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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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Better watch those English muffins, too

What do we know about Danish butter cookies? They come in this enormous metal tin, they contain no shortening ingredient other than butter, and you should probably keep them away from me.

One of the major distributors of Danish butter cookies is, surprise, Campbell Soup Company, which acquired Denmark’s Kelsen Group in 2013. And Campbell’s was not pleased to see a competitor named Danisa moving into their territory, since Danisa’s manufacturer, “Danish Specialty Foods,” allegedly in Copenhagen, is apparently actually in Indonesia.

Takari, US distributor for Danisa, argued before the National Advertising Division that they’re just the importer and have nothing to do with the contents, and besides, First Amendment. The NAD was not impressed with this argument, and Takari will revise the packaging and advertising.

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Mayo presumably to be held

Because standing in the parking lot and taking a deep breath just isn’t enough:

For hamburger aficionados who can’t get enough of it, Burger King has an answer: a grilled burger-scented fragrance.

Burger King said Friday that the limited “Whopper” grilled beef burger-scented cologne will be sold only one day on April 1, and only in Japan.

And no, the date is not the joke. The King is serious enough about this to ask 5000 yen (forty bucks) for the bottle — with purchase of an actual Whopper.

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Considerations of taste are irrelevant

At this writing, the stuff has two five-star reviews on Amazon, mute testimony to the sheer emptiness of some people’s lives.

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You want that with fries?

The title of this spam was nothing remarkable: “Attention: Our Lowest Home-Rates Expire 3-25-15.” (And a possibly amusing domain: loancashbefore.work.) But this was the text hidden behind the HTML:

The fries themselves are not bad … a bit plain maybe, but not bad. The creamy spicy tuna dipping sauce they serve with the fries is stupidly bad. That stuff doesn’t even belong on sushi; on fries it’s ridiculous and downright trashy. If you like that stuff, stop having sex with your cousin. I’d like house-made mayo or aioli options, or even a really refined, light, bbq sauce seems like it would pair well against the slaw. Traditional ketchup, for me, is a no and their whole grain dijon is meh.

If this was swiped from somewhere, and I always assume it is, I didn’t find the source.

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A nightmare dressed like a sugar rush

The little girls sell lots of cookies, but they’re not too proud to tap the resources of a big girl:

(Via Hello Giggles.)

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Maybe a single Rah

The latest addition to the Girl Scout Edible Addiction Cookie line is Rah-Rah Raisins, described as “Hearty oatmeal cookies with plump raisins and Greek yogurt-flavored chunks.” While I remain loyal to my usual choices — and when are you girls gonna come up with some Thick Mints? — I figured the least I could do is sample the new ware.

And it’s okay, if a trifle uninspiring. I was expecting a bit more contrast between the raisin and yogurt bits, and the oatmeal base suggests something more chewy than crunchy, but it’s certainly a different approach to an otherwise-overworked theme, and they do manage to get fourteen of the little discs, two inches in diameter and 3/8 inch thick, into the six-ounce box, which might be enough to discourage you from polishing off the entire box at a single setting, a problem I have pretty much always had with the traditional shortbread trefoils.

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Don’t read the side panel

On processed foods, that’s usually where they put the ingredient list, and you probably don’t want to read the ingredient list, at least not before dinner:

I’ve started checking ingredient labels, looking for the evil polysorbate 80. I heated up a frozen Red Baron Pepperoni Pizza for lunch and there was ingredient list was printed on the side, but it may as well have been a written in hieroglyphics. I wasn’t going to try and puzzle it out, so I pulled one off of their website. It’s fairly horrendous, but it doesn’t appear to contain any of the dreaded emulsifiers and certainly no polysorbate 80.

It did contain (under “dough conditioner”) something called L-cysteine hydrochloride, about which you might want to know:

Cysteine is required by sheep to produce wool: It is an essential amino acid that must be taken in from their feed. As a consequence, during drought conditions, sheep produce less wool; however, transgenic sheep that can make their own cysteine have been developed.

Reminds me of the flap over the common ingredient in yoga mats and McRibs.

As for the dreaded polysorbate 80, well, there’s always 20, 40, 60 and 65.

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A little Sprite told me

Coca-Cola is testing new branding of its flagship products in Spain, and if all goes well, they may go worldwide with it:

Until now, the different varieties of Coca-Cola family functioned as three independent brands (Coca-Cola, Diet Coke and Coke Zero) in the design of their packaging and advertising. From today, as part of the new strategy of “single brand,” all variants of Coca-Cola will unite under a common identity.

