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Products

You Can Buy Pizza-Flavored Salad Dressing

On Monday, for reasons unbeknownst to me (let’s say for science), members of the NPR staff tried a pizza-flavored salad dressing.

Self-described humorists from NPR’s Wait, Wait…Don’t Tell Me! quiz show subjected their bodies to a flavor of Chef Kidd’s Funagrette. The salad dressing is meant to be a fun way to entice kids to eat salads, but literally sounds like the physical incarnation of regret.

Highlights of their heroic taste test include:

As a salad dressing, it’s gross. As a proof of concept for intravenous pizza, it’s promising. – Ian Chillag

This isn’t a way to get kids to like salad. It’s a way to get them to hate pizza. – Peter Sagal

The Honey Berry and Cocoa Berry Funagrettes sound palatable, but Lime Rickey (some sort of pirate disease vinaigrette, I’m assuming) and PB & J flavors also threaten to drench children’s salads.

You’ve been warned.

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Hit-Or-Miss

Today I Learned: The Word ‘Ketchup’ Actually Means Preserved Fish Sauce

ketchup

You’d be hard pressed to find a condiment more “American” than ketchup, but it seems that, just like everything else in this great nation of ours, we stole that from someone else too.

Last week, NPR took a look at Stanford linguist’s Dan Jurafsky’s book The Language of Food, to puzzle out a few interesting etymological factoids — including, yes, the history of ketchup.

According to Jurafsky, our favorite tomato-based hot dog topping actually started as a kind of preserved Chinese fish sauce in the 5th century. The process for its creation involved “‘layering local fish in jars with cooked rice and salt, covered with bamboo leaves, and left to ferment.'” The result was pickled fish, and a leftover salty, fish-flavored sauce called ketchup — “tchup” being a word for sauce in Chinese and “ke” meaning “preserved fish.”

In the 19th century, British sailors who had traveled to Asia added tomatoes to the mix, and not too long after that, the fish was eventually ditched and Americans added sugar. The name ketchup, however, stuck.

How’s that for watercooler fodder?

Categories
Sweets

Bakers Are Really Mad Scientists: The Chemistry Behind Cookies

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Have you ever really thought about the science behind your favorite chocolate chip cookies? Whether your baking from scratch or using those pre-made dough cubes baking is all about chemistry.

The video below was created by TEDed. It explains what exactly goes on in your cookie once you shut the oven door. From the start the entire baking process is a meticulous scientific process. As explained by the narrator, “when you slide the pan into the oven, you’re setting off a series of chemical reactions that transform one substance, dough, into another, cookies”. The science isn’t simply the dough baking off into a nice crispy cookie, it’s much more than that. Emulsions, caramelization, maillard reactions and linked structures all have to do with the spread, rise, color and flavor of your beloved chocolate chip cookie.

Science can also help manipulate the diameter and thickness of a cookie simply by tweaking certain components of the recipe. The temperature of your butter affects both the texture and diameter of your cookies. How fast the butter melts determines the speed of cookie spread aka the diameter of your cookie. Melted butter usually results in a wider, chewier cookie while chilled butter will yield a thicker, more cake-like cookie.

The video also discusses that age old cookie dough myth and whether or not Mom was right to keep us away from that raw cookie gold. Salmonella can live in freezing temperatures of 32 degrees F but they die off at 134 degrees F, keeping your cookies safe from tainted harm but it’s on you whether or not you want to tempt the cookie gods and snag a spoonful of dough.

It turns out we don’t need a kitchen timer to tell us when our cookies are ready, according to TEDed our nose “is a sensitive scientific instrument”, your cookies are ready when you smell that “nutty toasty aromas of the maillard reaction and caramelization”.

Who said science couldn’t be delicious?

H/T NPR + PicThx YouTube, Love This Pic

Categories
Hit-Or-Miss

Apparently, Pot is Bad For Kids; Government Calls for Childproof Pot Brownies

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A kid’s life is hard nowadays. Sometimes, he has to use a desktop computer instead of his second generation iPad to search Wikipedia for the answers to his homework questions. Sometimes, he searches all 3000 available cable channels, and the only thing on is that vintage old people show, Boy Meets World. And sometimes, the stash of brownies he happened upon are laced with marijuana. All he wanted was a snack!

While the former two issues can be counted off as first world problems, the third is apparently a legitimate medical concern in states where laws against THC have been relaxed. See, for the most part, kids know not to go in medicine cabinets. Even if their parents haven’t told them a hundred and one times not to go in there, many medicine cabinets are child-proof, and all medicine bottles are. Unfortunately, it’s real difficult to childproof those marijuana edibles, especially when they look like cookies. If there is an opposite of childproofing, this is it.

