Friday / Weekend Open Lines

Friday, January 22nd.  Many sumptuous foods get their day — or month — in the sun by way of some commemoration. But even very basic, traditional and unexciting foods get a salute. For example, this is National Oatmeal Month, recognizing the long-term favorite for its up-to-date health characteristics — low fat, no sodium, and the ability to help lower the risk of heart disease. Oatmeal also fits today’s time pressures, since a bowl can be made in seconds in the microwave. And, of course, oatmeal cookies are among the nation’s favorites. Oatmeal and other cereal uses of oats are greatly utilized by America’s 69 breakfast-food production firms. The industry employs around 13,500 people, with annual sales of $11 billion. You can find more facts about America’s people, places and economy, from the American Community Survey, at <>.

Saturday, January 23rd. An innovation in product packaging — and a staple of TV advertising — is having its 81st anniversary tomorrow: Beer Can Appreciation Day. The first canned beer went on sale on January 24, 1935 as a marketing test in Richmond, Virginia, by the Gottfried Krueger Brewing Company of Newark, New Jersey. Experiments with putting beer in cans had taken place as early as 1909 but the technology of the time couldn’t stop the beer from interacting negatively with the metal of the can. Prohibition delayed further development. By the late 1960s, canned beer sales exceeded that for bottled beer. There are more than 1,560 breweries in the U.S., employing up to 31,000 people in a nearly $32 billion per year craft. You can find more facts about America from the U.S. Census Bureau online at <>.

Sunday, January 24th. An accidental discovery at a construction site on this date in 1848 changed the course of U.S. history. James Marshall was building a sawmill for his boss, John Sutter, near Coloma, California, when he found gold. The pair tried to keep the discovery secret, but word got out, and by the following year, the famous Gold Rush was on, drawing some 100,000 fortune-seekers to the California territory. About $2 billion of gold was mined during the rush, which spurred construction of railroads and hastened statehood for California. While the 49er image is long gone, about 200,000 workers at more than 6,400 establishments in the U.S. still make their living by mining metals, minerals and ores. The value of gold mined in America is over $12 billion annually.  Profile America is in its19th year as a public service of the U.S. Census Bureau.