities in Europe and other military regiments. The U.S. Marine Corps adopted the motto in 1883.

Q. Many years ago I read a novel about mountain climbing. There was a reference made about “English air.” What is it?

P.I., College Station, Texas

A. “English air” is the early name given to the bottles of oxygen used by foreign climbers by Tibetans and Sherpas at Mount Everest.

Q. There is no food I enjoy more than ice cream. I’m not sure I have a favorite, but I really like rocky road. If you think about it, rocky road is an unusual name for an ice-cream flavor. Do you know the story behind the name?

T.L., Waukesha, Wis.

A. In 1928, ice cream maker William Dreyer and candy maker Joseph Edy founded a small ice-cream factory in Oakland, Calif. The following year, Dreyer added walnuts (which were later replaced by almonds) and pieces of marshmallow to chocolate ice cream to create a new flavor. Since the nation had just experienced the stock-market crash of 1929 and hard times were ahead, the name rocky road was chosen to help put a smile on the faces of consumers. According to the folks at Dreyer’s Grand Ice Cream, rocky road became America’s first blockbuster flavor and remains one of the best-selling flavors of all time.

Q. My husband and I often think about the 1964 New York World’s Fair. We had our first date at the fair. We have often talked about how expensive it was for us. Do you know what the admission cost was?

L.T., Hicksville, N.Y.

A. During the first year, admission was $2 for adults and $1 for children 2 to 12. The following year (1965), adult admission increased to $2.50. If you drove, parking set you back $1.50 for the day. An official guidebook cost $1, while a hardcover souvenir book was $2.50.

Send your questions to Mr. Know-It-All at or c/o Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.

2012 Gary Clothier

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