Get paid to eat cheese, testing cookies for evidence of Santa: The week's heartwarming and offbeat headlines

From how you could get paid $1,000 to eat cheese before bed, to one girl's request to police to test for Santa's DNA on a cookie and carrots left out on Christmas Eve and even a stolen tractor chase, there was no shortage of heartwarming, offbeat stories this week.

1 - Get paid $1,000 to eat cheese before bed – in the name of science: A three-month experiment is aiming to see if there's any truth to the perception that eating cheese before bed will give you nightmares. Sleep Junkie, a mattress review site says it is hiring five "dairy dreamers" to eat a variety of cheeses before bed, then log their sleep and provide written feedback on sleep quality, energy levels, and any nightmares they experience.

Experts have disagreed on the validity of the notion that cheese can lead to bad dreams. Back in 2005, a survey by the now-defunct British Cheese Board determined that eating bleu cheese caused "vivid" dreams.

eat! Berlin

Different kinds of cheeses and sausages from the Uckermark region are offered during the Berlin Cheese Days in the Arminius Market Hall in Berlin, Germany, 28 February 2016. Until 06 March 2016 various events are taking place during the 'eat!' gourme

2 - Police test DNA on Rhode Island girl's cookie, carrots for evidence of Santa Claus: Is Santa Claus real? Well, one girl is on a mission to find out.

According to police in Cumberland, Rhode Island, they are testing DNA found on a cookie and carrots to prove that Santa visited a girl's home on Christmas Eve. Police say a young investigator submitted a letter requesting DNA analysis on a partially eaten cookie and carrot remains. 

"Dear Cumberland Police Department," the letter starts, continuing, "I took a sample of a cookie and carrots that I left for Santa and the reindeer on Christmas Eve and was wondering if you could take a sample of DNA and see if Santa is real?"

A young investigator from Cumberland submitted a letter requesting DNA analysis to be conducted on a partially eaten cookie and carrot remains she acquired on Christmas Day. (Credit: Cumberland Police Department)

3 - Man leads police on chase in stolen tractor: A man in North Carolina took police on a chase in a stolen John Deere tractor, with portions of the incident going viral on social media.

Police in Boone said they received a call about the tractor being driven erratically in a parking lot, trying to hit pedestrians. The tractor, operated by Ronnie Hicks, hit several vehicles, a dumpster, a church and even intentionally rammed a police vehicle before he ran out of road.

Authorities say Hicks jumped out of the tractor wielding a knife and was tasted by an officer and taken into custody. 

4 - Boy who lost father fulfills wish to lead police patrol on toy bike: A boy in the United Kingdom who lost his father got to see a dream come true when he led a police patrol on his toy bike. 

The little boy, Harry Farrell, lost his father, Craig, last May when he was four years old. He then received a miniature police bike for Christmas. 

Harry "had his day made," Durham Police said when officers visited him to begin the patrol.

Video showed Harry taking four officers on special patrol through his street. "Meet future PC Harry!" the police said.

Bereaved Boy Has 'Day Made' as He Leads Police Patrol on Toy Bike. (Credit: Durham Roads & Armed Policing via Storyful)

5 - 'Seinfeld'-themed Airbnb lets you spend a night in Jerry's apartment: A couple in Cincinnati is now renting out an Airbnb that is themed after Jerry's apartment in the iconic sitcom, ‘Seinfeld.’

Guests can feel like they're in Jerry's apartment with things like a bike on the wall, a cabinet lined with cereal boxes, and a cutout of Kramer behind the front door (although no Newman to say "Hello" to.)

There is also lighting in the apartment designed to look like how the original TV studio appeared.

6 - UK archaeologists ask public’s help with puzzling cave carving: Archaeologists in the United Kingdom are asking for the public’s help with solving a "puzzle" after an unusual carving was discovered during one of their digs in 2022.

During a dig at Nesscliffe Hill last summer, archaeology fellow Paul Reilly and professor of archaeology at the University of Oxford Gary Lock, spotted a cup-shaped carving with lines protruding from it, almost appearing to resemble a person with horns coming out of its head.

Researchers have dubbed the carving Nessglyph but are curious to know what the carving means or what it’s supposed to be. 

Nessglyph found in Nesscliffe Hill in the U.K.

7 - Mini horse spotted in car at McDonald's drive-thru: A tiny horse was spotted waiting patiently in the backseat of a car at a McDonald’s drive-thru in Australia. 

Donna Bevan said she’d pulled into McDonald’s in to buy a frozen Coke when she noticed what she first thought was a "huge white dog" in the other car.

She said she went about making her order, then looked at the car for a second time, and realized it was actually a horse — prompting her to film what she described as an "unbelievable sight".

Credit: Donna Bevan via Storyful

8 - 'Unusual' 650-pound fossil whale skull found in Maryland, estimated to be 12 million years old: A Pennsylvania family discovered a 650-lb fossil whale skull on the Chesapeake Bay in southern Maryland.

Cody Goddard, his wife and their son were on Matoaka Beach in Calvert County when they saw a large, hardened block of sediment laying on the beach. According to the Calvert Marine Museum, the sediment had an "unusual" fossil protruding from one end.

The discovery was made in October, but due to the fossil's sheer size it took about two months for the fossil to be extracted.

The team uncovers the fossil whale skull, getting it ready to move. The skull is immediately below the tip of the pick. The sediments behind the field crew are those at the base of the naturally eroding cliff. From left to right: Dr. Victor Perez, Jo