As we view food as mere sustenance, we are instinctively focusing our shutters on what is in front of us rather than the collective history of each individual ingredient and the amazing journey that it goes through before ending up in a Michelin Star dish or your neighborhood night market. These mind-blowing pieces of trivia will definitely make you much more curious about your next meal, giving you that quick pause before taking a bite.
Impress your friends and family with these amazing stories that involve both the simplest and the most sophisticated ingredients. Even an apple has an epic story that you probably don’t know about. Here are 45 interesting food facts that can make you look like a food expert.
1) How does it feel to eat wood pulp?
In order to be healthy, we have subscribed to different food fads including “fiber-rich” food. But do you even know what this fiber is made of? Clue: Just like your cupboards. Sort of. The “fiber” added in food is called cellulose, or wood pulp. Before you lose your mind on this, cellulose is a common food additive.
2) Always wash the produce before use
Down with the basics first. If your fresh fruits or vegetables are not labeled “ready to eat” or “pre-washed”, always wash it thoroughly before use. Even in the growing process, produce can be contaminated in many ways. What more when it will be handled in different ways and in different places. This piece of trivia can actually save your life.
3) We’re eating the mutant version of bananas
It is exactly what it says in the title, the banana we’re eating now is a mutant descendant of a fruit that’s not as edible. Wild bananas have bigger and harder seeds that leave little space for the edible part. It’s not good for banana splits, banana chips, or as is. Might as well stick with its current version.
The green bear is not apple, it’s strawberry. Or at least, that’s how Haribo dealt with colors in the US. In Germany and the UK, strawberry-flavored bears are still red, albeit in a lighter shade than the raspberries. To be fair, pineapple flavor comes in white bears.
Source: Paul Wilkinson via Flickr
5) Yup, it’s still good
After a heavy night of drinking, you see a glass of water that must’ve been sitting out there overnight. You might see yourself thinking twice from all the things you’ve heard but don’t worry, it’s still pretty safe to drink. Water does not have ingredients that would go bad.
6) It’s a me! It’s a spaghetto!
Good news! You can now make better instructions when you’re tasting the pasta you’re cooking. “Take a spaghetto and take a bite to see if it’s al dente.” Yes, the singular form for spaghetti is spaghetto. We know this is a bit too much to take in but give it some time and it will be a norm in recipe books.
7) More of a flavor problem
Drinking milk and seeing that it’s past the sell date can trigger a mini-heart attack followed by a dramatic clutching of the chest. It’s actually still pretty safe. The good folks from the FDA said that it’s more of a flavor problem than a safety problem.
Source: Roxanne Ready via Flickr
It’s comforting to know that when we colonize Mars, we can still enjoy a bowl of Caesar salad. But kidding aside, this breakthrough experiment shows how we can cultivate plants in harsh conditions while still retaining their innate properties. It may not look like much now but this collection of lettuces can be a foundation of an off-Earth agricultural colony.
9) Lemon floaters and lime sinkers
We don’t know when you can use this piece of trivia but we’ll put it to you straight, lemons will float and limes will sink. To make the information useful, you can add lemon slices to your punch to make them more colorful since they’ll float to the top. But to make it much more useful, hold out a lime and a lemon over a tub of water and call for a bet.
The signature Flamin’ Hot Cheetos was not conceived in a sophisticated R&D office of Frito-Lay. It was developed through a malfunctioning machine, a bad batch of Cheetos, and a janitor. Richard Montanez is now a marketing executive at PepsiCo with a reported net worth of $14 million.
11) Putting “fast” in “fast food”
A second is a bit short to do anything. But the behemoth of a fast-food chain that is McDonald’s has already churned out 75 burgers by the time you say “One.”. To put that into perspective, by the time you finish Africa by Toto, about 20 thousand burgers have been cooked, wrapped, and served. Don’t ask us why we used Toto. It just seemed a good way to measure speed.
12) Better source of the “C”
Oranges and lemons have always been the poster kids for Vitamin C. Since then, we made products to replicate the flavors like orange-flavored chewables, lemon-flavored fortified juices, and even citrus flavored medicine syrups. Peppers have higher Vitamin C content but that would mean having pepper flavored chewable. I guess we can’t have it all.
13) Another reason to love parmesan!
Parmesan cheese is a sure-show to any pasta dish, and with good reason! It’s flavorful, it makes your poorly cooked pasta a bit more sophisticated, and most of all, it’s lactose-intolerant friendly! Considering the “last minute” effect to any recipe that calls for the reggiano, the healthy properties of the cheese should make it much more ubiquitous. Or maybe not on cupcakes.
