Today is the anniversary of an important day in the history of the Biggest Ball of Twine in Minnesota.

And, for those who don’t know, that big ball of twine is an actual thing, and kind of a big deal.

As Roadside America explains, it’s the work of Francis A. Johnson of Darwin, Minnesota.

At age 45, Johnson started taking scraps of twine and rolling them into a bigger and bigger ball.


Because, as he told a newspaper at the time, “My mother taught me not to waste anything.”

As word got around about the twine ball, Johnson’s neighbors started bringing over their twine scraps, which he would tie into the ball using square knots.

And not just any twine, either; Johnson insisted on a particular kind of brown twine, to keep the ball uniform.

To keep the ball’s shape uniformly round, Johnson used a railroad jack to rotate it.

He worked on the ball for almost 30 years; when he stopped in 1979, people in Darwin weighed it – 17,400 pounds in all – and they brought it to a gazebo, where it has been visited and admired ever since.

Perhaps the ball’s most famous fan is “Weird” Al Yankovic, who wrote a song called “The Biggest Ball Of Twine In Minnesota” in the late 80s.

Today in 2019, Darwin returned the favor.

When Al was playing at the Minnesota State Fair; Darwin renamed the road behind the twine ball gazebo as “Weird Alley.”


Meanwhile, researchers at the University of California-Davis have finished a study on freeloading cats!

To virtually no one’s surprise, when cats are presented with free, no-strings-attached food, or the chance to solve a puzzle to get a food reward, the kitties go for the freebies.

Most species actually prefer to work for their food, cats are the exception.

And me.

Biggest Ball of Twine in Minnesota (Roadside America)

Darwin, Minnesota names ‘Weird Alley’ in honor of twine ball troubadour ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic (The Current)

Cats prefer to get free meals, rather than work for them (University of California-Davis)

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Photo by Laurie Shaull via Flickr/Creative Commons