Archive for Worth a Fork

Wearing off the green

“Is your taco salad healthy? “Of course it is. It’s a salad, isn’t it?

Well, Mr. Real Man of Genius, those few shreds of lettuce don’t mean squat:

Charles Benbrook … and colleague Donald Davis developed a nutrient quality index — a way to rate foods based on how much of 27 nutrients they contain per 100 calories. Four of the five lowest-ranking foods (by serving size) are salad ingredients: cucumbers, radishes, lettuce and celery. (The fifth is eggplant.)

Those foods’ nutritional profile can be partly explained by one simple fact: They’re almost all water. Although water figures prominently in just about every vegetable (the sweet potato, one of the least watery, is 77 percent), those four salad vegetables top the list at 95 to 97 percent water. A head of iceberg lettuce has the same water content as a bottle of Evian (1-liter size: 96 percent water, 4 percent bottle) and is only marginally more nutritious.

It’s worse than that, even:

The makings of a green salad — say, a head of lettuce, a cucumber and a bunch of radishes — cost about $3 at my supermarket. For that, I could buy more than two pounds of broccoli, sweet potatoes or just about any frozen vegetable going, any of which would make for a much more nutritious side dish to my roast chicken.

Lettuce is a vehicle to transport refrigerated water from farm to table.

I’m almost tempted to send back that bottle of Evian and order, yes, a Bud Light.

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Dining alone

Unless I’m on the road, I eat out once a week, maximum; that leaves six evening meals of varying complexity which I prepare on my own, inasmuch as no one is going to do it for me. And I don’t have a problem with that:

When I was a kid, cooking for singles wasn’t an issue, because you were generally married not long after you got out of high school.

And in the not too distant future it won’t be a problem because you’ll order whatever you want from Amazon Instant Delivery and it will arrive ten minutes later, delicious, steaming hot, and ready to eat.

But in this interregnum with “boys” cowering in basements rightfully fearing commitment, and women shrieking that they need men the way fish need birth control, there are a lot of hungry singles out there.

And almost none of them even know how to boil water.

Trust me, I can boil water. (The trick, of course, is to marinate it in bourbon for several minutes.)

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Demand being what it is

Yours truly, at the end of a post about something sort of relevant, five and a half years ago:

The highly-prized Chilean sea bass used to be known as the Patagonian toothfish.

Turns out it was even more highly prized than I thought:

Consider the Patagonian toothfish. Ugly and obscure, yet large and easily caught, it was the perfect candidate for a rebranding. To make it more appealing to Americans, fish wholesaler Lee Lantz coined the name “Chilean Sea Bass.” The resulting surge in the fish’s popularity made it a staple at chic restaurants, but it also devastated the Antarctic’s wild toothfish stock. Though international law restricts toothfishing, unscrupulous captains routinely flout these regulations.

Interestingly, it’s not called the Chilean sea bass in Chile; there, it’s referred to as “Bacalao de profundidad” — “cod of the depths.”

(Via Nancy Friedman.)


The beef retains the name

McDonald’s Quarter Pounder has always started with a 4-ounce — 0.25 pound — beef patty, before cooking. It was down to 2.8 ounces once done, but hey, everyone understands beef shrinkage, right?

Well, it’s still going to shrink, but now they’re starting out bigger:

Fast food giant McDonald’s has quietly made a change to one its most popular items: the Quarter Pounder.

The sandwich now defies burger math and includes 4.25 ounces of beef, slightly more than its former size of 4 ounces before cooking.

Assuming the same shrinkage rate, it should end up at 2.975 ounces.

Still unknown: (1) whether the price will be raised; (2) whether they’ll change the name in France.

(Via Consumerist.)

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Déjà chew

Did you ever wonder just what mysterious stuff is inside your half of a Kit Kat bar? It’s not exactly chocolate; it’s vaguely crunchy, which eliminates contenders like nougat; and it’s described nowhere in the advertising. And there’s a perfectly good, if perhaps off-putting, reason for that:

You see, not every chocolate bar is created perfectly. When they roll off the production line, Quality Assurance technicians remove the Kit Kats that have too many exterior air bubbles, or off-centre wafers, or any other imperfections right down to those that simply aren’t shiny enough. As far as the manufacturers are concerned, consumers don’t want imperfect chocolate bars.

