July 26

July 26 is the 207th day of the year (208th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 158 days remaining until the end of the year.
1895 Married today: Pierre Curie and Marie Skłodowska Curie.
1950 Jim Russell, of the Brooklyn Dodgers, became the first player in Major League Baseball to hit two home runs while batting from opposite sides of the plate. The St. Louis Cardinals were playing the Dodgers at Ebbets Field, in Flatbush, Brooklyn, New York. In the bottom of the first inning, while batting right-handed, Russell hit a two-run homer off the Cardinals’ Harry Brecheen, driving in Bobby Morgan from third. In the fifth inning, while batting left-handed, Russell hit a one-run homer off Red Munger. The Dodgers won the game 7–5.
1974 Aspartame artificial sweetener was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Objections were raised about its safety, and the FDA issued a stay on December 5, 1975 after which followed several more years of tests, studies and scrutiny. Finally, it was approved on October 22, 1981 for permitted uses that included in candy, tablets, breakfast cereals, instant coffee and tea, gelatines, and chewing gum, among others. Years earlier, in December 1965, while working on an ulcer drug, James M. Schlatter had made the discovery that a mixture of two amino acids, aspartic acid and phenylalamine, had a sweet taste. By weight it was about 200 times sweeter than sugar, with very few calories. G.D. Seale marketed it as NutraSweet, a low-calorie artificial sweetener without the bitter aftertaste of saccharin.
1979 On July 25–26, 1979, Tropical Storm Claudette stalled over Alvin, Texas, and dropped 45 inches (114 cm) of rain in 42 hours. That total included 43 inches (109 cm) in 24 hours, the highest 24-hour rainfall in United States history.
2004 Died today: William A. Mitchell (October 21, 1911–July 26, 2004, age )

Mitchell was the American food scientist who invented Pop Rocks candy, Cool Whip, the orange drink mix Tang, and quick-set Jell-O Gelatin. He developed a tapioca substitute during WWII since tapioca itself was limited in supply. For 35 years, he worked worked as a chemist for General Foods Corporation, and held more than 70 patents. Pop Rocks—exploding candy—was patented in 1956, but not marketed until 1975. Its novelty quickly caught the public’s attention. It was an accidental discovery while experimenting to produce an instant soft drink. It is a hard candy manufactured by pressurizing carbon dioxide at 600 PSI in a candy syrup at 150 °C. When cooled and solidified it traps small pockets of carbon dioxide that “explode” in a person’s mouth.

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