FOOD, glorious food
Fascinating Facts about what we eat

ANIMALS

General Facts

CAT FACTS

INVENTIONS

As the ice age ended, Eurasia had many plants that could be used for farming. Also, the region was home to large mammals that could be domesticated, such as cattle that could be used for meat and milk, and horses and elephants which were used for transportation and fighting.

The Black Death followed a period of population growth in Europe which, combined with two years of cold weather and torrential rains that wiped out grain crops, resulted in a shortage of food for humans and rats. This caused people and animals to crowd in cities, providing an optimal environment for Plague.

The warriors of Attila, king of the Huns, (A.D. 450) preserved their meat by placing fresh meat under their saddles. All the bouncing squeezed fluids from the meat, and the horse’s sweat salted the meat and removed more moisture. When the warrior stopped to eat, they had a dried and salted meal.

Historians speculate that as the Chinese population grew, people had to conserve cooking fuel by chopping food into small pieces so that it could cook faster. These bite-sized foods eliminated the need for knives and, hence, chopsticks were invented.

The first greenhouses in history were built in Rome in A.D. 30 under the orders of Emperor Tiberius who wanted to eat a cucumber a day. Andrew Faneuil in Boston built the first greenhouse in North America in 1737.

On Sicily’s west coast, there are two main crops: olives for oil and grapes for wine. There was once a third: salt. Salt was one of the motivating factors for the growth of the Roman empire, and the words salary and salad both come from the word for salt. Salt was a fundamental element of trade, because sodium and chlorine are both essential to life and the combination is among the best preservatives and flavoring agents there is. And until relatively recently, it wasn’t easy to produce and ship, so over consumption wasn’t an issue.

A baby cannot taste salt until it is 4 months old. The delay may be related to the development of kidneys, which start to process sodium at about that age.

In his new book, Banana: The Fate of the Fruit That Changed the World, Dan Koeppel reveals that bananas are the world's largest fruit crop and the fourth-largest product grown overall after wheat, rice, and corn. In Central America, American banana companies built and toppled nations: a struggle to control the banana crop led to the overthrow of Guatemala's first democratically elected government in the 1950s, which in turn gave birth to the Mayan genocide of the 1980s. In the 1960s, banana companies -- trying to regain plantations nationalized by Fidel Castro -- allowed the CIA to use their freighters as part of the failed Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba.

There are at least 10,000 varieties of tomatoes. Over 60 million tons of tomatoes are produced each year, making it the world’s most popular fruit. The second most popular fruit is the banana.

Watermelons are actually vegetables and are related to squash, cucumbers, and pumpkins.

Animal crackers are cookies that were imported to the U.S. from England in the 1800s. P.T. Barnum had boxes designed with a circus theme and a string handle so they could be hung on a Christmas tree.

Food trucks began in cities in the Northeast to serve shift workers, policeman and patrons of the theatre and movies, providing a quick snack of coffee, sandwiches, hot dogs, and pie. They were called "lunch wagons" pulled by horses, and patterned after the chuck wagons in Texas. 

The Planters Peanut Company mascot, Mr. Peanut, was created during a contest for schoolchildren in 1916.

It takes 3650 peanuts to fill a 5-pound container of peanut butter. Half of all edible peanuts consumed in the US are used to make peanut butter.

Joseph L. Rosenfield in 1928 invented the churning process that gives peanut butter the smooth texture we have today. He originally licensed this process to Pond Company, who makes Peter Pan peanut butter. In 1932, he started his own peanut butter company, which he named Skippy.

Popularized at the 1893 World Fair, peanut butter became a staple in World War II, because the invention of sliced bread and the popularization of commerical jellies created a high protein meat-substitute the soldiers loved. Peanut butter contains close to 25% protein, and only 2% water.

Cinnamon is the dried inner bark of a variety of evergreen tree. The most common form of the spice is imported primarily from Indonesia. Cinnamon was one of the first-known spices, mentioned in the Old Testament. It was used in ancient Egypt, and the Romans believed its aroma was sacred. 

English garden mint, Mentha spicata, or spearmint, which is also used for making candy, tea, and jelly. The plant is also said to have many medicinal properties, including the ability to settle a queasy stomach, increase appetite, sweeten the breath, relieve the sting of an insect bite, and cure chapped skin. The tiny spikes of flowers are said to attract beneficial insects to gardens, and the leaves are used to repel rodents.

Cassava, the plant from which tapioca is made, was one of the first domesticated more than 12,000 years ago in South America. Migrating northward, it became a staple crop for people throughout the pre-Columbian Americas. Taken to Africa by the Portuguese, today it is the third largest source of carbohydrates in much of the world, after rice and maize. But the bitter form of cassava may have as much as 400 mg of the toxin cyanide, which is also found in some pretty common foods including almonds, sorghum, lima beans, stone fruits (think peaches, plums, apricots and nectarines) and bamboo shoots. We don’t get sick from eating these products because either by the time they reach us, the toxins have been eliminated (e.g., blanched almonds and canned, prepared bamboo shoots), or we don’t eat the toxic part (e.g., the pit of the stone fruit where the poison precursor resides).

Pie got its name from the magpie, because the bird collects bits and pieces for her nest, just as pies assemble various ingredients under one crust.