The most visible change in this new strategy is that the packaging design will be unified. All cans and bottles have the same style, based on the iconic original brand of Coca-Cola.

What they’re not saying — but they’re showing in the packaging design — is that Diet Coke, or at least the name, is dead, at least in Spain. (Some European countries have been getting Coca-Cola Light, the new name, for several years now.) I don’t think this part of the plan will materialize in the States.

On the other hand, there will now be Coke Zero and Coke Zero Zero, the latter with neither calories nor caffeine. And I detect no trace of the ill-fated Coke II.

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Food is here

This is something I never saw when I was a kid: a youngster waxing rhapsodic about broccoli. I didn’t much like the stuff myself, though I have since done a 180; the parental units were mystified, since I had no trouble polishing off a serving of Brussels sprouts, which were similarly green and only marginally more symmetrical.

The Association (remember them?) had a spiffy little tune on the subject:

Now that I think about it, I started eating broccoli in earnest about the time this song came out, which would have been 1969.

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They can’t go for that

No can do, say the plaintiffs:

Hall and Oates are suing a Brooklyn-based cereal firm, claiming its granola Haulin’ Oats infringes their trademark.

The case accuses Early Bird Foods & Co of breaking the law with its “phonetic play on Daryl Hall and John Oates’ well-known brand name”.

Lawyers for the singers filed the case in Brooklyn federal court.

The duo claim the company is attempting “to trade off of the fame and notoriety associated with the artist’s and plaintiff’s well-known marks”.

This would seem to be at least slightly inconsistent with the duo’s thinking. Said John Oates a few years back:

There isn’t one album that says Hall and Oates. It’s always Daryl Hall and John Oates. From the very beginning. People never note that. The idea of “Hall and Oates,” this two-headed monster, this thing, is not anything we’ve ever wanted or liked.

Yet it’s something they’re willing to protect. I’m thinking maybe I’m just out of touch.

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As slowly the doctor wakes

Someone had to try it, of course:

Call me in the morning.

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Nay, they may say

I’m pretty sure I would, anyway:

Note the semi-subtle misspelling to avoid running afoul of Federal food definitions.

In other news, expeller pressed oil is evidently a Thing. No substitute for Valvoline, though.

(Via Dawn Summers.)

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Turn up the defroster

About a decade ago I issued this plaintive whine, or whining plaint:

Am I the only person in this city who ever buys Kellogg’s Pop-Tarts in the unfrosted-blueberry variety? Their status as one of the original flavors hasn’t done anything to insure their presence on the grocer’s shelf; they seem to show up in the stores about twice a year if I’m lucky. Meanwhile, the sickeningly-sweet frosted versions get more shelf space than ketchup, despite their lack of palatability and their incompatibility with my old-style, uncomplicated toaster. (Something in the frosting seems to melt down into a nasty brown slag; for all I know, there could be plutonium in there.)

I still have the same toaster, a bit more elderly and rachitic — the lever works, sort of, but it’s no longer a straight shot from top to bottom — and I’d pretty much abandoned the search for unfrosted blueberry.

But the last two times I’ve looked, I’ve found them. Now I don’t need to feed a Pop-Tart addiction, obviously, but a pair of them once a week isn’t the end of the world, and if the Food Police come calling, I’m going to point to the box, where an illustration of the frosting isn’t.

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Slurpables

If it’s sufficiently cold out, and the refrigerator is sufficiently close to full, it makes a certain amount of sense to leave the Pepsi out in the car, where it will be properly chilled without crowding out the asparagus.

Until, inevitably, this happens:

This week, I brought in one 12-pack from the cold. Except the Pepsi wasn’t just liquid — more like a slushy.

That’s a little too ice cold for my son’s taste.

The closest I’ve come to something comparable was watching someone parking a can of [name of drink] in the freezer on a Friday before a long weekend, presumably forgetting about it, and then retrieving it on Tuesday. By this time, the contents have frozen solid, and, being largely water, they have expanded, meaning the can itself has been deformed into something other than the neat cylinder it used to be. The eventual discovery of this phenomenon was greeted with some choice Anglo-Saxonisms by the owner of the [name of drink]sicle.

