Saturday, September 15, 2007

On vacation

We'll be away for a bit of relaxation and recharging. New posts will resume in the first week of October (unless I discover something really important before then).

If you miss me, you can read all of the old posts on all of my blogs

Friday, September 14, 2007

1947: last horse cab license in London

A Hansom cab is a type of horse-drawn carriage first designed and patented in 1834 by English architect Joseph Hansom. Originally known as the Hansom Safety Cab, its purpose was to combine speed with safety, with a low center of gravity for safe cornering.

Cab is a shortening of cabriolet, reflecting the design of the carriage. It replaced the hackney carriage as a vehicle for hire. With the introduction of mechanical taximeters to measure fares, the name became taxicab.

Hansom cabs enjoyed immense popularity as they were fast, light enough to be pulled by a single horse, (making the journey cheaper than travelling in a larger four-wheel coach) and were agile enough to steer around horse-drawn vehicles in the notorious traffic jams of nineteenth-century London. They were always seen as rather 'racy' and were not used by respectable ladies on their own.

The cab sat two passengers (three if squeezed in) and a driver who sat on a sprung seat behind the vehicle, and used a long whip to rech the horse over the roof of the cab. Passengers gave instructions to the driver through a trap door near the rear of the roof. They could also pay the driver through this hatch and he would then operate a lever to release the doors so they could get out.

The passengers were protected from the elements by the cab itself, as well as by folding wooden doors which enclosed their feet and legs, protecting clothes from splashing mud. Later versions also had a glass window above the doors to complete the enclosure. A curved fender mounted forward of the doors protected passengers from the stones thrown up by the flying hooves of the horse.

There were up to 3000 Hansom Cabs in use at the height of their popularity and they quickly spread to other cities in the United Kingdom, as well as continental European cities. The cab was introduced to the United States during the late 19th century, and was most commonly used in New York City. They were also used in Sydney, Cairo, and Hong Kong.

The cab enjoyed popularity in the United Kingdom until the 1920's, when cheap automobile transport and the construction of reliable mass-transport systems led to a decline in usage. The last license for a horse-drawn cab in London was issued in 1947. (info from Wikipedia) (photo from Haydn Webb Carriages)

Thursday, September 13, 2007

1864: first ship sunk by a submarine

Horace Lawson Hunley (1823 - 1863), was a Confederate marine engineer during the American Civil War. He developed early, hand-powered submarines, the most famous of which was named for him, H. L. Hunley.

Although he was born in Tennessee, his family eventually relocated to New Orleans. He served in the Louisiana State Legislature and became a famous lawyer in New Orleans. In 1861, after the start of the War, Hunley joined James R. McClintock and Baxter Watson in building the submarine Pioneer. The Pioneer was promising, but in order to prevent capture by the Union, it had to be scuttled when New Orleans fell to Union forces.

After an unsuccessful attempt at another submarine with McClintock and Watson which ended in the vessel's sinking in Mobile Bay, Alabama, Hunley personally funded a third sub named in his honor: H. L. Hunley.

Five men from the first crew died during early tests of the human-powered vessel, when open hatches were flooded by the wake of a passing ship; four men managed to escape. A second crew was assembled in Charleston Harbor. The harbor was blockaded by Yankee ships that stopped deliveries of needed goods to the city.

On October 15, 1863, though he was not really part of the second crew, Hunley decided to take control as captain during a routine exercise. But the vessel again sank, and this time all eight crewmembers were killed, including Hunley himself.

Horace L. Hunley was buried with full military honors at Magnolia Cemetery in Charleston, South Carolina on November 8, 1863.

After the failure of the second crew, the Hunley submarine was again recovered and with a third crew, became the first submarine in the history of naval warfare to attack and sink a ship (USS Housatonic).

The Hunley silently approached the Housatonic on the night of February 17, 1864. By the time crewmen aboard Housatonic determined that the Hunley was not a log, porpoise, or other harmless object, the submarine closed the gap and the Union vessel's heavy guns could not be aimed low enough to defend itself.

As the Housatonic's crew slipped the anchor chain and backed the engine in an attempt to avert the attack, H.L. Hunley rammed an explosive charge into the Housatonic's starboard side. Within moments, the charge exploded; five minutes later, Housatonic lay completely submerged. As the Union blockader slipped beneath the waves, five of its crewmen perished, either as a result of the blast or by drowning. The remainder of its crew scrambled to the relative safety of the vessel's rigging.

