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Fascinating Facts about what we eat


General Facts



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.

Used by the Spartans—those residents of the military powerhouse city in ancient Greece—dough was cut into small pieces that were rolled and kneaded at the table, deftly cleaning oily fingers and then thrown to the dogs at the meal’s end. Eventually, raw dough became cooked dough, or bread. Since there weren’t any utensils on the Greek table, bread also served as both spoon and fork (the food would have been cut into bite-size pieces in the kitchen) so using bread to discreetly keep your fingers clean before taking a smear of hummus wasn’t just delicious, it was convenient.

The word "fork" is derived from the Latin furca, which means pitchfork. The first dining forks were used by the ruling class in the Middle East and the Byzantine Empire. In 1004, Maria Argyropoulina, niece of the Byzantine emperors Basil II and Constantine VIII, was married to the son of the Doge of Venice. She brought with her a little case of two-pronged golden forks, which she used at her wedding feast. The Venetians were shocked, and when Maria died three years later of the plague, Saint Peter Damian proclaimed it was God’s punishment. And with that, Saint Peter Damian closed the book on the fork in Europe for the next four hundred years.

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.

         In the 14th and 15th Centuries, wheat was a precious ingredient. It was so precious, in fact, that until the 14th Century, every bakery in Milan except for one made wheat bread only at Christmas, when they gave it to their clients. (The rest of the year, people ate breads made from grains like spelt or oats). In 1470, Giorgio Valagussa, a tutor to the Sforza dukes of Milan, described a Christmas Eve custom that the royal family (like other Milanese) celebrated: as a log burned in the fireplace, the family’s patriarch would cut up three loaves of wheat bread, giving a slice to the other members of the family.
         “After that, he’d save a slice for the next year. It was a sign of continuity, a sort of rite,” Porzio said. “And on this bread, there was a cross.”
         Panettone is a similarly precious wheat bread eaten at Christmas. The Milanese tradition of saving it has survived (though now only until February, not the following December). So has the tradition of giving it away.

Because people in the Americas had no suitable grains and animals for early domestication, the evolution of complex societies there began 3,000 to 4,000 years later than in the Middle East, Europe, and Asia. As a consequence, when Europeans arrived in the Americas in 1500 CE, they found societies in many ways comparable to those of the Middle East in about 2000 BCE. With their horses, guns, and diseases, products of their more evolved agrarian societies, Europeans were able to strangle the more slowly emerging civilizations of the Americas.

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.

The use of lb for pound dates back to Roman times. Lb is an abbreviation of the Latin word libra, the seventh sign of the zodiac symbolized by an image of scales. It became a unit of measurement as "libra pondo", or  “a pound by weight.”

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.

Botanist David Fairchild was bankrolled by a wealthy American to explore the world in order to bring back plants to establish in the U.S. Among the seeds he introduced were of various kinds of citrus,  avocado, mango, watermelon, zuccini, kale, cashews, and the cherry trees which became a feature in Washington, D.C.

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.

In 1928, Walter Diemer, an accountant for the Fleer Chewing Gum Company in Philadelphia, was experimenting with new gum recipes. One recipe, based on a formula for a chewing gum called "Blibber Blubber", was found to be less sticky than regular chewing gum, and stretched more easily. This gum became highly successful and was eventually named by the president of Fleer as Dubble Bubble because of its stretchy texture. This remained the dominant brand of bubble gum until after WWII, when Bazooka bubble gum entered the market.

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. 

Piggly Wiggly was the first real supermarket, opened in Memphis in 1916, and soon featuring not only self service but also baskets.

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.

Dr. John Harvey Kellogg (of cereal fame) invented a version of peanut butter in 1895. Then it is believed that a St. Louis physician may have developed a version of peanut butter as a protein substitute for his older patients who had poor teeth and couldn’t chew meat. Peanut butter was first introduced at the St. Louis World’s Fair in 1904.

