Archive for Worth a Fork

Mr. Jerkbar

Apparently chocolate isn’t the draw it used to be:

American protein fiends who want a break from yogurt cups and Clif bars will soon have another option: meat bars.

Starting this summer, Hershey’s will introduce a souped up version of jerky from its Krave Pure Foods division, which the company acquired last year. If the concept is a bit bizarre, so are the flavors: black cherry barbecue, basil citrus and pineapple orange. Meat snacks are a tiny category in the US, said Marcel Nahm, the vice president of US snacks for Hershey’s. But as more consumers pore over food labels to find healthier, protein-packed snacks, more food companies are banking on health foods becoming a lasting trend.

Jack Link was not available for comment.

(Via Keaton Fox.)

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Wandering every which way

Yesterday was Taco Tuesday, and at some point in the proceedings I was sufficiently bored to read the label on the jar of taco sauce. “Old El Paso. Harrumph.” Mindful of a rival’s derisive TV spots of yore — “Why, this stuff’s made in New York City!” — I prepared myself for, at the very least, more harrumphing.

And there it was in boldface: “Distributed by General Mills Sales, Minneapolis, MN 55440.” The harrumph began, but broke off during the next line: “©2014 Pet Incorporated.” Um, say what?

As it turns out, Old El Paso originated in not-all-that-old El Paso, at an operation called Mountain Pass Canning Company, dating to 1938. After that, things got really complicated:

  • In 1968, Pet acquired the Mountain Pass Canning Company, maker of the Old El Paso brand of Mexican food products.
  • Acquired by IC Industries (ICI) in 1978. Hussmann and Pet were made into separate divisions of ICI.
  • In 1981, ICI sold off the Musselman division.
  • In 1982, the William Underwood Company was acquired, bringing with it the brands B&M and Ac’cent.
  • In 1985, the PET Dairy division was sold to the Challer Foods subsidiary of Finevest Dairy Holdings. This did not include the canned milk products.
  • In 1986, Pet acquired Ogden Food Products (including the brands Progresso, Las Palmas, Hollywood, and Hain) and Primo Foods, an Italian foods marketer.
  • in 1988, ICI changed its name to Whitman Corp.
  • Acquired Orval Kent, a prepared salad maker, in 1989.
  • In 1990, Pet, Inc. was spun off of Whitman.
  • In 1993, Pet sold the Whitman’s chocolate brand to Russell Stover Candies.
  • In 1994, Orval Kent was sold to Horizon Partners, a private equity group in Milwaukee.
  • In 1995, Pet was acquired by the Pillsbury Company division of Grand Metropolitan. Major brands of interest are Old El Paso and Progresso.
  • In 1997, Grand Met merged with Guinness to form Diageo.
  • In 1999, Pillsbury sold the William Underwood business to B&G Foods.
  • In 2000, General Mills acquired Pillsbury (incl. Pet) from Diageo.
  • In 2001, to satisfy the US FTC, Diageo and General Mills agreed to sell several, but not all, Pillsbury brands to International Multifoods. This included the PET Evaporated Milk and PET dry creamer products.

I think I’ll paste that entire list at the next person who tries to lecture me about the importance of branding as an indicator of stability.

And after that litany, we know the distributor, but we still don’t know where this stuff is made.

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Meanwhile at the coffee bar

They now have actual bars of coffee:

GO CUBES Chewable Coffee by Nootrobox

It’s a matter of portion control, says the manufacturer:

How much caffeine is in your regular cup of joe? 25 mg? 200 mg? You have no idea. It depends on many variables, including, bean varietal, process, and barista skill. Know exactly how much caffeine you consume so you can stay perfectly in the zone.

Nootrobox, the creators of GO CUBES, are experts at cognitive enhancement and nootropics. In addition to caffeine, GO CUBES contain precise amounts of other safe, effective supplements like L-theanine, B6, and methylated B12 that improve caffeine for enhanced focus & clarity.

