These days some incarnation of macaroni and cheese seems to always appear on our social feeds, triggering our stomachs to let out a roar that would bring the Animal Kingdom to its knees. The ever-popular noodle dish leads to some pretty mouthwatering shots and is always a prime candidate to fill our bellies — lactose intolerance be damned.
A dish as lauded as mac and cheese must have been around for ages, right? Have you ever wondered what mac and cheese looked like hundreds of years ago? Perhaps in the 18th century?
Popular YouTube channel Townsends, picked up this macaroni and cheese recipe from 1784 to give us a glimpse at what the dish would look like in the way back when.
The channel is best known for recreating life back in the 18th century including how-to’s on tools, clothing, and recipes. This episode highlights how to make the historic “macaroni,” which was also a term used to describe a fashionable fellow back in that period. Let’s focus, however, on the variation of macaroni you can eat.
Tubular noodles are tossed into boiling water, cooked, and drained. The noodles are then thrown onto a frying pan where a gill (about half a cup) of heavy cream is added along with a ball of butter rolled in flour. The ingredients are cooked together for five minutes and removed from the pan. Finally, because it is macaroni and cheese after all, a hefty amount of parmesan cheese is added to the noodles and toasted with a salamander (a tool similar to a branding iron).
The result is a dish not too far off from the beloved macaroni and cheese we see today. Check out the video to see how it’s done, or simply to admire the detailed sets from this channel.
Wonder if I have any Lactaid lying around nearby? It’s almost lunch time.
According to Richard and AnnaKate Hartel’s book Candy Bites: The Science of Sweets, the Christmas candy is believed to have been created in Germany around 1670 — or so the legend goes.
In the ancient city of Cologne, it’s said a church choirmaster would give the children in his choir long sticks of hard candy with a crook at the end to keep them quiet during the longer than normal Christmas services. The shape of the candy may have been inspired by a shepherd’s staff, reminding the children of the shepherds who visited baby Jesus on the first Christmas.
Stories Behind the Great Traditions of Christmas, by Ace Collins, says that the iconic red stripes didn’t arrive until a couple hundred years later. In the 1920s, a candy maker from Georgia figured out how to hand-twist colors into candy canes. The candy itself, according to the book, represented the Holy Trinity: white for purity, red for Jesus’ redeeming blood, and the shape representing the shepherd’s staff.
Then, as the holiday candy became more and more popular, other candy makers began to emulate the seasonal sweet.
Here’s how a candy cane is made
So as you sit there this winter, sucking on the tail end of a candy cane, take a second to appreciate where your Christmas candy came from.
By the same token, we wonder if that Ruby Chocolate they just discovered will be this iconic in the centuries to come?
Bearded boy sucks on candy cane | Photo: Peter Pham
If you have a stash of Hershey’s kisses in your bedside table or do thorough research on which dark chocolate is best for your heart, then you probably consider yourself a chocolate aficionado – or, at least, a super fan. But how much do you really know about the melt-in-your mouth candy we all adore or the ancient bean from whence it came? We’re about to find out. Here are 15 things you probably didn’t know about chocolate.
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Milk and dark chocolate come from the cacao bean, which grows on the cacao tree (Theobroma cacao), an evergreen from the family Malvaceae (other members of the family include okra and cotton). This makes the most important part of the sweet treat a veggie. Eating your daily vegetables just got a whole lot easier.
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Sorry, white chocolate lovers. Since this extra-sweet variety doesn’t contain cocoa solids or chocolate liquor, it isn’t chocolate in the strict sense. However, it does contain parts of the cacao bean — mainly cocoa butter — so that counts a little bit.
The cacao bean is native to Mexico, Central America, and South America. Archeologists say the ancient inhabitants of these areas started cultivating the bean as far back as 1900 BCE and that the valuable bean was used as currency in the Aztec society. Cacao beans would be traded for luxury items like jade and ceremonial feathers, or everyday items such as food and clothes.
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Despite its Central American roots, nowadays most cacao (nearly 70% of the world’s supply) comes from Africa. The Ivory Coast is the largest single producer, providing about 30 percent of all the world’s cacao.
The French leader demanded that chocolate be made available to him and his senior advisers even during intense military campaigns. He was famously known to choose chocolate over coffee when he worked late at night, often enjoying the sweet until 2 or 3 a.m.
Milk chocolate was invented almost 4,000 years after chocolate was first cultivated
The Mayans and Aztecs were enjoying the bitter cacao bean long before the dawn of modern society, but that “chocolate” is nothing like a Hershey bar you’d go pick up at the store. The most popular chocolate in the modern world (although its darker counterpart has become extremely trendy recently) is milk chocolate – however, this wasn’t invented until 3,600 years after ancient civilizations started enjoying cacao.
