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FAQ, Trivia and Information on Life in America: Ask-A-Desi

This section will attempt to address some of the Frequently Asked Questions on Life in the US, Canada and North America that immigrants, visitors and others from different cultures attempt to address. If you have any additional inputs or wish  to see more topics addressed, mail us at

In This section of Ask-a-desi, we present a few factoids on retail and consumerism, on some of the best known American brands. The stories we cover include Wal-Mart : The Departmental Store // Burger King whopper // Dr Pepper - A Love Story // Story of Breakfast Cereal // Bread Pack Color Tags

Retail and Consumerism

Wal-Mart : The Departmental Store

Sam Walton founded and built Wal-Mart - the largest retail sales chain in the United States, revolutionizing the retail business in the process.

Sam Walton Born in Kingfish, Oklahoma, in 1918, Walton graduated from the University of Missouri in 1940 with a degree in economics. He began his retail career as a management trainee at a J.C Penny department store, and later managed a group of retail franchise stores with his brother.

In 1962 he opened the first "Wal-Mart" discount store in Rogers, Arkansas. Wal-Mart became a national chain of stores in small towns and rural areas, offering low prices supported by high-volume purchases. His stores were so successful that many local merchants were forced to close their doors because of the competition.


Walton's leadership and celebrated hands-on management style made Wal-Mart the nation's largest retailer by the early 1990s, with more than 1700 stores nationwide. SAM'S CLUB - Wal-Mart's 'wholesale' younger brother opened in April 1983 in Midwest City, Okla. Walton served as Wal-Mart's president and CEO until 1988. He died of cancer on 5 April 1992.

Wal-Mart Sam's Club
  • As a child during the depression, Walton helped with family finances by delivering newspapers and milking cows.
  • During World War II, Walton served as a US Army intelligence officer.
  • Walton began computerizing Wal-Mart operations as early as 1966.
  • Walton was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in March 1992 by President George Bush, Sr., who referred to him as "an American original who epitomizes the American dream ".
  • From 1987, Wal-Mart has a Satellite Network (largest private satellite communication system in the U.S.) completed, linking all operating units of company and General Office with 2-way voice, data and one-way video communication.

Why are the numbers 1 through 12 printed on the wrappers of a Burger King whopper?

Actually the same digits appear on all Burger King sandwiches, not just burgers, and they are all printed for the same reason: to make sure that the sandwiches are fresh. The numbers correspond to the numbers on clock's face. After a sandwich is cooked and wrapped, one of the twelve numbers is slashed with a nontoxic grease pencil. But the slash refers not to the hour at which the burger was cooked, but to where the minute hand of the clock is at the point the sandwich is wrapped. For example, if a hamburger with cheese is wrapped at ten minutes after the hour, the '2' is marked (because the minute hand has just hit the 2).
    @ Burger King You Got It!

    Burger King's policy is to allow a sandwich to sit out for a maximum of ten minutes. So any sandwich left in the bins are discarded.

    (In our example, the burger would be thrown away after the minute hand reached 4).

    Of course Burger King has long attempted to distinguish itself from other fast food franchises by allowing the customer to have their burgers 'your way'. "Have it your way" was a popular ad jingle of Burger King for long time 


During peak periods (in most locations, peak is lunch time hours, from noon till two), sandwiches are prepared continuously and will be sold to customers within a minute or two. During non-peak periods, food is prepared virtually to order based on previous sales demand at that hour, but a few of the most popular sandwiches, burgers are prepared in advance in order to expedite service.By the way,  Burger King's new slogan is: @ BURGER KING, YOU GOT IT!™

Do you know how did "Dr Pepper" get its name?

Here's an interesting trivia: What's your favorite soft-drink? Coke? Diet-Coke? Pepsi? Sprite? Fanta? or, Dr Pepper?

Dr Pepper - A Love Story

Dr Pepper - a soft drink. Dr Pepper - What's behind a name? Was there ever a real Dr.Pepper?

Yes, there was a real one. Dr. Charles Pepper owned a drug store in Rural Retreat, Virginia, and employed a young pharmacist names Wade Morrison.

Unfortunately for Wade, Dr.Pepper wasn't too happy when a romance blossommed between his attractive daughter and the young pharmacist. Pepper wanted to 'nip it in the bud' and thus dejected Morrison moved to Waco, Texas and opened Morrison's Old Corner Drug store there.

Morrison hired Charles Alderton, a young English pharmacist, whose duties included tending the store's soda fountain. Alderton noticed the waning interest of his customers in the usual fruit-flavored soft drinks and decided to blend several fruit flavors himself. Alderton finally hit upon a concoction that satisfied Morrison and his taste buds. The new drink became very popular at the store. But what about a name for it?

Morrison never forgot his thwarted romance and often spoke fondly of Dr.Pepper's daughter. Patrons of his soda fountain heard of the affair, and one of them jokingly suggested naming their new fountain drink after the Virginia doctor, thinking it would gain his favor. The new drink became known as Dr Pepper; it gained widespread favor. In fact Dr Pepper today is the oldest major soft drink brand (featured in National Food fair in 1904). Morrison made a fortune and in that sense wreaked some revenge on the real Dr.Charles Pepper.