Peanuts and peanut butter became an integral part of the Armed Forces rations in World Wars I and II. It is believed that the U.S. army popularized the peanut butter and jelly sandwich for sustenance during maneuvers in World War II. 

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's 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.

In 1916, Planters Nut and Chocolate Company ran a contest for a trademark. Antonio Gentile, a resident of Suffolk, Virginia, the peanut-growing capital of the state, began sketching possible entries for the contest. He drew a friendly, humanized peanut tumbling, serving nuts, and walking with a dignified cane. One of his sketches won the contest; Gentile earned $5, and became forever known as the young boy who created Mr. Peanut. Mr. Peanut himself got a little polish from a graphic artist and went on to a long career as the classy, and until recently, silent spokes-character for their product.

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.

When Europeans settled in North America, they recorded seeing Native Americans catching huge sturgeon. Even in the nineteenth century, American rivers had sturgeon. Caviar was served as a free bar snack, in the hope that as with peanuts, the saltiness would encourage drinking. During World War I, British soldiers were fed cans of pressed caviar, which they called 'fish jam' and mostly loathed. A soldier would pay for cans of sardines rather than eat the free fish jam that was issued. Until the twentieth century, that seems to have been the case. But by the early twentieth century, Americans valued Russian caviar from the Caspian Sea.

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. Dewar named the popular snack after a Twinkle Toe Shoe's advertisement.

During the 1880s, a popular specialty was made with chocolate syrup, cream, and raw eggs mixed into soda water. Now the "egg creme" contains just milk, chocolate syrup and seltzer.

The Hershey Chocolate Company was founded by Milton S. Hershey in 1894. Unable to have children of his own, Milton founded the Hershey Industrial School in 1909 for white orphaned boys. In 1918, three years after the death of his wife, Milton Hershey donated around $60 million to the boarding school in trust, as well as 40% of the Hershey Company's common stock. The school's initial purpose was to train young men in trades, but eventually shifted to focus on preparation for college. The Hershey Trust Company has exercised voting rights for the school, and has been a trustee since its founding. Many of its designs resemble Hershey chocolate products, such as the Hershey Kisses street lights. Milton Hershey was involved in the school's operations until his death in 1945. The Hershey Industrial School was renamed the Milton Hershey School in 1951.

In 1953, Swanson overestimated the number frozen turkeys that it would sell on Thanksgiving by 26 tons. The company decided to slice up the extra meat and repackage it--creating the first ever TV dinner.

Dried pasta seems to have been invented in North Africa, as expedition food for desert caravans. It was probably brought to Sicily by the island's Muslim conquerors. In a codex published in 1154, a Moroccan geographer and botanist known as al-Idrisi described a thriving pasta manufacturing industry near Palermo, which exported its products to Muslim and Christian coun­tries alike.

Pasta comes in all sorts of shapes, some of which are easy to stuff, hold sauce well, or lend themselves to different types of dishes. They include not only the popular ones, like shells, fusilli (twists), and linguini (thin strips) but also gemelli (twins), tortellini (belly buttons), cavatappi (little springs), orechetti (little ears), and strozzapreti (priest stranglers).

After encountering macaroni in France and northern Italy in the late 1700s, Thomas Jefferson arranged for a special macaroni extruder to be shipped to his home in Virginia, where he served macaroni to guests at presidential dinners, putting the noodle in the spotlight. There even exists a recipe for macaroni noodles written in Jefferson’s own handwriting.

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

Grapefruit was first discovered in Barbados.

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 'corn' 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:

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.

According to, Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, one of America’s first wellness gurus, helped lead the movement toward cleaner living. Raised in the Seventh-day Adventist Church, which believed in the imminent end of the world and the second coming of Christ, Dr. Kellogg had been groomed by the church’s founders to be a leader in the faith. In 1876, he took over a church-founded health institute in Battle Creek, Michigan, which he built into the world-famous medical spa and resort known as the Battle Creek Sanitarium.