But rather than being thrown away, those second-class bats are recycled back into the production process. After being ground up into a fine paste, they form the filling you find between the Kit Kat’s wafers. In many ways, it’s a stroke of genius — no edible Kit Kat is wasted!

Um, okay. But knowing this is a long way from answering these questions:

For example, how old is the oldest part of a Kit Kat? If all Kit Kats contain the remains of imperfect Kit Kats, and not all Kit Kats are perfect, then every Kit Kat that gets recycled contains the remains of older Kit Kats, which contained older Kit Kats, which contained older Kit Kats … so how far back does that actually go?!

Chicken and egg are still squabbling over this one.

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Leave our wieners alone

Lynn thinks these folks might be just a hair high-handed:

The National Hot Dog and Sausage Council says that there is one Proper Way to Eat a Hot Dog. I would like to believe this is tongue-in-cheek but I fear they are serious.

In other news, there is a National Hot Dog and Sausage Council.

First of all, they tell us that we must use only “plain buns or those with poppy or sesame seeds.” I use whole wheat buns. Is that okay, Your High-and-Mightiness? I haven’t seen any sun dried tomato or basil buns but I would try them. Then they tell us the exact order in which the condiments must go on the hot dog. Sorry, I put the onions on first, then the chili. And I’m right; the Hot Dog Council is wrong. Putting the onions on first keeps them from falling off.

Make that two votes for onions before chili. After all, the onions aren’t going to prevent you from getting chili all over your arm.

They tell us that we should take no more than five bites to eat a hot dog, seven if it’s a foot-long. Seriously?! I just … I can’t even! I hardly know what to say about that. I suppose if you’re a really big guy and you normally take bigger bites than the average person just five bites might be acceptable but normally if I saw someone eating a hot dog like that I would think, “What a pig!”

I have a certain degree of, um, burliness, but no way am I going to polish off a foot-long in seven bites. If the Council wants to do good by us, they ought to start by reconciling the packaging counts for hot dogs and buns.

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Thin but mintless

It was inevitable, I suppose, that I would somehow talk myself into a package of Oreo Thins, and after stalling for a week and a half, I pulled the tab — Keebler, thou shouldst steal this idea, as thy current packaging sucketh — and grabbed a handful.

On the most severe tests of Oreos, the results were mixed. I managed to unscrew several without breaking the cookie or tearing the Stuf, what little Stuf there is. However, they don’t seem to dunk particularly well: it takes roughly twice as long to absorb the milk.

Flavor? Well, they do taste sort of like Oreos, though the mouthfeel is a bit off, and there’s a hint of aftertaste one does not find in the original; I suspect that they’ve monkeyed with the recipe a little to meet the calorie goal of 35 per. Overall, I think a variation on the original Lite Beer slogan would work here: it’s everything you always wanted in a cookie, and less.

Meanwhile, this seems to be the most useful advice:


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Puts the “ack” in “snack”

So apparently this is what we get for complaining about Cool Ranch Doritos:

Lay's Hot Chili Squid Chips from Thailand

The keepers of the late, lamented Munchies Blog tried a bag and lived to tell:

We at Munchies Blog have tried many strange chips here, but none had us as scared as Lay’s Hot Chili Squid. As Roy opened up the bag he simply exclaimed “Oh my god” and smelled the bag, “it’s like rotten fish.” I went to the bag and took a whiff and it was all true, it smelled like the bottom of the sea, but would it taste like it?

And actually, it wasn’t quite as repulsive as it sounds:

[T]he taste itself wasn’t particularly fishy or squidlike, but rather a mild fishlike taste and a semi-spicy kick at the very end. As you take the bite the hardest part is actually overcoming the smell of the chip and allowing yourself to eat them. Once that first bite is down, however, they aren’t so bad.

And I suppose that there are worse flavors out there.

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Crisper material

Then again, perhaps not yours or mine:

If you care, this is the Homeland store at 18th and Classen, widely derided as the weakest link in the chain. To me, these so-called “green beans” look like they’ve spent a long time in someone’s ears.


This stuff can kale you

Avoiding kale, if not exactly a priority, has certainly been a factor on my task list, on the sensible basis that “flavorful,” that popular foodie term, does not, I believe, necessarily imply that the flavor in question is at all desirable.