The Hunley sank for the third time shortly after the Housatonic attack and was lost for more than 130 years until it was recovered in the early 2000s. The final crew was reburied in April 2004. (Info from History Channel, US Navy, Wikipedia) (Picture from

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

1971: astronauts prove Galileo's gravity theory

In the 1600s, famed Italian astronomer Galileo suggested that two objects of different weight would fall at the same speed.

A possibly apocryphal story says that he stood on the top of the Leaning Tower of Pisa with a feather and a stone in each hand and released them simultaneously.

Because the feather's structure slowed its descent like a parachute, the stone reached Earth first, so Galileo's theory was not proven.

It was not until Astronauts David Scott and Jim Irwin conducted Galileo's experiment on the Moon during their Apollo 15 mission in 1971, that the experiment could be duplicated properly. Without air to interfere, both objects made their lunar landings at the same time. (info & photo from NASA)

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

1907: Neiman Marcus opens for business

When Herbert Marcus, his sister Carrie Marcus Neiman, and her husband, A.L. ("Al") Neiman, opened a store in downtown Dallas on Sept. 10, 1907, they had one goal in mind: bring luxury to Texas.

During a two-year stint in Atlanta, the three partners did promotional work for Coca-Cola that netted them the $25,000 used to open the store. Their refusal of a Coca-Cola franchise in lieu of payment is still a source of familial chuckling. "They weren't going to be taken in by this novelty drink," says Lawrence Marcus, 90, Herbert Marcus' last surviving child. "They wanted cash."

The store idea was refined by Lawrence's brother, Stanley, who started working at the store a year after it opened. He was eight.

"Mr. Stanley," as he became known — distinguishing him from other brothers around the store — created an aura unheard of then in retailing. The store gave fashion awards to Coco Chanel and Grace Kelly, developed over-the-top "His and Hers" Christmas gifts (including expensive cars and airplanes) and instilled the notion that the customer is always right.

"If you sell satisfaction, people will come back to you," Stanley said.

Elyse Lanier, the wife of former Houston Mayor Bob Lanier, remembers Stanley Marcus well. While a student at the University of Houston in the 1960s, she worked part-time at the Houston store, then located downtown. (It moved to the then-distant suburban Galleria location in 1969.) Whenever Mr. Stanley visited, she snuck into the couture department to hear his staff pep talks. "I would hang onto his every word because so much of what he said applied to life," Lanier recalled.

She also learned a valuable lesson about sales. When Houston Symphony conductor Andre Previn came into the store looking for a scarf, she first showed him all the scarves she liked. "He hated every one," she recalled. "So I showed him every scarf I hated, and he bought all of them."

Marcus once said he doubted the store's remarkable success could have happened anywhere but Texas, where the oil business created instant millionaires with the hunger for luxury goods. He aimed to raise the taste level of the new rich. He delighted in telling the story of a girl in a cotton smock who came in straight off the farm and spent $10,000 to outfit herself, including shoes for her bare feet, because Daddy had just struck oil.

Dallas fashion executive Bud Knight reports that during his tenure as the store's coat buyer, women asked to have their Neiman Marcus labels sewn in upside down so when they placed their coats on their chairs, people across the room could read them.

The most famous burlesque star of the Depression, "Fan Dancer" Sally Rand, was no shy customer. "Sally was appearing at the State Fair," says Lawrence Marcus. "She had these fans that she would pass in front of her body in misty light, and you sat on the edge of your seat hoping you'd see some of her treasure." In a store dressing room, she breezily showed Stanley Marcus all of her "treasure" as she tried on dresses, standing naked "without her fans," he says. "It was my wildest dream come true."

The burlesque arts found Neiman's again when Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters had a hit with "Pistol Packin' Mama." A lingerie buyer ordered a shipment of garters equipped with toy pistols. When Stanley Marcus saw the garters, he said, "Burn them."

Robert Sakowitz, whose family's store went head to head against Neiman Marcus from the mid-1950s until 1990, said the Dallas location was a big boost.

"The whole city is known as a marketing city compared to Houston, which is a production city," Sakowitz said. "Dallas was an extremely proud supporter (of Neiman Marcus). It worked to their advantage to a great degree. Stanley was brilliant in his marketing of the city along with his store."

