Joanna Powell
December 04, 1992 AT 05:00 AM EST

Ever wondered why there are no Betty Rubble pills in Flintstones vitamins? Whether anyone has ever seen a live Cornish game hen? Why dogs eat standing up, while cats usually sit down?

David Feldman has. In fact he has made a tidy living obsessing about life’s Imponderables, his trademarked term for those nagging mysteries that keep lovers of minutiae awake at night. In his sixth book of Imponderables, When Did Wild Poodles Roam the Earth?, Feldman, a 42-year-old former doctoral student of popular culture at the University of Maryland, solves 141 perplexing enigmas with the well-researched deadpan of his previous best-sellers, Why Do Clocks Run Clockwise?, When Do Fish Sleep?, and Why Do Dogs Have Wet Noses?

The idea struck Feldman nine years ago while shopping at a Manhattan grocery store. ”I was on a diet and I was eating Total and Life, which were both 100 calories per serving,” Feldman says. ”It didn’t make any sense to me because Life had more sugar than Total.” Bollixed by the cereal conundrum, Feldman stopped in a diner where he observed a man desperately biting open a two-pack of saltines. ”I thought, if they can put a man on the moon, why can’t they make a saltine pack you can open?”

On the way home the word imponderables popped into his head. ”I immediately knew what an Imponderable was and it hasn’t changed. It is not a philosophical question. It’s a mystery of everyday life.” In the case of the missing Betty Rubble vitamin there’s a simple explanation: Product research shows that she isn’t as popular as the other Flintstones. As for wild poodles, if you’re the sort of person who wonders what they were like ”millions of years before they became the snooty, foppish familiars of the dog world,” Feldman’s Imponderables are for you.

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