Plus: A housing chart, NASA fashion, doll memes, and more.
A Polish scientific institute added domestic cats to the country’s “invasive alien species” list. The country’s cat lovers are up in arms, but it does kinda explain the whole nine-lives thing.
In today’s email:
RIP: Choco Taco, 1983-2022.
Chart: Is a housing boom bad for realtors?
NASA: But make it fashion.
Around the web: Doll memes, personalized weblinks, how to support employees, and more cool internet finds.
🎧 On the go? Listen to today’s podcast to hear Zack and Rob remember the life and legacy of the Choco Taco, discuss Shopify’s layoffs and McDonald’s price increases, and more.
The big idea
Choco Taco, an ice cream truck staple, dies at 39
Some trace its roots back to a 1924 song called “Choco in My Taco.” Others believe it was created by Taco Bell.
But ask the man behind the creation, and you’ll find the real origin story is even crazier.
Alan Drazen, inventor of the Choco Taco, toldEater, “I was on an expedition in Mexico and got separated from my party. It was hot. I hadn’t had anything to drink. And then I saw a mirage. An ice cream taco, rising out of the distance. That’s how I got the idea.”
After four decades atop the novelty ice cream heap, Drazen’s creation has been discontinued to make room for new options, according to The Takeout.
Born in 1983…
… the Choco Taco enjoyed a quaint childhood spent primarily in ice cream trucks. It wasn’t until 1989, when Unilever acquired the license to its distribution and manufacturing, that it really took off.
The move placed Choco Taco in ~20k-30k convenience store freezers (which eventually grew to ~120k freezers across warehouse stores and supermarkets).
It also led to a partnership with Taco Bell, which popularized the treat at thousands of locations across the country.
The Choco Taco…
… will be remembered for its explosive flavor and unique mouthfeel. Its multi-layered construction ensured every bite contained ice cream, cone, nuts, and chocolate. Within a category literally called “novelties,” the Choco Taco was truly novel.
While the taco will be sorely missed, its influence lives on through devoted disciples who have added their own twist to the legendary dessert, including Canon in Seattle and Dom’s Creamery in Connecticut.
After the bell: Google and Microsoft missed earnings estimates, and both named currency fluctuations due to the strengthening dollar as a contributing factor. Both stocks were up in extended trading.
Shellacked: Instagram head Adam Mosseri tweeted a video explaining the app’s TikTok-style updates following backlash from users. A petition to “Make Instagram Instagram Again” now has 160k+ sign-ups.
Walmart worries: Walmart shares dropped after the company slashed its profit expectations for the year, citing inflation and a pullback on discretionary spending.
Metapurse: Meta is raising the prices for the Quest 2, its flagship VR headset, by $100 starting in August as pressure builds to see a return on the company’s metaverse investments.
Shopify layoffs: The Canadian ecommerce giant is laying off ~10% of its 10k-person staff, with CEO Tobi Lutke citing a bet on post-pandemic shopping trends that “didn’t pay off.”
Nope, Jordan Peele’s sci-fi horror thriller, pulled in $44m at the box office in its first weekend, falling shy of projections. Despite the miss, analysts say it was a strong opening for an original R-rated film.
Self-storage’s hotter cousin: Now, more than ever, handymen, contractors, and ecommerce outfits need small bay warehouses. Access Trends’ research report on the lucrative real estate trend.
Why a housing boom is bad for most real estate agents
From January 2020 to January 2022, the number of real estate agents in the US increased from 1.38m to 1.53m.
The gain was 3x as large as the increase in the prior two-year period, and there are now more US agents than ever — 1.57m, as of June.
The draw of an expensive housing market was an obvious lure. But many who jumped in discovered a surprising truth: Splashy seller’s markets don’t lead to greater success for most agents.
We spoke to economists, as well as agents from Atlanta, Tennessee, Austin, and Minnesota to understand why.
People who aren’t astronauts love wearing NASA stuff. You’ll find it at H&M and Urban Outfitters, and on celebs like Dua Lipa, Chris Evans, and Ariana Grande (who has a song titled “NASA”).
But where does it all come from?
When Coach released a line of NASA apparel in 2017, the space agency allowed the use of its old “worm” logo (1975-92) for the first time since it was retired, perCNN.
Since then, NASA-branded merch has skyrocketed, according to Bert Ulrich, who oversees the use of NASA’s logos.
Ulrich told CNN that, prior to 2017, he received ~5-10 logo approvals a week. Now, it’s ~225, and 2021 saw a record 11k+ requests.
But why is it so popular?
For brands, it’s free. NASA is a government agency, so many of its assets are in the public domain. They do have to request approval, though, and there are rules — for example, NASA won’t eff with NFTs.
For customers, space is cool and NASA has broad appeal. Even before the trend, fashionistas were hunting down vintage T-shirts at thrift stores.
BTW: Feeling fancy? You could try to find a puffer jacket or fanny pack from Balenciaga’s NASA capsule collection. They’re $$$, but cheaper than Virgin Galactic’s $450k space tour.
AROUND THE WEB
🐇 On this day: In 1940, Bugs Bunny made his debut in the Warner Bros. cartoon “A Wild Hare.”
🧠 Useful:Refind will send you seven links every day, tailored to your interests.
🕵 That’s interesting: SmithsonianMagazine takes a closer look at the “We need an American Girl doll who…” meme.
🧑💻 How to: The Great Resignation saw 47.4m employees leave their jobs in 2021. Here’s how to support your remaining employees picking up the slack.