Real Or Fake 1930s Inventions Actors Mayim Bialik and Cheyenne Jackson determine if there was such a thing as a "Radio Hat" in a game of real or fake inventions from nearly a century ago.

Real Or Fake 1930s Inventions

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JONATHAN COULTON, BYLINE: This is ASK ME ANOTHER, NPR's hour of puzzles, word games and trivia. I'm Jonathan Coulton. Here's your host, Ophira Eisenberg.


Thanks, Jonathan. We're playing games with two actors from the new Fox sitcom "Call Me Kat," Mayim Bialik and Cheyenne Jackson. Are you ready for another one?


MAYIM BIALIK: I'm ready.

EISENBERG: OK, fantastic. So we're going back in time once again, kind of. This is about inventions. We're going to tell you about a strange invention from the 1930s. You just have to tell us if it's real or if we made it up.

BIALIK: Oh, man. OK.

COULTON: (Laughter).

EISENBERG: So, Cheyenne, we'll start with you.


EISENBERG: This one's for you. Step aside iPhone. In 1931, a British magazine introduced a new product, the radio hat, a straw hat with two antennae that would allow the wearer to listen to radio programs while they were out and about on the town. Is that real or fake?

JACKSON: 1931?


JACKSON: I'm going to go against my instinct and say it is true.

EISENBERG: Your - going against your instinct was right.


COULTON: Never trust your instincts.

EISENBERG: Exactly. Yeah, it was a real thing. There were actually several radio hats that were designed. Not one of them took off.

JACKSON: Oh, my God. Oh, no.

BIALIK: Also, in all fairness, like, that was a time in our history when things were kind of gearing up globally. So maybe we were thinking about other things besides our desire to wear radio hats.

COULTON: That's true. That's true.


COULTON: OK, Mayim, inspired by the creation of the fortune cookie earlier in the century, the compliment cake was created in 1935. Cut open your minicake and find a piece of paper saying something like, you're cute as a bug's ear. They were discontinued after too many people accidentally ate the paper.

BIALIK: I think it's false.

COULTON: Yeah, that is fake. We made that one up.

BIALIK: Yay (laughter).

EISENBERG: Yeah, good job.

BIALIK: Also, many fortune cookies really just have statements which are compliments, like you're good with people, to which I never get tired of saying, that's not a fortune.


BIALIK: I want a fortune which has a conditional verb. You will...

EISENBERG: Yes. I agree.

JACKSON: (Laughter).

BIALIK: Someday this will happen to you. I don't want to know that I'm good with people.

EISENBERG: Truth is, I ordered Chinese food last night. It's been a while. It came with fortune cookies. I was like, all right, New Year, here we go. First fortune.

JACKSON: Come on. Sock it to me.

EISENBERG: And you know what it said? It was a statement.

JACKSON: Oh, yeah.

EISENBERG: And it was one of those dark ones.

BIALIK: What was it?

EISENBERG: It was - you only treasure what you've lost.

BIALIK: Oh, no.


COULTON: Oh, my goodness.

EISENBERG: I was like...

COULTON: Thanks for nothing, cookie.


BIALIK: Crappy cookie.

JACKSON: Treasure was lost.

EISENBERG: Yeah. So I took another one, another thing where...

JACKSON: That one didn't count.


EISENBERG: Yeah, I was like - threw it out.

BIALIK: That one said, you're greedy.



EISENBERG: All right. Cheyenne, the world's first amphibious bicycle fitted with flotation devices, meant to be able to operate on land or in water, was introduced in Paris in 1932. But there was one snafu. It did not work on land or in water.


EISENBERG: True or false?

JACKSON: Yeah, I'm going to say true.

EISENBERG: Yeah, that's true. That's true. I believe...

BIALIK: Feels very French.

JACKSON: It does feel very French.



COULTON: All right, Mayim. This is the last one. Beach babe - more like birch babe. In the 1930s, some women headed to the beach in a new bathing suit style made of thin sheets of spruce since it was both practical and buoyant. Real or fake?

BIALIK: I think fake.

COULTON: It is real.

BIALIK: (Laughter) Why?

COULTON: (Laughter) That is real thing. They had to try.

BIALIK: Were we even allowed to go to the beach then?

COULTON: (Laughter).

BIALIK: I don't know if that was legal.

EISENBERG: If you were - if you were wearing a tree-kini (ph)...


EISENBERG: ...Or whatever that was called (laughter).

COULTON: If you're covered in wood - if you're covered in wood structure, yes.

BIALIK: Literally, they hollow it out and you just - your head sticks out...

COULTON: That's exactly right.

BIALIK: ...The top of the tree. And...

COULTON: Basically a hollow log.

EISENBERG: (Laughter) Right.

BIALIK: That would be - OK. You should have said it that way, and I would have been like, true.

COULTON: (Laughter).

EISENBERG: Like, you know how characters in cartoons, when they're bankrupt, they wear barrels?

BIALIK: (Laughter).


EISENBERG: Yeah, it would be like (laughter)...

BIALIK: (Laughter) This is great.

JACKSON: With suspenders (laughter).


EISENBERG: (Laughter) Exactly.

COULTON: This is just a full-body barrel.

BIALIK: This would be a ribbon. A ribbon or a feather. A boa.

EISENBERG: (Laughter) A ribbon. A ribbon.




EISENBERG: If it was uncomfortable for a woman to wear, it was probably real. I think that's the...

BIALIK: (Laughter).

COULTON: That's the rule of thumb.

EISENBERG: (Laughter) The rule of thumb.


EISENBERG: Again, you did fantastic. Thank you so much. Mayim Bialik and Cheyenne Jackson star in the new sitcom "Call Me Kat." Thank you so much for joining us.

BIALIK: Thank you.

JACKSON: Thank you for having us.


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