Here are some Brooklyn-centric excepts from Park Slope author and not-so-minor TV celebrity John Hodgman’s new compendium of human knowledge, “More Information Than You Require” (Dutton Books):
THE SWEAT HOG
We now use this term as shorthand for any Brooklyn public-high-school student who exclusively fraternizes with kids outside his own racial, class or ethnic grouping. (Of course, this does not happen. But wouldn’t it be hilarious if it did? And what if you had to teach a group of such kids? And they were constantly climbing in your window and staring at your wife and baby? They are going to make a movie about this, mark my words.) But back in the old days of Brooklyn Ethnic Hill neighborhood, a “sweat hog” actually referred to a hearty pork dumpling boiled in beef sweat.
Most agree it was first played on the sepia-colored streets of the Nostalgia Park neighborhood. Using only rudimentary equipment, stickball’s rules were fluid and varied widely from block to block. The only agreed constant was that each team must field at least two newsies; one bully who ends up having a heart of gold; one hapless fat kid; one sweat hog; and one feeble, dreamy, sickly child who would not actually participate in the game but instead would write Broadway plays about it later.
THE ICE-CREAM CONE
Brooklyn invented beer. But when the Germans stole all of Brooklyn’s beer and hid it in Wisconsin, Brooklyn was left with a problem: What to do with all the beer cones? Beer had been enjoyed in both waffle and wafer cones in Brooklyn for centuries. Now, with the surplus of cones, a scrappy, picturesque, cobblestoned Brooklynite named Norman Mailer came up with a bright idea. Why not freeze egg creams and serve them in the cones as a Coney Island treat and then punch people? After a while, this simple recipe was refined: Milk and eggs were added, punching was reduced, and the “ice-cream cone” was born.