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Over easier

For at least half my life, the powers that be, or that imagine they be, have been warning me about cholesterol, coursing through my body like liquid plutonium or something. I am somewhat pleased, yet still somewhat annoyed, that they’ve now admitted that they were just kidding:

The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee has taken cholesterol off the list of things that are automatically bad for you if you are an otherwise healthy person. Cholesterol, like just about anything already in our bodies or in our food, can cause you problems if you have too much of it already or if you consume too much of it, but isn’t necessarily the One Ring of Dietary Substances.

This was probably inevitable once they figured out that “good” cholesterol wasn’t all that good and “bad” cholesterol wasn’t all particularly bad, and neither of them, from my point of view anyway, were as bad as statins, which overlaid my entire structure with random weakness. (On the upside, statins gave me a great excuse to not drink grapefruit juice, as though I needed one.)

Still, the exasperating aspect of this is that there continues to be a Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee at all. And given current trends in corruption, I suspect there will someday be a Recommended Daily Allowance of Pepsi, or something equally implausible, because dollars were spent to support it.

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Make mine Spunow

And look, it’s on sale:

Chocolate bars for sale

Miss Cellania explains: “Almojoy got nuts, Spunow don’t.” Still unexplained: the difference between Nickers and Sickers.

And where the heck are the W&Ws?

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It goes with your milk-white complexion

Mascara made from Oreo cookies:

She has also made eyeliner from M&Ms.

(Via Finestkind Clinic and fish market.)

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Trefoiled yet again

Prepare to peel off more dollars for your Thin Mints:

Secure in the knowledge that the general public is always jonesing for cookies and their position as purveyors of said revered items, Girl Scout councils in some cities are charging more for their cookies this year, reports the Wall Street Journal.

Because it’s up to each local council to decide how much to charge per box, prices could vary depending on how far you’re willing to drive: Cookie inflation is coming to Southern California, for example, where councils in San Diego, Orange County and Greater Los Angeles have hiked the price from $4 to $5, after San Francisco’s council did so.

Local Scouts have quoted me $4 — up from $3.50 — for this year’s trefoils and Samoas and whatnot.

But hey, say the Girl Scouts of Orange County, $5 a box is still a bargain, especially compared to the $5.84 they could be charging if cookie prices had advanced apace with inflation.

File that under Cold Comfort.

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Just shut up and eat

The days of Massive Family Meals are down to a mere handful, and perhaps one of the reasons, beyond a most lamentable lack of time for such things, is the upsurge in finicky eaters, and I don’t mean two-year-olds in a high chair either:

We live in the golden age of man when it comes to food. We have more than enough to feed all of us, even the poorest of us. We also have every variety of food imaginable. In addition to turkey, I’ll make an authentic Mexican dish with material from Mexico. I’ll have sides and appetizers with ingredients from around the world. Despite this bounty, everyone is now afraid of their food. Food allergies, moralizing and whack-a-doodle dietary fads have everyone looking at their plate with suspicion.

Back when this annual event started, it was easy to cook a bunch of food for a bunch of people. Besides the turkey and sides, we had beer and some store bought desserts. Then vegetarians started to show up followed by vegans. That meant adding dishes for people who don’t eat meat and those who don’t oppress their food, whatever the hell that means. Of course, beer was no longer enough so a variety of wines and cocktails were added to the menu. All of which came with a lecture from the food cultist about the morality and science of their new thing.

My first reaction is “You invited these people?”

Then again, I suppose I myself could be considered a food oppressor, a decimator times ten: I fix enough to eat, and nothing is left — nothing but bits and pieces that would disappear into the dishwasher, had I a dishwasher.

There are two basic types of pathological foodies: men and women, as follows:

My read on this faux-allergy stuff is it is mostly women. The yogurt makers have figured out how to capitalize on their psycho-somatic stomach discomfort by claiming “probiotics” are the cure. Slap a new label on the old yogurt, double the price and you have a whole new revenue stream for the Acme Yogurt Company. I wish I had thought of it.

That said, men have their own food superstitions these days. I know guys who swallow dozens of supplements every day, believing they are the key to losing weight, staying young, getting a boner, living forever, etc. If the label says good things with words containing “-trophic” then they will shell out fifty bucks for a bottle. The more made up words the better. I read some of these bottles and start laughing as the neologisms are usually nonsense.

I operate on the notion that the death rate for this species is 100 percent, that it has been for some time, and if I have [name of food you can’t abide under any circumstances] once in a while, the odds won’t change one bit.

