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Soylent describes itself as "food without the hassle." It's basically a protein shake. But unlike most protein shakes that bear notices warning that they're not intended as a food substitute (merely a diet supplement), Soylent claims that it is a food substitute. You can live on this stuff.


According to Fox News, the makers of Soylent chose the name as a playful reference to Soylent Green, the well-known 70s sci-fi movie about human cannibalism. However, Soylent doesn't contain human meat.

Which is to say that Soylent is NOT a hoax or a joke. Even though it may sound like one. (I, for one, was confused for a while.) It's just a product with a weird name.

Whether Soylent will sell well, or end up going the way of other cannibalism-themed food products such as Hufu (human-flavored tofu) remains to be seen.
Categories: Food
Posted by Alex on Fri Nov 01, 2013
Comments (1)
Back in 1939, Lee M. Roberts won the University of California lying contest with the following discussion of the nation of Vinegaria:

The Vinegarians are a peculiar people whose government has existed largely on the income from a national pickle monopoly. Vinegaria is ideally situated for the support of this industry as it is entirely underlain with large subterranean caves. Pickle farmers plant cucumber seeds on roofs of caves and they grow through the surface, avoiding the necessity for plowing the ground for planting. Through a peculiar chemical disturbance in the ocean bed the sea has an unusual briny quality — exactly right for making pickles.

Until last year only sour pickles were produced. At that time, however, a dangerous group of radicals, claiming dill pickles were better than sour ones, gained control of the government, with the sour pickles in revolt against the new regime. Sour-picklers have nearly conquered all of the country, and except for a few government supporters or 'dillies,' as they are called in the capital, Gherkin-on-the-Brine, most of the radicals are dead.

All Vinegarians are characterized by a slight green complexion and are covered by small bumps. Supporters of old-style pickles are noted for a generally sour outlook on life. Radicals, in favor of dills, are considered dull, but this was due to a typographical error in the party platform. A near-sighted typesetter used a 'u' for an 'i.'

The national flag of Vinegaria is two crossed pickles on a field of hors d'oeuvres, symbolizing the hoped-for anschluss with that industry some day.

The country's motto is 'Preserve our national product,' and the usual answer to 'How are you?' is 'Oh, I'm feeling brine, thank you.'

I've always wondered how pickles are grown. Now I know!

There's a Lee M. Roberts, UC Berkeley grad, who currently teaches at Indiana-Purdue University in Fort Worth, but it can't be the same guy because he would have to be over 90 now. His son, perhaps?
Categories: Folklore/Tall Tales, Food
Posted by Alex on Fri Aug 09, 2013
Comments (1)
Slightly in advance of April 1st, Scope is introducing Bacon Mouthwash. From their product info page:

Scope Bacon is the newest addition to our line of products. It tastes like bacon, while still killing 99.9% of bad breath germs. And, it keeps your breath minty fresh 5 times longer than brushing alone.

Does Scope Bacon make my breath smell like bacon?
No. Scope Bacon just tastes like bacon while you swish, but leaves your breath smelling minty fresh 5 times longer than brushing alone.

Is Scope Bacon a sufficient replacement for my breakfast?
No. Scope Bacon contains zero nutritional value and does not serve as an acceptable substitute for food.

Should I use Scope Bacon before or after breakfast?
We recommend using Scope Bacon after breakfast.

Does Scope Bacon contain real bacon?
No. No pigs are harmed during the making of Scope Bacon. The bacon taste you’ll find in Scope Bacon is a perfectly healthy synthetic flavoring.

How is Scope Bacon made?
A synthetic bacon flavoring is infused in the unflavored mouthwash formula at a specific time in the manufacturing process.



Categories: April Fools Day, Food
Posted by Alex on Sun Mar 31, 2013
Comments (2)
Back in the 19th century, food pranks were very popular on April Fool's Day. And one of the most popular forms of trick food was the "cotton cake." Instructions for how to make this delicacy were reported by Jane Eddington in the Chicago Daily Tribune on Apr 1, 1929:


One of the older American cooking jokes of the days was the cotton cakes. I heard a woman tell how to do this in an up to date way, imitating what her great grandmother did who made cotton cakes and sent them around to her neighbors on April Fool's day. This woman has had fame as a cook, and this is what she said:

"Make a batter for fried cakes — that is, what people used to call doughnuts, often — of one egg, two tablespoons of sugar, three tablespoons of milk, one tablespoon melted shortening, one-half teaspoon salt, two teaspoons baking powder, one cup of flour. Take four pieces of absorbent cotton, enclose them in the batter, made by this formula, and fry them in deep fat."

She made only four of these cheats, and fried the rest of the batter — dropping same sized portions into the fat — in the normal way, and the plate of fried cakes could be served so that the one who was fooled did his own choosing.
Categories: April Fools Day, Food
Posted by Alex on Fri Mar 29, 2013
Comments (0)
Chinese consumers are being warned to watch out for fake walnuts. Scam artists are apparently taking empty walnut shells, stuffing them with bits of concrete and paper, gluing the shells back together, and then selling them as real walnuts. [treehugger.com, ministryoftofu.com]

It seems like a very labor-intensive way to make what can't be a lot of money. But I guess it's enough money to make it a profitable scam.

This isn't the first fake food product we've seen from China. In the past we've heard about fake pig ears made out of gelatin, steamed dumplings stuffed with cardboard instead of pork, soy sauce made from human hair, and fake eggs (although the egg story turned out itself to be a hoax).





Categories: Food
Posted by Alex on Tue Mar 19, 2013
Comments (3)
In response to the widening horse-meat scandal in Europe, Icelandic food authorities decided to conduct tests on some of their country's own food products. They didn't find any horse meat, but to their surprise they discovered that one brand of beef pie, Nautabökunni, contained no meat at all. Or, at least, the pies had "no mammalian DNA." Instead, the pies contained some kind of vegetable matter masquerading as beef.

The company that makes the pies says it's dumbfounded by the results, and has asked for more tests, questioning the accuracy of the initial ones. The co-owner of the company is quoted as saying, "I'm not saying that this is chock-full with mincemeat, but we use soya meat to supplement the meat and also use beef stock as seasoning. I know how the recipe is and this finding is therefore improbable."

I'm inclined to believe the guy. It's hard to get a meat taste with no meat at all. [links: icelandreview, mbl.is]
Categories: Food
Posted by Alex on Tue Mar 05, 2013
Comments (4)
Horses, of course, do produce milk. And horse milk is considered a delicacy in some cultures. However, this site extolling the virtues of horse milk seems pretty clearly to be tongue-in-cheek:

taste test show that consumers clearly prefer horse milk to dog and cat milk, and we know that consumers are tiring of ordinary bovine lactation.  Clearly, horse milk is no flash in the pan. As a gourmet food, horse milk is very expensive but worth the extra cost. Unlike cows, horses have only two teats and a 1,400 lb. mare will produce less than a quart of the precious liquid each day... In the dairy industry it has long been observed that there is a correlation between the number of mammary glands and profitability, the less the teats, the higher the revenue.
 

The strange thing is that almost the same text can be found over at horsemilk.org, which appears to be a serious site representing a Mongolian firm that sells powdered horse milk. So who copied from whom? Did the Mongolian company write the text that was then tweaked by the other site to highlight its humorous elements? Or did the Mongolian company cut-and-paste the article, not realizing it was intended as a joke?
Categories: Animals, Food
Posted by Alex on Fri Feb 22, 2013
Comments (1)
The rumor going around is that if you kiss someone while standing in line at Chipotle this Valentine's Day, you'll be rewarded with a free burrito. But on their facebook page, a Chipotle rep refers to this as a "a bad Internet rumor."

Someone else wanted to know if they kissed the burrito itself would it be free. Chipotle says you're free to kiss the burrito, but you're still going to have to pay.
Categories: Food, Urban Legends
Posted by Alex on Thu Feb 14, 2013
Comments (1)
Columbian.com reports that there appears to have been a dramatic increase in Jewish prisoners at Washington State prisons, based on food requests at these institutions. The evidence: in 2011 approximately 1 percent of the inmates requested special kosher meals. But now, 2 years later, almost 11 percent of inmates are requesting them.

Federal law requires that the state honors religious dietary requests. The problem is that the kosher meals are more expensive than normal meals — $6.80 more expensive per day, for each request. However, "experts are dubious of some prisoners' sincerity." That is, they doubt all these prisoners really are Jewish.

Gary Friedman, a former Jewish corrections chaplain and "a leading authority on dietary rules and regulations in the United States corrections system," theorizes that the prisoners have figured out a way to get what they think is safer, better food:

"The primary motivation is, they think it's safer. I can't count how many times it's happened, how many times it has come up, that you hear stories how (jails) buy food that is out of date or how inmate workers are tainting the food. So they think (kosher meals) are safer and it is of better quality."

Prisons can't deny the requests outright. So what they're doing instead is monitoring the behavior of the prisoners outside of the food hall — observing what items they purchase from the prison store and what they barter for. If the prisoners are caught engaging in non-Jewish behavior, their kosher food privileges are revoked.

Categories: Food, Religion
Posted by Alex on Sun Jan 27, 2013
Comments (2)
On April 13, 1986, at 5:15 AM, Douglas Arling of Warwick, Rhode Island went out to the chicken coop in his yard and checked on his 9-year-old Araconda chicken. To his astonishment, he found she had laid a massive egg measuring 5x3 inches, and weighing half-a-pound. As he watched, the chicken tumbled to the floor, apparently exhausted by the effort she had just gone through.




