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Now You Know The Rest Of The Story

It seems that in 1522 a man named Rahul Lanius Kandul owned a small sundry shop in Tarvarnes, Bulgaria called "Kandul's & Such" (quaint name, don't you think?). Rahul and his wife Laticha, along with tiny son Rahul, Jr. ran the small family shop for several years before running into financial difficulties. Laticha, fed up with Rahul's (senior) paltry income, had an affair with Charles Howard Hinesworth, a wealthy American entrepreneur and statesman. Delighted with his financial successes, Lachita left Rahul in 1522 and took little Rahul with her. Charles had his own sailing vessel which was called the "I Have It All Including Your Wife". What a prescient name it turned out to be.

Anywhale, on the voyage to America, Lachita and Charles romped around in opulence while young Rahul played with the captain and frolicked with the deck hands. Obviously, Lachita became a little pregnant - well, OK, she became very pregnant. It appeared that a little Charles was on the way and neither Charles or Laticha were prepared for such a rapid change in their otherwise useless, Bohemian lives. Charles and Latty (as Charles called her) were on the sea to destruction - and may have well pulled young Rahul down into their chilling cesspool of a life had he not later decided to rejoin his father in Bulgaria. But, that is another story for another time.

Meanwhile, back in Tarvarnes, big Rahul was struggling. He was barely squeaking out a living from the sundry shop. This was about the time that Queen Sofia IV of Bulgaria spouted her famous order to the masses - "Let them eat cake". How Bulgur! Obviously, after the queen ordered the common folk to eat cake -they feared for their lives and ate nothing but cake.

(Historical note: This order was given after Queen Sofia worked out a multi-million dollar with Hostess Cupcakes who had offered to kickback a percentage of their profits to her. This quote is often wrongly attributed to Marie Antoinette whose only claim to fame was her "Let them eat cake" sound byte she stole from Queen Sofia IV. It's odd and unfortunate that Marie Antoinette became famous by plagiarizing Queen Sofia's terse order.)

After a while, cake gets pretty boring and a steady diet of it can make you rather ill and toothless. Scurvy, hair loss, and heavy-leg syndrome are common side effects of the cake diet. You shouldn't be on the cake diet if you're nursing or pregnant. In rare cases the cake diet may cause arrhythmia and even death. Needless to say, Rahul, already succumbing to the ravages of age and poverty was in no shape to endure the cake diet which was summarily ordered by Queen Sofia IV. He grew sicker and sicker, sometimes vomiting up the cake violently - spewing forth the contents of his shrunken and malnourished belly onto the narrow street in front of his little shop. This, of course, upset the village folk and kept many less hearty people away from his shop. Things weren't looking good for Rahul.

Then one night serendipity struck. The Bulgarian Electric And Power Co. (BEAP-C as it was known) was not noted for its reliability - power outages were common and frequent. When the electricity went off, the town and Rahul's little sundry shop would go dark for hours. People ran amok - blinded by the darkness and reveling in the anonymity they proceeded - as one would expect of a culture run amok - to over-populate Bulgaria. This created a flood of new potential customers for Rahul's small, sundry shop. Rahul drooled at all the business he could capture if he just had the right ideas and products to market. It was during one of these numerous power outages that Rahul, on a whim decided to fly a kite in the dark.

It was a very windy night for Bulgaria, a country not noted for its winds, and the kite became very difficult to control. It wasn't long before Rahul's soft, shopkeeper hands became chaffed by the kite string. He needed something to hold the string while he sought relief, in the darkened corners of his shop, for anything to relieve his painful palms. The only thing available to him to hold the kite down was a large piece of nearly-rancid pork belly. As fatty and foul smelling as it was - Rahul thought the huge hunk of rapidly spoiling meat would be just about the right weight to prevent his kite from flying off into the dark and stormy night. His kite was one of the only things left in his life that he dearly loved and he did not want it to leave him by sailing off into the night like his wife.

Then it happened. A miracle occurred. A bolt of lightning struck the kite and traveled down the string and ignited the reeking fat on the surface of the pork belly. Rahul noticed that a soft, romantic glow illuminated the area around the pork belly - as the flame flickered from the fat-soaked kite string. As it happened, the string burned through and the kite flew off into the night, but a piece of the string, still sticking into the pork belly, continued to burn slowly and illuminated the tiny sundry shop with a swell romantic glow. It didn't take long for Rahul to realize he was on to something.

Rahul held his nose and started cutting off hunks of the pork belly. He rolled them into cylinders around a length of fat-soaked kite string. He ignited it with his Zippo lighter and sure enough (lo and behold, even!) the flame flickered gently in the breeze of his breath. "Amazing!" he exclaimed to his dog Chester. He could even see Chester's matted, dull, black coat in the light of the burning pig fat. Never before, during a power outage, had he ever seen Chester - let alone his dull and matted coat.

For the next twenty years, Rahul did nothing but roll pig fat around lengths of kite string. He called them "Kanduls" as he was not above naming his new invention for himself. He wanted his ex-wife to be jealous as he knew she would be when she heard of the success sparked by his new Kanduls.

As with all things new, they are dangerous. Dangerous because eventually new things become old things and then become ignored, like all things old. The sales of Kanduls slowed to the point where Rahul was back to eating nothing but cake. However, this would lead him to another stroke of marketing genius and one that would become an enduring and lasting success. It would never grow old and ensured that Rahul Lanius Kandul would be enshrined in the annals of history - even though no one would remember his name. Little did he know then that at least one of his inventions and his only song would be remembered at least once a year by every single person in the civilized world - and even by folks running amok in the uncivilized world.

It was on the night of November 31, 1557, Rahul's 58th birthday, that it happened. Sitting all alone in the dark during another foul-up by BEAP-C, he pined over the loss of his estranged wife, and the recent passing of Chester. With tears in his sunken, cake-ravaged eyes, he stuck a few Kanduls in his dinner that night - which happened to be a Duncan-Hines chocolate pudding cake - and lit them. Sarcastically he started repeating the phrase "Happy Birthday To Me" mocking his own loneliness. Suddenly, without warning, a melody blossomed in his head and the "Happy Birthday" song was born. He watched the flames romantically flickering on the cake and a light bulb went off in his brain - he would call them "BIRTHDAY KANDULS". The birthday Kanduls glowed and Rahul sang his new song "Happy Birthday" to himself. The ideas spread like wildfire through Bulgaria, indeed around the world.

And, the rest, as they like to say in Pittsburgh, is history.

Time has changed the spelling of Kanduls but the idea of sticking candles in a cake and singing "Happy Birthday" is as popular today as it was in the days of Rahul Kandul. The next time you stick a few candles in a birthday cake and sing "Happy Birthday" remember Rahul Kandul and how it all began.

Now you know the rest of the story.

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