Twinkies were created in 1930 as ladyfinger-shaped spongecakes.   They were first thought up by James A. Dewar, the vice president of Continental Bakeries who sold under the Hostess brand.  Dewar sought to put the machines used to make cream filled strawberry shortcake to good use when strawberries were out of season and the machines normally sat idle.  So he got an idea to create a banana cream filled cake.  But war-time shortages of bananas caused them to switched to vanilla cream.  Once the war was over, they didn’t bother switching back because the vanilla version was far more popular than the banana version had ever been.

Strawberries are the only fruits whose seeds grow on the outside.

German Chocolate Cake owes its name to American Sam German, who developed a type of dark baking chocolate for the American Baker’s Chocolate Company in 1852.  Over a century later, a woman by the name of George Clay got her recipe for a cake using “German’s Chocolate” published in the Dallas Morning Star on June 3, 1957, under the name “German’s Chocolate Cake.”  General Foods, who now owned the German’s Chocolate brand, heavily promoted this recipe, but called “German Chocolate Cake,” helping give rise to the myth that it was invented in Germany.

Fred DeLuca was just 17 in 1965 when he borrowed $1,000 to open a sandwich shop in Bridgeport, Conn. to help pay college expenses. He then parlayed that experience into building Subway, the world’s largest chain of fast-food franchises.

Coleslaw comes from Dutch settlers in New York, who made raw cabbage (kool) into salad (sla).

Israeli researchers took a date seed collected from one of King Herod's palaces and planted it. The 2,000-year-old seed sprouted and has produced a date palm. It's the oldest seed ever to have germinated.

Because 'corn' originally meant any small particle -- even sand or salt. That is why beef preserved by the use of salt is called 'corned beef.' When 'com' finally came to mean a certain type of grain it was used to refer to the grain that was the leading crop of the locality. In England, therefore, 'corn' is wheat; in Scotland and Ireland, 'corn' is oats; and in the United States, it's maize.

When European colonists first arrived in North America, they came upon what they called “Indian corn.” A few centuries later, we would learn that black, red and blue corn is rich in anthocyanins. Anthocyanins have the potential to fight cancer, calm inflammation, lower cholesterol and blood pressure, protect the aging brain, and reduce the risk of obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. European settlers were content with this colorful corn until the summer of 1779 when they found something more delectable — a yellow variety with sweeter and more tender kernels. This unusual variety came to light that year after George Washington ordered a scorched-earth campaign against Iroquois tribes. While the militia was destroying the food caches of the Iroquois and burning their crops, soldiers came across a field of extra-sweet yellow corn. According to one account, a lieutenant named Richard Bagnal took home some seeds to share with others. Our old-fashioned sweet corn is a direct descendant of these spoils of war. (Read the article, Breeding the Nutrition Out of Our Food, at: http://tinyurl.com/ngvdrd5

Corn was instrumental in turning nomad tribes to agrarian societies. Early Native Americans are responsible for breeding the hardy ancestor of the corn we now eat today. Corn can be grown in a variety of climates and can be used in a variety of ways. The corn cob first reached Europe when Columbus brought it back with him to Spain after his trip to the Americas. Native Americans taught settlers the basics on how to plant the crop and cultivate it. Early settlers in America might not have survived if it hadn't been for corn. Even now, it's the most widely grown crop in America.

Corn and other grains were originally ground by hand. Oliver Evans, who  built the first high-pressure steam engine in the United States in 1801, had taken out patents on the first mechanical method for grinding grains, powered by a water wheel, in the late 1780s.

Corn "silks" are each attached to a particular spot on the ear. Each spot grows a kernel, but only if that particular string is fertilized. For an ear of corn to be whole, every silk has to receive a dose of pollen. A row of corn always has an even number.

Corn dextrin, a common thickener used in junk food, is also the glue on envelopes and postage stamps.

When Kellogg's cooking grains became stale, he pressed and toasted them, creating Corn Flakes.

Wheaties was created in 1922, as a result of an accidental spill of a wheat bran mixture onto a hot stove by a Minnesota clinician working for the Washburn Crosby Company (later General Mills). By November 1924, after over 36 attempts to strengthen the flakes to withstand packaging, the process for creating the flakes had been perfected by the Washburn head miller, George Cormack, and the cereal was named Washburn's Gold Medal Whole Wheat Flakes. Soon after, the name was changed to Wheaties as a result of an employee contest won by the wife of a company export manager, Jane Bausman.  The first singing commercial was for Wheaties.

General Mills also created Betty Crocker, box-top coupons, and diversified into toys by buying companies that produced Play Doh, the Nerf ball, and the Care Bears. They also owned, at one point, Yoplait, Red Lobster, Olive Garden, and Parker Brothers (Monopoly).

In 1869, Henry John Heinz and his neighbor, L. Clarence Noble, began selling grated horseradish. The company went bankrupt in 1875, but the following year Heinz founded another company, F & J Heinz, with his brother John and a cousin Frederick. One of this company's first products was tomato ketchup, which they introduced in 1876.  The slogan, "57 varieties", was introduced by Heinz in 1896. Inspired by an advertisement he saw while riding an elevated train in New York City (a shoe store boasting "21 styles"), Heinz picked the number more or less at random because he liked the sound of it, selecting 7 specifically because, as he put it, of the "psychological influence of that figure and of its enduring significance to people of all ages." By the time the company was sold in 2013, it had become the U.S. food company with the widest global reach.

In 1982, sales of Reese's Pieces increased 85% after appearing in the movie E.T.

