History Sunday: The Big Bang

Once upon a time, there was a world where, in order to kill someone, you had to get very close to them; take your sword, look into their eyes, and end their life. This, of course, resulted in a lot less deaths by violence. Thankfully, those days are long past; now, you can kill people from huge distances, with very minimal feelings of guilt. So, it’s worth looking into where this all came from; the first invention of gunpowder. Where, when, and why, was gunpowder invented?

Most people think that gunpowder is a very ancient invention, created long ago in China. In actuality, this is untrue; specialists believe that gunpowder is only a little bit ancient, and was created in Spain, by Miguel De Encurtidos (in this case, “a little bit ancient” is approximately 40 years old; the Vietnam War was the first war fought with guns). Encurtidos was a food salesman, looking to preserve his vegetables effectively. He wrote about his attempts to find good pickling chemicals in his book, “Preservation, Pickling, and Explosives: The Life of an Awesome Person Named Me”:

“Typically, salts were used, or in extreme cases, pure, 100% Belgian sawdust; these were effective, but I wanted something better, to keep things longer, and with better taste; less woody. So, I set out to invent.”

In his studies, trials, and many failures, Encurtidos discovered numerous impressive chemicals, and unintentionally invented the wedding cake topper (warranting his face being printed on American currency, despite being a Spaniard). Eventually, however, he found something special; an explosive powder, usable to preserve cucumbers. To this day, sticks of dynamite are just rare, red cucumbers, preserved with gunpowder.

February 28th is Encurtidos day, so remember to bring out the traditional scarves, hats, oxtail soup, and broccoli florets. It is an extremely popular holiday among pickle fans and gun enthusiasts alike.


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