They don’t seem expensive, either: the four-pack includes the equivalent of two cups of coffee, and a box of 20 four-packs from Amazon is $59. You don’t get latte decoration and such, but what the hey. And it’s got to be more interesting than Vivarin.

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Na, not really

The medical profession has long put the “odium” in “sodium.” I seldom add salt to anything, but I have a tendency to read while I eat, which detracts from the actual eating experience. So I’m probably not a candidate for this swell gadget, but I can think of lots of people who will be:

Japanese scientists are working on a solution in the form of a fork which is able to generate a salty taste by stimulating the tongue with electricity. The fork is being developed in Tokyo University’s Rekimoto Lab and is intended to allow those who must eat salt-free diets for their health to at least be able to enjoy the taste. It was trialled earlier in March as part of a project called “No Salt Restaurant” where a venue was offering a completely salt-free five course meal and proved to be a success.

The fork’s handle contains a rechargeable battery and electric circuit and when the user puts the fork into their mouth they simply have to press a button on the handle which applies a small electric charge to their tongue.

I suggest you not try it out on pizza.

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The price we pay for honesty

It is indeed stiff:

Meanwhile, you can get a whole can of biscuits of questionable uprightness for less than a dollar, and maybe they won’t explode in the trunk of your car.

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Probably not a kale fan

Baby Kale by OrganicGirlAt least, that’s the most reasonable conclusion I reach from this:

Got some groceries. Also got some non-food items like this package of kale. I got the smallest package I could find because I really don’t like kale. I would say I hate it, but hate requires expending some energy, energy that you will never get from kale. This entire package of kale will only deliver 70 calories of energy. With a price of $4, that comes to almost 6 cents per calorie. 6 cents doesn’t sound like much, but if you need 2,000 calories a day, that comes to $120. For something that tastes like dirt.

Then again, I know no one who lives exclusively on kale, or at least no one who would admit to it. And there is more to nutrition than calories:

The standouts are the high content of calcium, vitamin C, vitamin B6, folic acid, vitamin A (in the form of beta-carotene), vitamin K, potassium, manganese, copper, and even the plant form of omega-3 fatty acids (alpha-linolenic acid). In addition to the carotenoid beta-carotene, kale contains other very important carotenoid molecules called lutein and zeaxanthin (both necessary for eye health) and numerous others (probably too many to count, and maybe even yet identified).

On the downside: as packaged above — 5-ounce container — it’s 80 cents an ounce, which is $12.80 a pound, about what I paid for my last New York strip. And that strip didn’t taste like dirt, either.

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Multiple elbows

I’m sure this appeals to somebody, but for now, I think I’ll pass:

Stephanie Richard thinks insects are the protein of the future. The French chef runs L’Atelier a Pates, a pasta shop that sells a range of homemade pastas, including several made from crickets and grasshoppers. Richard’s customers have embraced her strange insect pastas with such enthusiasm that she’s struggling to keep up with demand.

According to CTV News, Richard pulverizes crickets, grasshoppers, or a combination of the two insects to create a special flour, which she then mixes with normal pasta ingredients like eggs and wheat flour. She claims the insects add to the flavor of the pasta and turn it into high-protein cuisine. “It’s protein of high quality that is well digested by the body,” Richards told CTV News. “People with iron or magnesium deficiencies will also eat these products.”

I am not at all keen on the prospect of actual pests taking up space in my pesto.

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Our hostess wins Brownie points

Actually, I don’t think the Girl Scouts have an official position on what wine goes with which cookie, so this item (courtesy of Babble) should probably be considered Non-Standard:

Match the wine to the Girl Scout Cookie

Wonder what I should dip into this handy Cardbordeaux?

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B-minus rations

When I was one of Uncle Sam’s grunts, the MRE — technically “Meal, Ready to Eat” but often disparaged as “Meal Rejected by Ethiopians” or worse — did not exist; we were still on the legendary (and not in a particularly good way) C-rations. I rather vividly remember a bivouac breakfast consisting of “Ham, Water Added, and Eggs, Chopped, Canned.” I am told the MRE is a decided improvement. Still, the MRE is expected to last for three years in storage, which would seem to limit the fare to Mickey D’s Happy Meals with the occasional Twinkie.

