The Thing About Today – July 19

July 19, 2020
Day 201 of 366


July 19th is the 201st day of the year. It is Liberation Day in Nicaragua.


In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Daiquiri Day and National Ice Cream Day (which is typically observed on the third Sunday in July).


Historical items of note:

  • In 64 AD, the Great Fire of Rome caused widespread devastation. It raged for six days and destroyed half of the city.
  • In 1553, Lady Jane Grey was replaced by Mary I of England as Queen of England after only nine days on the throne.
  • In 1865, Charles Horace Mayo was born. He was the surgeon who founded the Mayo Clinic.
  • In 1883, Austrian-American animator and producer Max Fleischer was born.
  • In 1900, the first line of the Paris Métro opened for operation.
  • In 1924, actor and producer Pat Hingle was born.
  • Also in 1924, director, producer, and screenwriter Arthur Rankin Jr. was born.
  • In 1942, Dmitri Shostakovich’s 7th Symphony premiered in New York City by the NBC Symphony Orchestra under Arturo Toscanini in a concert broadcast nationwide on NBC radio.
  • In 1961, the first in-flight movie was shown on a TWA flight. Trans World Airlines (TWA) was a major American airline that existed from 1930 until 2001.
  • In 1962, actor and director Anthony Edwards was born.
  • In 1963, Joe Walker flew a North American X-15 to a record altitude of 106,010 meters (347,800 feet) on X-15 Flight 90. By exceeding an altitude of 100 km, the flight qualified as a human spaceflight under international convention.
  • In 1976, actor Benedict Cumberbatch was born.
  • In 1977, the world’s first Global Positioning System (GPS) signal was transmitted from Navigation Technology Satellite 2 (NTS-2) and received at Rockwell Collins in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, at 12:41 a.m. Eastern time (ET).
  • In 1981, in a private meeting with United States President Ronald Reagan, French President François Mitterrand revealed the existence of the Farewell Dossier. This collection of documents showed that the Soviet Union had been stealing American technological research and development.
  • In 1982, actor Jared Padalecki was born.
  • In 1983, the first three-dimensional reconstruction of a human head in a CT scan was published.
  • In 2011, Captain America: The First Avenger premiered.


July 19th is National Daiquiri Day. The daiquiri is a family of cocktails whose main ingredients are rum, citrus juice (typically lime juice), and sugar or other sweeteners.

Daiquirí is also the name of a beach and an iron mine near Santiago de Cuba, and is a word of Taíno origin. The drink was supposedly invented by an American mining engineer named Jennings Cox, who was in Cuba at the time of the Spanish–American War. According to the legend, United States Congressman William A. Chanler purchased the Santiago iron mines in 1902 and introduced the daiquiri to clubs in New York that year.

Originally, the drink was served in a tall glass packed with cracked ice. A teaspoon of sugar was poured over the ice and the juice of one or two limes was squeezed over the sugar. Two or three ounces of white rum completed the mixture. The glass was then frosted by stirring with a long-handled spoon. It later evolved to be mixed in a shaker with the same ingredients (but with shaved ice) to be poured into a chilled coupe glass.

The drink remained localized until Navy medical Rear Admiral Lucius W. Johnson tried it and introduced it to the Army and Navy Club in Washington, D.C. It became quite popular, particularly during World War II when rum was much easier to come by thanks to the Good Neighbor Policy, and was one of the favorite drinks of writer Ernest Hemingway and President John F. Kennedy.

The basic recipe for a daiquiri is also similar to the grog British sailors drank aboard ship from the 1780s as a means of preventing scurvy. By 1795, the Royal Navy daily grog ration contained rum, water, ¾ ounce of lemon or lime juice, and 2 ounces of sugar. This was a common drink across the Caribbean, even when water was replaced by ice.

A popular alternative is a frozen daiquiri, which is made in a blender using ice to achieve a smoothie-like consistency. Other variations are achieved by using different fruit combinations including strawberries, bananas, and avocados.


The Thing About Today is an effort to look at each day of 2020 with respect to its historical context.

For more creativity with a critical eye, visit Creative Criticality.



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