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Food
For over a year, a picture of the Oct 2010 cover of Tails magazine has been circulating online. The image suggests that Rachael Rays practices cannibalism and eats dogs.


Of course, the cover is fake. The original cover included appropriately placed commas —"Rachael Ray finds inspiration in cooking, her family, and her dog."


I'm not entirely sure where the fake version of the cover first appeared. According to wlwt.com, Funny or Die was the original source. Though I can't find it there. But it was posted on Food Network Humor back in March 2011, and I suspect that may be the source from which it first went viral.

Tails magazine, fearing that many people were being led to believe that their editors were incompetent at grammar, recently posted an official statement to set the record straight:

Hi TAILS Fans–
They say there is no such thing as bad publicity, and we do love a TAILS cover gone viral!
However, the circulating cover from October 2010, featuring our friend and all-time animal lover, Rachael Ray, was indeed Photoshopped.
We want to assure anyone who has stumbled upon the cover, that the image being circulated is in fact an unauthorized ALTERED cover.
The image posted here is the actual cover that was printed, WITH commas!
We do get the joke, but just want to make sure we set the record straight, for our sake and Rachael Ray’s (and her family and her dog, of course).
Thanks!
The TAILS Team
Categories: Food, Photos/Videos
Posted by Alex on Fri Jun 29, 2012
Comments (3)
Recently a graphic began circulating on facebook, pinterest, etc. suggesting that the lines on Solo Cups were intended to indicate proper sizes for popular alcoholic drinks (liquor, wine, and beer):


The Solo Cup company responded by posting a message on its facebook page, explaining that it never intended the lines to mean any such thing. Although it conceded that the lines could be used for this purpose. Evidently it was worried about being seen as promoting binge drinking, so it offered some non-alcoholic drinks that the lines could also be used to measure, such as water, juice, and chocolate milk. (click to expand image)

Categories: Food, Urban Legends
Posted by Alex on Sun Jun 17, 2012
Comments (3)
Pig ears are a popular snack in China. So unscrupulous food sellers have figured out a way to make fake pig ears out of gelatin. Given that the real pig ears aren't expensive to begin with, what's being put into the fake ones is dirt cheap and potentially harmful, consumers are being warned. See below for advice about how to know if you've been served a fake pig ear.

Fake stewed pig ears pose health risks
chinadaily.com

Some stewed pig ears have been made from chemicals that could cause blood and heart problems in East China, sounding a fresh alarm on food safety. The popular Chinese snacks sold at a market in Ganzhou, the second-largest city in Jiangxi province, were made from gelatin and sodium oleate, the food safety office under the Jiangxi provincial health department said on Tuesday...
According to Yang Fan, a researcher at the Green Beagle, an environmental protection non-governmental organization based in Beijing, there are ways to distinguish fake ears from real ones. Hair and capillaries usually can be seen on real pig ears, while fake ones do not have hair or capillaries, Yang said.
Categories: Food
Posted by Alex on Wed May 23, 2012
Comments (2)
Another restaurant scam to watch out for: That expensive steak you ordered may really be pieces of scrap meat glued together. I'd never heard of this 'meat glue' before. Apparently there's very little way to tell if it's being served to you... if the meat is glued together by someone who knows what they're doing. But if an amateur did the gluing, the meat will fall apart as you slice it.

Steak Or Fake? How To Spot 'Glued' Meat
denverchannel.com

It's white, powdery and can turn chucks of beef into a single piece of steak. Most diners probably are not aware that some chefs can use a substance called transglutaminase to bind pieces of meat together. This "meat glue" has been a part of the food industry for decades, where it goes by the name TG or Activa.
Categories: Food
Posted by Alex on Wed May 23, 2012
Comments (1)

The "Fast-Food Tattoo Guy" image has been floating around the internet since 2009, at least. It's not a very good fake. Which is to say, it doesn't appear that many people have been led to believe, on the basis of this photo, that some large, cheeseburger-loving man actually decided to tattoo himself with the logos of fast-food restaurants.

Nevertheless, I'm always curious about where these fake photos originally come from. In the case of this photo, I tracked down the original to a series of photos taken by photographer Philip Greenspun at the Newport Jazz Festival in 2005. He took several shots of this guy sitting on the beach, eating his food, and listening to the music. He titled them, "fat shirtless guy eating cheeseburger."

Greenspun seems to have an ongoing interest in taking pictures of overweight Americans eating. For instance, he has a series called Fat People Eating in Epcot. And here he describes why he's interested in photographing fat people eating:

Most of it is that I think that better diet pills will be developed some time within the next 100 years.... The photos will then become a curiosity for people in the year 2100.

I don't know who added the tattoos to Greenspun's Newport Jazz Fest picture.

Categories: Food, Photos/Videos
Posted by Alex on Sat Apr 28, 2012
Comments (0)
The NY Daily News is reporting (via the Tages-Anzeiger) that a Swiss woman died after deciding to embrace the philosophy of breatharianism and live on sunlight alone:

Swiss woman dies after attempting to live on sunlight; Woman gave up food and water on spiritual journey
nydailynews.com

The Zurich newspaper reported Wednesday that the unnamed Swiss woman in her fifties decided to follow the radical fast in 2010 after viewing an Austrian documentary about an Indian guru who claims to have lived this way for 70 years.
Tages-Anzeiger says there have been similar cases of self-starvation in Germany, Britain and Australia.
The prosecutors' office in the Swiss canton (state) of Aargau confirmed Wednesday that the woman died in January 2011 in the town of Wolfhalden in eastern Switzerland.

Here's the trailer of the documentary she was inspired by:

Categories: Food, Health/Medicine
Posted by Alex on Thu Apr 26, 2012
Comments (3)

At first glance, this appears to be a vintage ad by the "Soda Pop Board of America" extolling the virtues of drinking cola at an early age. It's been circulating around the internet for quite a while, during which time many sites have angrily responded to the claims made in the ad.

For instance, the Queen Anne Chiropractic Center declared that the ad demonstrates "just how wicked the Mad Men of yesteryear were." The parenting blog babble.com wrote: "We all know that, on occasion, advertisements can offer some fairly crappy advice. Back in the day, though, ads had no shame." And NaturalNews.com offered the ad as evidence that, "Soda companies, much like drug companies, have relentlessly tried to convince parents that forcing their products onto their children is a smart thing to do."

I could go on, but I'll cut to the chase: the ad isn't real. It's just a very successful vintage-ad parody created in 2002 by RJ White, who explains its full provenance on his blog Ice Cream Motor:

About seven or eight years ago, I made this fake ad, exhorting parents to give soda to their babies. It was done on a bored afternoon when J.D. Ryznar asked for someone to make that very specific thing on his livejournal. I whipped it together, posted it to the web, joke over.

THEN. A couple of years later- it started showing up online, in those weird lists that pop up every so often with a "Oh man, ads sure were strange back then, weren't they?" theme. Thing is, those ads are largely real and mine is not and very obviously so.

White links to the original livejournal post that inspired him to create the ad. His ad seems to be currently enjoying a fresh wave of popularity thanks to tumblr and pinterest which are presenting it to new audiences, many of whom (once again) seem to be accepting it at face value as a genuine vintage ad.
Categories: Advertising, Food
Posted by Alex on Thu Apr 26, 2012
Comments (11)
Many people thought this was too weird to be true, but apparently it's real. Multinational mega-corporation Unilever is running an ad campaign in Germany for its "Du Darfst" line of food products that features the English slogan "Fuck the Diet!"

It's kinda like if McDonalds were to unveil "Fuck Eating Healthy" as its new ad slogan.

A Unilever spokesperson offered this explanation:

"Although the current Du Darfst campaign has become a bit of a talking point in Germany -- as effective marketing should -- it is targeted specifically at German consumers and uses language that we do not believe most German consumers find offensive. This is because the term in the campaign is frequently heard on German TV and radio, and is used in newspapers and magazines, and in the context of 'let it be' it is not censored or seen as inappropriate by most German consumers."


Categories: Advertising, Food
Posted by Alex on Wed Apr 18, 2012
Comments (5)
Back in ninth-century Japan, there was a religious charlatan who earned the title bei-fun-hijiri or "saint of rice excrements". Before telling how he acquired this title, I should relate how I came across his story, which was in a rather roundabout way.

First, I came across a post on the Of Small Wonders & Great Wanders blog about the ancient art of self-mummification, developed by ascetic monks of the Shingon sect in northern Japan:

It was initiated by Kobo Daishi (774-835), who took the decision to end his days meditating in a cave. His disciples later found that his body was mummified, which was quite mystical! The Sokushinbutsu tradition developed from there and consisted on willingly becoming a mummy by having a special diet to dry your body.

This led me to wikipedia page about Sokushinbutsu, which further explains:

Sokushinbutsu were Buddhist monks or priests who caused their own deaths in a way that resulted in their mummification. This practice reportedly took place almost exclusively in northern Japan around the Yamagata Prefecture. It is believed that many hundreds of monks tried, but only between 16 and 24 such mummifications have been discovered to date. The practice is not advocated or practised today by any Buddhist sect...

For 1,000 days the priests would eat a special diet consisting only of nuts and seeds, while taking part in a regimen of rigorous physical activity that stripped them of their body fat. They then ate only bark and roots for another thousand days and began drinking a poisonous tea made from the sap of the Urushi tree, normally used to lacquer bowls.

This caused vomiting and a rapid loss of bodily fluids, and most importantly, it made the body too poisonous to be eaten by maggots. Finally, a self-mummifying monk would lock himself in a stone tomb barely larger than his body, where he would not move from the lotus position. His only connection to the outside world was an air tube and a bell. Each day he rang a bell to let those outside know that he was still alive.