But now: pizza. Really:

“It’s a fully assembled and baked piece of pizza in one package,” Lauren Oleksyk, a food technologist at the US Army’s Natick Soldier Research, Development, and Engineering Center, told Tech Insider.

So what does it taste like? Think cafeteria pizza, or as Oleksyk describes it, like “day after pizza.” And while its square shape and bready crust can’t rival a New York slice, Olesky said soldiers give it the thumbs up.

I don’t know anyone who objects to day-old leftover pizza: it’s the delicious part of a marginally healthful breakfast.

Still, putting pizza into an MRE required some serious technology:

One hurdle to overcome was figuring out how to prevent mold from growing. For the dough, they used something called Hurdle technology that creates layers of protection from preventing bacteria forming. The tomato sauce has a higher pH and is more acidic to keep the critters away.

Well, technically there’s no one specific hurdle method: you use whatever’s appropriate for the contents to be stored. But I’m pretty sure this sort of thing didn’t exist in the days of the C-ration.

Meanwhile, Francis W. Porretto gets at the tactical details:

[C]an this fabled pizza survive a point-blank round from a Vulcan cannon? How about a Kalashnikov?

Most certainly, I’m not the guy to test this.

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I shot the sous chef

Turns out, the person who should have been shot was the guy who wrote up the menu descriptions, for causing this sort of confusion:

I was reading the menu of a new Mexican restaurant here in our happy little burg — they had their soft opening a week ago and some of my friends recommended the place to me — when I noticed that amongst the fillings offered with their homemade tortilla tacos were children and Jamaican jerks. This took me aback; these are not the sort of things anyone would expect to see on a restaurant’s menu, especially a restaurant that hasn’t really opened yet.

Aside: So “soft openings” are a thing now?

The average taco connoisseur expects to see fish, pork, or beef as a filling, although in some places one can get kangaroo, cockatoo, or emu too; I should point out here that I would not actually eat a fish taco if one of my brothers’ lives depended on it — I hate fish with just about every fiber of my being. I hate liver, eggs, and asparagus as well, but I would eat them if one of my brothers’ lives depended on it … maybe. No, not maybe, definitely, sort of, and only if Mom made me. I suppose I should say something about the use of children as a taco filling, but an Irish clergyman of my acquaintance has modestly proposed something along these lines a while ago and so I recommend that you peruse his recommendations. I agree with most of his major points and I see no reason to repeat those points here.

At least that matter was disposed of swiftly. But about those jerks:

This seems to me an act of cultural appropriation on a truly monstrous scale, nothing less than the forced bastardization of two national cuisines that do not derive from the same cultural and culinary sources and share no common traditions. And to what purpose? Like Tex-Mex, chop suey, and Chicago style deep dish pizza, using Jamaican jerks as filling is less a celebration of culinary mestizaje than a surrender to the unyielding demands of Americanization and assimilation, a demand that all the world’s cuisines subsume their cultural autonomy into the black hole of the American melting pot and transform themselves into peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

George Carlin once said that if you nailed together two things that had never been nailed together before, some schmuck would buy it from you. If restaurateurs can make use of this same knowledge, it’s reasonable to assume that they will.

That said, you should take steps to make sure that the Jerk Store is not supplying jerks under false pretenses:

Approximately thirty-five percent of all restaurants advertising Jamaican jerks in their tacos or as a separate menu item were not using Jamaican jerks at all; these restaurants were using locally grown American dumbasses instead. One veteran department investigator told the NPR reporter covering the story that this was one of the most blatant cases of false advertising and consumer fraud that he had ever seen.

Nor is [it] consumer fraud we are dealing with here. The use of American dumbasses in place of Jamaican jerks who should have gotten those jobs is an in your face example of nativist prejudice and racism at its worst. I understand, as does anyone who has to deal with the public everyday, that dealing with jerks of any race or nationality is always a bit trying — jerks wouldn’t be jerks if they weren’t trying — but to deny jerks work simply because they are jerks is un-American in principle and probably a civil rights violation in practice.

