The flower business might seem old-fashioned, but 1-800-FLOWERS is anything but behind the times. In the 1980s, it was one of the first businesses to operate a 1-800 number, taking calls 24 hours a day, seven days a week. And in 1991, during the Gulf War, the company made the risky move of ramping up its television ads on CNN. At the time, other businesses were pulling their ads from the channel, not wanting to be associated with the station's non-stop war coverage. But Jim McCann, president of 1-800-FLOWERS, saw it as an opportunity. He bought 24 ads for the price of one. The Gulf War made CNN the biggest cable new network in the world, and 1-800-FLOWERS reaped the benefits.
Then came the emergence of the internet. McCann launched 1-800-FLOWERS.com in 1995, and the company became the first merchant to sign a contract with AOL. By 1995, well before Google was conceived, 1-800-FLOWERS.com had deals in place with at least 13 other online service providers. And the innovation hasn't stopped. In July 2009, 1-800-FLOWERS.com became the first company to complete an e-commerce transaction entirely on Facebook.
On October 3, 2004, Americans met the ladies of Wisteria Lane -the famously fictional street that's home to TV's Desperate Housewives. In a matter of months, the rest of the world had been introduced to them, too. According to a 2006 survey of 20 countries, the program was the third most-watched TV series in the world, with 120 million viewers. (That's one of out every 55 people on the planet!) But not everyone watches the same cast members. In Latin America alone, there are five separate adaptations; each is a scene-for-scene remake using local actors.
Yet, nothing compares to the impact the show has had in Saudi Arabia. In May 2009, Wikileaks unearthed a diplomatic cable about the program, which reported that it's helped dissuade Saudi youth from radical Islam by giving them a favorable impression of the United States. According to the cable, "Saudis are now very interested in the outside world and everyone wants to study in the U.S. if they can. They are fascinated by U.S. culture in a way they never were before."
In a country where women can't vote, drive, or walk outside without a male guardian, the ladies of Wisteria Lane are showing them that life has more to offer, particularly in the way of drama.
There's a reason why so many grandmas are named Rose and Daisy. During the first half of the 20th century, women were basically expected to name their pink bundle of joy after a flower. But as the nation entered the 1960s, the hippie generation became more interested in planting on vans than using them for baby names. Recently, however, floral names have begun cropping up again.
Watch Modern Family and you'll see Lily; read Us Weekly and you'll hear about Violet Affleck and Iris Law. While Rose has yet to make a full comeback, other flower names are definitely in bloom. Just check out the graph below:
A ROSE BY ANY OTHER NAME
Just as people can be named after flowers, flowers can be named after people. Here are some of our favorite celebrity buds.
Barbra Streisand Rose A notorious diva, Barbra Streisand once said that if a flower were ever named after her, she wanted it to smell good and be disease-resistant. Botanists bred this sweet, purple bloom with a hearty immune system just for her.
Julia Child Rose If you're wondering what sort of mouth-watering qualities land you the Child name, this one's the color of butter and smells of licorice.
Chihuly Rose This rose is fittingly named after Dale Chihuly, the master craftsman who's created some of the world's most colorful and elaborate glass sculptures. The petals of the Chihuly Rose change color with the light, turning from yellow to orange to red.
Dolly Parton Rose This hybrid tea rose has big double blooms, just like its country-crooning namesake.
George Burns Rose In honor of George Burns' 100th birthday in 1996, botanists created a ruffled flower with streaks of red, yellow, pink, and orange. They also gave it a lemony scent, making it as colorful and zesty as the comedian himself.
Jackson and Perkins, the iconic rose-peddling company, will allow anyone to name a new rose variety after themselves. All it requires is a small fee of $75,000.
(Title image credit: Flickr user Bart Everson)
_______________________The article above, written by David Goldenberg and Adam K. Raymond, is reprinted with permission from the Scatterbrained section of the July-August 2011 issue of mental_floss magazine. Get a subscription to mental_floss and never miss an issue!
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