Swiss chocolatier Daniel Peter created the tasty treat in 1875 after eight years of trying to make his recipe work. Condensed milk ended up being the key ingredient he was missing.
The invention of the first chocolate bar started a manufacturing empire
In 1847, British chocolate maker Joseph Fry found a way to mix the ingredients of cocoa powder, sugar and cocoa to manufacture a paste that could then be molded into a chocolate bar unlike anything the world had seen before. Demand was immediately high, and the Fry Chocolate Factory in Bristol, England began pumping out the bars. In the following decades, over 220 innovative chocolate products were introduced to the masses, including production of the first chocolate Easter egg in UK in 1873 and the Fry’s Turkish Delight (or Fry’s Turkish bar) in 1914. In 1896, the firm became a registered private company and was run by the Fry family, with Joseph Storrs Fry II, grandson of the first Joseph Storrs Fry, as Chairman.
Hot chocolate was the first chocolate treat
But, to be fair, it wasn’t quite the frothy, delicious drink we know today. The OG hot chocolate was an Aztec invention called xocolatl, which means “bitter water.” The drink was made with cacao beans, vanilla, and chili peppers and was thought to help battle fatigue. When Columbus and his men brought cacao beans back to Europe, sugar was then added to the drink, helping it to become popular throughout modern society. Now we get to watch first hand as YouTuber wilmo55 shows us a behind-the-scenes look at how this ancient beverage was prepared centuries ago. We’re not sure how well xocolatl would go over in our AS (After Starbucks) age, but we know that we owe a lot to this ancient drink.
Chocolate inspired the invention of the microwave
The thing that heats up so many of our frozen dinners and takeout leftovers – we owe it all to a little bit of melted chocolate. About 70 years ago, Raytheon engineer Percy Spencer was testing military-grade magnetron (or really intense magnets) when legend has it the heat made the chocolate bar in his pocket melt. Fascinated, Spencer brought popcorn kernels into the office next day and put them by the same heat, creating the first ever batch of microwave popcorn. Thanks to his melted snack, the microwave oven was born. Check out this How Stuff Works video to get the whole history on our favorite appliance.
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It probably sounds impressive that these ancient trees, which have been revered as “gifts from the gods,” can live to be centuries old. Seems fitting, right? Unfortunately, there is an interesting catch. Although these trees can live to be hundreds of years old, they old produce cacao beans for 25 years of that time. Talk about delicious irony.
Chocolate has a special melting point
When modern day chocolatiers were trying to find a way to market candy that wouldn’t melt in the consumer’s pocket, they discovered the trick was to make the melting point right below the human body temperature. Chocolate is the only edible substance to melt between 85-93° F, which is why it melts so easily on your tongue; it has a specially designed “mouthfeel” unlike any substance on earth, somewhere between solid and liquid. Want to learn how to melt chocolate correctly? Then you need this quick video tutorial from Everyday Food to feel like a honest-to-goodness chocolatier.
There’s now a chocolate that can withstand intense temperatures
Food scientists have been laboring for decades to come up with chocolate that won’t melt in the higher temperatures, to accommodate warmer places around the world. In 2012, Cadbury announced that they were developing a technique for formulating a bar that could withstand very high temperatures – up to 104 °F. By grinding the sugar down to a smaller particle size and reducing the fat content, Cadbury’s new chocolate can withstand much higher temperatures without liquefying. The company hopes to introduce the product in Africa and Brazil in the future.
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Granted, there was a lot more that won the war than eating chocolate, but historians credit the chocolate rations Hershey provided to the troops as a source of positive morale and energy. The Hershey Chocolate company was approached in 1937 about creating a specially designed bar just for U.S. Army emergency rations. According to Hershey’s chief chemist Sam Hinkle, the U.S. government had just four requests about their new chocolate bars: they had to weigh 4 ounces, be high in energy, withstand high temperatures and “taste a little better than a boiled potato.” According to some soldiers, the taste of a boiled potato was preferred to these ration bars, but the treat had a knack for picking up the soldier’s energy and spirits.
The cacao bean has this nifty concoction of chemicals in it, a mixture that really sets off the pleasure centers in our brain (which is why we love/crave chocolate constantly). One of the big parts of that mixture is a chemical known as anandamide, which activates dopamine receptors and consequently, makes us happy. The most closely related compound to this chemical is THC, which is the main constituent of cannabis and has a similar effect in the brain.