But some foodies may soon be turning their backs on the stuff, not for flavor considerations, but for something a bit more intensive:

[A]lt-medicine researcher and molecular biologist Ernie Hubbard … began to notice an odd trend among some of his clinic’s clients in California’s Marin County, a place known for its organic farms, health-food stores, and yoga studios. Extremely health-conscious people were coming into to complain of “persistent but elusive problems”: “Chronic fatigue. Skin and hair issues. Arrhythmias and other neurological disorders. Foggy thinking. Gluten sensitivity and other digestive troubles. Sometimes even the possibility of Lyme Disease.”

Hubbard began to find detectable levels of a toxic heavy metal called thallium in patients’ blood samples — at higher-than-normal levels — as well as in kale leaves from the region. Meanwhile, “over and over,” he found that patients complaining of symptoms associated with low-level thallium poisoning — fatigue, brain fog, etc. — would also be heavy eaters of kale and related vegetables, like cabbage.

And he found, in the form of this 2006 peer-reviewed paper by Czech researchers, evidence that kale is really good at taking up thallium from soil. The paper concluded that kale’s ability to accumulate soil-borne thallium is “very high and can be a serious danger for food chains.” And here’s a peer-reviewed 2013 paper from Chinese researchers finding similar results with green cabbage; a 2015 Chinese study finding green cabbage is so good at extracting thallium from soil that it can be used for “phytoremediation” — i.e., purifying soil of a toxin — and a 2001 one from a New Zealand team finding formidable thallium-scrounging powers in three other members of the brassica family: watercress, radishes, and turnips.

Excuse me while I smile at “thallium-scrounging powers.”

Up until about the early 1970s, you could buy thallium sulfate at your local hardware store: it made a good rat poison. Turns out, of course, that it can poison lots of critters besides rats. Still, it’s not like the whole earth is just saturated with the stuff; while thallium is not exactly rare as elements go, the most common sources are industrial. One of those industries, however, is big in these parts: oil drilling.


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Now post me a sandwich

The only way this could be better would be if you could actually download a grilled-cheese sandwich:

Cheese Posties is a new initiative by the folks behind hot sauce subscription service Lick My Dip.

In other news, there exists a hot-sauce subscription service.

The idea is pretty straightforward: you subscribe and they send you a toastie every week. Well, the ingredients for a toastie. You do obviously have to toast it yourself. I’m pointing this out because some very pedantic killjoys have repeatedly made the point that a toastie isn’t a toastie unless it’s toasted, and therefore they’re “posting you a sandwich.” I think these people need to find some love in their lives.

You don’t need a grill or a George Foreman to toast your toastie, because it comes with its own toaster bag. All the ingredients arrive in a letterbox-sized package, safely separated up so you can construct your toastie the way you like it.

Our author samples the wares:

Varieties, you ask?

Other recipes include Chocolate Cheesecake (cream cheese and Nutella), Mascarpone & Biscuit Butter, Blue Stilton & Raspberry, Balsamic Blueberry & Cream Cheese and Gouda & Tigernut Relish (no, I don’t know what that is either).

On reading the recipe list, I noticed a distinct lack of the world’s best cheese — halloumi — and asked the question. They assured me that a Halloumi & Honey variant is in the pipeline. Praise cheesus.

Admittedly, this is a bit lower-tech than, say, faxing a beer, but it has its charms.

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Unsmart cookie

First we find out that Double Stuf falls short of being truly Double. Now we’re getting an Oreo in which you can barely see the Stuf:

Oreos are getting a skinny new look, and its maker says the new cookie is a “sophisticated” snack for grown-ups that isn’t meant to be twisted or dunked.

Mondelez International Inc. says it will add “Oreo Thins” to its permanent lineup in the U.S. starting next week. The cookies look like regular Oreos and have a similar cookie-to-filling ratio, except that they’re slimmer. That means four of the cookies contain 140 calories, compared with 160 calories for three regular Oreos.

For those who will sit there and eat half the package at a sitting, this is essentially meaningless.

And apparently the Thins are (quelle surprise!) fragile:

[I]t took months for the company to perfect manufacturing for the Thins. Early on … 60 percent of the cookies were breaking, but that the rate eventually came down to 3 percent.

Perhaps this could be alleviated with a Double Stuf Thin, though I suspect that isn’t happening. In the meantime:

You can twist the Oreo Thin, but three out of every four cracked when we tried — unlike the original, which as we all know, usually separates with ease.