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Whipped into a frenzy

Found this old ad at Miss Cellania’s, and as usual, it sent me off into a tangential tizzy:

Kraft ad for Miracle Whip

Miracle Whip, says the ad copy, combines “the best qualities of good old-fashioned boiled dressing and fine mayonnaise.”

“Boiled dressing” is apparently before my time, so I went hunting for a description, and found one:

A Boiled Dressing can be thought of as sort of a Hollandaise Sauce for fresh vegetables. It draws on the principle that eggs and vinegar will emulsify in a liquid and form a creamy concoction. The base is usually eggs, vinegar, and a liquid such as cream, milk or water. Some recipes also use a small amount of flour or cornstarch as a thickener. Seasonings such as dry mustard, sugar and salt are added. Later versions would include a tablespoon of olive oil, showing that it was becoming available, but was still a luxury item.

The one thing it isn’t, curiously, is “boiled”; it’s actually simmered over a double boiler.

Wikipedia yields up this historical note:

According to Kraft archivist Becky Haglund Tousey, Kraft developed the product in-house using a patented “emulsifying machine” (invented by Charles Chapman) to create a product blending mayonnaise product and less expensive salad dressing, sometimes called “boiled dressing.”

Miracel WhipHowever, this story is disputed.

In Germany, the Kraft Foods spinoff Mondelēz International sells Miracle Whip as, um, Miracel Whip, presumably to match up with pronunciation in der Vaterland, though that WH combination doesn’t look the slightest bit Teutonic. I have no idea if the formula is any different, though it seems at least plausible that Germany, or the European Union as a whole, might actually have regulations affecting pseudo-mayo; says that same Wikipedia article, the modified corn starch and the inevitable high-fructose corn syrup are derived from non-GMO corn, which presumably would be easier than getting a new variety of maize past the EU’s GMO controls.

(Parenthetically: Once upon a time I inquired of my Twitter followers if there were a low-fructose corn syrup; I was directed to the nearest bottle of Karo.)

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A saucy query

Challenging the atheist:

Campbell Soup withdrew this pretty quickly, perhaps fearing negative response; last I looked, the account had actually been suspended. Before Dawkins, or someone else, sticks his foot in it, allow me (and some anonymous Wikipedian) to explain:

The flavors of the original sauces were created with the help of Howard Moskowitz, a practitioner in the field of psychophysics. The process involved the development of systematic variations of specific ingredients in the formula which then were tried by voluntary subjects. After placing numeric values to each tester’s perception on each of the variants, a mathematical model was created to develop the final recipe, which maximized the perceived taste while minimizing the cost of the ingredients needed to produce it.

Still better than Ragù.

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Tweetlessness

I wonder if their followers even notice:

Nearly 24 million out of 284 million Twitter users do not tweet at all, reveals the latest data filed by the micro-blogging site with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). This means that nearly 8.5 percent of Twitter users could be robots who never use the service, ValueWalk reported.

Or non-robots who never use the service. I’ve seen lots of tweets from actual bots, usually retweets of something that matched a keyword or hashtag.

Twitter also concedes that a substantial number of “users” are fake:

“There are a number of false or spam accounts in existence on our platform. We estimate that false or spam accounts represent less than five percent of our Monthly Active Users (MAUs),” the SEC document read.

Similarly, the Food and Drug Administration will put up with bay leaves that are less than five percent moldy. You may wish to avoid that link around dinnertime.

(Via Heidi Richards Mooney.)

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Allergen detection kit (home version)

If you ask me, this can’t happen soon enough:

“It would be really nice if a person with food allergies could get test strips that they could dip into a food they were concerned about, and it would turn color if the allergen was present.”

I was thinking about the glucose test strips we use in one of the labs I do — they are a product sold for diabetics, so they can test their urine. There are also color-changing tests for lead in paint, and I am sure other things I am not thinking of.

But what nice peace of mind that would be — “I don’t know for sure if this broth might have miso in it, so let me check.” or “Could there be peanut proteins in this smoothie?” (I can see how it would only work for liquid things.)

I doubt you could get every possible allergen detected by a single strip. (Then again, I am not a biochemist, nor do I play one on television.) But even if you have to special-order strips for your one-in-a-million sensitivity, it’s still better than hives.

Disclosure: I don’t have any food allergies, or at least I’m not aware of any. I still think it’s a swell idea.