Andrew Lawler explains, in “Why Did the Chicken Cross the World?: The Epic Saga of the Bird that Powers Civilization,” that chickens were never considered as food until fairly recent history. "Ancient Persians and classical Greeks alike considered the chicken sacred to the gods, a link between heaven and earth. During the days of the Roman Republic, military leaders studied the birds’ behavior to determine if they should go to war or sue for peace, while later Christians placed it on top of their churches. Chickens were also veritable two-legged medicine chests, their various parts capable of curing everything from bedwetting to burns. And from Confucian China to today’s Appalachia, men used it for cockfighting—perhaps the world’s oldest sport after boxing. For millennia, the bird symbolized everything from spiritual awakening to sexual prowess. There is no other animal that has served humans in so many versatile ways."

Lawler goes on to say: " Electric incubators and electric lights, which fooled chickens into producing eggs year round, made it simpler and more profitable to raise the birds. Poor rural women in the American Midwest and South made quick use of railroads to feed the growing market in booming cities like New York and Chicago. World War I diverted beef and pork to the troops, and Americans were encouraged to keep backyard chickens as an alternative. And the government approved the shipment of live chicks by mail, which spawned hundreds of hatcheries around the country."

In time, huge poultry producers took over, and chicken became an inexpensive and nutrious part of our diet.  

When a person diets or deprives himself of food, the neurons in the brain that induce hunger start eating themselves. This “cannibalism” sparks a hunger signal to prompt eating.

Baijiu, also known as shaojiu, is an alcoholic beverage from China. A very strong distilled spirit, generally about 40–60% alcohol by volume, is often made from wheat, but sometimes other substances. It is made at the oldest distillery in the world.

Apples are part of the rose family. Apple is one of the oldest English words and first referred to all fruit in general. It belongs to the genus Malus (about 25 species) of the family Rosaceae and is the most widely cultivated tree fruit. Apple varieties, of which there are thousands, fall into three broad classes: cider varieties, cooking varieties, and dessert varieties.

At the World's Fair in St. Louis in 1904, J.T. Stinson, a well-regarded fruit specialist, introduced the phrase, An apple a day keeps the doctor away (at a lecture during the exhibition).

Watermelon is not a fruit, but a vegetable, cousin to the cucumber. It's in the gourd family, native to tropical Africa, but under cultivation on every continent except Antarctica. Its vines grow along the ground, with branched tendrils, deeply cut leaves, and single flowers on each leaf.

The first product to have a bar code was Wrigley's gum.

The brand name Jelly Belly was created in 1982 after Nancy Reagan made a much-publicized quip about her husband's 20-pound weight gain.

Dark chocolate boosts memory, attention span, reaction time, and problem-solving skills by increasing blood flow to the brain. Studies have also found that dark chocolate can improve the ability to see in low-contrast situations (such as poor weather) and promote lower blood pressure, which has positive effects on cholesterol levels, platelet function, and insulin sensitivity.

A single chocolate chip provides enough energy to a human being to walk 150 feet.

Chocolate has evolved into such a massive industry that between 40 and 50 million people depend on cacao for their livelihood. Over 3.8 million tons of cacao beans are produced per year.

Mexico introduced chocolate, corn, and chilies to the world.

Cacao trees can live to be 200 years old, but they produce marketable cocoa beans for only 25 years.

The English company Cadbury made the first chocolate bar in the world in 1842.

In 1873, James  and Gilbert founded Ganong Bros. Limited in St. Stephen, New Brunswick. In 1884 the partnership was dissolved: James expanded into a successful soap production and Gilbert maintained the candy company known as Ganong Brothers. The fourth generation of Ganongs still runs the candy business, which was the first in North America to wrap a candy bar. They also created the first heart-shaped boxes for Valentine chocolates.

When a chocolate bar melted in Percy L. Spencer's pocket as he stood in front of a magnetron, this man who never finished elementary school invented the microwave oven.

In 1876, Milton Hershey started a candy company in Philadelphia, but it failed six years later. At the 1893 Chicago Columbian Exposition, he got hooked on chocolate and bought some German candy-making machinery and had it shipped back to Pennsylvania. After much experimentation, Hershey figured out the formula for making milk chocolate-a secret process known only to the Swiss at the time. He started the Hershey Chocolate Company and the rest is history.

In 1907, a flat-bottomed, teardrop-shaped piece of milk chocolate, called the Hershey Kiss, hit the marketplace. Individually wrapped in foil by hand, the kisses were bite-sized and affordable. By 1921, a machine wrapped each kiss in foil and added the little paper ribbon bearing the name Hershey, which is still part of each Hershey Kiss. Hershey’s produces over 80 million chocolate Kisses–every day.

In the 18th century, mutton pies called kit-cats were served at meetings of London’s political Kit-Cat Club. The popular chocolate bar, with its distinct four-fingered shape, was introduced in 1935, after a worker at British confectionary Rowntree suggested the company create a snack that a man could easily take to work.

The first chocolate chip cookie was invented in 1937 by Ruth Wakefield who ran the “Toll House Inn.” The term “Toll House” is now legally a generic word for chocolate chip cookie. It is the most popular cookie worldwide and is the official cookie of Massachusetts.

The Tootsie Roll was invented by Leo Hirschfeld in 1896. He named the candy after his daughter’s nickname, Clara “Tootsie” Hirschfeld. During World War II, the Tootsie Roll candy was added to every soldier’s field rations, because the candy could hold up in a variety of weather conditions. The Tootsie roll was also the first one cent candy to be individually wrapped and was the most popular candy during the Depression, due to its low cost.

