Calamari Or Pig Rectum

This could just be some sort of urban legend however NPR’s This American Life is claiming some pork producer may be selling “pork bung”, the rectum of a pig as artificial calamari. Granted, it’s in sausage and most likely other highly processed pork. Some more discussion on CHOW about the product itself.

Update: Slate has some pretty good reporting that suggests this story is bogus and it’s not true. If it’s in hot dogs or other things you eat, that’s a whole other story.

Your Beverage Ice Is Dirtier Than Toilet Water

You may want to consider ordering your drink without ice next time you’re at a fast food restaurant (or any place):

“I found that 70-percent of the time, the ice from the fast food restaurant’s contain more bacteria than the fast food restaurant’s toilet water,” Roberts told local station 10 News in Tampa.

How did that happen?

The reason that the bacteria was more prevalent in the ice could be that while toilets are cleaned regularly, ice machines are not.

This really isn’t terribly surprising. In addition to regular cleaning, toilets are intentionally made of glazed porcelain because bacteria has trouble latching onto it. It’s worth noting bacteria is all around you and almost unquestionably that bacteria in question, while plentiful is not likely to cause any health issues.

It’s still an interesting observation.

About Those Red Tomatoes

From the LA Times:

But the new study, published this week in Science, found that the mutation that leads to the uniform appearance of most store-bought tomatoes has an unintended consequence: It disrupts the production of a protein responsible for the fruit’s production of sugar.

So can we go back to ugly looking but good tasting fruit (yes, tomatoes are fruit)? I’d strongly prefer taste to color.

Pancake Syrup Truck Accident On Buttermilk Pike

And in today’s delicious news:

A highway truck accident never sounded so delicious. A semitrailer hauling Hungry Jack pancake syrup collided with a highway median at the Buttermilk Pike overpass in northern Kentucky, causing the truckload of syrup to spill all over the highway.

Nobody was seriously hurt. NTSB was investigating to see why breakfast sausage was not available at the scene.

You couldn’t make that headline up. Without salivating.

Bacon Tourism

CNBC reporting on the Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival:

The festival features 10 different types of bacon, plus all things bacon — bacon sausage, bacon meatballs, bacon doughnuts, bacon butterscotch cupcakes — even a walking slab of bacon! There’s a bacon-eating contest, bacon lectures and a bacon song contest — and yes, there’s a crowning of the Bacon Queen! Contestants are asked questions like their favorite memory of bacon, their favorite kind of bacon and their favorite way to cook bacon (the most common answer is “naked,” incidentally).

It sounds magical.

Hot Dog Bun Math

It’s the 4th of July weekend here in the US. Today’s BBQ1 got me thinking about that conspiracy theory from Father of the Bride regarding the mismatch of hot dogs quantities and hot dog bun quantities. Steve Martin’s character goes nuts over the discrepancy.

This is really an exercise in Least Common Multiples that no teacher seems to exploit (at least none that I ever had).

Research tells me that the reality of this joke is a little more complicated than 8 hot dogs and 12 buns. It may even vary based on location. From what I can tell the most common hot dog packages are 8 and 10, while the most common bun packages are 10 and 12. That means a 10/10 purchase is a win in terms of efficiency. I suspect there are more combinations, but 8/10 and 10/12 seem to be the most common. Here’s a table of the possibilities:

Hot Dog Qty. Hot Dog Bun Qty. Least Common Multiple Least Hot Dog Packages Least Hot Dog Bun Packages
8 10 40 5 4
8 12 24 4 2
10 10 10 1 1
10 12 60 6 5

This leaves me to question: who profits more from this? To figure this out, we’d need to know buying habits of people and costs involved in producing, packaging, shipping these goods. I don’t have that on hand, but I can draw a pretty graph of how many packages of each you’d need to not waste food:

So it looks like we’ll be eating hot dogs in sandwich bread and making tiny sandwiches out of left over hot dog buns for years to come.

1. Technically you grill hot dogs (hot and fast), not BBQ (low and slow) but American etymology is funny.

Making Real Ice Cream

Serious Eats is a very cool site, particularly for The Food Lab. What makes it so great is they don’t just demonstrate how to do something, but the science behind it. A few months ago they did a post on making ice cream without an ice cream maker. This is relevant to my interests.

One of the greatest things about this particular blog post is that they explain overrun, something that few actually bother to understand but most people have noticed. I remember learning this in either 6th or 7th grade science class:

Churning also does another thing: it introduces air to the mix. The amount of air incorporated to the mix is referred to in the industry as overrun, and is given as a percentage representing the total volume after churning over the volume of the unchurned base.

So, for example, say I started out with 2 cups of ice cream base and introduced enough air to the mix while churning to make 3 cups of frozen ice cream. That’s 50% more volume added during churning, so the ice cream has an overrun of 50%.

In small amounts, overrun is a good thing. It keeps the texture looser and creamier. Most premium ice creams, like Häagen-Dazs, have an overrun of about 25% while cheaper brands, like Breyers, can have an overrun of as much as 94%. At this level, the ice cream melts much faster, and loses a lot of its richness.

For anyone who has tried one of the brands with high overrun: you know it. It’s really obvious. Also note the ratio of product to air you’re actually getting.

By law ice cream can’t contain more than 100% overrun (50% of the product being air). I presume that is related to 21 C.F.R. PART 135 but I’m not a dairy lawyer.

While I’m on the topic of ice cream, I’ll note that soft serve is 33-45% air.

Science: it even makes ice cream better.

How Spam Is Made

Ever wanted to know how Spam (not the email, the “lunch meat”) is made? “This Is Hormel“, a publicity film from the 1960′s will let you see inside the factory in a way once parodied by Troy McClure. My favorite part may be when they refer to it as “the raw material”. Yea, that’s appetizing.

It also features other Hormel products. Pretty interesting if your really into meat, like say a Butcher. if your not, you likely don’t want to watch the video.

This film is part of the Prelinger collection. Other classics to enjoy are the Gold Medal Flower Commercial (which still exists, apparently owned by General Mills) and “Care of the Skin” (1949).

Cheeseburger In A Can

Someone actually tried the now infamous cheeseburger in a can. After reading it, and seeing the pictures of it prepared I can now form a solid conclusion. It must be a complete waste of calories. How the hell can a cheeseburger have a bitter aftertaste? There are so many things in this world that I would eat before that. I’ve tasted dog treats for money before. I’d eat them for free before eating a cheeseburger out of a can.

That post however is quite funny to read.

While on the the topic of strange foods… Has anyone ever noticed how much dog food is bacon flavored? Why can’t they do that for people food? I’d love bacon flavored cereal, etc. Bacon flavored vitamins would also be nice.