According to U.S. News, Switzerland is the #1 purchaser of chocolate in the world. The people of Switzerland purchased 18.1 lbs. of chocolate (yes, per person) in 2015 and that number went up to 19.8 in 2016. On the other hand, the U.S. wasn’t in the Top 10 in 2015 and broke in at #9 last year, with Americans buying 9.5 lbs. of chocolate for themselves in 2016. Honestly? We were expecting a lot more.
We’ve said it before, and we’ll have no qualms with saying it again: pizza brings people together. The cheesy slices topped with any ingredient your heart desires is the perfect mediator between anyone with a hearty love of food, especially those not afraid to get sauce and cheese all over their face.
Have you ever wondered about some of the fun history that goes beyond that slice of ‘za you’re about to devour? We found some interesting facts and history behind pizza for your mind to chew on as your mouth nibbles on that scrumptious pie.
The Pizza Hall of Fame calls Lombardi’s Pizzeria in Manhattan, New York, the first pizzeria in the United States. The business started in 1897 as a grocery store until 1905 where it got a business license to become a pizzeria.
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During World War II, many American GI’s popularized the dish after trying it overseas for the first time. They came home craving pizza and sought pizzerias in Italian neighborhoods to share with their friends and family. People loved it.
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While the origin of Chicago Deep Dish pizza is a subject of great debate, some say it was first created at Chicago’s Pizzeria Uno in 1943. This variation of pizza is baked in a high pan with tons of extra cheese and tomato sauce. Sure it takes longer to make, but it’ll definitely take you longer to also eat and enjoy a deep-dish than a regular pizza.
The popular promise Domino’s made in 1984 of delivering pizza in 30 minutes or less or customers would get a free refund if not was dropped in 1993. There was a lawsuit against the pizza chain claiming they promoted unsafe driving. This was after a Domino’s driver hit someone during a delivery. Now, pizza takes anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour to reach their final destination.
As of 2017, approximately 350 slices of pizza are eaten each second. The average number of pizza slices a person eats in a year is roughly 46. Man, looking at those stas makes us want to hit the gym – after a few more slices of pizza that is.
There is an expo devoted entirely to the pizza industry
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Pizza Expo is a business-to-business trade show that lets both independent and chain pizza restaurants network with manufacturers and service providers in the industry. The annual convention holds seminars, pizza-making workshops, and panel discussions. You can bet there will be tons of free pizza to “sample” on the convention floor. The world’s largest pizza expo is held at a variety of locations annually, including Las Vegas and Atlantic City.
National Pizza Day falls on February 2 in the U.S.
If your entire life is about that perfect slice of pizza, and you’re the type of person who loves any kind of variation of the pie, mark your calendar. In the United States, February 2 is National Pizza Day. On this day, be encouraged to grab a friend or loved one and split an extra large between yourselves.
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Antica Pizzeria Port’Alba in Naples, Italy, was the oldest recorded pizzeria. It opened in 1830 and is still open today. The restaurant serves wood-fired pizzas in an oven lined with lava rocks taken from Mount Vesuvius.
The record for the world’s longest pizza was broken in 2017 in Fontana, California. The pizza measured more than a mile long at 6,331 feet. It roughly boats 17,756 lbs of dough, more than 5,000 pounds of sauce, and 3,900 pounds of cheese.
Typically, we’re not too interested in covering food reviews, but there’s something pretty unique about a man who only evaluates field rations from the past.
YouTuber Steve1989 describes himself as someone who will eat just about anything. His page is essentially a virtual museum. In each video, he opens up cans of rations from a plethora of militaries and wars and takes an intimate look at the foods frozen in time within them.
Check out his review of US Army field rations from World War II.
In this video, Steve tries a WW2 Ration Type C B-Unit and analyzes each item as he goes. The can is stuffed with candies, coffee, and even some questionable cookies. Listening to this soft-spoken guy talk about field rations is so soothing. His excitement to try the 75-year-old snacks is also pretty darn commendable.
Check out the video to see his thoughts on the rations and the rest of his channel as he tries other rations from history. Dude’s probably got a stomach of iron.
The doorbell rings and you scramble to find your pants before greeting the pizza delivery guy. As you fumble for your wallet, you can already smell the heavenly aroma of your cheesy pepperoni-topped pizza.
There are dozens of different things pizza lovers can top their pies with, anchovies being our top pick. Have you every wondered, though, why pepperoni is such an iconic topping that it’s featured in practically every reference to the Italian dish here in American culture?
In the 1900s, pizzerias in New York found that customers would enjoy the combination of pepperoni and cheese the most. The two ingredients went together like lamb and tuna fish.
