9 March

Barbie went on sale this day

So we are drinking a...

Pink Palace

From a humble toy manufacturer came one of the world's biggest brands, Barbie, or to give the doll her full name, Barbara Millicent Roberts.

Barbie was conceived by Ruth Handler when she noticed her daughter giving adult characters to her dolls, who in those days were all modelled after children. Ruth's husband was a co-founder of the Mattel toy company, which still produces Barbie and her extended family today.

The first Barbie doll was sold today in 1959, wearing a black and white zebra striped swimsuit and signature topknot ponytail, and was available as either a blonde or brunette.

Despite arguably positively conveying female independence, this plastic doll is not without controversies, particularly for promoting an unrealistic body image to young girls with scaled vital statistics, estimated at 36 (chest), 18 (waist) and 33 inches (hips), which researchers say is below the 17 to 22% body fat required for woman to menstruate. Mattel did go some way to addressing this with a fuller body mould for their doll in 1997 followed by new 'tall', 'petite', and 'curvy' Barbie body types in 2016. Mattel has also had mixed success at addressing justifiable criticism for lack of diversity.

Despite the above, Barbie (and her sibling, Ken) have brought a great deal of joy to generations of children so we're toasting plastic dolls of all genders, body shapes and colours with a Pink Palace.

It's also Amerigo's birthday

On this day in 1454, Amerigo Vespucci was born in Florence, Italy. He'd go on to give his name to not one but two continents - the Americas.

A genius navigator, Amerigo sailed from Europe to South America at least twice - and possibly as many as five times. His letters about the bizarre and wonderful things he saw became bestselling travel literature.

And, after Columbus died believing that America was in fact Asia, Amerigo was the first person to recognise that the continents were altogether new. A mapmaker took the decision to call the continent after him - and the name stuck.

As an Italian national who sailed for both the Spanish and Portuguese and gave his name to a Latin and an Anglo continent, we're toasting this citzen of the world with an Americano, created in Milan, and favoured by Americans.

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