Even after Neiman Marcus merged with Carter Hawley Hale in 1969 and was acquired by Boston-based General Cinema in 1987, its headquarters remained in Dallas. The new owners provided financing for expansion. Neiman's opened its first store outside Texas in Bal Harbor, Fla., in 1971; there are now 39 across the US. But its corporate owners had the good sense to leave the stores alone, letting Marcus and his brothers work their magic. Marcus retired in 1975 but remained as a consultant until his death in 2002. The company went private in 2005.

While many retailers believe New York is the center of the fashion universe, staying put in Dallas gave Neiman Marcus a strong sense of place and helped the retailer retain its focus.

"So many other retailers blow with the shifting wind. They clearly communicated a taste level and point of view," said David Wolfe, creative director for the Doneger Group, a New York-based fashion-trend-forecasting firm.

Wolfe believes staying in Dallas gave the luxury retailer a terrific mystique and identity. "There's something to be said for someone who sticks to their guns — especially in fashion, which by its very definition is changeable."

The store has always championed new designers, but it has never veered to the outer fringes of fashion. "The idea of being half a heartbeat ahead of fashion is the perfect pace," Wolfe said. "They never went so far to the cutting edge that they frightened their customer. They have always understood the whole point of fashion is to make a woman beautiful."

Dallas investor Pat Patterson was a newly minted Smith graduate in Neiman's customer relations when she got a 7:30 a.m. phone call from the loading dock. "Miss Patterson, could you please tell me what to do with this baby elephant?" the voice asked. "Mr. Stanley [Marcus] had ordered it for the Far East Fortnight and it arrived six months late," Patterson says. "We called the zoo."

As president and later chairman, Stanley Marcus burnished the store's reputation of meeting any request. But when an elderly woman wrote asking Neiman's to find her a man, Mr. Stanley demurred. "The risk to us is too great, particularly when you specify that you're looking for a companion between 70 and 75 who is completely and absolutely finished with sex," he wrote. "Frankly, I wouldn't know where or how to search for such a man, nor do I think I would believe him if I found him, nor would I recommend that you put too much faith in any man who claims to answer your specifications."

Because of its top-of-the-line merchandise, the store is known as "Needless Markup" in some circles. But you rarely hear that complaint from well-heeled, regular customers. A Neiman Marcus box or shopping bag signals that they have arrived.

"(Neiman Marcus) understood the aspirations of the American dream, and they sought to define it materially. So if you have an aspiration to be wealthy, this is what you would wear, this is what up would have, this is what is good taste," Sakowitz said.

He said Neiman Marcus Group Inc. president and CEO Burt Tansky once proudly told him that the store no longer carried any men's suit that cost less than $1,000. "I remember thinking what an extraordinarily gutsy thing that was. But, in point of fact, it had become such a small percentage of their business anyway, it didn't make a difference," Sakowitz recalled. "It takes that kind of conviction to be at the absolute pinnacle."

All four of the Marcus sons, Herbert Jr., Stanley, Edward and Lawrence, worked at the store with varying specialties. Stanley was the retailing prodigy. Herbert Jr. opened the men's area, while Lawrence ran women's apparel and ladies shoes. Edward was the most adept with numbers.

"Eddie went to Harvard for a few months and learned to play bridge," says Lawrence affectionately, "and was not asked back... Then he went to the University of Texas and taught bridge and was not asked back... Then he came back to the store. He was very, very good with figures."

Stanley proved to be the family Nostradamus. In a 1966 speech at Indiana University, he predicted something he called "phonovision."

"The mass use of color phonovision will introduce a completely new dimension to remote buying and selling," he said. Customers will be able to "see the articles over the monitor that will interest them right in the comfort of their own living rooms."

Today, has larger sales than any of Neiman's brick-and-mortar stores.

To commemorate its 100th anniversary, Neiman Marcus is featuring a wide array of special limited edition merchandise — including clothing, jewelry and more, from major designers.

Yesterday, shoppers received free samples of the store's famous chocolate chip cookies. Legend has it that a shopper who once asked for the recipe was told it would cost "three ninety-five." He charged to his bill, thinking they meant $3.95. When the bill came for $395, he published the recipe out of spite.