A word to the wiseguys is sufficient.

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Once more, the power of cheese

Apparently it goes straight to your brain:

Researchers from the University of Michigan have revealed that cheese contains a chemical found in addictive drugs.

Using the Yale Food Addiction Scale, designed to measure a person’s cravings, the study found that cheese is particularly moreish because it contains casein.

The chemical, which is found in all dairy products, can trigger the brain’s opioid receptors, producing a feeling of euphoria linked to those of hard drug addiction.

Oh, great. Before long we’ll have regular hydrocodone and hydrocodone with cheese.

Scientists studying dairy products found that in milk, casein has a minuscule dosage. But producing a pound of cheese requires about 10 pounds of milk — with addictive casein coagulating the solid milk fats and separating them from the liquids.

As a result the super-strength chemical becomes concentrated when in solid dairy form, so you’ll get a higher hit of addictive casein by tucking into a cheese sandwich than you will in your morning bowl of cereal.

The management will not be responsible for anyone who reads this and then orders a pizza.

Note: “Moreish,” as a word, was new to me.

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Tacos 101

And really, it shouldn’t be a surprise:

At the University of Kentucky, taco knowledge is power.

And why wouldn’t it be? In a time when tortillas are outselling bread and salsa is outselling ketchup in the US, the last thing anyone wants to be is ignorant about tacos — especially in the state of Kentucky. The state has one of the fastest-growing Latino populations in the country.

This semester, the university is offering an undergraduate course called “Taco Literacy: Public Advocacy and Mexican Food in the US South.” Led by Steven Alvarez, an assistant professor in the university’s Writing, Rhetoric, and Digital Studies department, the class aims to teach students about Mexican foodways in Kentucky and the broader South.

Asked about the syllabus, Professor Alvarez answered:

You can find everything you would like to know at our website. We’re examining transnational community food literacies and how these connect the stories of people and food across borders. We explore the history of networks of Mexican and Mexican-American food in Kentucky by writing about recipes and rhetorics that deal with things such as authenticity, local variations and preparations, and how food literacies situate different spaces, identity, and forms of knowledge.

And at least it’s not called “Chalupa Studies.”

(Via Cameron Aubernon, who notes: “Sonata Dusk will be enrolling ASAP.”)

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Not the original recipe

At least, I assume it isn’t:

But can you see the Russian Tea Room from there?

Note: 0161, if I remember correctly, is around Manchester.

(Via Liz Mair.)

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Another one bites the taco

I knew about May and Britton (the first one listed), but not the others:

I mean, I haven’t been there in ages, but I’m sure they weren’t waiting on me to show up.

Dave at GreaterFalls.com will be devastated. Remind me not to mention this in front of him.

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Whatever the hell this is

I’m not entirely sure I want to check the label, if you know what I mean:

Vegetarian ham, or so it says

But the coup de grace, of course, is “Chicken Flavour.” Wait, what?

Said the woman from whom I poached this pic: “I should send this to the vegan that didn’t want to go out with me just to mess with him.”

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Short of hop

Anyone of a certain age who grew up in the South — and I mean to include myself, even though I was born in northern Illinois, simply because I got most of my formal education in South Carolina — is familiar with Hoppin’ John. Then again, that familiarity is somewhat dulled by the fact that it almost certainly doesn’t taste the way it used to:

The original ingredients of Hoppin’ John are simple: one pound of bacon, one pint of peas, and one pint of rice. The earliest appearance in print seems to be in Sarah Rutledge’s The Carolina Housewife (1847), and it’s important to note that everything was cooked together in the same pot:

“First put on the peas, and when half boiled, add the bacon. When the peas are well boiled, throw in the rice, which must first be washed and gravelled. When the rice has been boiling half an hour, take the pot off the fire and put it on coals to steam, as in boiling rice alone.”

