The origins of ChicagoБs famous nickname are not entirely clear. The most obvious explanation is that it comes from the frigid breezes that blow off Lake Michigan and sweep through the cityБs streets. However, another popular theory holds that it was coined in reference to ChicagoБs bloviating residents and politicians, who were deemed to be Бfull of hot air. Б Proponents of the БwindbagБ view usually cite an 1890 article by New York Sun newspaper editor Charles Dana. At the time, Chicago was competing with New York to host the 1893 WorldБs Fair (Chicago eventually won), and Dana is said to have cautioned his readers to ignore the Бnonsensical claims of that windy city. Б Dana is often credited with popularizing the БWindy CityБ moniker, yet according to David WiltonБs book БWord Myths: Debunking Linguistic Urban Legends,Б researchers have never managed to find his original article. Many now dismiss it as a myth. Even if DanaБs editorial does exist, itБs unlikely that either he or the WorldБs Fair debate were responsible for popularizing ChicagoБs nickname.
Etymologist Barry Popik, a longtime researcher of the Windy City question, has uncovered evidence that the name was already well established in print by the 1870sБseveral years before Dana. Popik also dug up references showing that it functioned as both a literal reference to ChicagoБs windy weather and a metaphorical jab at its supposedly boastful citizenry. Many of the citations are found in newspapers from other Midwest cities, which were in a rivalry with Chicago over who was the regionБs main metropolis. For example, an 1876 headline in the Cincinnati Enquirer used the phrase БThat Windy CityБ in reference to a tornado that swept through Chicago. БThe Cincinnati Enquirer s use is clearly double-edged,Б Popik told the Chicago Tribune in 2006. БThey used the term for windy speakers who were full of wind, and there was a wind-storm in Chicago. It s both at once. Б Since Chicago had previously used its lake breezes to promote itself as a summertime vacation spot, Popik and others conclude that the БWindy CityБ name may have started as a reference to weather and then taken on a double meaning as the cityБs profile rose in the late-19th century.
Interestingly, although Chicago may have gotten its nickname in part because of its fierce winds, itБs not the breeziest town in the United States. In fact, meteorological surveys have often rated the likes of Boston, New York and San Francisco as having higher average wind speeds.
Following a big win in the Super Bowl, World Series, NBA Finals, or any other major sporting event, fans want to get their hands on championship merchandise as quickly as possible. To meet this demand and cash in on the wallet-loosening \”WeБre #1\” euphoria, manufacturers and retailers produce and stock two sets of T-shirts, hats and other merchandise that declare each team the champ. Apparel for the winning team quickly fills clothing racks and gets tossed to players on the field.
But what happens to the losing team\’s clothing? The Philadelphia Eagles\’ historic first Super Bowl win on February 4 means that boxes of \”winning\” shirts emblazoned with the New England Patriots\’ logos are destined for charity. б Good360, a charitable organization based in Alexandria, Virginia, handles excess consumer merchandise and distributes it to those in need overseas. The losing team\’s apparelБusually shirts, hats, and sweatshirtsБwill be held in inventory locations across the U. S. Following the game, Good360 will be informed exactly how much product is available and will then determine where the goods can best be of service. Good360 chief marketing officer Shari Rudolph tells Mental Floss there\’s no exact count just yet. But in the past, the merchandise has been plentiful. Based on strong sales after the Chicago BearsБs 2007 NFC Championship win, for example, Sports Authority printed more than 15,000 shirts proclaiming a Bears Super Bowl victory well before the game even started. And then the Colts beat the Bears, 29-17. б Good360 took over the NFL\’s excess goods distribution in 2015.
For almost two decades prior, an international humanitarian aid group called World Vision collected the unwanted items for MLB and NFL runners-up at its distribution center in Pittsburgh, then shipped them overseas to people living in disaster areas and impoverished nations. After losing Super Bowl XLIII in 2009, Arizona Cardinals gear was sent to children and families in El Salvador. In 2010, after the New Orleans Saints defeated Indianapolis, the Colts gear printed up for Super Bowl XLIV was sent to earthquake-ravaged Haiti. In 2011, after Pittsburgh lost to the Green Bay Packers, the Steelers Super Bowl apparel went to Zambia, Armenia, Nicaragua, and Romania. Fans of the Super Bowl team that comes up short can take heart: At least the spoils of losing will go to a worthy cause. An earlier version of this story appeared in 2009. Additional reporting by Jake Rossen. All images courtesy of World Vision, unless otherwise noted.