Officials insist the story has no merit and are serving the cookies as a playful riff on the urban myth. The recipe is available for free on the Neiman Marcus Website.

All 39 stores are also asking customers to bring in treasured pieces of Neiman Marcus memorabilia on Wednesday from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. The entries will be photographed and forwarded to Dallas for final judging. One lucky winner will receive 1 million points in the store's customer-loyalty program. (info from the Houston Chronicle & Dallas Morning News)

Although your humble editor's full name is Michael Neuman Marcus, he is not related to the store's founders. Darn!

Monday, September 10, 2007

1992: Catholic Church apologizes to Galileo, who died in 1642

In 1610, Century Italian astronomer/mathematician/inventor Galileo Galilei used a a telescope he built to observe the solar system, and deduced that the planets orbit the sun, not the earth.

This contradicted Church teachings, and some of the clergy accused Galileo of heresy. One friar went to the Inquisition, the Church court that investigated charges of heresy, and formally accused Galileo. (In 1600, a man named Giordano Bruno was convicted of being a heretic for believing that the earth moved around the Sun, and that there were many planets throughout the universe where life existed. Bruno was burnt to death.)

Galileo moved on to other projects. He started writing about ocean tides, but instead of writing a scientific paper, he found it much more interesting to have an imaginary conversation among three fictional characters. One character, who would support Galileo's side of the argument, was brilliant. Another character would be open to either side of the argument. The final character, named Simplicio, was dogmatic and foolish, representing all of Galileo's enemies who ignored any evidence that Galileo was right. Soon, Galileo wrote up a similar dialogue called "Dialogue on the Two Great Systems of the World." This book talked about the Copernican system.

"Dialogue" was an immediate hit with the public, but not, of course, with the Church. The pope suspected that he was the model for Simplicio. He ordered the book banned, and also ordered Galileo to appear before the Inquisition in Rome for the crime of teaching the Copernican theory after being ordered not to do so.

Galileo was 68 years old and sick. Threatened with torture, he publicly confessed that he had been wrong to have said that the Earth moves around the Sun. Legend then has it that after his confession, Galileo quietly whispered "And yet, it moves."

Unlike many less famous prisoners, Galileo was allowed to live under house arrest. Until his death in 1642, he continued to investigate science, and even published a book on force and motion after he had become blind.

The Church eventually lifted the ban on Galileo's Dialogue in 1822, when it was common knowledge that the Earth was not the center of the Universe. Still later, there were statements by the Vatican Council in the early 1960's and in 1979 that implied that Galileo was pardoned, and that he had suffered at the hands of the Church. Finally, in 1992, three years after Galileo Galilei's namesake spacecraft had been launched on its way to Jupiter, the Vatican formally and publicly cleared Galileo of any wrongdoing.

(info from NASA and the History Channel) (portrait by Justus Sustermans painted in 1636)

Friday, September 7, 2007

2006: first horse racetrack in Israel

Angry demonstrators and rabbis as well as a ban on gambling failed to stop the opening of Israel's first horse racetrack, as thousands of fans cheered the four-legged competitors in October, 2006.

It was just a collection of collapsible tents with a makeshift grandstand in the middle of a field in northern Israel -- but as the horses turned the final corner before the finish line on Wednesday, it looked, sounded and smelled like the real thing. That's what bothers the detractors.

A few animal rights activists broke onto the track, charging that race horses are abused, and were dragged off by police. Five were arrested. One of Israel's chief rabbis condemned the event as frivolous. And a large sign overlooking the new track reminded spectators that horse race gambling is illegal in Israel.

Even so, organizers of the event and investors called the turnout a success and said they it demonstrated the need to legalize gambling and build up a permanent horse racing industry.

"The fact that people are running here into the stadium, it testifies that it's a need and that they want to support it and they want it to happen," said Danny Atar, head of the Gilboa Regional Council, who is leading the push to have the sport legitimized.

The debate over horse racing dates to 2004, when Israel's parliament passed a law allowing construction of race tracks. Animal rights activists with a group called "Hakol Chai" filed an appeal with the Israeli Supreme Court against the law.

The opponents gained a key ally when Rabbi Shlomo Amar issued a religious ruling against horse racing, calling it frivolous activity and noting its association with gambling and allegations of cruelty to animals. Some experts dispute the cruelty charge, claiming that the valuable race horses are among the best kept animals in the world.

