Did You Know

5 Mind-Blowing Facts About Sears That Seem Like They Can't Be Right, But Totally Are

AP

Sears has been one of the most popular stores since 1886. The company has gone through a lot of changes over the years, but through it all it has remained one of the most recognizable companies in the country. Sure, they are currently going through some financial difficulty, but the history of the store is so insane it's hard to connect it with the current retailer.

Check out these 5 fascinating facts about the company that has been around for well over 100 years!

The government paid spies in Sears products

The Vietnam war started in 1955 and ran for almost 20 years. The government spent the entirety of the 60s focused on ways to gain advantage against the Vietnamese. They had to use some interesting tactics to get information, including employing spies to get recon. The issue was that paying them in American money was pretty much useless to them.

Instead of paying them in American money, the spies were sent Sears catalogs that they could pick items out of to have shipped to them. Apparently they would order things like vests, jackets, belts and other clothing items. The product shipments continued until it was no longer safe to do so.

Sears used to sell cocaine

In the 1880s Sears & Roebuck catalog (what Sears used to be called) sold cocaine and opiates in syringes. You could by a small syringe of cocaine for $1.50.

That isn't even the strangest thing that happened at the Sears company...

Sears is the reason why NORAD tracks Santa

Sears posted an ad in 1955 with a phone number for kids to call to track Santa Claus on Christmas Eve. The number was printed wrong and so when a young boy called in to track Santa he ended up reaching Colonel Harry Shoup's team of the North American Aerospace Defense Command.

Instead of hanging up on the young boy, the Colonel and played along and had the staff give him the updates he was looking for. It became a tradition ever since.

You used to be able to buy a whole house from Sears

They had a kit you could order from the catalog that would give you everything you needed to build your own house. There were over 300 styles of homes to choose between, and 70,000 people purchased them between 1908 and 1940.

One of their most successful products was invented by a 17-year-old

The socket wrench that would go on to make Sears millions of dollars in profits actually only cost them $10,000. The wrench was invented by Peter M. Roberts who was told by Sears that it was "legally valueless". Obviously they would go on to sell millions of them so it became an enormous legal battle.

Can you believe that all of this happened at the same place that publishes the Wish Book every year?

Tanya has been writing for Shared for two years. She spends too much time thinking about dogs, Marvel movies, and ice cream. You can reach me at tanya@shared.com