Building on Adventist health principles like eating a vegetarian diet and avoiding alcohol, tobacco and caffeine, Kellogg’s philosophy of “biologic living” emphasized regular exercise, massage therapy and drinking plenty of water. He focused particularly on patients’ digestive health, decrying the evils of fatty, greasy, salty or spicy foods—and endorsing regular powerful enemas to clear out one’s digestive tract. Having studied gorillas in zoos, and seeing that they had four to five bowel movements a day, he prescribed his patients to do the same—and tried to serve foods that would help that process along.

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

The rooster mascot on Kellogg’s cereal boxes is used because Will, John's brother, liked that the Welsh word for “rooster” (ceiliog) sounded like his last name.

C. W. Post, a one-time patient at the Battle Creek Sanitarium who adapted Kellogg’s cereal recipe into his own mass-produced version, Grape-Nuts

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.

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.

The only taste humans are born craving is sugar. It was long thought that rum was first produced from sugar cane in the Caribbean. But it may have actually started in South East Asia 1000 years earlier.  Sugar is one of the world’s oldest ingredients. In the 16th century, a teaspoon of sugar cost the equivalent of five dollars in London. The word “sugar” originates from the Sanskrit word sharkara, which means “material in a granule form.” In Arabic, it is sakkar; Turkish is sheker; Italian is zucchero; and Yorubaspeakers in Nigeria call it suga.

In 1882 the Turf Club was an exclusive gambling club for the richest and sportiest men in New York Society. It had considerable overlap with the Manhattan Club and the Jockey Club.  The mixture of whiskey with Italian sweet vermouth was first dubbed the Jockey Club cocktail, and then the Manhattan. In 1883, bartenders mixed gin with dry vermouth and orange bitters, eventually becoming the Martinez or the Martini.

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. There are 7,500 apple varieties grown in the world, with 2,500 grown in the United States/

“Ghost apples” are natural sculptures that appear after ice forms around an apple and remain in place, even after the fruit has rotted and fallen out. More ice then forms over the area where the fruit exited and the shape stays in place for as long as the temperature remains below freezing.

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.

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

McDonald’s Corporation is the largest owner of retail property in the world. The company earns most of its profits not from selling food, but by collecting rent.

The Harvey House chain of restaurants, hotels, and other hospitality industry businesses was founded in 1876 by Fred Harvey to cater to the growing number of train passengers. When it was sold to Amfac, Inc., the Fred Harvey Company turned into the sixth largest food retailer in the United States.

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.”

Lots of Hallowe'en treats have interesting stories. Candy corn was invented in Philadelphia by candymaker George Renninger, and then by the Goelitz Confectionery Company (now known as Jelly Belly). Each piece is a mixture of mainly sugar, corn syrup and wax, heated, moulded and colored to create the classic look, though now machine-made instead of hand-crafted. There are an ever-growing number of variations in colour and taste for other holidays like Easter and Valentine's Day, but with the traditional corn harvest being in October and November, it will forever remain an apropos Halloween delight.

Rockets were originally called Smarties and were first made in England, after the First World War, via repurposed gunpowder pellet machines. In the 1940's, Edward Dee immigrated to New Jersey to continue making his candy there, then opening Canadian production in 1963. Though they are still called Smarties in the United States, they are known as Rockets in Canada, to avoid any confusion with the chocolate-filled candy produced by  Nestle.

The history of the candy apple allegedly dates back to 1908 New Jersey, when candy store owner William W. Kolb was experimenting with a red cinnamon Christmas candy and decided to dip apples in the mixture to display in his store window. While the first ones were sold for 5 cents, the quickly became a sought after treat, sold at circuses and shops along the Jersey Shore. Interestingly, caramel apples don't follow the same lineage and were actually invented separately. In the 1950s, Kraft Foods employee Dan Walker was similarly experimenting but with leftover melted caramels from Halloween. While it continues to be an autumn and Halloween staple, thanks to the September/October apple harvest season, there are now countless versions of the souped-up fruit, whether it's the classic red, pumpkin spice or even mummified melted chocolate.

