It goes without saying that we cannot survive without food. It’s literally an integral part of our lives. But stop for a moment, and think really hard, how much do you really know about the food you eat? Read on to learn 50 facts about food that’ll tickle your taste buds!
Fact 1: It was widely believed that eating Ketchup would cure diseases like diarrhea and indigestion.
- Back in the early 1800s, it was believed that tomatoes had medicinal qualities that could fight diseases.
- In the 1830s, a doctor in Ohio published a recipe book on how to make ketchup.
Fact 2: Many cereals and shredded cheeses contain ‘wood pulp’ or ‘cellulose’.
- ‘Cellulose’ or ‘wood pulps’ are also known as sawdust.
- But don’t panic! They are perfectly safe to eat. They put sawdust in cereals and shredded cheese to avoid clumping.
Fact 3: Red, yellow, and green peppers are not necessarily the same vegetable!
- Sometimes, green peppers are unripened versions of other peppers.
- But sometimes, green peppers come from completely different seeds.
Fact 4: Some foods have an ingredient called “titanium oxide” that is also found in plastics, sunscreen, and paint.
- Titanium oxide is a white die commonly added to processed food.
- The FDA considers it safe to consume. However, some research indicates it may cause bowel diseases.
Fact 5: Burger patties are made from multiple cows.
- The ground beef we buy in supermarkets is made up from lots of different cows.
- Burger patties are served round, and flattened.
Fact 6: It’s possible to turn peanut butter into diamonds according to scientists.
- Peanut butter has a large carbon content. If you took out all of the oxygen and subjected the peanut butter to immense pressure, a diamond could form.
- Of course, this process is way too slow and it’s hard to make a decent profit.
Fact 7: White chocolate is not real chocolate.
- While there is chocolate in its name, it does not contain any cocoa.
- The common recipe of white chocolate is vanilla, milk products, sugar, and cocoa butter.
Fact 8: The shine added to food products comes from the same material that gives a car their shiny look.
- ‘Carnauba wax’ is a main ingredient in sweets like gummy bears. This makes them look shiny.
- The Wax is used to coat the sweets so they do not stick together.
Fact 9: If you want to know if a cranberry is ripe, bounce it on the floor.
- This is called “bounce berries”. When cranberries are ripe, they act like a rubber ball and bounce.
- This test is used by farmers and consumers alike in determining ripeness.
Fact 10: The ‘Popsicle’ was invented by an 11-year old in the USA by accident.
- According to stories, 11-year old Frank Epperson left a mixture of water and soda outside. It froze, then he ate his invention.
- He started selling a variation of it in San Francisco. Calling it the “Epsicle” but as he grew older, it was renamed to “Popsicle.”
Fact 11: Farm raised salmon are naturally white. So they are dyed the same colour as Wild Salmon.
- Wild Salmon’s natural pink hue comes from its diet of shrimps.
- Farmers started feeding the farm raised salmon carotenoids, a plant pigment that can give them the same pink hue as Wild Salmon.
Fact 12: Whenever people say that ‘Apple Pie is very American’, they’re very wrong.
- As much as Americans like this tasty treat, there’s nothing American about it.
- The pie was invented in Medieval England. And the current recipe was perfected by the Dutch.
Fact 13: Potatoes, just like humans, can absorb and reflect Wi-Fi signal.
- The high water content of potatoes, and their chemical make-up, allows them to absorb radio and wireless signals.
- Because of this, potatoes are used when testing wifi on planes. Boeing did this in 2012.
Fact 14: The red dye used in Skittles is actually from dead beetles.
- ‘Carmine’, also called ‘carminic acid’, is a very common red dye used in different products such as lipstick, strawberry-flavoured junk food, and in Skittles.
- ‘Carmine’ is also found in Dactylopius Coccus (a beetle).
Fact 15: When you eat raw oysters, you’re eating them alive.
- Oysters die very fast. When they die, it’s not safe to eat them anymore. That’s why they are served alive.
- But don’t worry, they don’t feel pain when you chew them because they don’t have a central nervous system.
Fact 16: Every banana is a ‘clone’ of another banana.
- Most of the bananas sold in supermarkets are clones of the ‘Cavendish’ variety. They don’t have seeds in them, so farmers have to clone them to make them instead.
- However, the absence of banana species variety might lead to extinction. Because bananas don’t have ‘genetic diversity’, they are vulnerable to diseases.
Fact 17: You could use chocolate as a currency during the Aztec civilization.
- Aztecs are known for their immense love for chocolate. In fact, they were the ones who created the hot chocolate drink.
- Because it was very valuable, they used cocoa beans to pay their taxes.
