Category Archives: Food

The Truth About the Surprisingly Recent Invention of the Tea Bag, and the Women Who Really Invented It

tea-bags

Mark A. asks: Who invented tea bags? Legend says that brewing tea dates back to around 2737 BC, when tea leaves fell into water being boiled for Emperor Shennong of China. There does not appear to be any hard evidence of tea being discovered this way, but evidence we do have suggests that brewing tea did indeed likely start in […]

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The Difference Between “Regular”, Virgin and Extra Virgin Olive Oils

olive-oil2

Karl W. asks: What’s the difference between regular olive oil and virgin? Generally speaking, olive oils fall into one of two broad categories: refined and unrefined, with virgin and extra virgin fitting in the latter category, and pure and light olive oils in the former. Olives used to make the two virgin, unrefined oils aren’t treated with heat or chemicals, […]

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Is Honey Vegan?

honey-bee

Melissa asks: Is honey considered vegan? There’s a reason there’s the expression “busy as a bee.” These buzzing insects’ entire lives are dedicated to making sure the hive keeps humming and the next generation of bees are born. Worker bees are consistently building, cleaning and protecting their home. When they are not tending to the hive, they are foraging for […]

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Why Cashews are Not Sold to Consumers in Their Shells and Why Pistachios Used to Be Dyed Red

cashew

Why Cashews are Not Sold to Consumers in Their Shells Cashews are a member of the same family as poison ivy, Anacardiaceae. Like poison ivy and many other members of the family, part of the cashew plant contains an oily chemical called urushiol, which is a strong irritant for most people and can even be fatal for some if ingested. […]

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Why Toothpaste Makes Things Like Orange Juice Taste So Awful

orange-juice

You may think the reason toothpaste makes things like orange juice taste so awful is simply due to the common mint flavor of toothpaste clashing with other flavors, but this isn’t actually what’s going on here. The real culprit is thought to be two compounds almost universally added to toothpastes -sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium lauryl ether sulfate, which are […]

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The Uber Tuber

roasted potatoes

The following is an article from Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader Oh, the poor potato—a symbol of laziness (couch potato) and unhealthy eating (cheese fries). But it deserves much better. Here’s how the lowly potato altered the course of human history. SPUDS OF THE INCAS For at least 4,000 years, potatoes have been cultivated in the Peruvian Andes. The Incas called […]

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The Surprisingly Short History of the Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich

peanut-butter-and-jelly

The peanut butter and jelly sandwich is such a staple of American childhood these days that it seems like it’s been around, well, forever. In fact, it took a surprisingly long time after all the necessary ingredients were invented for someone to put them together, and several decades more before doing this became popular. In fact, there are people alive […]

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Asparagus, Beets, Carrots and Your Urine

squeezed-juices

Stephanie I. asks: Why do beets turn some peoples pee red while others it doesn’t? Asparagus may be the most well-known urine changer, and even Ben Franklin acknowledged that just “a few stems of asparagus eaten, shall give our urine a disagreeable odor.” Although the precise mechanism is not definitively understood (despite extensive study), it is generally thought that a […]

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Why Do Americans Refrigerate Their Eggs and Most Other Countries Don’t?

milk-eggs-and-bread

Matt asks: Why do Americans refrigerate eggs and other countries don’t? How long do eggs last unrefrigerated? In supermarkets across the United States, Australia, and Japan, eggs can be found in the refrigerated section alongside other cold items such as milk and cheese. However, in most other countries of the world, eggs can be found stored at room temperature alongside nonperishable […]

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From Scouring Soap to Chewing Gum- William Wrigley Jr. and His Freebies

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Most of us who have been chewing sticks of Spearmint or Juicy Fruit gum over the last several decades probably assume that the manufacture and sale of gum was what Wrigley was always about. After all, the company, which was founded by William Wrigley Jr., is famous for being the leading gum manufacturer globally, with an array of brands like […]

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