Caramels are an American invention that emerged from the European caramelized sugar of the seventeenth century. They are the essence of the praline, which the French brought to Louisiana in the 1760s. The caramel came into its own in the late 1800s, around the time when Hershey started the Lancaster Caramel Company. The Encyclopedia of Food and Beverages, published in 1901, gives this definition of caramel: “Sugar and corn syrup cooked to a proper consistence in open stirring kettles, run out in thin sheets on marble slab tables and cut into squares when cooled.” That recipe is not an industry standard: Hershey, compliments of his Denver caramel-making employer, knew to substitute milk for paraffin wax.

Milk Duds were invented by the F. Hoffman Company of Chicago in the 1920s and later made by Holloway. This was a time when marketing was becoming ever more sophisticated, and a product’s name meant everything. But how do you give zing to a candy you intended to be a perfectly round chocolate-covered caramel ball that sagged and dented? It wasn’t a ball. It was a dud. And that’s when someone in the company called it “Milk Duds.

Austrian immigrant Herman Herer was trying to create a marshmallow candy for M. Schwarz & Sons of Newark and added too many egg whites. The candy was a dud, but Herer experimented with the recipe, then sold his business to Schwarz and finally succeeded in making the only flat taffy in the world. Its name was Turkish Taffy. In nearby Coney Island, Turkish born Albert Bonomo was selling candy from a pushcart. Soon he opened a candy and ice cream factory on the first floor of his house, living on the second floor and housing about thirty workers on the third floor. In 1936, Bonomo bought M. Schwarz & Sons and with it the Turkish Taffy, making the taffy truly Turkish.

No one knows when people started enjoying lollipops, although Charles Dickens wrote about hard candy on a stick in the 1800s. In the United States, around the time of the Civil War, people started sticking pencils into hard candies to eat them. At home, people basically dropped a mound of hard candy onto parchment or wax paper, stuck in a stick, let it dry, and then enjoyed the treat. But commercially not a lot was going on. Then, in 1895, Gilbert and James Ganong began inserting sharp wooden sticks into their hard candy, creating one of the first commercial lollipops in the northern hemisphere. They called it an “all day sucker.” That changed in 1908 when the Bradley Smith Company starting manufacturing the “Lolly Pop,” which was named after George Smith’s favorite racehorse. Their inspiration was a chocolate-caramel taffy on a stick, made by Reynolds Taffy of West Haven, Connecticut. George Smith attempted to get ownership of the name “Lolly Pop,” but the US Patent Office turned him down, as the term was listed in an English dictionary of the early 1800s, spelled “lollipop.” There it was described as “a hard sweetmeat sometimes on a stick.” Eventually, Smith got the rights to “Lolly Pop.”

         Eduard Haas III was the grandson of a doctor who invented a type of light baking powder which he advocated over yeast as he felt it was easier on digestive systems.  As a teen, Haas III began selling and promoting his grandfather's baking powder at his father's wholesale grocery store. While the packets of baking powder Haas III sold came with a recipe book and suggestions on how much to use as a substitute for yeast in recipes, Haas III got the bright idea to put together packets of the necessary ingredients for cake all mixed together. In addition to the first cake mix he created a line of other products including Haas Pudding Powder, Vanillin Sugar, and a gelling aid called Quittin, which also all sold quite well.        With his baking business booming, Haas III decided to branch out and helped develop a method of cold pressing peppermint into small bricks.  He distributed these to various friends and colleagues to get feedback and when they were received well, he began to sell Pfefferminze or PEZ to the public in small tins.
        In the 1940s Haas III decided to start marketing PEZ as a substitute for cigarettes, specifically targeting people who were trying to quit smoking. Then in 1947 Haas III decided that instead of putting PEZ in tins, they should be put in a device that would look like a cigarette lighter, which would also make it easy to share PEZ with others in a hygienic fashion. 
       At the urging of Curtis Allina, VP in charge of U.S. operations, they began targeting children by creating fruit flavored bricks, instead of just peppermint PEZ. They also created character based PEZ dispensers, which were a huge hit and helped make PEZ a popular confectionary to this day.

On May 8, 1886, Atlanta pharmacist John Styth Pemberton invented the flavor syrup for Coca-Cola.  A former Confederate soldier who was wounded in the Battle of Columbus, he had become addicted to morphine, and began seeking a cure for morphine addiction.  Pemberton came up with “Pemberton’s French Wine Coca”, advertised as a nerve tonic cure-all. Unfortunately for him, this cure-all also included alcohol (from wine), which was banned in Atlanta in 1886.
       Not to be dissuaded, Pemberton modified his formula with the help of Willis Venable and Frank Mason Robinson.  This new mixture was very similar to his original French Wine Coca, but without the alcohol (substituting the wine with sugar and adding citric acid to counteract the bitter taste this substitution introduced).  He also mixed this concoction with carbonated water (carbonated water was often used in “cure-all” mixtures as it was believed to itself be very good for your health).
       He began selling this new soft drink at Jacob’s Pharmacy in Atlanta on May 8, 1886. Much like his old product, Pemberton’s French Wine Coca, this new drink was sold as a cure-all, specifically advertised as a cure for impotence, dyspepsia, neurasthenia, headaches, nausea, and morphine addiction, as well as a general stimulant and health booster.
       Over the course of the first year an average of just nine servings of this soft drink were sold per day.  From these humble beginnings as a health tonic, Coca Cola has grown into one of the best known brand names and beverages in the world, with sales of around 1.6 billion servings of Coke every day or around half a trillion servings per year.
       The popular beverage was originally green. For years, his recipe remained a secret. It was quietly published in 1979 in the Atlanta Constitution-Journal but went unnoticed. It has two parts. The first includes “fluid extract of coca,” citric acid, caffeine, sugar, water, lime juice, vanilla, and caramel. The second, called “7X,” includes alcohol, orange oil, lemon oil, nutmeg oil, coriander, neroli, and cinnamon. The company claims this recipe is not accurate, and maintains that the original formula is still locked in their vaults.