Cured salami was a mixture of meat and fat that was finely chopped and mixed with peppers and spices. Rolled into a pig casing, the pepperoni was air dried for up to ten months at a time before it was ready for consumption.
Over the last century, advances in science found ways to cheat the months-long pepperoni curing process to produce the meat in a matter of hours. This allowed companies to mass produce the popular topping to meet the demands of pepperoni-loving Americans.
Pepperoni consequently became so popular that brands would make “healthier” variations for customers to buy made from both turkey and soy.
Fast forward a century later and pepperoni is still the veritable champ of pizza toppings, reigning over nearly every pizza topping list. It could be a millennia before another ingredient comes along to claim that title, but today, pepperoni remains the people’s choice.
Instant foods have become a pillar in every day diets. When you’re running behind and can’t find the time to cook a meal, simply throwing something pre-made in the microwave can make all the world of difference for you and your family.
Bon Appetit created a new 100 year video showcasing the rich history behind instant foods dating all the way back to the 1920s. In the video, a panel of kids try a variety of quick and microwavable foods you don’t need to spend much time cooking up.
Notable dishes include popcorn, microwave dinners, astronaut foods, instant pancake mix, Hamburger Helper, and Velveeta cheese. Essentially all the food groups you need for a balanced on-the-go lifestyle.
Man, it really makes us feel old when these kids say they don’t recognize some of the foods they’re trying.
You might recognize Worcestershire sauce as the ingredient to many dishes. It’s found in Caesar salads, chilis, stews, marinades, and even cocktails. You may have even seen the fascinating process in which Worcestershire sauce is made. Have you ever wondered, however, how the popular condiment came into existence?
Step into our time machine, strap yourselves in, and let us play you the soulful stylings of Brian McKnight as we take a trip back at one to discover the origins of Worcestershire sauce.
If the name Lea and Perrins sounds familiar to you, it’s because you may have seen it labeled on many bottles of Worcestershire sauces in the United States. Well these two gentlemen are credited as the inventors of Worcestershire sauce.
According to Josh Chetwynd’s book How The Hot Dog Found Its Bun, the origin is shrouded in mystery.
In 1837, the two chemists created a tangy new condiment that they believed would be a hit among ship stewards going on long voyages. John Weeley Lea and William Henry Perrins convinced them to pack their new “Worcestershire” sauce in barrels as it was believed to be much more resilient to spoiling than other perishable condiments at the time. It was even used by gold miners far from England in the desert wasteland known as Northern California.
People would throw it on oysters, beef dishes, and even eggs.
The origin behind the recipe, however, may as well be a lost grain in the sands of time.
You see, Lea and Perrins were very particular about with whom they shared their popular sauce recipe with. In fact, 150 years after Worcestershire sauce was introduced, only four people actually knew how it was made.
The creators, however, would tell a fantastical tale to their employees on how the sauce came to be. Whether or not this was rooted in truth, has been a subject of discussion for years.
Legend goes, a nobleman from the country of Worcestershire named Lord Sandys approached the two pharmacists with a peculiar request of recreating a similar flavor to the curry he experienced in his time in India serving as the governor of Bengal.
Lea and Perrins set to work, trying their best to recreate the combination of flavors that the nobleman had requested. Unfortunately, they came up short with a sauce that was pretty potent and pretty inedible. They left behind a barrel of their failure sauce where it was forgotten, until months later where a clerk had found it. Upon tasting it, the clerk discovered that the sauce had an excellent taste to it — having fermented for months unnoticed.
While the tale is pretty cool, there are some historical inaccuracies with this origin. Brian Keogh points out in his book The Secret Sauce – A History of Lea & Perrin that there were no historical records that Lord Sandys was ever in India, much less the governor of Bengal.
A similar, more plausible story, says that a Worcestershire author by the name of Elizabeth Grey visited the wife of Lord Sandy. Upon hearing the Lady Sandy’s craving of curry powder, Grey recounted a recipe she got from her uncle who had been a former chief justice in India. Grey even recommended to up-and-coming chemists to try and recreate that curry recipe.
Any guesses who those two might be?
The facts are that the exact origins died with Lea and Perrins. We know it was introduced in 1837 and we know the creators came up with some pretty fantastic accounts of how it came to be. Since the sauce tastes so damn good, we’ll give the enigma a pass.
Today, among all the hip new condiments, Worcestershire sauce is still wildly popular. You can find it in recipes for Sloppy Joe, Bloody Mary, steak, burgers, and even crab cakes.
“My dad throws it on everything,” said fellow Foodbeast Brayden Curtis.
When asked if the Curtis household had any more bottles we could use for stock photos, he replied: