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Posts Tagged ‘Food

“Candy is dandy”*…

 

Haribo

Haribo– the originator of the “Goldbear,” or as it’s more popularly known, the gummy bear– recently released a centennial Passport edition that samples from international varieties. It includes Goldbears, Starmix, Matador, Tagada, and Rotella

 

A hundred years ago, the first Haribo factory cranked up its confectionery machines on the banks of Germany’s Rhine River. Started by 27-year-old Hans Riegel, the business stayed modest and local—until the founder made a marvelous culinary discovery. The exact formula to his bear-shaped success remains a secret to this day, but its recipe includes gelatin, sugar, a copper kettle, a rolling pin, and the magic of thermodynamics.

Haribo Goldbear gummies are now one of the top-selling candies in the world, spawning dozens of copycats and filling hundreds of fingerprint-smudged waiting-room jars. The company has grown out of Riegel’s home city of Bonn with 16 factories across Europe, Asia, Australia, and South America. It’s slated to break ground on its first US production facility in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin, in fall or winter.

The company cooks up 100 million gummy bears a day—on top of numerous other mouth-puckering chews. It sells more than 1,000 varieties globally and launches fresh lines every season, like this summer’s limited Passport edition [above]. “Because of the way we produce our candies, we can make a lot of flavors and profiles with agility,” says Lauren Triffler, head of corporate communications of Haribo of America. US gummy fanatics can only choose from a modest 19 options at the moment. The sheer scale of the company makes it a powerhouse for profit, but it also lets it redefine how the candy industry creates certain fruit flavors, says Yael Vodovotz, a food-innovation scientist at Ohio State University. “They follow the trends and make the choices that change tastes.”

Anointing a new flavor to the Haribo lineup, however, takes some confection-making perfection. The company’s food scientists test each recipe exhaustively for aroma, texture, and regional preferences. The last step is key to ensuring a gummy will succeed across multiple markets. For example, Triffler says, Americans and Germans don’t always agree on what a “lemon” candy should taste like, making it tricky to develop a single yellow piece for a mix that suits everyone’s tongues. The company even had to change up Riegel’s famous recipe when introducing Goldbears stateside in the 1980s…

No one knows your sweet tooth better than a 100-year-old company: “The intense flavor science behind Haribo’s gummies.”

* Ogden Nash

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As we indulge, we might recall that it was on this date in 1985 that the honey bee was designated the official state insect of Missouri.

State-Insect source

 

 

Written by LW

July 3, 2020 at 1:01 am

“All food is comfort food. Maybe I just like to chew.”*…

 

mac and cheese

 

In January 2015, food sales at restaurants overtook those at grocery stores for the first time. Most thought this marked a permanent shift in the American meal.

Thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, that trend took a U-turn. Restaurant revenue cratered, while shoppers emptied grocery shelves stocking up on food to cook at home. And with sales of pantry items soaring, shoppers found themselves reaching for an old reliable.

In April, sales of Kraft macaroni and cheese were up 27% from the same time last year. General Mills, the maker of Annie’s mac and cheese, has seen a similar bump.

The cheap, boxed meal has long been a poster child for processed food. While it’s often dismissed as stuff for kids, a lot of grownups secretly savor it… It’s also played an important role in kitchen science, wars, and women’s liberation…

How boxed macaroni and cheese became a pantry principal– the story of a staple: “An ode to mac and cheese, the poster child for processed food.”

* Lewis Black

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As we say (processed) cheese, we might send tasty birthday greetings to Ruth Graves Wakefield; she was born on this date in 1903.  A dietitian, educator, business owner, and author, she is probably best remembered as the inventor of the Toll House cookie– the first chocolate chip cookie.