When the bell stopped ringing, the tube was removed and the tomb sealed. After the tomb was sealed, the other monks in the temple would wait another 1,000 days, and open the tomb to see if the mummification was successful. If the monk had been successfully mummified, they were immediately seen as a Buddha and put in the temple for viewing. Usually, though, there was just a decomposed body. Although they were not viewed as a true Buddha if they were not mummified, they were still admired and revered for their dedication and spirit.


The self-mummified body of Chûkai Shônin

The wikipedia page, in turn, led me to a 1962 article in the Journal History of Religions: "Self-Mummified Buddhas in Japan," by Ichiro Hori. The article provides a great deal of information about the development of the art of self-mummification — much much detail than I'll go into here. The important point (since it leads us to the Saint of Rice Excrements) is that Hori argues that the self-mummification ritual emerged out of the practice of abstention from cereals (mokujiki-gyô). That is, the practice of not eating rice and subsisting only on fruits and nuts.

Abstention from cereals was considered an important training exercise for Shingon ascetics since a) it required a lot of willpower, and b) it was believed to give one superhuman powers. But of course, human nature being what it is, there were those on the no-cereal diet who cheated. Which leads us, finally, to the Saint of Rice Excrements. I'll let Ichiro Hori tell the rest of the story.

There is the case reported by the Montoku Jitsuroku (Official Record during the Reign of Emperor Montoku, 850-58) in which an upâsaka who came to Kyoto in 854 announced that he abstained from cereals. An imperial edict provided him with a lodging in the Imperial Garden named Shinsen-en, and he there became the object of worship by the citizens of Kyoto, who asked him to pray for them and the welfare of their private affairs. Many women especially were dazzled by the brilliance of his reputation. After about a month, however, someone claimed that he was eating rice at midnight and going to the toilet early every morning. Others then spied upon his doings and discovered high piles of rice excrement. As a result, public estimation for him rapidly declined, and he was dubbed a bei-fun-hijiri (saint of rice excrements).
Categories: Death, Food, Religion
Posted by Alex on Tue Apr 17, 2012
Comments (0)
E.J. Gold describes himself as a "psychic cook". Or, at least, he briefly kept a blog on which he described himself in this way and offered various psychic recipes.


His recipe for a psychic omelette starts off in a pretty standard way, but once the eggs have begun to harden in the frying pan, the psychic part kicks in:

8. It's at this point that you begin chanting "OM MANI PADME HUM" until the omelette has cooked to your satisfaction on the topside. Then with a deft scoop of the spatula, send the omelette into the air slightly, just enough to flip it over, and get the pan under it to catch the turned-over omelette just right. This takes a bit of practice. The omelette will always have the same look to it at the exact right turning point...you need to observe it with your full attention to determine when that will be. There's a bubbling effect just before the turn point. Think like an alchemist to get this right.

9. When the omelette is firm, but not overcooked, and definitely NOT browned, it's time to turn it over again for a moment or two, add your internal ingredients such as cheese, yogurt, green peppers or whatever, then fold the omelette in half, slip it onto a prepared plate with all your other items already on it, add pepper or topping to taste, and serve. Now you can stop chanting "OM MANI PADME HUM". You have fulfilled your Way of Service for the moment. And that's how a psychic makes a great omelette.

I'm not totally sure whether he was being serious when he posted this blog (Poe's Law), but given the info in his wikipedia bio, I'm leaning toward the conclusion that he was.

Maybe I'll give this psychic cooking a try one of these days and see if it makes any difference.
Categories: Food, Religion
Posted by Alex on Sat Apr 07, 2012
Comments (0)
This picture and caption has been circulating around the internet recently:


This a Moon Melon , scientifically knows as asidus. This fruit grows in some parts of Japan , and it's known for it's weird blue color. What you probably don't know about this fruit, is that it can switch flavors after you eat it. Everything sour will taste sweet, and everything salty will taste bitter, and it gives water a strong orange-like taste. This fruit is Very expensive. It costs about ¥16000 JPY (which is about 200 dollars).

Unfortunately, as intriguing as the moon melon sounds, it's just the product of digital color effects.



Clovegarden.com lists a large variety of melons, including some odd ones such as Christmas Melon, Citron Melon, Collective Farm Woman Melon, Japanese Melon, Santa Claus Melon, Red Moon Melon, and Persian Melon. But no blue-colored Japanese Moon Melon.

From an article on disabled-world.com, I found this list of fruits and vegetables that legitimately do come in shades of blue:
  • Black currants
  • Black salsify
  • Blackberries
  • Blueberries
  • Dried plums
  • Eggplant
  • Elderberries
  • Grapes
  • Plums
  • Pomegranates
  • Prunes
  • Purple Belgian endive
  • Purple Potatoes
  • Purple asparagus
  • Purple cabbage
  • Purple carrots
  • Purple figs
  • Purple grapes
  • Purple peppers
  • Raisins
Categories: Food, Photos/Videos
Posted by Alex on Fri Apr 06, 2012
Comments (3)
These would actually be pretty cool if you made them with jello.

Categories: Food
Posted by Alex on Thu Apr 05, 2012
Comments (1)
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