Dr. George Sam Wang of Children’s Hospital Colorado started researching pint-sized cases of pot intoxication after having seen an increase in said cases over the last few years. Unsurprisingly, these occurrences began to crop up more frequently after Colorado changed its marijuana laws back in 2009. Since then, 14 children, all under the age of 12, had been admitted to the hospital where Wang works for ingestion of marijuana. Of these 14, eight had consumed medical marijuana (as opposed to the street drugs), and seven had gotten it from an edible. Two ended up in intensive care.

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This is crazy depressing, but not necessarily surprising. We all know kids ain’t nothing but smaller versions of us, and with pot having increased in potency in the last several years, the effect it’d have on tinier systems is cause for concern.

Enter Michael Kosnett, a really cool dude. He’s also a medical toxicologist and associate clinical professor at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, and he and Wang have been working up an idea with Colorado policymakers. Get this: Childproof your pot brownies. At least the ones that are bought and sold on the market. Like grabbing Tylenol off the shelf and knowing you’ll have to perform some level of contortion to open it, heading into your pot shop will now mean getting your pot cookies in a cage. Or at least, according to the new signature by Colorado’s governor (which went into affect on June 1st), “child-resistant packaging” means only 20 percent of 4-5 year olds can open it in around ten minutes. Plenty of time for a parent to walk in and lie about why the brownies in the back of the freezer are only for grown-ups.

H/T NPR + PicThx Gossipy , National Journal

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Sweets

The 9 Most Popular Thanksgiving Pies Pie Chart [INFOGRAPHIC]

(click through for hi-res)

Here’s a confession: I’m not a huge fan of turkey. Not a huge fan of mashed potatoes or cranberries or buttered things, either. What I do love – and I mean love – about Thanksgiving, though, is the dessert.

Keep your oversized birds and your baby food side dishes. Sit me down with a hot, hunking piece of apple pie a la mode and I’m set for the winter.

Here’s a look at the top 9 pie types Americans are eating this Thanksgiving:

  1. Apple – 20%
  2. Strawberry – 19%
  3. Pumpkin – 16%
  4. Cherry – 13%
  5. Blueberry – 9%
  6. Pecan – 8%
  7. Lemon Meringue – 8%
  8. Chocolate – 5%
  9. Chess – 2%

And a few extra pie facts for good measure:

  • Apparently, the first pies were filled with meat and called coffins, which could either be a total misnomer or completely accurate (probably both).
  • Mini, sliced and half pies make up 24 percent of pies bought. Yay portion control.
  • Recent growths in popularity for blueberry and cherry pies can be attributed to the public’s desire for antioxidants. Because nothing screams “healthy” like your third slice of blueberry pie.
  • Pies are slowly starting to challenge cupcakes for title of “trendiest dessert.”

chart via Coupon Cabin / pie facts via NPR

Categories
Hit-Or-Miss

Apparently Nuked Cans Of Beer Are Still Safe To Drink, May Taste A Little ‘Off’

For those of you lucky enough to still be alive on December 22, you can now rest assured knowing your favorite drugstore brews will not only remain completely intact, but will also be completely drinkable.

This is all thanks to a recently discovered 1957 U.S. government study entitled “The Effect of Nuclear Explosions on Commercially Packaged Beverages” (codename: Operation Teapot), for which scientists placed several cans and bottles of soda and beer at various distances from an atomic explosion in order to test their subsequent taste and radioactivity.

As relayed by NPR’s Robert Krulwich, the scientists with arguably the best (or worst) job ever exploded two bombs — one 20 kilotons of TNT, the other 30 — and discovered that most of the bottles and cans not only survived the explosion, but also served as decent enough buffers to prevent any obscene amount of radioactivity from spilling over into their contents. The drinks, Krulwich writes, were in fact  “well within the permissible limits for emergency use” according to the report, with the operative word “emergency” probably meaning something like you won’t turn zombie or sprout extra eyes or anything, at least not right away.

He does go on to state that immediate taste tests did reveal a “slight flavor change” in drinks exposed at 1,270 feet from Ground Zero, while the “most blasted” beers were “‘definitely off.'” But who knows? Maybe the radioactivity just bumped up the alcohol content and by the time the tests were done, all these scientists were drinking Super Saiyan-level Moonshine and talking nonsense.

The moral of the story is, when in doubt in the midst of a thirst-quenching end-of-world scenario, go ahead and take a sip of that rusty, radioactive Corona or Miller or Bud. Because science. And because beer.