Question: Has any presidential family not had a pet living with them in the White House? - R.E.D., Eddy, Ind.
Answer: To my knowledge, only Millard Fillmore, Franklin Pierce and Chester A. Arthur did not have pets. The White House has been home to lions, tigers and bears - oh, my!
Q: I was surprised when I went to the grocery store and saw three boxes of Bonomo Turkish Taffy at the checkout counter. I'm now 70, and I vividly remember this being my favorite candy when I was younger - I never liked regular taffy, though. The store had blue raspberry, wild cherry and banana flavors, which I don't remember. I do recall vanilla (my favorite), chocolate and strawberry. Where has this candy been all these years? Who or what is Bonomo? What is Turkish taffy? - J.L.M., Clearwater. Fla.
A: Albert J. Bonomo founded the Bonomo Co. in 1897 in Coney Island, N.Y. He emigrated from Izmir, Turkey, and produced saltwater taffy along with other hard candies. His son, Victor, created the first Turkish Taffy, which is a nougat consisting of corn syrup and egg whites. The original flavors were chocolate, vanilla, strawberry and banana. At first, the taffy was sold through Woolworth department stores.
In 1949, Bonomo created and sponsored "The Magic Clown"; the decision was hailed as being instrumental in growing the popularity of the candy. Bonomo's Turkish Taffy was discontinued in 1989, but it was re-introduced to the public in July 2010 under new ownership.
Q: At many eateries, it's common for a straw to be placed alongside your beverage. In some places, the wrapper of the straw is partially removed so only a stub of the wrapper remains at the lip end. Is there a name for this piece of paper wrapping? - V.L.C., New York City
A: I don't know of such a name, but my best friend - whom I fondly refer to as Ms. Know-It-All - suggests it should be called a "straw diaper." If anyone has another suggestion, let me know.
DID YOU KNOW? Greer Garson was offered the role of Joan Collins' mother on "Dynasty" (1981), but she turned it down.
Q: I was looking at a painting in an art gallery that depicted the Battle of Wyoming. What threw me off was the date - 1778, which was during the American Revolutionary War. I never heard of skirmishes in the West; we didn't even own the land. Can you explain? - K.B., Ooltewah, Tenn.
A: The confusion is understandable; the battle has nothing to do with the state or territory of Wyoming, but the Wyoming Valley in northern Pennsylvania. You are right - the battle took place during the Revolutionary War on July 3, 1778, and involved American patriots and British loyalists, including Iroquois raiders.
More than 300 patriots were killed in the battle, leading to another name, the Wyoming Massacre. The massacre was depicted by the Scottish poet Thomas Campbell in his 1809 poem, "Gertrude of Wyoming."
Q: When was Mother's Day first celebrated as a national holiday? Who was responsible for promoting the holiday? - G.A., Santa Fe, N.M.
A: Mother's Day this year will be May 11. A presidential proclamation established Mother's Day as a national holiday in 1914.
In 1907, as a memorial to her recently deceased mother, Anna Jarvis began a campaign to honor mothers with a special day. She succeeded, but before long she soured on the commercialization of the holiday. In fact, she and her sister Ellsinore spent the rest of their lives campaigning against Mother's Day. Jarvis never married and had no children.
Q: I love the smell of the ground after a summer rain. What is the name of that smell? I assume it does have one. - M.J., Woburn, Mass.
A: Yes, it has a name: petrichor. The word is constructed from the Greek "petros," which means "stone," and "ichor," the fluid that flows in the veins of the gods in Greek mythology.
The word was created by two researchers in the mid-1960s when they discovered that certain plants excrete an oil during dry periods that is absorbed by soil and rocks. During a storm, the oil is released into the air, creating petrichor.
DID YOU KNOW? As a child, Ginger Rogers was kidnapped by her estranged father several times before her mother took him to court.
Q: What is candlepin bowling? - O.L., State College, Pa.
A: Candlepin bowling got its start in 1880 in Worcester, Mass. The pins are nearly 16 inches high and 3 inches in diameter; the ends taper, giving them the appearance of a candle. The ball is 4 1/2 inches in diameter and may not weigh more than 2 pounds, 7 ounces.
Knocked-down pins, known as "wood," remain where they fall and become an important part of the strategy in knocking down more pins.
A game consists of 10 frames, and bowlers get to throw three balls instead of two. A perfect game is 300 points, but the highest sanctioned score is 245.
DID YOU KNOW? On average, a strawberry has 200 seeds on it, and it is the only fruit with seeds that grow on the outside.
Q: What is the coloring used on Muenster cheese? In a cheese store, I saw the spelling Munster (no "e"). Is the spelling interchangeable? What does the name of the cheese mean?
A: Muenster is a semi-soft cheese made in the United States. It is a pale cheese with a smooth texture; the orange rind is colored with vegetable dye.
There is also a Munster cheese made in France. Its name comes from the Alsatian abbey of Munster. It is made with unpasteurized cow's milk. It is not the same thing as Muenster cheese.
Q: I enjoy watching the British detective drama series "Midsomer Murders." Where is Midsomer? The stories focus on head detective John Barnaby (played by Neil Dudgeon). How many actors have played the role of Barnaby? How long has the series been on television?
A: Midsomer is a fictional English county. The show is based on books by Caroline Graham, including "Chief Inspector Barnaby." The series first aired in 1997, with John Nettles playing the role of Tom Barnaby; he left the production in 2010 and was replaced by Neil Dudgeon, playing Tom Barnaby's cousin John. Dudgeon first appeared in the series as randy gardener Daniel Bolt. As of February 2014, there have been 100 episodes.
Q: When and where did Elvis Presley perform his last concert? - J.W., Memphis, Tenn.
A: Presley's last concert was on June 26, 1977, at Market Square Arena in Indianapolis, to a crowd of 18,000 fans. The last song Elvis performed in private was a rendition of "Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain" on his piano in Graceland hours before his death on Aug. 16, 1977.
Q: I recall the Moog synthesizer from the mid-'60s. I've often wondered how it got its name. - H.C., Langhorne, Pa.
A: It was named after its inventor, Robert Moog. Moog introduced the instrument in 1964.
- Send your questions to Mr. Know-It-All at AskMrKIA@gmail.com or c/o Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.