Ruth Arling (Douglas's wife) with the giant egg and the chicken she thought laid it

When word of the giant egg reached the press, it made national news. But the egg wasn't all it was cracked up to be. Two weeks later, Arling's neighbor, George Sousa, confessed that the giant egg was his handiwork.

The egg, Sousa explained, was really a hard-boiled goose egg that a co-worker had brought to work. "I had never seen such a big egg," he told a Providence Journal reporter, "and knowing Dougie raises chickens, I thought it would be funny if he went out in the morning and found the giant egg — never realizing he would think it was a production from one of his chickens."


According to worldrecordsacademy.org, the current holder of the title of the World's Biggest Chicken Egg is an egg laid in June 2009 by a chicken owned by Chinese farmer Zhang Yinde. The egg weighed 201 grams (.44 pounds), and measured 9.2cm x 6.3cm (3.6 x 2.4 inches). So the Rhode Island goose egg was a bit bigger.

Categories: Animals, Food
Posted by Alex on Sun Jul 15, 2012
Comments (1)
Recently a video began circulating that appeared (despite suspiciously poor production values) to be an advertisement by Coca-Cola announcing a new "Coca-Cola-Bag." The idea was to do away with selling Coke in bottles and switch to biodegradable plastic bags made "in the unique Coca-Cola bottle shape."



The video claimed the idea came from Central America where many consumers supposedly already buy Coke in plastic bags in order to avoid paying the bottle deposit.

Gizmodo, Digital Journal, and WKMG Orlando were among those who posted about the video.

But Just-Drinks.com now says it has received confirmation from the Coca-Cola Co. that the Coke Bag is a hoax — though not one Coca-Cola was responsible for. The company says it has no idea who created the video.

Given the references to Central America, and the idea of Coke bags, I'm guessing the video may be an elaborate drug-themed joke.

Categories: Advertising, Food, Videos
Posted by Alex on Tue Jul 10, 2012
Comments (4)
Bethel, Alaska is a small town. Travel writer Harry Franck, writing in the early 1940s, offered this description of it:
Sidewalk lounging New Yorkers would mistake Bethel at the mouth of the Kuskokwim for the end of the earth. But I found it interesting. For one thing I saw there my first Eskimos, at least in their native habitat. Bethel has a truck, too, and maybe a mile and a half of road... Then there is Bethel's boardwalk, a resounding wooden sidewalk that runs the whole length of the single-row town -- and beyond, vaulting a minor stream by transforming itself into a bridge, reverberating on into what I suppose Bethel calls its suburbs.


Bethel is on the left-hand side of the map, near Kuskokwim Bay


Bethel residents, circa 1940

Bethel isn't much bigger today. It currently has a population of around 6000, many of whom aren't permanent residents. And there are no roads connecting the town to the outside world. You've got to fly, walk, or travel by boat to get there. All of which makes Bethel an unlikely location for what's shaping up to be the most-publicized hoax of 2012.

At the beginning of June, fliers appeared around Bethel announcing that a Taco Bell restaurant would be opening there in time for July 4th. The flier said that positions were available at the restaurant, and listed a phone number for those seeking employment.

Bethel has only one fast-food restaurant, a Subway, so the news that Taco Bell was coming there created enormous excitement. Hundreds of people phoned the contact number -- only to discover they had been taken in by a hoax. The number connected them to a (very annoyed) local resident who wasn't affiliated in any way with Taco Bell.

The fliers turned out to be the result of what local police described as a feud between two Bethel residents. (The names of the two haven't been released... or, at least, I haven't been able to find them.) One of the feuders posted the fliers, listing the other guy's phone number, as a prank. The Anchorage Daily News described it as an "evil hoax."

There was great disappointment in Bethel when everyone realized Taco Bell wasn't opening there. But the story of the taco-loving town made national news, and thereby came to the attention of Taco Bell, whose PR people realized they had a great publicity opportunity on hand.

So Taco Bell arranged for a food truck to be flown into Bethel, and on July 2 gave away over 6000 free tacos to the townsfolk. Most people in the town seemed to appreciate the publicity stunt. Though one resident suggested Taco Bell might try adding some Alaskan-themed ingredients, such as moose or cariboo taco, to its menu.


The Taco Bell food truck arrives by air in Bethel


Bethel residents get their tacos

Taco Bell, of course, is no stranger to hoax-themed publicity. See the Taco Liberty Bell hoax of 1996.

Links: kyuk.org, ktuu.com, Washington Post.
Categories: Food, Places
Posted by Alex on Tue Jul 03, 2012
Comments (4)
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