Which nobody does anymore, and it wouldn’t help if they did:

If you try to cook Sarah Rutledge’s recipe for Hoppin’ John using bacon, rice, and black-eyed peas from the supermarket, you’re probably going to be pretty disappointed. Today’s ingredients have been transformed by a century of hybridization, mechanization, and standardization to meet the demands of an industrialized, cost-minimizing food system.

So variations have erupted, even in places that aren’t all that Southern; the Pioneer Woman hath wrought one herself. But if you’re within a reasonable drive of old Charleston, you can find reasonable approximations of the original ingredients, just in case you want a taste of 1847 in 2017. (It’s probably too late to do it for this New Year’s.)

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And then it was gone

We all waited impatiently for the return of Blue Bell Ice Cream after the Great Listeria Scare. And now that it’s (mostly) back — a few flavors at a time — a local supermarket chain is, for the moment, dropping the line for “unfair pricing.”

This isn’t the first time Crest Foods told a food producer to take their product and shove it, either:

A few weeks back, Nick Harroz’ Crest Foods in central Oklahoma posted a notice beside the pasta-sauce shelf to the effect that they would no longer be stocking the Classico and Ragú brands, owing to large price increases by Unilever, owner of those brands, which the store did not wish to pass on to shoppers. It’s easy enough to be cynical about this sort of thing, but Harroz has done this before, and almost invariably he’s gotten his way, or a reasonable fraction thereof, which is how he manages to keep his prices around the Walmart level without going all, well, Walmartish on us: he’ll take on anyone up to and including mighty Coca-Cola.

Harroz died last year at 94, but it’s pretty clear that the store plans to follow his plan. And this, too, shall pass, once Blue Bell gives in — which they almost certainly will.

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Not in the ingredients list

Boston Market Boneless Pork Rib mealWith the local Mickey D’s turning its back on the rare and precious McRib, desperate diners, such as Your Humble Narrator, have been forced to seek alternatives. And this is not a particularly bad alternative: the sauce, I reckon, is just a tad too sweet, and the potatoes have the general consistency of library paste, if not as much flavor, but they can be found in at least one local store for as little as $2.50, offsetting pretty much all the problems except, well, this one:

It’s a logical move for chain restaurants to expand into frozen meals. A brand like Boston Market already has recognition among consumers, who see the name and logo and think, “comfort food containing meat.” The boneless pork rib (shaped patty) from the Boston Market line of frozen meals is less comforting right now, though: it’s been recalled because there may be pieces of hard plastic or glass inside the meal.

The recall comes after multiple reports to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the government agency that regulates meals that contain meat. None of the customers were injured, but 326,016 meals have been recalled out of concern that more meals could be contaminated.

I had one in the freezer, which I had for lunch on Monday. I do believe I found one of those plastic shards, though the offending fragment never made it past my fork. The box is long gone, so I couldn’t tell you if this was one of the affected batches; I suppose I’ll know when I get to the store Saturday and find a blank space, baby, where this used to be.

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To improve your mettle

Breakfast cereals occasionally claim to be fortified with stuff like iron, which you’re presumably not going to get from all the other horrible things you eat, and apparently this fortification, in the case of iron anyway, is done in the simplest way possible:

However, this may not be true in Denmark, as of 2004:

Danish health officials … banned the cereal company Kellogg’s from adding vitamins and minerals to its famous food brands, saying they could damage the health of children and pregnant women.

The company, which expressed incredulity at the decision, had hoped to enrich 18 breakfast foods and cereal bars with iron, calcium, vitamin B6 and folic acid, just as they already do in many countries including Britain.

But the Danes said the manufacturer of Corn Flakes, Rice Krispies and Special K wanted to include “toxic” doses which, if eaten regularly, could damage children’s livers and kidneys and harm foetuses in pregnant women.

I guess this means I can eat it, but I’ve already stocked up on sausage biscuits.

(Via Neatorama.)