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50 shapes of something

There are many brave souls willing to risk themselves for truth, or a reasonable facsimile thereof:

There is a tradition of human guinea pig pieces in the world of journalism. Morgan Spurlock, of course, in Super Size Me. Chuck Klosterman, who ate only McNuggets for seven straight days. Gawker’s Caity Weaver did an amazing job chronicling her 14-hour attempt at conquering TGI Fridays’ endless mozzarella sticks. Our willingness to torture ourselves for the sake of entertaining and informing readers is well documented. But they all had a point to make, or a hypothesis to see through.

I have none of this.

What he did have, though, was fifty Chicken McNuggets. It’s not as easy as it looks — and it doesn’t look easy at all.

I’m estimating my maximum McNugget capacity at twenty-seven, and no, I’m not going out to test this. I did once polish off nineteen at a sitting, and I was woozy for the next half hour, and not the good kind of wooz either.

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Those cads

If you’re in the States, nothing is happening to your Cadbury Creme Eggs:

There is much lid-flipping and out-freaking online today as UK news sites report a change to the recipe for Cadbury Creme Eggs, a change that everyone blames on the brand’s U.S.-based ownership. That very well may be true, but for Creme Egg fans stateside, it’s a non-issue as the treats you gobble down each spring are made by a different company.

See, while Kraft’s Mondelēz International controls overseas distribution of Cadbury Creme Eggs, and did indeed recently institute a recipe change, U.S. distribution of Cadbury products is handled by a different U.S. company: Hershey’s.

A rep for Mondelēz confirmed to Consumerist that the two products — the Creme Eggs it distributes and the ones distributed in the U.S. by Hershey’s — are now completely separate and a change to one does not mean a change to the other.

And while we’re clearing up matters, Mondelēz International was spun off from Kraft after the name change.

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It’s crummier in the colonies

Having never stopped off in the UK to buy sweets, I wouldn’t have thought of this. A English journalist in Las Vegas started it off:

If you read the whole thread, you’ll hear that the American version of an English candy — like, for instance, Skittles — will be “always nasty in comparison,” and American Nutella is apparently something to be avoided.

[insert vague “spotted dick” reference here]

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Among the local delicacies

Michael would like you to know that he did not actually sample these on a trip to the Bricktown Brewery’s Remington Park outpost:

Appetizers menu from Bricktown Brewery

“Even my stomach has limits,” he said.

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Apparently they’re not McKidding

Not even the Hamburglar knows about this place:

There’s not a golden arch, burger or fries in sight.

In fact, the casual diner might be excused for thinking the best known name in the fast food business is quietly trying to conceal its true identity.

Welcome to the future of McDonald’s, a mix of Lebanese lentils, tomato basil soup and chipotle pulled pork all washed down with a balsamic strawberry craft soda.

Where — or perhaps when — is this mysterious place?

The fast food giant last week opened The Corner, a cafe/food laboratory, next to Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Camperdown without fuss or fanfare.

Amid the shiny white tiling the only way you would know it was Maccas is the tiny McCafe logo on the sign and the Ronald McDonald cookie jar on the counter.

Manager Kyle Jarvis, who oversees a crew of chambray shirt-wearing, cafe-trained workers, said The Corner would be able to hold its own in inner west cafe hipster heartland.

“If they’re looking for a Quarter Pounder they’ll probably be sorely disappointed,” Mr Jarvis said. “It’s a new concept for us, it’s a learning lab where we test the things that Maccas has never done before and push the boundaries of what we can do in a cafe environment.”

No word on whether Mickey D in the US is planning anything similar.

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Noodle used

I have a medium-size stockpot, used mostly for boiling water into which pasta will be dumped. The diameter of this pot is approximately 0.3 inch less than the length of typical spaghetti-like substances. In days of old, I would break the rods in two in an effort to get them to fit. The trouble with that, of course, is that you can’t actually break them in two: invariably a third piece is formed, and sometimes a fourth. Unable to explain this phenomenon, I started pushing one end of the handful of spaghetti against the bottom of the pot while the water was boiling, and when the rods bent enough, following through with the rest. The results were slightly less satisfactory at precisely al dente, but it was better, I thought, than dealing with segments of random length, given my tendency to roll the stuff onto the fork.

At long last, there’s an explanation for where that third piece comes from:

Maybe I should just get a bigger pot and be done with it.

(Via Sploid.)

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