Celery isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about a flavor of soft drink, but surprisingly it was one of the first. In 1869, Dr. Brown (Is that you, Doc?!) founded the Cel-Ray soda company. The good doctor made tonics intended to alleviate bowel and stomach discomforts and decided to make a tonic made from sugar, carbonated water, and crushed celery speeds. Dr. Brown’s tonic was renamed Cel-Ray in the early 1900s and remains a staple part of New York Jewish deli fare to this day, 150 years after its invention. The soda is easy to find in New York markets, bodegas, and delis, but if you’re looking for that sweet vegetable soda taste, cans can be purchased online.

Small Town Smoke Marching

In the late 19th century, the tiny town of Arnedillo in Spain was stricken with a smallpox outbreak. What’s a 1800s Spanish town to do? Parade an image of Saint Andrew through the streets lighting smoky rosemary scented fires along the way. Arnedillo, with a population of less than 500 people, continues the tradition to this day — the streets are so thick with the scented smoke that people have to breathe through handkerchiefs, though a gasmask might be a better idea. Every Nov. 26, more than 2,000 people come to witness the spectacular procession, which lasts just 20 minutes and ends with a mass. But once the Saint Andrew imagery passes through the town, it’s bacon and sausage time on the bonfire.

The Avocado’s  A-Team

In 2013, the town of Tancítaro, Mexico, created a special paramilitary organization to protect the region’s avocado farms and farmers. Avocados are king in the region; over $1 million worth of the fruit is shipped out every day. A 2006 crackdown on drug cartels led to an unintended consequence — cartels such as the Knights Templar started threatening, kidnapping, and murdering locals in the avocado business in a ruthless bid for money and power in the industry. CUSEPT, a Spanish acronym for “Public Security Corps” wear body armor and carry high-powered weapons as they regularly patrol checkpoints to keep residents safe from cartel violence. Participants in CUSEPT are required to be local residents. The avocado producers pay for half of the defense organization’s funding, while the Mexican government foots the rest of the bill and provides training.

Where Chuck E. Cheese Animatronics Go to Die

You may or may not remember Munch’s Make Believe Band, the animatronic creepy animal band from Chuck E. Chesse. It’s the stuff of Millennial birthday party nostalgia. But in Oak Lawn, Illinois, a dark secret has been revealed. Teenage Chuck E. Cheese workers were seen in a Facebook video smashing Chuck E. Cheese’s plastic head with a sledgehammer on company orders, according to the Oak Lawn Patch. The ritualistic destruction of the singing company mouse mascot is standard operating procedure.

They’ll Never  Notice

Ah, the marks of a classic house burglary: jewelry gone, clothing and prescription drugs vanished, and your stuffed zebra head missing from the wall. Wait, what?

A thief in Anchorage, Alaska, made off with the equine trophy, which its owners had named “George,” along with other valuables, before leaving in a waiting cab, the Daily Mail reports.

Unfortunately for the would-be master thief, a security camera caught the escape — and the cab’s plates — on video, and police arrested a suspect at her hotel shortly after.

Soon, George might not be the only one wearing stripes.

Heavy Metal

It’s a good thing they didn’t try to give this guy an MRI.

Surgeons in Satna, Madhya Pradesh, India, operated on a man complaining of abdominal pain, only to find his stomach full of metal (and other) items of every description, including “hundreds of coins, 1.5 kg of nails, dozens of shaving blades, shards of glass, stones, and a six-inch piece of rusted iron shackle,” the Independent reports.

Well, at least he’s getting enough iron in his diet.

No Cryptids — At Least Not Yeti

A Buffalo, New York, scientist has tested nine suspected Yeti DNA samples from the Himalayas, where they were collected by people who purchased “Yeti permits” to search for the elusive cryptids, and found all the samples to be from bears, the Washington Post reports.

Lest anyone consider this a waste of time, however, it’s worth noting that the research helped the scientists learn more about a particular subspecies of bear. The DNA demonstrated that, “Though Himalayan brown bears are neither abominable nor snowmen, they are still pretty unusual animals,” the Post reported.

We hope that further investigating will bear more interesting results. The alternative would be abominable.

Actually, That’s Pretty Clever

An Australian man has been fired for skipping 140 days of work to play golf, hiding his location from employers by using a bag of chips to create a GPS-blocking “Faraday cage” around his work-issued smartphone.

The slacking took place over two years. Australia’s Fair Work Commission ruled that his firing was lawful, as he “appears to have been deliberately mischievous in acting in this manner,” Yahoo News reports.

A better question might be why it took his employers two years to notice they couldn’t find him during work hours.

Not a Repeat from a Country Song

An Irish man apparently took Kenny Chesney’s advice to heart, taking to the streets of Derry on his tractor in order to pick up women.

He was fined for not having license plates, but the court was certainly amused by his audacity, with the prosecution calling him “Don Juan” and the defense commenting “We all know tractors are all about pulling power but this taking it to extremes,” Metro UK reports.

No comment has yet been made about his farmer’s tan.

Have an idea for Bizarro Briefs? Send it to deisen@valleyadvocate.com.