Source: Stephanie Kraus via Flickr
Garlic is not only bad for vampires, but also for your skin. Fresh garlic, especially when crushed, can coat your skin with its caustic juices. You’re not only combatting the pungent smell, but also that stinging sensation on your fingers. Wear protective gloves, everybody. The aglio olio might burn you before you can even cook it.
15) A cilantro by any other name
Many people had pans thrown over their heads when they can’t tell the difference between cilantro and coriander. And while the verdict is not yet out on how loveable or unloveable the herb is, we can now sleep soundly knowing that a cilantro by any other name is actually coriander.
16) This Chinese restaurant icon is not even Chinese
Restaurants offer some kind of post-meal treats like mints, hard candy, a toothpick, or a chocolate. But none of them are as iconic as the fortune cookie. These treats are offered in Chinese restaurants, which made people believe that they are of Chinese origins. The cookie came from Japan. Same form, same taste, same surprise fortune. It’s called “tsujiura senbei,” or “fortune cracker”.
In its long history, you’d never expect that ketchup was considered a cure-all for ailments like diarrhea, violent bilious attacks, and indigestion. And before it was imagined to be sold in bottles, the condiment was concentrated into pill form and sold as medicine. Think about this when you get indigestion from fries.
Source: Betsssssy via Flickr
18) An origin story you didn’t expect
Look at this fruit for a while. Yes, the bulbous fruit with a tumor-like growth underneath. This mutant plant that can only be described as a kidney bean glued to a pear is actually cashew. The growth underneath is where the nuts are. It’s plucked off but the fruit is edible as well.
You that spice you dust over your pies, eggnogs, and chai lattes? The one that can give you a hallucinogenic high when taken in large doses? Yes, nutmeg. The spice contains myristicin, a natural compound that can fuel your imagination when ingested in large doses. But don’t down that spice bottle just yet. Nutmeg high can have really nasty side effects like severe gastrointestinal reactions and heart and nerve problems. So yes, put that bottle down.
20) Chill out on the butter
For those who are having a bad time spreading cold butter on toast, do we have some news for you. According to the FDA, good quality butter can actually sit at room temperature. Pasteurized butter can also be left out for 1o days without spoiling, and according to some, room temperature butter tastes butter.. err better!
This is one of the things we’d rather not know, but “100% orange juice” is nothing more of an advertising stunt. The process is quite depressing, actually. Once they squeeze out the juice in large vats, they’d have to remove the oxygen in it to prevent it from spoiling. And removing oxygen would also remove the flavor, so companies hire flavor and fragrance companies to make the juice taste like, well, juice.
22) Taking the “express” away from “Pineapple Express”
Pineapples are a bit complicated to grow. It would take around a year and a half to a little short of three years for a pineapple plant to flower and bear fruit. It also only flowers once, and if you cut the offshoots (future pineapples) wrong, you might throw all those months to waste. The next time you bring pineapples up in a pizza debate, remember what they had to go through before you diss them.
23) Lettuce, cucumber, and…
Lettuce, cucumber, and potatoes have one thing in common. Very high water content. Actually, potatoes are 80% water and 20% solid materials. So next time they tell you you’re eating an unhealthy amount of fries, just tell them you’re catching up on your “8 glasses of water per day”.
Source: Paul Downey via Flickr
With the omnipresence of sugar in almost all of the things we consume, we feel that this is going to be in the next diet fad. Monkfruit, or Luo Han Guo, can produce an extract that’s 250 times sweeter than sugar. The problem? It’s just too hard and complicated to process. But kidding aside, this can be a useful substitute for sugar if made widely available.
Source: Marcel Ekkel via Flickr
25) Are you sure that’s wasabi?
Wasabi is one of the most recognizable condiments in the world, and the funny thing is, the wasabi that you’re looking at now might not be the actual thing. In fact, 99% of wasabi consumed in the United States is fake. It’s a mixture of horseradish, mustard, and food dye. No matter how much sushi you ate, you still probably haven’t tried the real thing.
26) Legally, it’s better
We can all argue that things are different in the United States and Europe. Pounds vs. kilos left-side driving vs. right-side driving, and which side of the world has better chocolates. In Europe, chocolate producers follow a stringent set of laws that sets them apart from your ordinary Cadbury bar. Basically, Europe just used the law to make their chocolate taste better.
27) Potatoes keep you connected
In-flight wifi quickly became a necessity in a world that is so obsessed with being connected. And so, Boeing turned to one of the most sophisticated means to test their wireless systems — a sack of potatoes. Because of their composition and water content, potatoes absorb and reflect radio waves like how humans do. Kinda makes you think about which part of evolution decided who’s going to be human and who’s going to be a potato.
As one of the most iconic foodstuffs in the world, Spam has taken a life of its own. And with this fame comes the tirade of myths that surrounds its name. Some even claimed that it meant “Scientifically Processed Animal Matter”, which we’ll concede as creative, but Hormel himself claimed that it’s a combination of “spice” and “ham”.
29) The real flavor of Mountain Dew
We all believed that Mountain Dew is made up of four main components: caffeine, carbonated water, some kind of lime flavoring, and more caffeine. But according to the beverage’s ingredients, it’s actually made up of orange juice. An orange juice that kicks like ten cups of coffee. Drink in moderation, friends!
30) 1,700 liters for 100 grams
Before you buy a set for Valentine’s or maybe consume an entire box yourself, we’re not judging, consider how much resource you’d use just to make a bar of chocolate. It takes 1,700 liters (or 450 gallons for non-metric users) of water to produce 100 grams (No, we will not give you the non-metric conversion) of chocolate. That’s about ten bathtubs worth and she’ll just throw it in the trash because she’s already dating someone else.
31) Not even from Hawaii!
Hawaiian pizza is the polarizing “thanksgiving conversation” you’d have with friends. But before we can settle the score on whether pineapples belong to pizzas, we should first consider the name and where it came from. A restaurant in Canada claims they were the first to serve it in 1962, but a restaurant in Oregon said they started serving it in 1957. Case in point? It’s not even from Hawaii! So much for giving the state a bad rep when the pizza wasn’t even their idea!
Unlike other berries, cranberries need a different approach when harvested. Cranberries don’t grow on water, though. They form perennial vines in thick mats on the ground that farmers needed to flood the marshes so the berries float to the surface. So next time you take a bite on that turkey, remember that a farmer waddled into a marsh just to get you the sauce.
33) Deserted island lifesaver
When you’re on a deserted tropical island, you’ll have to get to where the coconuts are. It will, in the most literal sense, save your life. Coconut water is so similar to human plasma that there are documented cases where the water was used in treatment. But don’t confuse it with coconut milk! That will give an entirely different effect!
Let’s settle this first: Nectarines are not a cross between a peach and a plum. You can now shut down anyone who tells you that so you can assert your dominance. But kidding aside, nectarines and peaches are practically twins. There’s only one gene that decides whether they’ll get the smooth bald cut or the fuzzy shave. Makes you think of all the recipes you didn’t do because it called for peaches when you only had nectarines.
Source: sand_and_sky via Flickr
35) What you see is what you get
Ever stared at your asparagus and said, “That’s a nice looking stalk. I wonder which part of a plant you grow from.” And the answer is, that’s it. That’s the asparagus. This plant grows as stalks and sticks out from the dirt. It wouldn’t reach the clouds to get you a golden goose but it’s a great partner for steaks, at least! From farm to table, what you see is what you get.
36) Your most expensive sandwich
Do you know that you can make diamonds out of peanut butter? Whenever you’re taking a bite out of your PB&J sandwich, remember that a German scientist created diamonds out of carbon dioxide and peanut butter. If you can handle heavy machinery and odd explosions, your jar of peanut butter might actually save your mortgage.
McDonald’s has always banked on their slogan “World’s Famous Fries” and for good reason. McDonald’s founder Ray Kroc actually pushed for the chain to cook their fries in beef tallow. But in the 1990s, McDonald’s ditched the idea and started cooking fries in vegetable oil when they were asked to make them “healthier”. Not sure if we can put “fast food” and “healthy” in one sentence, though, but here we are.
We have a habit of washing food before preparing them. Turns out, washing raw chicken will do more harm than good. According to the USDA, washing meat can spread germs and other nasty stuff when poultry or meat juices flow over surfaces. In fact, washing them won’t even get the bad stuff off!
39) Maybe why we hate plane food so much
We’ve always hated plane food for a variety of reasons, but most of us would agree that we’d rather eat after landing. Apparently, it’s not the food or the airlines’ fault. Airplane food tastes weird because once we get above the clouds, our sense of taste is drastically reduced. We can eat whatever we brought from the ground and it would taste just like what the cabin crew serves.