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Grim's Grub: Heads-up! For this history lesson on flying disks

The age-old pastime of throwing a disk and its modern iterations might surprise you

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There's nothing new about throwing round disks back and forth. There is simply something fascinating about the way a spinning, flat disk can cruise over invisible air currents, sometimes going up, sometimes going down, but always flying farther than most objects the same size would.

The physics of the Frisbee are much like an airplane wing. Because the top of a Frisbee is curved, the air on top travels a greater distance than that on the bottom, being forced to pass over the top at a higher speed and lower force than the air on the bottom of the Frisbee.

The spin you add keeps the disk flying level instead of tilting, turning and diving directly into the ground.

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Disks likely used the same as a Frisbee go back far into prehistory. Everyone knows of the Greeks throwing discus, but few might realize indigenous groups, including indigenous American tribes, had disks of a similar sort.

As for the official Frisbee, that refers to a specific brand of disk technically, sort of like how all facial tissue is called Kleenex nowadays.

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The toy company Wham-O is the original maker of the Frisbee. This company also produced the Hula Hoop, Slip 'N Slide, Super Ball, Hacky Sack and more.

It was in 1957 that the first plastic Wham-O Frisbees started rolling off production lines. The company obviously didn't come up with the idea themselves. Aside from the aforementioned historical origins, Wham-O was inspired by metal disks popularized by students at Yale.

Students there had started playing games of catch with disks of metal, and from there, the trend spread through the United States.

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Wham-O's disk started from an attempt by inventors Walter Frederick Morrison and Warren Franscioni to improve upon Yale's metal disks to make them more durable and aerodynamic. They called their disk the "Flying Saucer" in 1948.

Eventually the pair split and Morrison adapted the disk again before selling his design to Wham-O, who initially marketed it as the "Pluto Platter."

Both these original names were designed to fascinate the country, which was then obsessed with the 1947 Roswell, New Mexico, "UFO crash."

Only a year later, Wham-O renamed the disk the Frisbee, which was just a new spelling of the disks thrown by the Yale students.

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Photo illustration / Shutterstock.com

This might not seem to have a lot to do with food, but that's where you might be wrong. When Yale students popularized the Frisbee, they spelled it "Frisbie" because that's how it was printed on the disks. They had ample metal disks because they came free with the purchase of a pie from the Frisbie Pie Company, a company founded in the 1870s by Russel Frisbie, of Warren, Connecticut.

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In the 1940s, the Frisbie Pie Company was growing in popularity in Connecticut, though not necessarily anywhere else. Yale students relished these pies and they quickly discovered that after you ate the pastry, you could wash off the pie tin and play catch with it.

The company wanted their name to be the last thing their customers saw when they finished their pie, so they printed "Frisbies Pies" on the bottom of every tin. As a result, it became common practice for the Yale students who popularized the pastime to yell "Frisbie" when they threw it.

The Yale students' enthusiasm for flying disks eventually grew into whole new recreational activities, including Ultimate Frisbee, Frisbee golf and more.

And it all started with pie.

Debbie Grimler's Two Crust Pie

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Photo illustration / Shutterstock.com

  • 2 cups sifted flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cups lard
  • 1/4 cup cold water

Combine the dry ingredients and then cut together the dry ingredients and lard, adding a little water at a time until the flour is moistened. Press the dough into a ball. Don't overwork or get the dough too warm. Divide the ball in half and roll out the bottom, then the top, for your pie.

Dorothy Rollins' No Roll Pie Crust

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  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 2/3 cup oil
  • 3 tablespoons milk

Combine the dry ingredients in a pie tin. In a separate container, combine the milk and oil and whip it together. Pour this into the dry ingredients in the pie tin and mix. Set aside 1/3 of the dough, then press the remainder into the tin to cover the bottom and sides. Crumble the remaining 1/3 over the top of your filling to make the top crust.

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Cracker Crust, Savory or Sweet

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  • 1 1/2 cups finely crushed crackers — graham crackers for sweet fillings, saltines or Fritos corn chips for savory
  • 3 tablespoons sugar (exclude for savory crust)
  • 1/3 cup melted butter

Combine the ingredients in a mixing bowl before putting them into a pie tin and shaping it to cover the bottom and sides of the tin. Bake the crust for 10 minutes at 350 degrees before cooling and filling.
The sweet crust will work well for any traditional fruit pie. The saltine variety will work well, split in four, for savory pot pies such as chowders with the top crust made using the No Roll Pie Crust recipe. Fritos corn chips will combine well with chili in a pot pie.

Travis' Homemade Chili Pot Pie Crust

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  • 1 cup masa harina
  • 2 tablespoons flaxseed oil
  • 1/2 cup (4 ounces) water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1 1/2 cups of your favorite chili, divided in half

Combine the dry ingredients to make a ball of dough. Cut the dough in half, then cut approximately 1/3 of each of these off. Roll the larger sections into a circle large enough to line the bottom of a 5-inch pot pie tin. Roll the smaller sections into rounds to fit the top of the tin.

These crusts, topped with just a touch of cheddar cheese, make a great crust for a chili pot pie. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Travis Grimler is a staff writer for the Pineandlakes Echo Journal weekly newspaper in Pequot Lakes/Pine River. He may be reached at 218-855-5853 or travis.grimler@pineandlakes.com.

Travis Grimler began work at the Echo Journal Jan. 2 of 2013 while the publication was still split in two as the Pine River Journal and Lake Country Echo. He is a full time reporter/photographer/videographer for the paper and operates primarily out of the northern stretch of the coverage area (Hackensack to Jenkins).
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