While you won’t learn any Hollywood secrets or salacious celebrity gossip reading this, you will learn some pretty interesting facts about the state of California. This West Coast state has some pretty weird history dating back to well before it became a state in 1850.
We searched through California’s extensive history to find weird facts and historic events that took place in this state that might not blow your mind — but they’ll at least give you some other information about California besides the fact that it has legal marijuana, celebrities, and a Golden Gate Bridge.
From Sacramento to San Diego, there are tons of weird things you never knew about California. For one, you can leave the LA coroner’s office with goodies. You won’t be able to bring any nuclear weapons to Chico, so leave those at home. Plus, parts of this state are so beautiful they’ve inspired songs. Will its natural beauty inspire you? Check out these 15 weird things you never knew about California.
Although there are several stories as to when and where in the state the fortune cookie was invented, the prevailing one is that Makoto Hagiwara of Golden Gate Park’s Japanese Tea Garden is the first person to ever serve them. The cookies were made by San Francisco bakery Benkyodo. However, a Chinese immigrant named David Jung contested that he invented the cookie in 1918 in Los Angeles. Jung was the founder of the Hong Kong Noodle Company in Los Angeles, and fought the San Francisco’s Court of Historical Review for the title of inventor. He lost.
California avocados are the best, and the city of Fallbrook, which is known for its avocado groves, claims the title of “Avocado Capital of the World.” Fallbrook even hosts an annual avocado festival that draws crowds from all over the planet.
Picturesque Sausalito is right across the bay from San Francisco, and as you can imagine, sitting on one of its docks offers dazzling views of the city.
This Spanish phrase translates to “the River of Our Lady Queen of the Angels of Porciuncula.” The name was eventually shortened to “Los Angeles,” but the original main street can still be visited, with many of its original buildings and cobble stone walkways, downtown on Olvera Street — formerly Calle Olvera.
It’s called Skeletons in the Closet, and in it you can buy clothing, housewares, office supplies, accessories, fake tattoos, and even a 4-D exploded skull. But you can’t buy, like, a severed finger or anything. That would just be gross.
90210, one of the richest zip codes in the world, began as a Spanish lima bean ranch. It started picking up its prestige when Golden Age Hollywood stars Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford bought land there to build their 56-acre estate.
The California grizzly can still be found on the state flag and is still the official state animal of California. Sadly, once the Gold Rush began, the subspecies Ursus arctos californicus was hunted to extinction within a century.
The California state flag features a majestic looking California grizzly named “Monarch.” Monarch the drawing was based on a real bear of the same name who was found in the Ventura Mountains in 1889. He was captured and lived in captivity until his death in San Francisco 22 years later. Monarch, who when alive weighed more than 1,200 pounds, is now a taxidermy item at the California Academy of Sciences in the city where he died.
Even though the rest of the country was facing the Great Depression, San Francisco constructed both the Golden Gate Bridge and the Oakland Bay Bridge during that time.
It’s illegal to “own” or “keep” any “offensive-smelling” animal hides in this California town. In 1984 Chico was also declared a “nuclear-free zone,” meaning that its inhabitants are not allowed to produce, test, maintain, or store nuclear weapons.
The first ever McDonald’s was opened in San Bernardino, California, by Dick and Mac McDonald in 1948. They sold 15-cent hamburgers. Native Chicagoan Ray Kroc acquired the rights to the company in 1961 for $2.7 million and made the brand what it is today.
Literally, the entire thing. According to the U.S. Department of the Interior Bureau of Land Management: “Connecting the Pacific Ocean with the land, the California Coastal National Monument provides unique coastal habitat for marine-dependent wildlife and vegetation on more than 20,000 rocks, islands, exposed reefs and pinnacles along the California coastline, as well as 7,924 acres of public land in six onshore units: Trinidad Head, Waluplh-Lighthouse Ranch, Lost Coast Headlands, Point Arena-Stornetta, Cotoni-Coast Dairies, and Piedras Blancas.”
It’s called “Californium,” and it’s a radioactive rare earth metal and a biological hazard. Neat!
Castroville is known as the “Artichoke Center of the World,” and in 1948, actress and icon Marilyn Monroe was crowned their first ever Artichoke Queen at the Castroville Artichoke Festival. Nowadays you won’t find any celebrities hanging out in Castroville. If you’re looking to spot stars, these are the 35 places in LA where you’re most likely to spot a celebrity.