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Dispatches Quick Takes

Quick Takes

(Illustration by Rachel Beatty)

Californian Hawaiian rolls

A New York man has filed a lawsuit against King’s Hawaiian, maker of popular Hawaiian rolls, because the rolls aren’t actually made in Hawaii. Yonkers, N.Y., resident Robert Galinsky said he was surprised to learn in December while reading their packaging that King’s Hawaiian rolls are manufactured in Torrance, Calif., as well as other locations. “Reasonable consumers understand that the term ‘Hawaiian Rolls’ by itself, does not denote a roll made in Hawaii any more than a ‘Moon Pie’ can claim to have been baked on the moon,” the lawsuit alleged. Even so, Galinsky argued, the words “Hilo, Hawaii” on the front of the package are meant to cause customers to believe King’s Hawaiian rolls are still made in that town. Galinsky’s lawsuit seeks unspecified damages and demands that King’s Hawaiian change its labeling.

Explosive sale

A flea market shopper in North Carolina may have gotten more bang for his buck than expected, according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. In a Dec. 28 Twitter message, ATF Charlotte announced it was looking for a hand grenade purchased at the Fancy Flea Antique Mall in Ocean Isle Beach, N.C., on June 13. Store employees originally thought the grenade to be an inert paperweight. “The grenade … may contain materials that could degrade & explode,” the ATF said. In 2019, thrift store employees found a live grenade inside a donated dresser.

Subterranean trove

Workmen laboring in the sewers of Brussels, Belgium, made a startling discovery on Dec. 22. While trying to clear a blockage that fed to the main sewer line, the workmen caught the gleam of two bars of gold in the sewer. Rather than pocket the bars, valued at just under $119,000, the workers turned the property over to authorities. Police in Brussels have launched an investigation to see if the gold can be tied to any robberies in the city. If the owner of the gold bars cannot be found within six months, the workmen will receive a share of the gold.

Snow and fire

Quick thinking by shop owners in Kansas City, Mo., helped preserve their shopping strip from an unlikely source of destruction—a snow globe. A fire started in the New Dime Store on Dec. 22 after sunlight shone through a snow globe, which focused the light like a magnifying glass. The resulting heat was enough to ignite a blaze in Kimberly Harris’ shop. The morning fire occurred before opening hours and quickly spread. Next door, employees of a barbershop phoned authorities and filled trash cans with water to put the fire out. A nearby jewelry store owner used a fire extinguisher to help control the flames.

No good deed untaxed

Distillers across the United States that pitched in to manufacture hand sanitizer after the coronavirus outbreak last year were shocked in December to learn federal bureaucrats in Washington planned to charge them a $14,060 fee for their trouble. Announced in a Dec. 29 notice, the Food and Drug Administration fee, authorized by the CARES Act, collects money from companies selling over-the-counter drug products under looser guidelines. “This incredibly frustrating news comes as a complete shock to the more than 800 distilleries across the country that came to the aid of their local communities and first responders,” said Distilled Spirits Council President Chris Swonger in response to the notice. After a public outcry, officials from the Department of Health and Human services directed the FDA not to enforce the surprise fee, which would otherwise have been due in February.

Flying fans

A ceiling fan manufacturer issued a recall on a popular brand after discovering its fan blades could detach while spinning and cause injuries. The Consumer Product Safety Commission published the recall notice from manufacturer King of Fans on the Hampton Bay–brand, 54-inch Mara ceiling fans on its website on Dec. 23. According to the manufacturer, 182,000 of the black fans were sold in the United States, as well as nearly 9,000 in Canada. The recall came after 47 reports of individual blades flying off of the fan while the flywheel was spinning. Two consumers were hit by the blades, and four others reported property damage.

Virus on ice

The coronavirus pandemic finally reached the world’s coldest continent, Antarctica, in December. Spanish-language media reported three dozen positive cases of COVID-19 among the staff of a Chilean research facility, the General Bernardo O’Higgins Riquelme, stationed on the Antarctic Peninsula. The Chilean government evacuated 26 members of the Chilean army and 10 maintenance workers back to Punta Arenas in Chile’s Patagonia region to receive medical care in non-Antarctic isolation. 

Proof of existence

He can’t drive, he can’t vote, and he can’t get a job. That’s because 18-year-old Devin Ivy has no birth certificate. According to Ivy’s adoptive mother Christine Bence, Ivy was born in Tennessee in 2002 and spent much of his life homeless or in foster care before being adopted by a family in Independence, Mo. Ivy said relatives have told him he was born at home and that no birth certificate was ever issued for him. The Bences hired a lawyer to force the Missouri Bureau of Vital Records to create a birth certificate for Ivy, and in June a Missouri judge ordered the bureau to do so. But as of late December, Ivy was still waiting. A state representative pleaded on Ivy’s behalf, and the bureau now says it is willing to issue a birth certificate if it receives a revised court order with additional information.

Exotic animal ban

Don’t try to bring your emotional support duck, squirrel, or monkey on your next Alaska Airlines flight. Following newly revised guidelines from the Department of Transportation, the airline announced in December it would allow only qualified service dogs to sit with their owners on board its flights. “This regulatory change is welcome news,” said airline spokesman Ray Prentice. Under former federal rules, U.S. travelers have attempted to bring a variety of “emotional support” animals on flights, including a peacock and 80-pound pig.