Strawberry "licorice" twists contain no licorice. While the licorice plant's history can be traced through Egypt, Rome, southern Asia, the Middle East and England (where the root was extracted and made into sweets), red licorice is licorice in name only.

While tree resin-chewing has been traced back to the Ancient Greeks, the first bubble gum is actually Dubble Bubble. Invented in 1928 by Fleer Company accountant, Walter E. Diemer, who stumbled upon a failed recipe by Fleer's founder and tweaked it to become something closer to the chew we all know. The factory had only pink food colouring at the time, which is the sole reason for its best-know appearance. Bubble gum became an instant hit (and earliest editions even contained classic comic strips) but, during World War II, due to the scarcity of latex and sugar, production was paused from 1942 to 1951.

         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.

Until 1948, 7-Up contained "lithium citrate," a mood stabilizer used to treat bipolar disorder.

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.

The earliest waffle irons originated in the Low Countries around the 14th century, designed to be  baked over the hearth fire. In 1869, American Cornelius Swartwout patented the stove-top waffle iron, by adding a handle and a hinge that swivelled in a cast-iron collar, allowing the waffle-maker to flip the iron without danger of slippage or burns. In 1891 John Kleimbach, a German immigrant living in Shamokin, Pennsylvania became a traveling salesman of waffles after fashioning an iron for the Mansion House Hotel. Kliembach sold waffles for a penny each or ten cents for a dozen.[8] This was popular at the Chicago World's Fair. It wasn't until 1911 that General Electric produced a prototype electric waffle iron, although production did not begin until around 1918.

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.

In 1904, the banana spilt was first created in the small town of Latrobe, Pennsylvania. David Strickler, a 23 year old pharmacist apprentice was working in the soda fountain section of the Tassel Pharmacy and liked to experiment with different combinations of ice cream flavors and toppings. Thus, thanks to his curiosity, the banana split was born.

Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield were childhood friends from Merrick, New York. Although Greenfield finished college, he found himself unable to make his way into medical school. Cohen dropped out of school. The friends wanted to start a business together, and considered making bagels, but the equipment and training was too expensive. So in 1977 they took a correspondence course on ice cream making from Pennsylvania State University's creamery. Cohen has severe anosmia, a lack of a sense of smell or taste, and so relied on "mouth feel" and texture to provide variety in his diet. This led to the company's trademark chunks being mixed in with their ice cream.

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.

Eugene O'Neill wrote two plays that were so long that audience members needed a dinner break. The first time this happened was when Strange Interlude opened in 1928 in Quincy, Mass. A nearby restaurant did so well from profits made during the run of the play that he was able to start a chain of restaurants bearing his name: Howard Johnson.

In 1938, at the age of the 19, the eventual founder of Red Lobster, Bill Darden. opened a diner named the Green Frog and defied the laws of the southern state Georgia by refusing to segregate customers based on race.

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.

The largest lobster every caught was 44 pounds, and estimated to be 100 years old. It was captured in 1977 in Nova Scotia.

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.

In 1867, at Coney Island in New York City,  Charles Feltman had a cart made with a stove he could use to boil sausages, and a compartment to keep buns fresh. In 1871 he leased land to build a permanent restaurant, and the business grew, selling far more than just the "Coney Island Red Hots" as they were known. Then, in 1916, a Polish-American employee of Feltman's named Nathan Handwerker was encouraged by Eddie Cantor and Jimmy Durante, both working as waiters/musicians, to go into business in competition with his former employer. Handwerker undercut Feltman's by charging five cents for a hot dog when his former employer was charging ten, and Nathan's Famous Hot Dogs was born.

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.