So clearly the manufacturer is invoking the original first definition of “sophisticated”: “deprived of native or original simplicity.”

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Strong enough for a woman

And heaven help the man who tries it:

When I began my exploration of gendered food items, I was hoping for a dramatic payoff. Perhaps a set of fuzzy breasts sprouting from my chest, or some semblance of emotional intelligence, or at least a clearer understanding of how cereal, salad, and trail mix can be feminine. Instead, I got a pile of cardboard packaging and confirmation of my thesis: marketing something as “for women” — the pinks and purples, the low-calorie labels, the suggestions that life is just sooooo crazy and women need to take a break with a thumbnail-sized brownie — is the dumbest gimmick in food marketing.

He says he did check himself for nardlessness. Among the items in question:

You’re no doubt aware of Luna Bars, which have been around for 16 years and say right there on the wrapper that they’re a “whole nutrition bar for women.” A handful of other products, including Mother’s Milk tea and an untold number of chalky bars, take a similarly explicit approach. They’re typically fortified with extra calcium, vitamin D, or other nutrients ostensibly important to running a woman. But most of the food products that are “for women” stay away from mentioning nutrients. Like Activia and Special K, they’re pitched with ads full of women, touted as a convenient way to “have it all,” and always framed as a weapon in the never-ending fight against fat.

Honestly? I saw my first Luna Bar last month. And I thought: “How is this fair when Celestia gets cake?

After a week of eating like this, I learned a few things about food “for women.” First of all, it’s sweet. The breakfast, the snacks, the ostensibly healthy bars — all loaded with sugar or some form of sugar substitute. This, the packaging taught me, is because women are always thinking about dessert. They always want something decadent — but they mustn’t! That would make them fat. These snacks are attempts to approximate dessert without the calories. But they’re bad approximations. Dessert isn’t just about tasting the brownie; it’s about becoming comatose on the brownie. Eighty calories won’t get you there.

The other clear lesson was that food “for women” just isn’t enough food. Not unless you eat double the portion at each sitting. Maybe that’s because I’m a man and I need additional calories. But more likely it’s because this stuff is designed to starve you.

Which is supposedly what the women want, only they aren’t supposed to say so.

He did admit to finding the Luna Bar acceptable. But after two weeks of this stuff, he might have been ready for a Yorkie bar.

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Rabbit is less silly

You remember the litany: “Raspberry red! Lemon yellow! Orange orange!” They can stay. The rest of the colors have gotta go:

General Mills says it’s getting rid of artificial flavors and colors from all of its cereal lines.

Say goodbye to Red 40, Yellow 6, Blue 1 and other artificial dyes common in some cereals, especially those sweet and brightly colored cereals aimed at kids. Instead, General Mills says it will use colors made from spices and fruit and vegetable concentrates.

The company announced today that it’ll start the process by first removing all the artificial stuff from Trix, Cocoa Puffs and Reese’s Puffs by the end of the year.

All the Puffs, in other words. (Except for Kix, which is a Puff but which never had either flavor or color, artificial or otherwise.)

And Trix specifically will look different — it won’t have green and blue puffs anymore, as it’s tough to make blue food colors with natural ingredients. Without blue, it’s impossible to create green.

“Trix is known for color, so this hit Trix pretty hard,” said Kate Gallagher, a General Mills cereal developer. Natural ingredients the company tried to get those same colors didn’t work out so well.

The New England Confectionary Company could probably have told you that.

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Tastiest prize of them all

Indiana’s Hoosier Lottery — who else would have a Hoosier Lottery? — is circulating scratch-off cards that smell like bacon. That’s been done before, but this hasn’t:

[U]nlike previous bacon-themed lotteries designed to tempt your olfactory system, this one actually includes the savory meat in the list of prizes, with a 20-year supply of bacon at stake for players.

Along with rewarding whiff of meat on the $2 cards that went on sale [Tuesday], there are the usual cash prizes to tempt players, with instant prizes of up to $10,000 and five chances to win 20 years of bacon.

Some of us could go through twenty years’ worth faster than others, I suspect. And just how much is twenty years’ worth, anyway?

[T]he prize will be paid out in 20 installments of bacon (worth approximately $250 each) to allow for easy refrigeration, according to the official rules [pdf].

