Muffled Out

Jun 13, 1998

RAY: Now, my brother suggested this puzzler because I guess he didn't like last week's puzzler.

TOM: No. I thought last week's puzzler was awesome.

RAY: Aussies.

TOM: The only difficulty in my suggesting puzzlers is next week when you say to me 'do you remember the puzzler,' it will be extra embarrassing to say that I don't.

RAY: No, no, no. You're co-conspirator here. Catherine Imelda Ray Marcos here will be able to remember it.

TOM: No. She's given up on me.

RAY: Why.

TOM: She has been banned, she hasn't given me an answer for weeks.

RAY: Really.

TOM: Yeah. I stopped paying her off. I couldn't afford it. It was costing me ten bucks a week to get the answer.

RAY: Really. I offered her twenty and she wouldn't... I don't remember them. You do it. Go ahead.

TOM: All right. I remember it. I remember it.

RAY: It's union rules. I get a week off every 54 years.

TOM: Sure. Here you go. Everyone has heard of companies that go out of business because they were trying to make buggy whips, which is a euphemism for 'the technology surpassed them.' And all the companies --

RAY: Left in the dust so to speak.

TOM: That in fact did make buggy whips, of course, all went out of business. Not all, but 99.9% percent of them went out of business when cars came along because you didn't need buggy whips anymore. But there was a company that you wouldn't think would have gone out of business.

RAY: Really? Do tell.

TOM: I saw an ad. I was looking through a book the other day, and I saw an ad for the Scott Muffler Company which was a thriving company in 1919. The Scott Muffler Company.

RAY: And that was just about the time that cars were coming into their own.

TOM: Cars were. You would think that that company would flourish during the next decade.

RAY: That you'd think that cars and the Scott muffler would kind of dovetail so to speak.

TOM: You would think so.

RAY: Couldn't miss, right?

TOM: And yet, the Scott Muffler Company fell victim to the buggy whip syndrome and went out of business in the following decade.

RAY: No kidding.

TOM: And the question becomes how come is that?


RAY: What technology was it that put them out of business?

TOM: I mean cars still have mufflers. They've had mufflers from Day 3 up until now. The reason that The Scott Muffler Company went out of business is they didn't make mufflers that go underneath the car.

RAY: No?

TOM: Because in 1919 cars --

RAY: They made rooftop mufflers.

TOM: They didn't have any heaters in cars, and they were selling scarves.

RAY: Oh, those kinds of mufflers.

TOM: The Scott Muffler.

RAY: Put on your gloves and your muffler.

TOM: Put on your gloves and your muffler so you wouldn't freeze your tushy while you were driving in your 1919 Ford Model T.

RAY: Wow. Now I want to just show you how to be supportive of a sibling that utters a crummy puzzler. Boy, that was wonderful! That was historic, folkloric, challenging, interesting and what are all those others. I can't come up with any. Try charming and obfuscating.

TOM: Well, just to let you know I'm a man who likes honesty. I mentioned this puzzler --

RAY: To a bunch of people.

TOM: To my wife the other day. And she says, "why did they go out of business? People still wear scarves." I said, "oops."

RAY: Well, not to the same degree that they would be wearing them if cars didn't have windshields. That was the other thing. The wind screen became popular too, at that time.

TOM: They shouldn't have gone out of business.

RAY: No, they shouldn't. They were mismanaged.

TOM: Mismanaged, absolutely.

RAY: What they should have been doing was they should have been stuffing those things in the tail pipes to quiet the cars down.

TOM: All right, do we have a winner?

RAY: Do we have a winner? Our winner this week is William DeBuvitz.

Get the Car Talk Newsletter