Category Archives: Food

How the Practice of Putting Candles on Cakes for Birthdays Started

birthday-cake

Heily O. asks: How did the tradition of having cakes with candles on them for birthdays start? For most of human history, ordinary people’s birthdays weren’t cause for much celebration. In fact, in the ancient world if you weren’t among the elite, odds are your birthday would have mostly just been noted for things like astrological purposes, rather than throwing […]

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Grape-Nuts Contain Neither Grapes Nor Nuts… So What are They Made Of?

whole-grains

Grape-Nuts is a wheat and barley cereal developed by C.W. Post in 1897, and it has actually made some interesting contributions to American food history. A box of Grape-Nuts actually contains “whole grain wheat flour, malted barley flour, isolated soy protein, salt, whole grain barley flour, malt extract, and dried yeast.” It also boasts a number of essential vitamins and […]

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Chewing on Gum’s History

chewing-gum

Gum is everywhere. It could be in someone’s pocket, in a woman’s purse, underneath a classroom’s desk or lining the checkout lines at the local grocery store. Or it could be in a person’s mouth- teeth chomping away on a stick that rapidly loses its flavor. Gum is one of the most ubiquitous confectioneries in our culture, yet few know […]

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The Story of Pasteurization and How It Changed the World

LouisPasteur

In the mid-19th century, French scientist Louis Pasteur made a discovery that has reverberated through the ages. Perhaps working at the behest of Emperor Napoleon to figure out why wine and beer sometimes soured during fermentation, he found out that this was due to unwanted microorganisms, or “germs,” converting the alcohol into acetic acid. This produced the sour or vinegary […]

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Why Teachers are Associated with and Traditionally Given Apples

apple

Gloria N. asks: Why is the stereotype to give apples to teachers? Widespread publicly funded, mandatory education has only been around since about the 19th century. Before then, the responsibility of providing schooling to children fell primarily on their families. Upper- and middle-class families tended to hire tutors or send their children to a private school run by a schoolmaster. […]

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Inventing Bubble Gum

Bubble-gum

Gracen A. asks: What is original flavor bubblegum supposed to taste like? Bubblegum, the ambiguously flavoured, obnoxiously pink candy gum that is the favourite treat of Violet Beauregarde and, seemingly, a shocking amount of stock photo actors was first invented in 1928 by an accountant called Walter Diemer. Despite being asked in dozens of interviews throughout his life, Diemer took […]

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What Happens to Big Food Made to Break World Records?

Guiness World Record

Randal T. asks: When someone makes some giant food item for publicity, what do they actually do with the thing after? According to Guinness World Records, the de-facto authority on world record breaking, this is one of the most common questions they’re asked alongside “What record is broken the most often?” (the heaviest object lifted with glue according to them) […]

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Who Invented the Bloody Mary Drink and Who is It Really Named After?

bloody-mary

Saurabh A. asks: Is the bloody Mary drink really named after Queen Mary Tudor? For many, Sundays mean brunch and a delicious morning cocktail. Quite often, that early alcoholic beverage is the odd combination of tomato juice, celery, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce (see: The Stomach Turning Thing Worcestershire Sauce is Made Of), vodka and other spices that’s known as a […]

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Why Are You Not Supposed to Use Twice Boiled Water for Tea?

tea-service

Jeremy W. asks: Is it true that drinking tea made from twice boiled water is bad for you? There’s a rather persistent idea that “reboiling” water (i.e. boiling water two or more times and allowing it to cool in-between) while making a cup of tea is potentially harmful to your health, with some going so far as stating that regularly […]

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That Time Coca-Cola Tried to Sell Bottled Tap Water in the U.K. and the Hilarity That Ensued

bottled-water

As literally one of the biggest companies on Earth, Coca-Cola has their giant fingers in a lot of equally giant pies. One of those fingers happens to be dipped in the extremely lucrative bottled water market. The product we’re talking about today is Dasani, which currently earns Coca-Cola just shy of one billion dollars per year in the United States, […]

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Why Does the Yolk of an Overcooked Hard-Boiled Egg Turn Green?

hard-boiled-egg

Laura K. asks: Why does the yolk of a hard-boiled egg sometimes turn green? The process of hard-boiling an egg involves denaturation. During this process, the amino acid chains found in the proteins in the egg are altered from their original, raw egg state, with the denaturation temperature varying somewhat depending on the specific protein in question (see chart here). […]

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The Fascinating Ways in Which Breakfast Cereals are Made

breakfast-cereal

The following is an article from Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader Americans eat nearly three billion boxes of cereal every year. And yet few of us know how Rice Krispies, Corn Pops, or any other cereal is made. Here’s a look at the science behind some of our favorite breakfast foods. NATURAL-BORN POPPER Popcorn for breakfast? It’s not the first thing […]

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