Odds of bringing home this bacon: 1 in 1,284,200.


Unjust dessert

At some point in the late 1960s, some humor publication — not one of the major ones — proposed some truly horrid-sounding ice-cream flavors, including Tomato Fudge, Banana Oregano, Coconut Garlic, and perennial favorite Pickle Brickle. I managed to persuade my peers, indolent students all, that we ought to try to make some of these. (Summary: No, we should not have tried to make any of these.)

I managed not to think about that for forty-odd years, until this happened:

And you know what’s coming next, right?


  • 1 1/2 tsp Gelatin
  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • 2 cups milk
  • 3/4-1 cup sugar
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups whipping cream
  • Strawberry topping (or other fruit)

The instructions are fairly simple. And now you know how well I take direction.

(Current number of post tags: 11,290.)

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The moment of untruth

Were this an actual product, I would have expected to get email about it:

Alleged Oreo in Spam flavor

So far today I’ve brought up Spam and sausage. I don’t know yet if the opportunity will present itself to work in a reference to lobster thermidor aux crevettes with a Mornay sauce, served in a Provençal manner with shallots and aubergines, garnished with truffle pâté, brandy, and a fried egg on top and Spam.

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Screaming deal silenced

One of the regular items on my grocery-shopping list has been the sausage biscuit offered by Durant, Oklahoma’s J. C. Potter, a box of six — three sleeves, two to a sleeve — for, lately, $3.99.

When I ran out earlier this month, I hit up the store and found no boxes. However, there was a bag of 24 — 12 sleeves, two to a sleeve — for $7.98. Four times the product for twice the price? Shut up and take my money.

Eventually, though, those ran out, and I decided to buy more. The store, or Mr. Potter, or someone, has evidently come to its senses: the bag is now $11.98. Still thrice the product for twice the price, but not so compelling a deal, especially given the speed with which I must consume these little darbs to beat the pull date. (One can eat only so much sausage and so many biscuits without affecting one’s internal workings.)


Dintier than thou

Hormel’s Dinty Moore beef stew was long ago made available in a plastic microwavable tub: cut a slit in the cover, nuke for 90 seconds, and there you have it. I pick up one of these now and then just to break up the cycle of frozen stuff (usually Stouffer’s or Boston Market, occasionally Healthy Choice if I’m not paying attention), and besides, they spend less time in the reactor: like it says, a mere 90 seconds.

Until, apparently, now. I snagged one of them and another Hormel variety last weekend, and now they’re claiming 60 seconds, even merer than before. I wondered: did Hormel do something different, or is this simply a reflection of the fact that contemporary microwaves are a bit stronger than they used to be? (I’m on my third: the first two were rated at a meager 650 watts, the latest 900, and I’m seeing 1100 on newer models.)

A look at Hormel’s Brand Wall may, or may not, have given me a clue. The package portrayed that’s closest to the one I have on hand is marked 10 oz/255 g; however, the one I have is marked 9 oz — but still 255 g. (Nine ounces is indeed about 255 grams.) All the other nutrition information is the same.

Historical note: Dinty Moore, as a brand name, goes back to 1935; I’m guessing it had something to do with Dinty Moore, the character in the comic strip Bringing Up Father, which seems less unlikely than the Dinty Moore sandwich (corned beef layered with lettuce, tomato and Russian dressing) from Detroit. Hormel was clearly on a roll in those days, though: in the next two years, they introduced both their famous chili and the legendary Spam.

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A brave little toaster user

Adam Lapetina sampled twenty-seven varieties of Kellogg’s Pop-Tarts — no small task in itself, and downright astonishing in a single 24-hour period — and then ranked them from worst to best.

My personal favorite finished a hair below mid-pack:

16. Unfrosted Blueberry
This Pop-Tart wouldn’t look out of place behind the glass case of a European pastry shop, but that also means that it’s one of the MOST out of place in terms of blending in with its fellow P-Tarts. As with before, there’s something unnerving about seeing a Pop-Tart without its clothes. It feels vaguely scandalous, yet underwhelming, like hearing yet another new rumor about Charlie Sheen. The blueberry filling actually contains blueberries, which is nice, and it’s tart like a blueberry-flavored thing should be.

Add frosting, and it goes up only two notches, so it’s the blueberry-ness that makes this one fly. And my local store is carrying it again, so I don’t have to order from Amazon.