Bohemian glassmaker Claus Riedel decided to in 1955 to restart the family glass making business- one that had previously been operated by 9 generations of his ancestors, going all the way back to 1756. Almost two decades later, seeking a way to bolster sales, Riedel struck upon a rather ingenious idea- create a new line of glassware with each design meant to be suited for different types of wines. This would not only bolster sales from potentially many designs being sold per customer, but also would see his company, at least at first, being the only one that made these supposedly wine enhancing designs. He began introducing his new glasses in the early 1970s. These various shapes were meant to affect both the aroma and how the liquid was ultimately funneled onto the tongue, with the promise being that if you matched the wine to the wine glass, you'd get the best possible flavor out of a given type of wine. People bought it- literally, with sales of his designs skyrocketing and soon in demand throughout Europe, and by the 1970s and 1980s spreading throughout the United States.

A "toast" on a special occasion was named after the piece of toasted bread that was placed a jug of wine to soak up some of the acidity and improve the flavour. This also had the side benefit of giving people something to do with a piece of stale bread, often spiced or with fruit embedded, that would improve the bread’s palatability.

Bread was first toasted on open fires as a way to make it last longer. Various contraptions were invented to hold the bread close to the fire, and as soon as electricity began to reach homes, electric toasters were invented.  Minnesota inventor Charles Strite filed a patent for the first pop-up toaster in 1919. 

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.
           Dark and syrupy, espresso is one of the glories of Naples, gulped in one or two swallows from a tiny cup. The regional Campania secret: grinding the beans to a near powder, tamping it down, and blasting boiling local water through it at the highest pressure possible without exploding the machine. In the best bars, beans are roasted on-site in small batches. Your options? Espresso: straight and dense (a lemon twist is heresy!); ristretto: very concentrated; lungo: an espresso with more water; macchiato: espresso “stained” with a dribble of foamed hot milk; caffe` corretto: ristretto with liqueur, grappa, or cognac; cappuccino: espresso with foamed hot milk; caffe` latte: half hot milk, half espresso.

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.  

The wife of King Charles II was from Portugal, and introduced tea to British court. It was the Queen who created "tea time" at 5pm.

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.

In 1935, the first canned beer went on sale in the United States. Sold by the Gottfried Krueger Brewing Company, this innovation was an immediate success, being cheaper, lighter and easier to handle than glass bottles.

           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.
          Mexican General Antonio López de Santa Anna, known as the executioner of hundreds at The Alamo and the man who lost Texas, spent his exile moving among high society, plotting to get rich or return to Mexico, and chewing on something called chicle. Santa Anna hoped that his supply of chicle, a natural latex harvested from trees in the same fashion as rubber, would make him rich. He’d pitched Thomas Adams, a local inventor, on developing this foreign substance into an inexpensive replacement for rubber. It never worked. But after he left for Mexico for the final time, dumping his chicle on Adams, it became something else: the first modern chewing gum.
         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.

Three fruits native to the Americas include: blueberries, Concord grapes, and cranberries. The latter have been grown in bogs primarily in New England and Wisconsin, dependent on plenty of water, cold winters, and mild summers.

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.

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.

Samuel Bath Thomas emigrated from Plymouth, England, to New York City in 1875. By 1880, he had opened his own bakery at 163 Ninth Avenue. Using his mother's recipe, he began making 'English' muffins at his Ninth Avenue bakery in 1880, selling them from the bakery to hotels and grocery stores.

In 1845 Peter Cooper, inventor of the renowned locomotive “Tom Thumb,” obtained the first patent for a gelatin dessert. Then, in 1895, Pearle B. Wait, a cough syrup maker in LeRoy, New York, decided to enter the packaged food business. Finally, Wait adapted Cooper’s 1845 patent for a gelatin dessert, which would become Jell-O. Wait’s wife, May Davis Wait, coined the name Jell-O for his product, which started production in 1897.

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.

       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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