News of the Week: Crock-Pots, Doomsday Clocks, and Where “Dilly Dilly” Came From (Maybe)

This Is Us?

Slow cooker

We live in a time when a kitchen appliance company has to join social media because a TV drama featured their product starting a fake fire. (By the way, This Is Us spoilers ahead.)

On a recent episode of the hit NBC drama, a kitchen towel caught fire because of a broken Crock-Pot, setting the home of beloved character Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) ablaze. As fans of the show know, Jack dies at some point (though no one knows how yet), and now not only are they upset by that, but they actually think their Crock-Pots are dangerous, so they’re throwing them away.

Let me repeat this: Because of a fictional fire on a TV show, people in real life are throwing away their Crock-Pots. Apparently, this is us now.

The company that makes Crock-Pots had to join Twitter (they weren’t on it until this happened) to tell people that the show is fictional and so was the fire. Dan Fogelman, the show’s creator, had to go on social media to say that not only is the show fictional, but the Crock-Pot in question was really old and broken.

There’s an old saying that any publicity is good publicity, though I don’t think Crock-Pot would agree in this case.

Two Minutes to Midnight

I know that sounds like the title of the latest straight-to-DVD action-thriller, but it’s actually a sign we’re closer to doomsday (Closer to Doomsday could be the sequel).

The atomic scientists in charge of the Doomsday Clock, which isn’t a real clock and is apparently capitalized, have moved it to two minutes from midnight. The scientists take into account a lot of factors when deciding whether to move the hands farther away from (that’s good) or closer to (that’s bad) midnight, such as the current president’s decisions when it comes to dealing with other countries, the U.S. standing as a leader in the world, how the president and other world leaders deal with nuclear war and climate change, and how viewers react to a fictional fire on a TV show.

This is the closest the clock has been to midnight since 1953, when President Truman announced the U.S. had developed the hydrogen bomb in the middle of the Cold War.

Nuts for Nutella

The French love Jerry Lewis, film noir, and … Nutella, apparently. For the past couple of weeks, the citizens of France have been rioting at supermarkets because Nutella has been on sale for up to 70 percent off. I don’t really get it, but here’s the footage.

It’s like Black Friday here in the U.S., only instead of people fighting over TVs and toasters, it’s hazelnut spread.

Where Did “Dilly Dilly” Come From?

I’m sure you’ve seen some of the current TV commercials for Bud Light that take place in an ancient kingdom of kings, queens, and magicians. The phrase from the ads — “Dilly Dilly!” — has become popular. It’s the “Where’s the Beef?” of the early 21st century. I’m pretty sure I’ve said it a couple of times this week. But where did it come from? Is it a real thing, or did the ad creators make it up?

The people at Anheuser-Busch say the phrase has no meaning; it’s just “nonsense and fun,” though the translation seems to be “go for it,” and it can be used as either a salute or a rallying cry.

However, the phrase sounded really familiar to me, and then I remembered the song “Lavender Blue.” I know the version by the band Marillion in the 1980s, but it has also been sung by people like Burl Ives, Dinah Shore, and Sammy Turner, and it was featured in the 2015 Cinderella movie.

Pay close attention to the lyrics.

RIP Mort Walker, Warren Miller, Marlene VerPlanck, Robert Dowdell, John Morris, and Louie Elias

Did you know that Mort Walker’s comic strip Beetle Bailey got its start in the Post in November 1948? The title character was originally named Spider, a slacker college student who thought about going into the Army. Walker died Saturday at the age of 94.

Warren Miller was a filmmaker best known for his films on skiing and other outdoor sports. He died last week at the age of 93.

Marlene VerPlanck was an acclaimed jazz singer who performed with many famous bands and musicians, including Frank Sinatra, Perry Como, and Mel Torme. Her voice could also be heard in thousands of TV commercials over the years for companies such as Michelob (“Weekends were made for Michelob”), Nationwide (“Nationwide is on your side”) and Campbell’s Soup. She died January 14 at the age of 84.

Robert Dowdell was an actor best known for his role as Chip Morton on Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea. He died last week at the age of 85.

John Morris was a composer who did the music for many Mel Brooks movies and The Elephant Man. He also composed the theme to Julia Child’s series The French Chef. He died last week at the age of 91.

Louie Elias was a stuntman and actor who appeared in many films and shows, but is probably best remembered as the guy who jumped from the guard tower on F Troop. He died December 13 at the age of 84.

This Week in History

Fire Kills Three at Cape Kennedy (January 27, 1967)

Three NASA astronauts — Gus Grissom, Ed White, and Roger Chaffee — were to be the crew for Apollo 1, the first of many missions that would eventually land a man on the moon. They were killed by a fire on the launch pad, which started due to an electrical problem. Due to pressure in the cabin, they could not escape.

“We Are the World” Recorded (January 28, 1985)

Many of the top singers and musicians of the ’80s (and, for some reason, Dan Aykroyd) got together after the American Music Awards, left their egos at the door, and recorded the song to help fight the famine in Africa.

This Week in Saturday Evening Post History: Forgot His Briefcase (February 2, 1957)

Forgot His Briefcase
Thornton Utz
February 2, 1957

I should showcase Thornton Utz more often. He’s one of my favorite Post artists and has some great train/bus/car-centric covers, including this one in which a robe-clad wife rushes to get her husband’s briefcase to him before the train pulls away from the station.

New England vs. Philadelphia (Food, That Is)

Has there ever been a more American Super Bowl game than the Patriots vs. the Eagles? Maybe a Patriots/Cowboys matchup would be a close second. The Pats and Eagles met once before, in 2005, so this Sunday’s game is the rematch.

The game is also about food (beyond chips and dip, that is), and there’s always a battle between the two cities in that department, too. For New England fans, here are recipes for American Chop Suey, Clam Chowder, and the classic Boston Cream Pie. If you’re an Eagles fan, how about this authentic Philly Cheese Steak (yes, made with Cheez Whiz), some scrapple, and these Marble Brownies made with Philadelphia Cream Cheese.

The game starts just after 6 p.m. ET, but NBC’s pre-game starts, believe it or not, at noon. If you don’t like football, watch it for the commercials. If neither of those options strikes your fancy, there’s always the Puppy Bowl on Animal Planet.

Next Week’s Holidays and Events

National Boy Scouts Day (February 8)

Chicago publisher William Dickson Boyce started the organization in the United States on this day in 1910. A few months ago, the Boy Scouts announced that they will allow girls into the Cub Scouts.

The Winter Olympics (February 8-25)

Bob Costas won’t be the host of NBC’s coverage this year, but Katie Couric is back at the network and taking his place. She’ll be joined by Mike Tirico for 27,000 hours of skiing, ice skating, luge, and other events. Okay, that time might be an exaggeration, but not by much.

By the way, even if you don’t go to the Olympics, you still have to watch out for scams.