A&W Root Beer is named after Roy Allen and Frank Wright, the founders of the company. Allen bought the recipe from a pharmacist who had perfected it. A&W was one of the first fast food franchises.

7-Up started as a hangover cure in the roaring twenties: SEVEN in the morning, time to get UP.

The black cow was created on August 19, 1893. Frank J. Wisner, owner of Cripple Creek Brewing in Colorado, served the first root beer float. Inspired by the moonlit view of snow-capped Cow Mountain, Mr. Wisner added a scoop of ice cream to his Myers Avenue Red root beer and began serving it as the Black Cow Mountain. The name was later shortened to black cow.

At the St.Louis World's Fair in 1904, a waffle booth was beside one selling ice cream. When the ice cream vendor ran out of bowls, the waffle maker twisted waffles into cones and the ice cream cone was born.

A single cup of ice cream has more cholesterol than 10 glazed donuts. 

Lester “Les” Waas pedaled around New York City with a 12-inch bell and an order to record a three-minute radio ad for a small ice cream company. He created a lyrical, chime-filled tune in one take and named it “Jingles and Chimes.” The client, a Philadelphia-born, Jersey-based business called Mister Softee, loved it. It was only  one of more than 970 jingles Waas wrote. His clients included the United States Coast Guard, Ford Motor Company, and Holiday Inn.

In 1919, Christian Nelson, an Iowa store owner, discovered how to coat an ice cream bar with chocolate, inventing the Eskimo Pie. When he heard of the discovery, Harry Burt, owner of a Youngstown, Ohio, ice cream parlor, replicated Nelson's product. Burt's 23-year-old daughter Ruth thought that the new novelty was too messy, so Burt's son, Harry Jr., suggested using a wooden stick as a convenient handle. Burt outfitted twelve street vending trucks in Youngstown with rudimentary freezers and bells to sell his "Good Humor Ice Cream Suckers" in 1920.

Buying ice cream on Sundays was illegal in Ohio because it was thought to be frivolous and "luxurious." Consequently, ice cream vendors would put fruit on top of the ice cream to make it more nutritious, creating the ice cream sundae.

Jello was created by carpenter and cough syrup manufacturer, Pearle B. Wait. He and his wife May added strawberry, raspberry, orange and lemon flavoring to the powder and gave the product its present name in 1897. Unable to successfully market their concoction, in 1899 the Waits sold the business to a neighbor, Orator Francis Woodward, for $450. Even Woodward struggled to sell the powdered product. Beginning in 1902, to raise awareness, Woodward's Genesee Pure Food Company placed advertisements in the Ladies' Home Journal proclaiming Jell-O to be "America's Most Famous Dessert." Jell-O remained a minor success until 1904, when Genesee Pure Food Company sent enormous numbers of salesmen out into the field to distribute free Jell-O cookbooks, a pioneering marketing tactic at the time. They took out an ad in Lady's Home Journal, and eventually hired Jack Benny to sing the Jell-O song on radio and TV and artist Norman Rockwell do illustrate the ads. Due to brilliant marketing, Jell-O become one of the most well-known brands in American history.

Henri Nestlé, born in Germany in 1814, was the 11th of 14 children—only half of whom survived to adulthood. After apprenticing to a pharmacist in the 1830s, he began to work on an infant food that could serve as a substitute for breast milk for struggling babies. Combining milk, flour, and sugar, he created the first commercial infant formula and founded what is today the largest processed foods company in the world.

In Europe, milk was not pasteurized until the 1890s and was avoided, particularly for infants, because people believed their child would grow up to resemble the animal.

The original potato chip was created by chef George Crum at a restaurant in Saratoga Springs, NY, in 1853. Fed up with a customer who continued to send his fried potatoes back with the complaint that they were too thick and soggy, Crum decided to slice the potatoes so thinly that they could not be eaten with a fork. The customer was delighted, and the chips became a regular item on the lodge's menu.

Fortune cookies were actually invented in America (not China), in 1918, by Charles Jung.

Historians speculate that as the Chinese population grew, people had to conserve cooking fuel by chopping food into small pieces so that it could cook faster. These bite-sized foods eliminated the need for knives and, hence, chopsticks were invented.

June 4 is National Donut Day, created in 1938 as a fundraiser for the Chicago Salvation Army in honor of the women who served donuts to soldiers during World War I.

Brothers Dick and Mac McDonald opened their first restaurant in San Bernardino, California, in 1940 and introduced the “Speedee Service System,” establishing the principles of the modern fast-food restaurant. Ray Kroc, a mixer salesman, recognized the idea’s potential and partnered with the brothers. Kroc opened his first McDonald’s franchise in Illinois in 1955 and later bought out the McDonald brothers.