Just as the ban on gambling does not deter Israelis from placing millions of dollars in bets on Internet gambling sites and illegal casinos in Israel, gambling was part of the horse race. Fans said they knew of bets placed in secret among groups and friends.

"Gambling is the main starter and the main economic way to make the race track succeed," said Atar, who said he did not know that illegal gambling was taking place. He hoped that in three to four months the Israeli government would approve horse race gambling.

Israeli businessman Ronen Kristal, who invested the first $700,000 in the track, said other investors are waiting for gambling to become legal. He said it would cost about $14 million to finish the project, which is expected to create about 3,500 jobs. (info from The Associated Press & Reuters, photo from Reuters)

Thursday, September 6, 2007

1523: first bed pillow

Pillows were used for decoration, and comfort on hard seating surfaces, as far back as ancient Egypt; but pillows that raise the head above the sleeping surface are a relatively recent development.

In 1523, London physician Sir Lester Maimonides was treating a male patient for what might now be considered sleep apnea -- a loss of the ability to breath during sleep.

The doctor thought the problem could be caused by his patient sleeping face-down, and partially inhaling the loose bed sheet, which blocked his nasal passages.

Maimonides constructed a U-shaped pillow by padding a section cut from an ale barrel, to cradle the patient's head face-up, and installed restraining straps to keep the patient from rotating.

The patient's sleep-breathing problem was instantly solved, but unfortunately, he died just a few weeks later from pneumonia. After his death, his daughter slept in his bed, without the straps, and loved using the special head cushion. She claimed she never slept better, and told friends and relatives, who clamored for "head-raisers" of their own.

Dr. Maimonides discontinued his medical practice, and became a full-time pillow maker. He even supplied the royal family, and was knighted for his invention.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

1957: first black tennis champ

Althea Gibson (1927 – 2003) was an American sportswoman who, on August 22, 1950, became the first African-American woman to be a competitor on the world tennis tour and the first to win a 'grand slam' title in 1957. She is sometimes referred to as "the Jackie Robinson of tennis" for breaking the color barrier.

A pioneer in both amateur tennis and professional golf, Gibson paved the way for the likes of Venus Williams and Tiger Woods. She not only broke barriers in tennis, but she was also the first black woman on the LPGA tour.

Born in Silver, South Carolina, Gibson was the daughter of sharecroppers and was raised in Harlem, New York City. She and her family were on welfare. Gibson had trouble in school. She ran away from home quite frequently. She excelled in horsemanship but also competed in golf, basketball, and paddle tennis. Her talent for and love of paddle tennis led her to win tournaments sponsored by the Police Athletic League and the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. Musician Buddy Walker noticed her playing ping-pong and introduced her to tennis at the Harlem River Tennis Courts. Dr. Walter Johnson, a Lynchburg, Virginia, physician who was active in the black tennis community, helped with her training.

With the assistance of a sponsor, Gibson moved to Wilmington, North Carolina in 1946 for tennis training, and in 1947 at the age of 20, she won the first of 10 consecutive national championships run by the American Tennis Association, the then-governing body for black tournaments.

Forced to play in what was basically a segregated sport, at age 23 Gibson was finally given the opportunity to participate in the 1950 US Championships after Alice Marble had written an editorial for the July 1, 1950, edition of American Lawn Tennis Magazine. Marble said, "Miss Gibson is over a very cunningly wrought barrel, and I can only hope to loosen a few of its staves with one lone opinion. If tennis is a game for ladies and gentlemen, it's also time we acted a little more like gentlepeople and less like sanctimonious hypocrites.... If Althea Gibson represents a challenge to the present crop of women players, it's only fair that they should meet that challenge on the courts."

Marble said that if Gibson were not given the opportunity to compete, "then there is an uneradicable mark against a game to which I have devoted most of my life, and I would be bitterly ashamed."

Gibson continued to improve her tennis game while pursuing an education. In 1953, she graduated from Florida A&M University on a tennis and basketball scholarship and moved to Jefferson City, Missouri to work as an athletic instructor at Lincoln University.

Gibson was now able to compete against the best players from around the world because the color barrier had been broken. Gibson's game improved to where she won the 1955 Italian Championships. The following year, she won her first Grand Slam titles, capturing the French Championships in singles and in doubles with her partner, Jewish Englishwoman Angela Buxton.

