Toothpaste and other Ancient Egyptian inventions we use today : Wow in the World Why is Gramma G-Force donating some of her old items to the Unnatural History Museum? And what does this have to do with ANCIENT INNOVATIONS? We've got questions AND answers on another ol' episode of Two Whats?! & A Wow! We're challenging you to separate the fact from the fiction about ANCIENT INNOVATIONS!
NPR logo

Two Whats!? And a Wow! - Oldie But a Goodie

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/947120034/947121585" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Two Whats!? And a Wow! - Oldie But a Goodie

Two Whats!? And a Wow! - Oldie But a Goodie

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/947120034/947121585" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

GUY RAZ, HOST:

Hey, Mindy. Whoa. There's a lot of dust in here.

MINDY THOMAS, HOST:

Guy Razzie, you made it. I've got a project for us.

RAZ: If this is about exploding ant soup again, I'm going to take a pass.

THOMAS: Not this time, Guy Razzie. Grandma G-Force wants to donate all of her old stuff to the Unnatural History Museum, so she needs some help organizing everything chronologically.

RAZ: OK, well, what do we have so far?

THOMAS: Well, we've got this clay pot from the Roman Empire. And then there's this ring from 200 B.C. that I got stuck on my finger here. I'll deal with that later. Oh, and there's this statue of her from ancient Greece.

RAZ: Are you sure that's Grandma G-Force?

THOMAS: Of course I wasn't sure. But then I saw this inscription at the bottom of the statue. It says right here in Greek...

RAZ: Did somebody call my name? It is Grandma G-Force.

THOMAS: I know. Bonkerballs, right?

RAZ: So if she has all of these artifacts that date back thousands of years, how old is Grandma G-Force?

THOMAS: Huh. You know, it's never really come up.

RAZ: OK. OK. We'll get to the bottom of this. But first...

THOMAS: First, we eat this 3,000-year-old chili pepper?

RAZ: No, we have a game show to do.

THOMAS: Ah, that's right. Places, everyone.

RAZ: Fold the laundry.

THOMAS: And turn on the hair dryer in three, two, one...

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #1: (As character) And now for everyone's second-favorite game show after "Ping Pong On A Table Full Of Live Spiders," it's "Two Whats?! And A Wow!"

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #1: (As character) With your hosts, Mindy and Guy Raz.

UNIDENTIFIED SINGERS: (Singing) Two whats. Two whats? Two whats. Two whats? Two whats. Two whats? Two whats and a wow.

THOMAS: Welcome back, wowzers. It's time for another ol' round of "Two Whats?! And A Wow!"

UNIDENTIFIED SINGERS: Two whats and a wow.

RAZ: The scientific game show that separates the wows from the wows from the whats. And the category for today is ancient innovations. Mindy, why don't you refresh our contestants on how the game works?

THOMAS: You know it. Wowzers, we are going to present you with three scientific statements about ancient innovations. But - and this is a big but...

(LAUGHTER)

THOMAS: ...Only one of those statements will be a true wow. The other two - just a couple of made-up whats.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #2: (As character) What?

(LAUGHTER)

RAZ: OK, let's get started. Which of the following statements is a true scientific wow about ancient inventions? Is it A, ancient Egyptians used toothpaste?

THOMAS: Or is it B, the first ice cream shop can be traced back to ancient Rome?

RAZ: Or is it C, the concept of the toy claw machine first came from a Greek mathematician in the 1st century?

THOMAS: When you think you know the answer, sing it to your ceiling fan.

RAZ: We're going to take a quick break to give you a chance to think. And when we come back, we'll reveal whether your wow is the winning wow.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD #1: "Two Whats?! And A Wow!" will be right back. Grown-ups, this message is for you.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD #1: That's it. Now back to the show.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

THOMAS: OK, wowzers, it is time to reveal the winning wow.

RAZ: But before we do, let's do a quick review.

THOMAS: We gave you three statements about ancient innovations and challenged you to guess which one was the one true wow.

RAZ: Was it A, ancient Egyptians used toothpaste?

THOMAS: Or was it B, the first ice cream shop can be traced back to ancient Rome?

RAZ: Or was it C, the concept of the toy claw machine first came from a Greek mathematician in the 1st century?

THOMAS: And to answer today's question, joining us by phone, it's Laura (ph) from Connecticut. Laura, what's the wow?

