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The Great War Invention

The Puzzler


TOM: I got it! They invented the boutonniere! Now, how did that benefit mankind? Think about all the proms that you have gone to bare-chested!

RAY: That's right.

TOM: Wow! The boutonniere, hunh? Am I right?

RAY: Close!

TOM: Well, it wasn't the whoopee cushion.

RAY: Well, what they discovered was, they discovered something that aided the war effort, and they knew, as most military students knew, that the greatest cause of fatalities in warfare is not the actual gunshot wound, but it's the ensuing infection. In fact, most people die on the battlefield because they get a minor wound but a major infection, and the infection kills them.

TOM: Yeah.

RAY: And the work they took up had been started in the '20s by a Scotsman named Alexander Fleming, I believe.

TOM: How well we know him!

RAY: And what he had discovered by accident was penicillin. But he could never do anything with it because he couldn't develop a strain of it that was reproducible. But these guys had, and when they had the penicillin mold, rather than carrying it in little petri dishes, they decided that if they were apprehended by Nazis...

TOM: They rubbed it on their clothes.

RAY: They had it on their clothes so that when they got to America, they could do a little scraping. And that's in fact what they did, and, of course, it saved many lives. It allowed soldiers who got wounded to go back in and get killed.

TOM: Now, wait a minute. If they were going to do that...

RAY: Yes.

TOM: And rub it on their clothes, it was going to smell bad, probably. Why didn't they...

RAY: Scientists always smell bad.

TOM: But why didn't they go through France? Then no one would have noticed!

RAY: They would have, but France, unfortunately, was not a neutral country.

TOM: Was occupied at the time.

RAY: But the hint I had given last week was chicken soup, which everyone knows is Jewish penicillin.

TOM: Oh! Of course! I didn't get that hint.

RAY: Well, I knew you didn't, because you didn't get anything! You didn't remember anything!

TOM: Whoopee cushion and the boutonniere were my two guesses.

RAY: Do we have a winner at least?

TOM: We do, wow! Yeah. Get this, the winner is--what a coincidence!--the winner is Malaise Lindenfeld.

RAY: No kidding?

TOM: Malaise!

RAY: How apropos!

TOM: What a strange name! She's from Coconut Grove, Florida.

[ Car Talk Puzzler ]

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