The Odd Truth: July 5, 2005

The Odd Truth is a collection of strange but factual news stories from around the world compiled by's Meredith Stoffel.

School Proposes Ban On Jeans

SOUTHFIELD, Mich. - Jeans too tight or baggy? A suburban Detroit school district has a suggestion: Wear something else.

A proposed dress code would prohibit denim fabric in general, and blue jeans in particular, at the Southfield school district's two high schools.

The ban on jeans is aimed both at those that sag and those that are skin tight. The dress code also would prohibit items such as tank and halter tops, pajamas and sunglasses.

The school district already has a dress code, but board members said an update was needed to address poor academic performance and prohibit clothing that has a double meaning, such as gang affiliation.

Jeans are banned at Southfield's elementary and middle schools.

Board President Janie Fulton didn't know when members will vote on the issue, but has said she wants the revised dress code in place before the school year resumes this fall.

Some students said a jeans ban would be costly.

Corin Reade, 17, said the cheapest pair of slacks she could find on a recent shopping trip cost $35, while the jeans she bought were $16. Academic performance, she added, has more to do with students' attitudes than what they are wearing.

One Man, Forty-Nine Hot Dogs

NEW YORK - Imagine devouring 49 hot dogs in 12 minutes.

That's exactly what one Japanese man did yesterday. Takeru Kobayashi has won the Nathan's Famous hot dog eating contest in New York for the fifth consecutive year. But he missed his own world record of 53 and a-half hot dogs set last year.

The win means the coveted Mustard Yellow Belt will return to Japan for the ninth time in ten years.

Kobayashi stands five feet, seven inches and weighs just 144 pounds.

The runner-up was Sonya Thomas of Virginia, who set an American record by gobbling up 37 hot dogs in the same 12 minutes.

Thomas, who weighs 105 pounds, separates the hot dog from the bun and eats them separately. Then, she dips the bun in water to make it easier to swallow.

She says her stomach doesn't hurt, but her jaw is tired.

Thomas hasn't yet given up her day job -- managing a Burger King.

Mr. Ding-A-Ling May No Longer Ring

UTICA, N.Y. - The company's name may have a catchy ring to it, but work has been no picnic for Mr. Ding-a-Ling ice cream vendors in some parts of central New York.

Some vendors have been ticketed for violating local noise ordinances, prompting officials of the Albany-based company to order their trucks to stay away from New York Mills and Whitestown, where people have complained about music blaring from loudspeakers.

"I don't want trouble with nobody," said Hector Morales, who manages 16 Mr. Ding-a-Ling trucks in the area around Utica.

Familiar tunes like "The Entertainer" and "Pop Goes the Weasel" can be heard as the ice cream trucks pass through neighborhoods carrying frozen treats for sweltering customers.

Company officials said they hoped they can work out a compromise, so the ice cream trucks can return to business in the two communities.

"A compromise could work," said owner Brian Collis, "like if we played the music when the truck is stopped, at least so people know we're there."

The Beltway's Last Farm

CAPITAL HEIGHTS, Md. - Washington -- farm country? Not for long. Duane Dickerson is selling what's believed to be the last working family farm inside the Capital Beltway. Washington, D.C. used to be surrounded by countryside. But the farms have given way to shopping malls, offices and housing developments. Dickerson is selling his 35 acres in suburban Maryland to a developer who is said to be planning a strip mall and supermarket. Dickerson tells The Washington Post he's tired of big city crime spilling onto his farm. He says he sleeps with a loaded shotgun by his bed.

Woman Circles U.S.

SEATTLE - Renata Chlumska plans on seeing the country the hard way. Yesterday, she started on the first leg of a more than 11,000 mile journey to circle the U.S. She says she'll kayak, boat and inline skate her way around the nation, beginning in the Seattle area. She's got the stuff to do it, too. Chlumska was the first Swedish woman to climb Mount Everest. She says she's doing it for the adventure and the people she'll meet. Chlumska is also dedicating her epic journey to her late fiance, who was killed in a climbing accident in 2002.

Woman Sweetens Lives Of Soldiers

ROSE HILL, Kan. - Merry Debbrecht is on a mission -- to sweeten the lives of GI's. Since February, the Rose Hill, Kansas, woman has made 27,000 cookies and sent them to soldiers in Iraq and the Mideast. Baking 20 dozen cookies is a slow day for her. One thank-you letter from a GI says the cookies were so good, his buddies even ate a few of the packing peanuts. Debbrecht says letters like that keep her going. It was Debbrecht's grandson who sparked the baking frenzy. He's an Army infantryman who arrived in Baghdad earlier this year. Now, she's baking for many more than just her grandson.