Colonel Sanders was 62 and broke when he began to offer home-cooked meals to weary travelers in the Shell gas station he and his family lived in. He advertised it as a “Sunday Dinner, Seven Days a Week.” His gas station / cafe was doing so well, that he bought out the motel across the street and turned it into a 142-seat restaurant. Orders, especially for his chicken, piled up, so Sanders needed to find a way to cook faster. That’s when he discovered a “new-fangled thing called a pressure cooker” at a local hardware store. In his autobiography, Sanders admitted that, contrary to what you may have heard elsewhere, he didn’t invent the pressure cooker, simply adapted it to fry a lot of chicken quickly. “Sanders Court and Cafe” became one of the most popular stops in Kentucky.

In 1965, a college student named Fred De Luca and family friend Dr. Peter Buck started Subway in Bridgeport, Connecticut. The first restaurant was called Pete’s Super Submarines. Subway currently is located in 87 countries.

The banana is the largest plant on earth without a woody stem. 

Pepsi originally contained pepsin, which gave the soft drink its name.

One bottle of wine contains about 2.8 pounds of grapes. Grapes are the only fruit that are capable of producing the proper nutrition for the yeast on its skin and sugar in its juice to ferment naturally.

During the Middle Ages, sugar was considered a luxury and cost nine times as much as milk.  

Saccharin, a coal-tar derivative three hundred times as sweet as sugar, was discovered in 1879.

Carrots were originally purple. Dutch botanists developed an orange carrot to celebrate the Dutch Royal Family, the House of Orange.

          All coffee is grown within 1,000 miles of the equator. Though coffee was discovered in Ethiopia around A.D. 850, it wasn’t until it spread to Mocha, Yemen, in around 1100 that it became firmly established as a popular drink. From Mocha (from which Mocha coffee derives its name), beans were shipped to India, Java, and eventually Europe in 1515. By 1675, England had more than 3,000 coffee houses.
          Coffee was originally regarded as a wonder drug in Yemen and Arabia and was taken only at the advice of a doctor. Many saw coffee as a brain tonic or as a way to stimulate religious visions.
          Arabs were the first to cultivate coffee trees on the Arabian Peninsula. Arabs typically roasted and boiled coffee, or qahwa, which is Arabic for “the wine of Islam.”
          The Dutch were the first Europeans to enter the coffee trade. They imported coffee plants from the Malabar Coast of India to their colonies in what were then called the Dutch East Indies, or present-day Indonesia.
          In 1715, Dutch coffee merchants presented the influential King of France, Louis XIV, with a coffee tree of his own. Millions and millions of trees have sprung from that single tree, thanks in part to Chevalier Gabriel Mathieu de Clieu, who stole some cuttings from the tree and began cultivating coffee on Martinique in the Caribbean. Within 50 years, there were over 20 million trees on Martinique and neighboring islands.
         Coffee is the second-biggest traded commodity after oil.
          The Neopolitan "flip" coffee pot was used on the stove top, making the resulting coffee stronger than produced by other methods. It led to the espresso machine. Other coffee makes use a drip method or produce coffee by the pressure of steam rather than just gravity.
           Balzac drank 50 cups of coffee a day, while Beethoven had to start each day with a cup of coffee made from exactly 60 beans.
           Melitta Bentz, a German housewife, patented a top-filtered drip system using a paper filter, in 1908.

Marcel Proust breakfasted on opium and croissants.

Non-dairy creamer is flammable.

According to popular legend, tea was discovered by the Chinese emperor Shennong in 2737 B.C. when a tea leaf fell into his boiling water. The Chinese consider tea to be a necessity of life.

Until the 19th century, solid blocks of tea were used as money in Siberia.  

Roberta C. Lawson and Mary Molaren of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, filed a patent in 1901 for a “Tea-Leaf Holder” that is remarkably similar to the modern tea bag.

In 1903, Richard Hellmann arrived in the U.S. from Germany and within two short years he and his wife would revolutionize the world of mayonnaise. Hellmann's wife supposedly created a mayo sauce that was a prize feature at Hellmann's deli in New York City. By 1912, Hellmann was selling the "blue ribbon" jar by the crate load. On the other side of the country, Best Foods was creating a popular mayonnaise following in California. In 1932 the two companies merged and an enduring and delicious mayonnaise empire was born.

Tabasco sauce was first produced in 1868 by Edmund McIlhenny, a Maryland-born former banker who moved to Louisiana around 1840. McIlhenny initially used discarded cologne bottles to distribute his sauce to family and friends. In 1868 when he started to sell to the public he ordered thousands of new cologne bottles from a New Orleans glassworks. The company has always been privately owned by members of the McIlhenny family. In 2009, McIlhenny became one of just a few U.S. companies to receive a royal warrant of appointment that certifies the company as a supplier to Queen Elizabeth II. McIlhenny is one of the 850 companies around the world that have been officially designated as suppliers to the queen.

Americans have been fascinated by cotton candy. The fluffy pink stuff, originally called fairy floss, is a common sight at fairs, baseball games and circuses. Nashville candy makers John C. Wharton and William Morris are believed to have patented the first electric cotton candy machine in 1897. The machine was perfect for collecting the delicate cottony strands onto paper sticks or into bags. It worked by utilizing centrifugal force to spin and melt the sugar through holes in a screen, where the fibers could be collected on the other side. The two candy makers put their invention to the test during the St. Louis World Fair and were greeted with throngs of curious fairgoers. The machine was soon produced in mass quantities because it was portable, the process was novel, and the appeal was widespread. Cotton candy became the perfect fair food.