But did Morrison eventually marry Miss Pepper?

No. Unfortunately not :-(

Story of Breakfast Cereal

This write-up was submitted by two young readers of 'Let us know US' - Surabhi and Suvrat, 5th grade and 3rd grade respectively, from Itasca,IL.

Interesting story about how Kelloggs, the world famous cereal was founded...

Corn-flakes Born in Battle Creek

Mother knows Kelloggs Best!

One night in the nineteenth century, Ellen Gould White, in her dream, met God. God told her that people should lead sinless, healthy lives, and refrain from using tobacco, eating meat, and drinking coffee, tea and liquor. The dream had such an impact on Miss White that she founded the Health Reform Institute at Battle Creek, Michigan.

Guests were served grain and nut croquettes in place of meat and a cereal-based beverage as a substitute for coffee. The latter was concocted by Charles W. Post, who called it “Postum.” He also created a dry breakfast cereal he called “Elijah’s Manna.” People liked the taste but not the name, and Post changed it to Grape-Nuts.


Another person at the Institute was Dr. W.K Kellogg. Primarily to help one of his patients who had broken her false teeth, he made crisp flakes of ground corn. The doctor named them “Corn Flakes” and went on to open the “Kellogg” cereal company.

Kelloggs' Cereal-City in Battle Creek,MI

Cereal box mascots - Tusk the Elephant represented Kellogg's Cocoa Krispies in 1971, and lived on the box front for ten years. Tusk was more scholarly than previous cartoon characters, and wore glasses.

In 1963, Kellogg's launched a new cereal, Froot Loops, and introduced cereal character Toucan Sam. The colorful toucan talked in Pig Latin (called "Toucanese") and wore a towering hat of fruit. While Sam still graces boxes of Froot Loops, he's gone through many changes since his debut, including dropping the Pig Latin and hat.

Tony the Tiger, cartoon mascot of Kellogg's Frosted Flakes since the early 1950s, was called “Tom-Tom the Tiger” in the island nation of Grenada.

Bread Pack Color Tags

You know this? Good -> Better -> Best; Bread -> Butter -> Toast!

When you go to buy bread in the grocery store, have you ever wondered which is the freshest, so you "squeeze" for freshness or softness. Did you know that bread is delivered fresh to the stores five days a week? Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. And each day has a different color twist tie. They are:

Monday - Blue
Tuesday - Green
Thursday - Red
Friday - White
Saturday - Yellow

The colors go alphabetically by color Blue - Green - Red - White - Yellow, Monday thru Saturday. Very easy to remember...

The Color Code System

Most of the bread you'll find on U.S. supermarket shelves arrives housed in plastic wrappers closed by colored twist tags or plastic tabs. The tabs serve a purpose besides aiding in keeping the bread fresh once everyone in the family is diving into the loaf -- their colors provide a quick visual reference to the people whose job it is to recycle the stock by removing older loaves while loading the shelves with fresh product. Bread is not kept on the shelf for longer than a couple of days. it's those colored twist tags that make this recycling of stock practical -- because of them, the restocker has an easy time recognizing which loaves have to be taken away.

Good Better Best Bread Butter Toast

Those tags assist mightily in your never getting stuck with an older loaf, even if you're not much of a bread squeezer. In the absence of the color cues, some of the older product might be overlooked by a harried clerk trying to read one tiny "Best Before" date after another. (By the by, some of these tags actually do have such dates printed on them, and in those cases the date does represent the date the bread is to be removed from the store, not the date it was baked on.) As it is, shoppers should never encounter more than two colors of tags on the shelf at any time for any one brand of bread: that of the most recent delivery and that of the one just before it. This will sometimes work out to being today's and yesterday's bakings, but there will generally be two days a week when no bread is delivered, thus a three-day spread will be represented by the two colors at stores that receive delivery only five times a week instead of seven.

Is the color code quoted in the example applicable to every breadmaker's product? No, because there are different manufacturers out there, and each of them uses its own system -- there's no industry-wide standard. The code explained might or might not be the right one for the brand you're after. Also, the schedule quoted above (fresh bread delivered every day except Wednesday and Sunday) doesn't hold true in every area. Different stores can be on different rotations, and even within the same store some brands will be coming in five times a week, while others arrive seven days a week.

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Trivia and Questions for Indians and Immigrants in America

General Trivia : Introduction //Dollars and Cents // Social Security Number // About Mail and USPS // Story of The Old Glory // Green Card– Why Not Green? // Telephone Area Codes // Convex Mirrors and Caution // Bankruptcy and Chapter 11 // Radio and TV Broadcasting // Consumerism: Trivia on Wal-Mart. // Retail Trivia // Gas Prices– What's 0.9 Cent? // Roads and Interstate Highways // Road Driving Trivia // Finance 101 // Daylight Saving Time // Trivia on Etiquette

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