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Among the things I never thought of

“Do you eat smooth or crunchy peanut butter with jellyfish?”

My first thought is simply “No,” but somehow that seems inadequate.

What I should have thought of: the consequences of posting this around breakfast time.

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It’s not easy eating green

I am not one to utter kind words about kale, as a rule, but I do try to be open-minded, and maybe someone might find this recipe worthy:

When you think of comfort food Kale isn’t usually something that comes to mind. This creamy kale pesto sauce is nice and rich so it feels like a guilty pleasure but it is still packed with all the health benefits that this superfood is known for. It is also a great way to sneak some veggies into a meal for kids who are picky eaters, or for kids at heart who are picky eaters … like my husband.

And it’s heavy on the basil and the pine nuts, so you might not even notice the Dreaded Vegetable. What’s more, it’s billed as a “30 Minute Meal,” and I — and probably you — have toiled longer for less result.

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Future blast furnace

Dr. B gives ear to a Brian Fagan podcast, and this question comes up:

In the question and answer period, he was asked what the stricken people can do about it? “Move,” he said, “is the only option.” If the world is heating up, where would he move to? “Canada. It will be dryer, much warmer, and their politics are reasonable.”

There are reasons, of course, for cynicism:

My cynicism is not that I don’t believe that there is a major problem with pollution (there is) or that the environment is being destroyed (we see it here) or even that the climate is changing (it is) but because too many want to pull all these things together to make a top down dictatorship where the elites run everything.

As I have written before, here in the Philippines, one of the side effects of the more radical “green movement” is that it makes things worse. Keep out mining and logging, and the result is illegal mining and logging with worse poverty and environmental destruction than you would get if you regulated companies to do it without destruction.

And grow green crops and avoid pesticides, chemicals, and of course GM food, but that leads to importing food from other countries that use chemicals, pesticides and GM seeds because the local organic stuff is too expensive for the poor to eat.

It’s a situation you can see right here in town: stores in more upscale areas attract buyers who are willing to pay 79 cents a pound (or more) for organic bananas when the standard-issue fruit barely brings half a buck. A good head of organic leaf lettuce is $3ish; the usual fare from the Jolly Green Giant and his peers might break a buck during the winter.

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Is there no more room?

The Kraft-Heinz merger, I figured, was no big deal, other than creating a combined company with a name that sounded like a Seventies German band. But this alarms me:

A financial analyst has suggested that Jell-O may not survive the new merger between Kraft Food Group Inc. (which makes it) and H. J. Heinz Co. and “could be axed.”

Cue a shiver of despair.

It’s hard to remember a time before Jell-O. (On the other hand, perhaps it’s almost as hard to remember the last time you made it.)

“Hard” doesn’t even begin to describe it; Jell-O goes back to 1897.

Over the years, it has been served in thousands of church basements, enabled millions of liquor-laced shots at college parties, provided the concoction in which bikini-clad women wrestle.

Actually, Jell-O wrestling doesn’t involve Jell-O, but a similar product designed specifically for the ring; but don’t tell your friends that.

And the Jell-O name will survive, even if the gelatin dessert itself doesn’t: by now, there are more flavors of Jell-O Pudding than there are of Jell-O itself.

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I’d certainly buy ’em

And really, they should charge more for deboning them:

I prefer mine a little greener at the store, but otherwise this seems like a decent deal.

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Advanced shelling

The SB Nation title was “TACO CANNON TACO CANNON TACO CANNON TACO CANNON TACO CANNON,” and justifiably so, since it’s about a taco cannon:

The Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks just had their most successful season in history, with the school’s hockey team making its first Frozen Four, and they’re building a new $80 million arena set to open in October. Whether that arena has good sports teams or nice seats or structural integrity is irrelevant, because it has something more important:

This is the sort of thing that has to happen when Pinkie Pie and Sonata Dusk get together.

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Same surf, same turf

This turned up over at Interested-Participant, along with the note that “it seems to tell a story:”

Register receipt of some sort

Well, it’s marginally amusing in that the person drawing the line around “EBT FOOD STAMPS” prefixed EBT with a D to indicate “DEBT,” but there’s this undertone of “How dare these poor people eat like this!”