As far back as the 1400s Italians delighted in making spun sugar desserts by hand. The method was laborious and involved melting the sugar, then using a fork to make strings of sugar over an upside down bowl. After the sugar dried, they were able to gather the fibers and serve them as desert. Even up through the 18th century European confectioners made spun sugar webs painted in gold and sugar nests for Easter eggs. The skill required made this primitive cotton candy too expensive for the masses.

Pizza originated in Naples. 

The St. Louis Fair of 1904 saw many other innovations.  Richard Blechynden, the head of the commission, watched world's fair goers pass by his elaborate tea house as the sweltering temperatures made hot beverages unpalatable. Driven to increase the market for Indian black tea in the States, he hit upon the idea of not only serving it iced and, perhaps more importantly, giving it away for free. His booth was soon the most popular at the fair.

Because it was illegal in 1899 to serve soda water on Sundays, Edward C. Berners of Berners' Soda Fountain in Two Rivers, Wisconsin, skipped the soda and gave his customer a bowl of ice cream with syrup. The Chicago Tribune credits Berners with inventing the sundae, but another town makes a compelling argument that in fact Chester C. Platt was the inventor. Ithaca, N.Y., has written evidence that a "Cherry Sunday" was created and being sold by 1892: an advertisement in the town paper for such. For sure, Chester C. Platt, co-owner of Platt & Colt Pharmacy, topped vanilla ice cream with cherry syrup and cherries. "Strawberry Sundays" and "Chocolate Sundays" were soon to follow. There's another claim, that  because buying ice cream on Sundays was illegal in Ohio (considered frivolous and luxurious) ice cream vendors would put fruit on top of the ice cream to make it more nutritious, creating the ice cream sundae.

Ben & Jerry got their start making ice cream after taking a $5 course on ice cream making at Penn State.  Originally they were going to make bagels, but decided the cost of the setup was too much.

Flavored ice drinks had been around since the Romans, and machines had been churning them out under various brand names when Will Radcliff, a peanut salesman, had the ice beverage inspiration that made him rich. He called it a Slush Puppie. Thirty years later, when he sold the company he had founded to make and market the product, the Slush Puppie had become a staple among aficionados of supersweet drinks all over the world.  Radcliff was inspecting a slush-making machine he had come upon at a trade fair in Chicago in 1970 when the idea struck him to sell a drink for 10 cents which only cost him 3 cents to make.

Clarence Frank Birdseye II was an American inventor, entrepreneur, and naturalist, and is considered to be the founder of the modern frozen food industry. After conducting many fish-freezing experiments established his own company, Birdseye Seafoods, to freeze fish fillets with chilled air, in 1924 his company went bankrupt for lack of consumer interest in the product. That same year he developed an entirely new process for commercially viable quick-freezing: packing fish in cartons, then freezing the contents between two refrigerated surfaces under pressure. Birdseye created a new company, General Seafood Corporation, to promote this method. In 1925 it employed Birdseye's newest invention, the double belt freezer, in which cold brine chilled a pair of stainless steel belts carrying packaged fish, freezing the fish quickly. Birdseye took out patents on other machinery, which cooled even more quickly, so that only small ice crystals could form and cell membranes were not damaged. In 1927 he began to extend the process beyond fish to quick-freezing of meat, poultry, fruit, and vegetables. In 1929, Birdseye sold his company and patents for $22 million to Goldman Sachs and the Postum Company, which eventually became General Foods Corporation.

           Archaeologists have determined that the very wise ancient Greeks were among the first Europeans to chew recreationally. A resin produced from a small shrub that grows along the Mediterranean, called mastiche, was the ancient version of Juicy Fruit. The resin was collected, boiled and then chewed by the Greeks. Recent discoveries in northern European bogs also point to the harvesting of mastiche and more resin chewing in Germany and Scandinavia, as early as the Middle Stone Age.
         Across the Atlantic, ancient Mayans chewed sap from sapodilla trees, while North American tribes did the same with the sap from spruce trees. Americans retained a strong interest in chewing, and by 1848 John B. Curtis marketed the first commercial chewing gum in Maine. State of Maine Pure Spruce Gum was quickly followed by other flavored gums.
         On Dec. 28, 1869 William F. Semple of Mount Vernon, Ohio, received the first U.S. patent for "a new and improved Chewing-Gum." Semple wanted to include rubber with this new chewing gum, but he made sure to note this would be a non-vulcanized compound.
         The true turning point in the evolution of chewing gum came in 1888, when the Thomas Adams Gum Co. introduced the first vending machine to sell gum in a New York City subway station. Both the "tutti-fruity" flavor and the machine itself were a hit. Other rival companies popped up shortly thereafter. In Chicago, William Wrigley Jr. began manufacturing gum in 1892. The Lotta and Vassar flavors are lost to history, but with the introduction of Juicy Fruit and Spearmint in 1893, Wrigley changed the world of mastication. In 1899, Franklin V. Canning created the Dentyne gum brand in New York.
         The idea for a "bubble" gum first appeared in 1906 under the brand name "Blibber-Blubber." Unfortunately for gum lovers, "blibber" never made it to the market. Chewers across America had to wait until 1928 for the first bubble gum to be sold in stores. Walter Diemer, who was an accountant at the Fleer Chewing Gum Co. in Philadelphia, had been fooling around with chewing gum recipes in his spare time when a batch seemed oddly stretchy and less sticky than others. The formula was a hit, becoming "Double Bubble" bubble gum. Diemer, who was 23 years old at the time, never received royalties for his creation. He said he didn't care, and he remained at Fleer until 1985. According to the British newspaper the Guardian, "After his first wife died in 1990, Diemer rode a big tricycle around his Pennsylvania retirement village and gave bubble gum to children."