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Little green balls of death

There’s an old tradition, in the comics if nowhere else, of kids disposing of undesired vegetables by slipping them under the table to the family dog, who presumably has no discernible taste, or finding other ways to get them off their plates without actually having to eat the horrible things. You’d probably think of this as something that happens at home, but apparently it can also happen at school:

A Year 3 pupil at Monkfield Park Primary School in Cambourne, Cambridgeshire, appears to have been secretly planting Brussels sprouts in their classmates’ bags to rid him or herself of the dreaded greens. Staff at the school have been left mystified as to who is behind it all and have now sent out a letter to parents in a bid to nip the prankster’s activities in the bud.

Parents, having once been kids themselves, don’t seem overly concerned:

But the bid to “out” the sprout smuggler, aged between seven and eight, has caused amusement for some parents at the school. One dad, who did not wish to be named, said: “When I read the letter I laughed. I thought it was a wind-up. The kid should get a medal and a job with MI5. The kid hid the sprouts from his mum and dad, probably got praise for eating them, then sneaked them into school. I appreciate the school protect pupils but an assembly and letter seems over the top for something so petty.”

The school, meanwhile, sternly maintains that this situation could be dangerous, in case anyone happens to be allergic to the little green spheres, though:

Experts say Brussels sprout allergies are very rare, affecting fewer than 1 in 50,000 people and are more likely with a raw vegetable than a cooked one.

(Title swiped from this earlier item.)

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Don’t rub it in

We trudge down the aisle, our eyes downcast, our hopes long since forgotten:

At this stage, the wine doesn’t actually help.

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This appears to be a pie chart

I mean, this wouldn’t make sense as a bar graph, am I right?

Had I my druthers, I’d snag what is no longer called “mincemeat,” owing to a general lack of meat, with cherry the second choice. What I’m actually having, though, is peach.

I here admit to having had a brief craving for Boston creme pie, which is technically not a pie.

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For the love of an Enchirito

We are, as you may have noticed, overly fond of pointing out the scene in Demolition Man in which Sylvester Stallone is advised by Sandra Bullock that as a result of the Franchise Wars, now all restaurants are Taco Bell.

At least part of that scene has become reality, for a limited time only:

Taco Bell has made its name selling high-cal, low-price junk food (note: that’s not an insult), but one California Bell is classing things up — at least temporarily — by offering a valet parking service to customers.

The San Jose Mercury News reports that the Bell in Walnut Creek, CA — about 20 miles east of Oakland — is mixing in valet parking with its chalupas and Dorito-shelled tacos, but not because it’s trying to fancy up the joint.

Instead, this Taco Bell is trying to keep customers happy during the ongoing construction to its surrounding shopping center. By using valet parking, customers don’t have to deal with looking for parking.

And we didn’t even have to wait until 2032, either.

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Saved by the Bell

Original Taco Bell designThe very first Taco Bell, built in the dear, dead days of 1962, hasn’t served up anything from the mothership in nearly thirty years, and with its little corner lot in Downey worth a lot more than it used to be, corporate has decided to save Numero Uno by moving it:

Taco Bell is saving its first fast-food restaurant from the wrecking ball by relocating the iconic 400-square-foot food stand from Downey to its corporate headquarters in Irvine.

“This is arguably the most important restaurant in our company’s history,” said Taco Bell chief executive Brian Niccol. “When we heard about the chance of it being demolished, we had to step in. We owe that to our fans; we owe that to Glen Bell.”

Earlier this year, new development for the vacant Firestone Boulevard site triggered demolition plans for the nostalgic building, dubbed “Numero Uno.” An uproar in the community followed. Taco Bell remained relatively quiet, though it did encourage the #SaveTacoBell campaign on social media.

This particular design — I worked in one just like it briefly — was eventually abandoned because there was no real way to splice a drive-thru window into it.

The structure’s 45-mile overnight journey begins Thursday at 10:30 p.m. It should garner much attention as it traverses the cities of Downey, Norwalk, Cerritos, La Palma, Buena Park, Anaheim, Orange and Tustin. Throughout the four to five hour trip, Taco Bell is encouraging fans to follow the historic relocation via a live webcam.