Fact 18: Honey will never go bad. But it’s not the only food that will never expire!
- Yes, rice, sugar, and salt will not go bad (if they are placed in the right conditions).
- Honey is low in moisture and high in acidity. These are the 2 components that make it difficult for bacteria to grow in, which is why it has a long shelf life.
Fact 19: Carrots can be purple.
- According to historians, historical carrots looked different from the carrots that we see today. Carrots used to be long, thin and either purple or white.
- The orange colour comes from a genetic mutation.
Fact 20: There is a 99% chance that the Wasabi you ate was just a dyed horse-radish.
- Wasabi is very expensive, it costs around $80 per pound. Which is why restaurants opt for a more cost-effective alternative.
- If you want to eat the real deal, you’ll have to go to some high-end Japanese restaurants.
Fact 21: Tomatoes were once thought to be poisonous because a few aristocrats fell ill after eating them.
- Tomatoes had the nickname “poison apple”. Aristocrats might’ve fallen ill, but it wasn’t because of tomatoes.
- It was actually because of their tableware. The high acidity from the tomatoes would cause lead to leak from the tableware, giving the Aristocrats lead poisoning.
Fact 22: If you put grapes in the microwave: they will explode!
- Don’t try this at home. If you split a grape in 2, and put it in the microwave, it will explode and create an electrical lighting effect.
- Microwaves use radiation to generate heat, if you heat something that does not absorb energy (like grapes), a concentrated electromagnetic wave will be created.
Fact 23: Crackers, are worse than candy for giving your teeth cavities.
- It is not sugar but acid that causes tooth decay.
- Because crackers can sometimes get stuck in between your teeth for a long time, bacteria is created and rots the tooth.
Fact 24: If you eat 2 tablespoons of nutmeg, you will experience the same effect as a hallucinogenic drug.
- Nutmeg is a favourite addition to hot beverages, but if you put too much in you might experience some physical side-effects.
- This includes nausea, dizziness, some out of body sensations, and slowed-down brain activity.
Fact 25: Chicken wings were once discarded and left uneaten.
- Although chicken wings are normally sold as buffalo wings nowadays, historically, they would’ve been thrown out with the chicken bones and gristle, or used to make a stock.
- Teressa Bellissimo changed the ideas of wings and invented the famous winged snack we know now. She deep fried some wings and slathered them with butter and hot sauce and sold them. They really took off!
Fact 26: The burning sensation you feel when eating spicy food is a mental reaction, not a physical one.
- Peppers contain a chemical known as ‘capsaicin’. It binds to our pain receptors.
- A signal is sent to the brain that we are ingesting something hot. We turn red and sweat because our body is reacting to a perceived threat.
Fact 27: It was Switzerland that invented processed cheese, not America.
- Although most think Kraft and Cheez Wiz invented processed cheese, it was actually the Swiss who came up with the idea.
- In 1911, the Swiss invented processed cheese in order to increase the shelf life of their products before they shipped them overseas.
Fact 28: The most stolen food item in the world is cheese.
- 4% of the total cheese produced in the world is stolen yearly.
- It might be because milk-based products are very expensive in some countries.
Fact 29: Strawberries are actually not real berries. But bananas and cucumbers are!
- Although they are commonly referred to as ‘berries’, strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries are not actual ‘berries’, according to researchers.
- A ‘berry’ is produced from a single flower with one ovary. Some ‘actual berries’ include bananas, tomatoes, grapes, and kiwis.
Fact 30: Lobsters used to be a poor person’s food.
- Back in the day, it was very difficult to sell lobsters. Most would be returned to the ocean or given to servants.
- There was a law written detailing how many lobsters you could feed to prisoners, before it was considered cruel.
Fact 31: Be very careful when transporting pistachios as they may spontaneously combust!
- Pistachios are composed of oily fibrous materials. If they rub against each other for too long they can burst into flames.
- That’s why when transporting pistachios, they must be stored in a cool, dry environment.
Fact 32: Don’t freak out if you eat a fruit sticker, they are completely edible.
- The stickers attached to fruits are actually FDA approved and safe to eat.
- But, it is still recommended that you remove the sticker and wash your fruit before you consume.
Fact 33: It is more expensive to buy ‘healthy food’ rather than ‘junk food’.
- This is one of the reasons why there is an obesity problem in first world countries, and it is more prevalent in the lower class.
- Due to the rising prices of food, it is cheaper to buy unhealthy snacks than to prepare a healthy meal.
Fact 34: The sandwich was invented by the Earl of Sandwich, a gambling addict who was too lazy to stand up and leave the gambling table to eat.