Walter Anderson quit his job as a fry cook in Wichita, Kan., and founded the hamburger chain White Castle. For the most part, ground beef was still considered a necessary but unappealing evil in early 20th century. Anderson took it upon himself to revise the image of the hamburger. He set up a clean shop with public demonstrations and large discounts. Within 10 years, White Castle had revived the image of the hamburger and pioneered the fast-food restaurant franchise. From there the hamburger took off.

Due to anti-German sentiment during WWI, an alternative name for a hamburger (which was derived from the Hamburg steak sandwiches eaten on immigrant ships between Hamburg, Germany, and America in the 1800s) was "salisbury steak." It was named after Dr. Salisbury who prescribed ground beef for patients suffering from anemia, asthma, and other illnesses.

Fettuccini Alfredo was created in 1914 by Roman chef Alfredo Di Lelio, whose wife had recently lost her appetite after giving birth to their first son. In 1927, Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford began a long list of celebrities to flocked to Alfredo's, including the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Elizabeth Taylor, Grace Kelly, and Bob Hope. His son took over the restaurant in 1959, and in 1978 a longtime friend created a partnership to open the first Alfredo's in New York. This was followed by restaurants at the EPCOT Center at Walt Disney World, and in Miami Beach.

Pepperidge Farm was the name of the home in Fairfield, Connecticut, where Mark Rudkin suffered from asthma and was allergic to store-bought bread. His mother, Maggie, started baking bread for Mark and his health improved. She gave loaves to friends and neighbors as holiday gifts. The bread was so tasty pretty soon people started offering to pay her for it. A little business was born. Maggie's husband Henry was a stockbroker in New York. In the morning, Henry would load up the car with loaves of fresh-baked bread and deliver them to homes and bakeries on his way to the train station. The Rudkins called their fledgling business after the name of their Connecticut home—Pepperidge Farm.

After completing his doctorate in Germany, John T. Dorrance declined prestigious academic posts to work in his uncle’s canning factory, the Joseph Campbell Preserve Company, in Camden, New Jersey. In 1897, he began replicating in condensed form the soups he had enjoyed in Europe. By 1904, his soups dominated company sales. Still famous today for its soups, Campbell’s is also known for its iconic cans, immortalized by Andy Warhol.

The first commercial pretzel bakery in the U.S. was established in 1861 in Litiz, Penn., where it still operates today as Julius Sturgis' Pretzle Bakery. According to the Sturgis legend, the company recipe was a gift from a grateful traveling hobo who received a warm meal and friendly welcome from Julius Sturgis himself back in 1851. Sturgis' snack was a huge success, and pretzel factories soon began blooming across Pennsylvania and the U.S. In 1933, the Reading Pretzel Machinery Co. introduced the first automatic pretzel-twisting machine, and the pretzel business was off and running.

       Hemp seeds are 25% protein. But few know the background of hemp.
       In the 17th and 18th centuries in America, hemp was so valuable it was actually illegal not to grow it. You could even pay your taxes with hemp. Until the 1820s, with the invention of the cotton gin, more than three-quarters of the fabrics, textiles, ropes, sails, clothing, canvas, etc. in America were made from hemp. (In fact, the word canvas is derived from the Dutch word meaning cannabis.) In the 1930s, hemp was known as the billion-dollar crop, and during World War II, American farmers were actively encouraged to grow hemp to aid the war effort. A government film called Hemp for Victory extolled hemp’s value as a strong fabric for sails, ropes and clothing. A campaign against hemp had begun, however, even before the war.
       The Dupont family led an anti-hemp campaign to boost sales of its synthetic nylon fibers. Andrew Mellon, one of the wealthiest men in America and Secretary of the Treasury under Coolidge and Hoover, had extensive holdings in Dupont and conspired with his nephew-in-law, Harry Anslinger, the head of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs, to brand hemp a danger to society. They renamed hemp its ominous-sounding Mexican slang word, marihuana, and emphasized its power to destroy the American way of life.
       Another wealthy magnate, Randolph Hearst, who had heavy investments in timber to produce paper for his newspaper empire, also pitched in to discredit hemp, since it was a cheap substitute for paper pulp made from trees. The growing emergence of the drug war against all things marijuana-related, which began with hysterical films like Reefer Madness in 1936 and the passage of the Marihuana Tax Law of 1937, further stigmatized industrial hemp. Eventually, despite the incredible usefulness of the plant, hemp was bundled with its stoner cousin and production was banned outright in 1958.
       Today, thanks to the 2014 Farm Bill, and to the potential positive environmental impact of using hemp, rather than cutting down trees or using synthetic oil-based products, hemp is making a comeback. Hemp thrives without the use of pesticides (cotton, on the other hand, is grown using a huge amount of pesticides), enhances the health of the soil and even kills weeds. More than 30 countries have legalized the production of hemp and the U.S. seems well on its way to joining them (24 and counting have relaxed hemp production laws). The potential earth-friendly uses for hemp are seemingly endless: paper, fabrics, paints, oils, lubricants, and gasoline, among others.

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