Eventually, of course, all restaurants will be Taco Bell.

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Pass the Hot Pockets

It’s bad enough that we produce carbon dioxide, say the Worriers of the World. But they can’t lecture us about that all the time, because sooner or later someone’s going to run them over with a Hummer H2. (Just in case you thought that pseudo-militaristic trucklike, um, thing had no practical applications whatsoever.) So in between times, they’re going to complain about how we eat:

Living by yourself can be great — it means you have the option of never wearing real pants at home, guilt-free Netflix binges on sunny days and the ability to eat your meals in front of the open refrigerator by picking through whatever it is you happen to have in there. On that last note, researchers say living solo has a downside: it means you eat like crap.

Without roommates or a partner around, people tend to have less healthy diets, according to an analysis of 41 studies published in the journal Nutrition Reviews by researchers at Queensland University of Technology.

It gets funnier:

What is it about living solo that takes such a toll on the diet? One of the researchers notes that people who live alone might lack the motivation to shop for groceries or cook. As anyone who’s ever cooked a recipe for themselves knows, it can be rough to eat leftovers of the same meal for a week straight, which is the only alternative to losing money on all those groceries you bought to cook.

I’ve been eating my own cooking four or five times a week for the last 33 years. Believe me, I know how to cut a recipe down to size. And maybe twice in that time I’ve had leftovers hang around for more than a single day.

Besides, what is this “losing money” garbage? Are we buying food for the purpose of investment? What are those two vintage-2002 York Peppermint Patties in the fridge worth on the open market?

I’d like to suggest something for the worriers to eat. In fact, I suggest a whole bag of ’em.

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Several boatloads

Radiation in terms of bananas:

Science, which often talks about things in increments of light-years, femtometers and picograms, has some really weird measurements. For example, did you know that you actually receive a dose of radiation from eating a banana, and that the dosage is sometimes used as a basis for measurement? The amount of ionizing radiation is .1 microsieverts per banana, which of course means nothing to most of us who have no idea how much radiation is in a microsievert or in a full-size sievert either, for that matter. This figure is sometimes referred to the “Banana Equivalent Dose.” The important number for those of you who enjoy bananas is 35 million, because that’s how many bananas you’d have to get together to kill a person with radiation. You’d be in just as much danger from the weight of all that fruit, and in any case would probably have perished quite a bit earlier from whichever beautiful bunch o’ ripe banana hide the deadly black tarantula.

And while we’re on the subject:

Although the amount in a single banana is small in environmental and medical terms, the radioactivity from a truckload of bananas is capable of causing a false alarm when passed through a Radiation Portal Monitor used to detect possible smuggling of nuclear material at U.S. ports.

Harry Chapin was not available for comment.

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But she bought the hat

And I don’t think I’ll speculate further:

Note the complete absence of bacon.

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Twizzled out

My candy-acquisition rule for Halloween is simple enough: get stuff I’ve heard of. Worst-case scenario: if the goblins peter out early, at least I’ll have something familiar to nosh on. (There’s a secondary rule, which says basically “Finish the year’s bloodwork before Halloween”; I trust this needs no explanation.)

This time around I picked up a bag of Twizzlers, and of course the dreaded phrase “Fun Size” came into play: no item likely to be tossed into a kid’s bag is likely to be truly fun-sized. The Twizzlers, I reasoned, would be three to a packet, cut down to a couple inches each. After looking at them more closely, I realized that they weren’t like this at all: instead, there’s a single stick, individually wrapped. Worse than that, the wrapper is damnably difficult to remove, even with bladed utensils handy.

Maybe I’ll get rid of these first.

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In answer to the Great Bacon Scare

First, anything under United Nations control (such as WHO) is almost certainly full of crap and invariably politically motivated. You’re not going to see any pronouncements that might upset, say, Hamas.

Second, in your face, porkophobics:

Bet your bottom dollar their biscuits (not in the British sense of “biscuits”) are better than yours.

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Geometry works for you

Something else I should have thought of, but didn’t:

All of you already knew this, right?

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