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The word allegro is the generic, scientific name of a horticultural invention that carries a brand name of Allegro.

In 1979, Alice Snotman, an amateur botanist and a freelance professional exotic dancer (her stripper stage name was Alice Morvehomme), was kicking herself over not having been the person who invented Pet Rocks. After a few hours of extreme despondency and consumption of copious alcoholic beverages, she came up with an idea that she was convinced would be an even bigger seller than Pet Rocks among the cretin-class: Allegro.

Allegro was a “seed” that you could plant in your garden or in a pot. According to Snotman’s marketing bumf, after three to three-and-a-half weeks of carefully watering and fertilizing the soil in which you planted Allegros, perfectly formed alleys (also known as marbles) would have grown underground like potatoes.

Many people were skeptical because almost half of the population knew that alleys were glass spheres. What’s more, of those people who knew that, more than 23% knew that glass spheres didn’t grow underground and 17% knew that they didn’t grow either under or above ground. Alice felt that she could overcome this skepticism if she gave her seeds a generic name in addition to its branded marketing name. Consequently, she invented the scientific name allegro to backup the Allegro brand, thereby giving birth to the word allegro.

There is an interesting side note to this story. To further allay the skepticism of the public, Snotman, aka Morvehomme, hired a number of reputable scientific research firms to test her product independently. To ensure the desired results, Snotman also hired several of the best burglars she could find to use their lock-picking skills to break into the research firms’ facilities at night and, undetected, plant alleys in the soil beds where the seeds were planted.

While they were conducting the tests, all of the research firms reported thefts of expensive office equipment. However, none of them attributed those thefts to untoward acts on the part of Snotman, who was paying them a lot of money to test her Allegro, aka allegro, product. All of the firms publicly confirmed the veracity of Snotman’s claims.

Needless to say, customers did not achieve the same level of success as the research firms. Not only were they unable to grow marbles, but the “seeds” had already decayed into nothingness by the time customers tried to dig up their crops. Eventually—after Snotman garnered profits of more than $837-million—people caught on and sales of Allegro slowly dwindled.

Today, in addition to referring to Snotman’s alley-seed product, allegro is also used as a metaphor for any patently fraudulent scheme that is perpetrated on a public that is so blindingly stupid as to be incapable of recognizing it as a scam.

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