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Oct 01, 2006 9:30 PM  By

Pluto’s plummet inspires Discovery poll

The news that Pluto had been demoted from planet to mere “dwarf planet” by the International Astronomical Union (IAU) two months ago helped to renew interest in astronomy. As such, Silver Spring, MD-based science toys and gifts cataloger/retailer Discovery Channel Stores decided to provide children an opportunity to weigh in on the fate of Pluto in the solar system. From Aug. 30 through Sept. 6, kids (and adults) could cast their vote in all Discovery stores and on on whether Pluto should remain in the family of planets. We were as surprised as anybody to hear on Aug. 24 that the IAU had changed the definition of a planet, leaving poor Pluto out in the cold and dropping the count of official planets in our solar system to eight. So we think it’s great that Discovery found a way to let people have their say. Maybe the poll should ask if Mickey Mouse should now change the name of his dog.

Silver celebration for Rossi Pasta

Boil some water and break out the pesto sauce: Marietta, OH-based cataloger Rossi Pasta turns 25 this year. The company, which cranks out up to 700 lbs. of pasta a day and uses more than 160,000 lbs. of flour a year, has seen its share of highs and lows since 1981: new pasta-drying technology that replaced hand-cranked, labor-intensive methods in the mid-1990s; the launch of its Website in 1998; a flood in September 2004; and the opening of its first store, in Marietta, last year. To celebrate its silver anniversary, Rossi is holding a recipe contest on its Website. The winner will have his or her recipe printed in an upcoming catalog or e-newsletter. Happy birthday, Rossi Pasta, and mangia!

Former Bean chief gets bookish

You could say that L.L. Bean wrote the book on catalogs. And in fact Leon Gorman, former president of the venerable Freeport, ME-based outdoor gear, apparel, and home goods merchant (and grandson of company founder Leon Leonwood Bean) has written a book. In the tome, titled L.L. Bean: The Making of an American Icon, Gorman recounts tales of his 41 years at the now $1.5 billion family business. Gorman started working on the book before retiring from L.L. Bean in 2001; it’s due to be published this month. If you think the story of Bean would make a good holiday gift, the book will — not surprisingly — be available in L.L. Bean stores and catalogs and on its Website.

Did Chico’s get cheeky with location shots?

A summer catalog from Fort Myers, FL-based women’s apparel merchant Chico’s cited the location of the photo shoot as Stowe, VT, but some residents of the Green Mountain State begged to differ. The Shelburne Museum in Shelburne, VT, received several calls from Chico’s customers who had received the catalog and recognized the location’s landmarks. For instance, the steamship Ticonderoga can be found on the grounds of the museum, rather than in the quaint village of Stowe, less than an hour away. While many customers were upset that the location had been misrepresented, the museum took it in stride. While it no doubt would have liked to have received credit for serving as Chico’s location, the museum did pocket a fee for its services, which will benefit its education fund.