And that rang a bell over in the archives, circa June ’11:

There was some minor grumbling last month after word got out that some guy in Wisconsin had bought $140 worth of lobster, steaks and Mountain Dew with food stamps, and the usual noises were being made about how this was absolutely inevitable or how this was utterly unacceptable. (Best example of the latter, in fact a contender for QOTW here, was by a commenter at American Digest who said that there were only two things you should be able to purchase with food stamps: gruel and diet gruel.)

This is what you’re not seeing on that register tape: five 24-packs of Mountain Dew at 6.79 each, plus twelve bucks worth of container deposit. And it turns out that the actual purchaser, in fact, was not living large — not very large, anyway — at our expense; he was buying this stuff with EBT and then turning it over for cash, to the tune of 50 cents on the dollar. This isn’t what you’d call the highest use of taxpayer dollars, but anyone who is shocked — shocked! — to see this sort of thing going on probably isn’t paying attention: the system that can’t be gamed very likely can’t even be built, and I figure there’s nothing to be gained by paying some Federal agent to peer into people’s grocery carts.

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Ancient diet plan

While researching a novel set Way Back Then, author Michael Z. Williamson experiments with possible methods of prehistoric food preparation:

How do you cook a tasty meal with minimal spices and no cooking utensils? Well, it turns out you can create quite a few spices and seasonings from plants in the carrot family.

There are a lot of edible plants and quite a few spices in the Apiaceae family. In fact, almost all edible plants come from about six families, and do so in the last 7000 years or so. Before that, there’s some evidence of rice and wheat, and occasional possible evidence of fruit domestication (versus actual agriculture).

However, it’s obvious from the evidence that vegetarianism is just a modern ideal. No matter how many believers bleat about it being “natural,” it not only wasn’t natural then, it was a complete myth. There just aren’t plants in the temperate or boreal latitudes that you can gather for enough protein, fat and calories to stay alive. Even if you could, you won’t find them in December. This is a world nothing like our own. No domesticated grains, no herded animals. Even modern “wild” berries are usually contaminated, and sweeter, because of cross-pollination with domestic breeds. I’ve had vegetarians insist we were mostly vegetarian at the time, but they’re unable to name the plant species we allegedly derived our calories from, especially fat. I’ll save you time: There are almost none. Gathering non-fruit comestibles is a net calorie loss and a waste of time.

Not that your present-day Carnivorous Man is in a position to brag, either:

Most of the Paleo diet people won’t be happy either. There was a lot of meat, but most of it was stringy and lean. Humans need fat for brain development and to maintain the skin, among other organs. When you can’t get gorged, winter-ready animals with a layer of fat to eat, you wind up eating brains, livers and kidneys. They also provide salt, minerals and flavor. Hunter gatherers cherish the organ meats for nutrition. You’ll want a lot of fatty fish, too.

After a week of this diet, I was ready to kill someone for some french fries or a peanut butter sandwich.

He is, however, kind enough to offer a couple of what could be Vintage Recipes (see the link).

(Via Daily Pundit.)

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First meal: snap

Followed, inevitably, by crackle and pop:

A young woman says she lives on almost nothing but Rice Krispies — and insists she is still healthier than most people.

Natalie Swindells, 26, eats four bowls of the cereal every day. She can’t face eating much else and has not tasted a vegetable for nearly two decades.

The bank worker, who says she has never taken a day off sick, stopped eating most other foods from the age of two. She now believes overeating causes more health problems than having a very restricted diet like her own.

Well, the key word here is “almost”:

She will also occasionally eat milk chocolate, ready salted crisps and chips. Although she consumes fewer than half of the recommended 2,000 calories for women Miss Swindells still has an active lifestyle. She lives in Macclesfield with her boyfriend Daniel Walsh, 26, who she says has grown accustomed to her strange eating habits.

Maybe it’s just one of the quirks of being Maxonian. Macclesfield is the only English mill town that was not bombed in World War II, and their current MP is a Mormon. Further, it’s the home of Mr. Methane, a flatulist. I’ll bet he doesn’t live off Rice Krispies.

(Via Interested-Participant.)

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Gleaner than you ever thought possible

Two versions of The Gleaners by Millet

To the left, “The Gleaners” by Jean-François Millet (1857). To the right, a revision approved for inclusion in the Gluten Free Museum, dedicated to erasing all images of this deadly poison in the documentation of everyday life.

(Via Jeff Faria.)

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