In 1930, she and her husband bought a tourist lodge (the Toll House Inn) in Whitman in Plymouth County. Massachusetts.  Located about halfway between Boston and New Bedford, it was a place where passengers had historically paid a toll, changed horses, and eaten home-cooked meals.  Ruth cooked and served all the food and soon gained local fame for her lobster dinners and desserts.  Around 1937, she first added added chopped up bits from a Nestlé semi-sweet chocolate bar into a cookie: “We had been serving a thin butterscotch nut cookie with ice cream. Everybody seemed to love it, but I was trying to give them something different. So I came up with Toll House cookie.”  Wakefield wrote a best selling cookbook, Toll House Tried and True Recipes. that went through 39 printings starting in 1930; the 1938 edition was the first to include the recipe for a chocolate chip cookie, the “Toll House Chocolate Crunch Cookie.”

220px-Ruth_Graves_Wakefield source

 

 

Written by LW

June 17, 2020 at 1:01 am

“Some maladies are rich and precious, and only to be acquired by the right of inheritance or purchased with gold”*…

 

gout

 

Gout is a disease caused by high levels of uric acid in the blood. Everyone has some uric acid in their blood, but when you get too much, it can form little crystals that get deposited around your body and cause various problems, most commonly joint pain. Some uric acid comes from chemicals found in certain foods (especially meat), so the first step for a gout patient is to change their diet. If that doesn’t work, they can take various chemicals that affect uric acid metabolism or prevent inflammation.

Gout is traditionally associated with kings, probably because they used to be the only people who ate enough meat to be affected. Veal, venison, duck, and beer are among the highest-risk foods; that list sounds a lot like a medieval king’s dinner menu. But as kings faded from view, gout started affecting a new class of movers and shakers. King George III had gout, but so did many of his American enemies, including Franklin, Jefferson, and Hancock (beginning a long line of gout-stricken US politicians, most recently Bernie Sanders). Lists of other famous historical gout sufferers are contradictory and sometimes based on flimsy evidence, but frequently mentioned names include Alexander the Great, Charlemagne, Leonardo da Vinci, Martin Luther, John Milton, Isaac Newton, Ludwig von Beethoven, Karl Marx, Charles Dickens, and Mark Twain.

Question: isn’t this just a list of every famous person ever? It sure seems that way, and even today gout seems to disproportionately strike the rich and powerful. In 1963, Dunn, Brooks, and Mausner published Social Class Gradient Of Serum Uric Acid Levels In Males, showing that in many different domains, the highest-ranking and most successful men had the highest uric acid (and so, presumably, the most gout). Executives have higher uric acid than blue-collar workers. College graduates have higher levels than dropouts. Good students have higher levels than bad students. Top professors have higher levels than mediocre professors. DB&M admitted rich people probably still eat more meat than poor people, but didn’t think this explained the magnitude or universality of the effect. They proposed a different theory: maybe uric acid makes you more successful.

Before we mock them, let’s take more of a look at why they might think that, and at the people who have tried to flesh out their theory over the years….

From the always-illuminating Scott Alexander (@slatestarcodex), a consideration of the case: “Give yourself gout for fame and profit.”

For the NIH’s backgrounder on gout, see here— the source of the image above.

* Nathaniel Hawthorne

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As we feed our ambition, we might spare a thought for Charles William “C. W.” Post; he died on this date in 1914.  Post began his career as a farm implement manufacturer in Illinois, but succumbed to stress, and had a nervous breakdown.  On recovering, he moved to Texas and began a second career as a real estate developer… but fell prey again to the pressures of his work and had another breakdown.  In 1891, he checked into the Battle Creek, Michigan the sanatorium of Dr. John Harvey Kellogg (brother of cereal maker Will Keith Kellogg).

While there, Post dined on Kellogg recipes, several of which became the (stolen, some argue) seeds of his very successful third career.  Early in 1895, Post began manufacturing Postum, a grain product intended as a coffee substitute, very similar to one of Kellogg’s concoctions, Caramel Coffee Cereal.  The following year, he began to produce Grape-Nuts, which seemed very like Malted Nuts, another Kellogg item.  And soon thereafter he introduced Toasties, a dead ringer for Kellogg’s Corn Flakes.