- John Montagu, the Earl of Sandwich, was on a 24-hour streak and he didn’t want to leave the gambling table to eat, in case he lost out on a bet.
- No one knew who actually made the sandwich, but this event lead to us all eating sandwiches.
Fact 35: It’s very difficult to overcook mushrooms!
- Mushrooms have a special polymer called ‘chitin’ in their cell walls.
- This ‘chitin’ is heat stable, and ensures that no matter how long the mushrooms have been cooking, they will still taste great and will be tender.
Fact 36: During the middle ages, black pepper was considered a luxury and was used to pay taxes and rent!
- During the Middle Ages, spices were expensive because they only grew in tropical climates.
- Several expeditions were financed by Portugal and Spain, in the hopes that these tours would result in spices being brought back from Asia.
Fact 37: ¼ of the world’s hazelnuts end up in a jar of Nutella.
- Due to the popularity of Nutella, they have to use 25% of the world’s yearly total of hazelnuts to create their pots of joy!
- Some universities are trying to grow hazelnuts, to fight the shortage of hazelnuts because there is too much demand.
Fact 38: In 1965, a corned beef sandwich was smuggled into space by Astronaut John Young.
- Fortunately, he realized early on that it was a bad idea what with zero gravity and all. He put the floating corned beef sandwich back in his pocket.
- It was dangerous taking the sandwich to space, floating crumbs could have had a detrimental effect on the shuttle.
Fact 39: If you love to eat chocolate, then you need to love flies. They are important in the production of chocolate.
- There’s a microscopic fly that’s essential in the pollination of cacao trees.
- They are the only insects that pollinate cacao trees. But don’t worry, they’re not the same flies you see at home.
Fact 40: A McDonalds burger will not rot quickly, even if you leave it in your bag for a long time.
- Due to its large surface area, the burger quickly dries out, leaving little moisture for moulds to grow.
- This is also the same principle when creating other dried foods, like beef jerky.
Fact 41: In 16th Century England, you could have a ‘surprise pie’!
- Pretty much like a birthday cake. You would receive the ‘pie’ and a live animal would jump out of it!
- Fortunately, this tradition didn’t continue to modern times.
Fact 42: McDonald’s ‘chicken nuggets’ come in four shapes!
- These shapes have their own names, ‘the boots’, ‘the ball’, ‘the bell’, and ‘the bone’.
- They made them like this to ensure that each nugget is cooked equally, and to make them easier to dip into sauce pots.
Fact 43: During the 4th of July celebrations, so many hotdogs get sold, that if you were to take all of the hotdogs and line them up, you’d get a line the distance from Washington to LA, times five!
- It is 3,700 kilometres from LA to Washington, multiplied by 5, that’s over 17,000 kilometres!
- If you still don’t know how long that is, it would take a human half a year to walk that distance without stopping.
Fact 44: There is a high possibility that the processed food that you ate had some bugs in it.
- The FDA approves a certain amount of bug traces in food, because it’s really difficult to prevent it.
- Don’t worry, they are safe to ingest. There’s not enough “bug juice” in your food to cause an allergic reaction.
Fact 45: Cucumbers are 96% water.
- If you are on a diet, it’s a great snack as it’s like drinking water with some pulp in it.
- It’s a great remedy for dehydration and other ailments that require moisture.
Fact 46: If you are a vegan or a vegetarian, then don’t eat ‘gelatin’.
- ‘Gelatin’ is actually made from boiled skin, cartilage, and bones of animals such as chickens, cows, and pigs.
- It’s essentially made of animal.
Fact 47: Peanuts can be used to make dynamite!
- Peanuts contain an oil called ‘glycerin’ that is used to make dynamite.
- ‘Glycerin’ can be sourced in other vegetable oils, petroleum byproducts, and animal fats.
Fact 48: ‘Heavy cream’ is actually lighter than ‘whole milk’!
- The term ‘heavy cream’ is based on its density, not on its weight.
- The heaviest type of milk is actually skimmed milk, which has the fewest calories.
Fact 49: You can use wooden boards to cut meats but make sure it’s cleaned thoroughly, right after you use it.
- The problem with wooden boards is that they absorb meat juices.
- After using, you need to wash it right away, pat it dry with a paper towel, dry it again to make sure that the meat juices are all cleaned up.
Fact 50: Adding salt to boiling water, when making pasta, seasons the pasta just enough to detect a change in flavour.
- It’s a common misconception that adding salt to the water, when making pasta, will make it boil faster. You’d need a load more salt to see this effect!
- Salt enhances our chemoreceptors in the tongue.