Buxton had run into discrimination from other players and the tennis establishment along the same lines as those experienced by Gibson, so the two joined forces and achieved great success. Buxton was the first Jewish champion at Wimbledon, and Gibson was the first champion of African descent. An English newspaper reported their victory at Wimbledon under the headline "Minorities Win."

She followed up by becoming the first black person to win a title at Wimbledon, again capturing the doubles title with Buxton. At the US Championships that year, she reached the singles final where she lost to Shirley Fry Irvin.

In 1957, Gibson lost in the singles final of the Australian Championships, again to Irvin. The two women, however, teamed to capture the doubles title, as Buxton had retired prematurely at the age of 22 due to a serious hand injury.

At Wimbledon, Gibson won her first of two consecutive singles championships and, upon returning to the United States, was given a ticker-tape parade in New York City and an official welcome at New York City Hall. She responded by winning the US Championships. For her accomplishments that year, Gibson earned the No. 1 ranking in the world and was named the Associated Press Female Athlete of the Year.

In 1958, after successfully defending her Wimbledon singles title and winning her third consecutive Wimbledon women's doubles title, Gibson again won the singles title at the US Championships. She was named the Associated Press Female Athlete of the Year for the second consecutive year. That year, Gibson retired from amateur tennis.

Before the open era began, there was no prize money, other than an expense allowance, and no endorsement deals. To begin earning prize money, tennis players had to give up their amateur status. As there was no professional tour for women, Gibson was limited to playing in a series of exhibition tours.

In retirement, Gibson wrote her autobiography and in 1959 recorded an album, Althea Gibson Sings, as well as appearing in the motion picture, The Horse Soldiers. In 1964, she became the first African-American woman to play in the Ladies Professional Golf Association. However, she was too old to be successful and only played for a few years.

In 1971, Gibson was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame, and in 1975, she was appointed the New Jersey state commissioner of athletics. After 10 years on the job, she went on to work in other public service positions, including serving on the governor's council on physical fitness.

Tennis players made no money in the ‘50s, and Gibson’s finances worsened over the years. In 1992, she suffered a stroke. A few years later, Gibson called Buxton and told her she was on the brink of suicide. Gibson was living on welfare, and unable to pay for rent or medication. Buxton arranged for a letter to appear in a tennis magazine. Buxton told Gibson nothing about the letter, but Gibson figured it out when her mailbox started to bulge with envelopes full of checks from around the world. Eventually nearly $1 million came in.

The title of her autobiography, written in 1958, is "I Always Wanted to Be Somebody." To tennis fans, she always will be somebody very special. Though she didn't go looking for the role of pioneer, she was one. "If it hadn't been for her," says Billie Jean King, winner of 12 Grand Slam singles titles, "it wouldn't have been so easy for Arthur (Ashe) or the ones who followed."

In 2003, at the age of 76, Gibson died in East Orange, New Jersey due to respiratory failure.

In August 2007, on the opening night of the US Open, the 50th anniversary of Gibson's victory at the US National Championships in 1957, Gibson was inducted into US Open Court of Champions. (info from Wikipedia & Photo from

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

2007: new record for fliegel-fressing
(chicken wing eating)

Competitive eater Sonya ("The Black Widow") Thomas weighs just 105 pounds, but she scarfed down 5.17 pounds of chicken wings in 12 minutes Saturday night to win the wing-eating contest at the National Buffalo Wing Festival.

Thomas devoured 173 wings, beating 12 bigger-bellied competitors.

The contest is an annual Labor Day weekend event in Buffalo, NY, the city where Buffalo wings were born. Thomas, from Alexandria, VA, also held the festival's previous record of 161 wings in 12 minutes, set in 2004.

Thomas has set numerous records in competitive eating events, including 37 hot dogs in 12 minutes; 35 bratwursts in 10 minutes; 11 pounds of cheesecake in 9 minutes; 44 lobsters in 12 minutes; and 250 Tater Tots in 5 minutes.

She is ranked No. 5 by the International Federation of Competitive Eating. According to the federation's Website, No. 1-ranked Joey Chestnut holds the 12-minute record for chicken wings, downing 7.5 pounds of them May 21, but apparently didn't do it in Buffalo. (info from the Associated Press, photo from