Kellogg’s has, of course survived and prospered.  But Post’s “Postum Cereal Company” grew up to be General Foods.

220px-C.W._Post_LCCN2014696048_(cropped) source

 

 

Written by LW

May 9, 2020 at 1:01 am

“Agriculture changes the landscape more than anything else we do”*…

 

agriculture

From the USDA, a (zoomable) map of which crops are grown where in the U.S.: “Cropscape.”

* Michael Pollan

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As we contemplate cultivation, we might note that today is National Animal Crackers Day.  Small crackers/cookies baked in the shape of animals, they were imported from England to the U.S. in the second half of the 19th century. then produced domestically by a number of bakers starting in the 1870s.

But by the turn of the century, several of those bakeries had merged to become the National Biscuit Company, which began to produce a branded version, “Barnum’s Animals,” featuring animals from the Barnum and Bailey Circus.  While earlier animal cracker were sold to merchants in bulk (to be sold to customers from barrels), Nabisco’s were packaged in a colorful, circus-themed box with a string that allowed it to be hung from a Christmas tree.  Initially retailing for 5 cents a package, they were– and remain– a huge hit.

300px-Barnum's_animals_examples

Some of “Barnum’s Animals”

 

Written by LW

April 18, 2020 at 1:01 am

“All sorrows are less with bread”*…

 

0301_breadend

 

Bread is not a new product, and it’s always had an outer shell of sorts. And the concept of the “heel of the loaf” seems to date to at least the 14th century, per the Oxford English Dictionary. But the industrial revolution changed the overall design of bread loaves, and made what was once a secondary element, the ends, into a more central feature. Thanks to his invention of a bread slicing machine, Otto Frederick Rohwedder [see this earlier (R)D for his story] ensured that the world‘s relationship with bread would change significantly in the 20th century…

There often was little consideration given to the ends, which don’t look as good nor as consistent. In a world of order and consistency, they represented a reminder that chaos was just around the corner. If Apple were to start developing its own loaves of bread, the end pieces would be first to go.

The problem of heel pieces is particularly notable in commercial contexts, where the need for appearances takes on a bigger role. This has been a longstanding problem for the field, though there are individual cases where some have turned this disadvantage into an advantage. In a 1922 piece for Cafeteria Management, a manager for a Chicago cafeteria of Alfred Weeghman Corp. noted that his company saved money by treating the end pieces as special [as discrds, to be used as ingredients in puddings or other items of lesser value)…

In some circles—especially for young children—the crust is a controversial element, and the end pieces, if nothing else, are all crust. As a result, there’s always been something of an interest in some circles of making the crusts of bread less prominent. For the 8-year-olds in your world who won’t eat anything, sandwich cutters are easy to find.

One prominent Texas grocery store chain, H-E-B, even sells a crustless white bread, because we like order and nothing screams order like bread without any crust attached.

But for crust haters, it’s worth asking: Are they missing out? As far back as 1763, a writer named Nicholas Robinson felt compelled to write an unusual text discussing the health benefits of eating “a crust of bread” first thing in the morning—rather than in the evening…

Why are the heel pieces, or end pieces, of bread seen as undesirable compared to the rest of the loaf—and what kind of waste does that create, anyway?  The ever-illuminating Ernie Smith (@ShortFormErnie) faces up to the “Bread End.”

* Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote

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As we embrace the ends, we might send bubbly birthday greetings to Johann Jacob Schweppe; he was born on this date in 1740.  A watchmaker and amateur scientist, he developed the first practical process for the manufacture of bottled carbonated mineral water, based on a process discovered by Joseph Priestley in 1767.  His company, Schweppes (later Cadbury Schweppes, now Keurig Dr Pepper) graciously acknowledges Priestley as “the father of our industry.”

1783_Johann_Jacob_Schweppe

Jacob Schweppe

source

 

Written by LW

March 16, 2020 at 12:01 am

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