LAURA: Hi, Mindy and Guy Raz. My name is Laura, and I live in Greenwich, Conn. My wow in the world is that ancient Egyptians made toothpaste. Say hi to Reggie for me.

(SOUNDBITE OF BIRD COOING)

LAURA: And make sure that Dennis doesn't bother you anymore. Bye.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #3: (As Dennis) Aww.

THOMAS: Winner winner, toothpaste for dinner.

RAZ: If you guessed A, that ancient Egyptians used toothpaste, you found the winning wow.

THOMAS: Yep. You heard that right. Ancient Egyptians used toothpaste just like we do today. Only theirs was made from salt, pepper, mint and dried iris flour. Ancient Egyptians also used toothbrushes pretty similar to the ones we use today.

RAZ: Now, if you guessed B, while there might not have been ice cream shops in ancient Rome, there were fast-food restaurants back then. These restaurants were called thermopoliums. Ancient Romans would stop by to pick up hot, ready-to-go food.

THOMAS: And if you guessed C, while toy claw machines took a little longer to think up, the concept of automatic doors traces back to the 1st century. The ancient Greek mathematician Heron of Alexandria developed the first automatic door by relying on heat from fire and lots of water to open the heavy doors.

RAZ: Now, Mindy, why don't you tell our winning wowzers what they've won?

THOMAS: Guy Raz, all of our winning wowzers today will be taking home their very own invisible ancient birthday cake. Not your birthday? That's OK. This ancient birthday cake comes with an expiration date of 332 B.C., proving it's never too late for a belated birthday celebration.

RAZ: I think maybe they should not eat that.

THOMAS: Why not?

RAZ: In any case, congratulations to all of our winning wowzers. That's just about all the time we have for today.

THOMAS: But before we go, we've got a little scientific challenge for you. We call it Operation Build A Tool.

RAZ: We've talked a lot about amazing innovations that existed way before there were smartphones, computers or even electricity.

THOMAS: We challenge you to build a tool without using any modern technology, not even electricity.

RAZ: So go outside and see what resources you can find. Then find a way to use those resources to build a tool or invention that can help you in your everyday life.

THOMAS: Maybe you can fashion a leaf to serve as a small shovel or turn a rock into a hammer.

RAZ: And don't forget to take a photo or a video. Grown-ups, you can upload pictures and videos to us at tinkercast.com/share.

THOMAS: Well, that's all for this round of "Two Whats?! And A Wow!" Be sure to check back on Monday for a brand-new episode of WOW IN THE WORLD.

RAZ: And until then...

GUY RAZ AND MINDY THOMAS: Keep on wowing.

UNIDENTIFIED SINGERS: (Singing) Two whats. Two whats? Two whats. Two whats? Two whats. Two whats? Two whats and a wow.

RAZ: "Two Whats?! And A Wow!" is produced by Mindy Thomas and me, Guy Raz.

THOMAS: Our writers team is made up of Anna Zagorski, Darnell Walker (ph) and Heba Gouda (ph).

RAZ: Jason Rabinowitz adds the wows as our audio producer. Jessica Boddy keeps our facts straight. Jacob Stein rounds out our creative team. And Meredith Halpern-Ranzer powers the wow at Tinkercast.

THOMAS: Special thanks to Anya Grundmann and the team at NPR.

RAZ: Our theme song was written and composed by The Pop Ups. For more on their three-time-Grammy-nominated, all-ages music, find them at thepopups.com.

THOMAS: Also, "Two Whats?! And A Wow!" is now a book. Find the "Two Whats?! And A Wow! Think & Tinker Playbook" wherever books are sold. Or visit tinkercast.com/shop for more info.

RAZ: And if you'd like to become a member of the World Organization of Wowzers, where you can get an autographed picture of me and Mindy, an exclusive T-shirt, magnifying goggles, special activities for each episode and much more, visit tinkercast.com to find out how.

THOMAS: And for more up-to-date news, you can find us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram at @wowintheworld. Our email address is hello@wowintheworld.com.

RAZ: Finally, if you're a kid with a big wow to share, it could be used on an upcoming episode of "Two Whats?! And A Wow!" Call us at 1-888-7-WOW-WOW.

THOMAS: Thanks again for listening. Now go forth and find your wow.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD #2: "Two Whats?! And A Wow!" is made by Tinkercast and sent to you by NPR.

Copyright © 2020 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.