February 24, 2005

*A History of snacks

Potato Chips

As a world food, potatoes are second in human consumption only to rice. And as thin, salted, crisp chips, they are inhaled by the American masses by the ton. The history of the potato chip goes back to 1853, when George Crum, a Native American chef was working at a posh resort in Saratoga Springs, New York.

After Jefferson brought the recipe for French fries back from Europe, they had become extremely popular. He made them a sensation after serving them at Monticello. Many restaurants started putting them the menu, including Crum.

One night a customer complained about the fries, claiming that they were too thick. Crum cut up a thinner batch, but these, too, were rejected by the customer. At his wits end, Crum decided to stick it to the jackass once and for all. He sliced the potatoes as thin as humanly possible. The customer loved them and they became a local sensation.

They were mainly a local dish until Herman Lay started peddling them from the trunk of his car in the 1920s.

Did you know that pretzels have been around for almost 1400 years?

Somewhere between Northern Italy and Southern France a monk baking unleavened bread for Lent decided to make some shapes out of leftover dough. Since Christians in those days prayed with their hands across their chests, he tried to emulate the position with the dough. He named the new treats 'pretiola' - a Latin word meaning 'little reward'.

I would have handed this one to the Germans. Go figure.


Did you know that some scholars believe the main use of early cultivated maize was for popping?

In 1519, Cortes got his first sight of popcorn when he invaded Mexico and came into contact with the Aztecs. Popcorn was an important food for the Aztec Indians, who also used popcorn as decoration for ceremonial headdresses, necklaces and ornaments on statues of their gods, including Tlaloc, the god of rain and fertility.

Writing of Peruvian Indians in 1650, the Spaniard Cobo says, "They toast a certain kind of corn until it bursts. They call it pisancalla, and they use it as a confection."

Some years later, clever people somewhere decided it would taste even better if it were coated with a greasy, synthetic butter substitute.

Before long, technology was consigned to find a way to make popcorn available to consumers as quickly as possible. Hence, the microwave oven was born. It was soon discovered that microwave popcorn could easily catch fire in the new device, producing a smell that was almost impossible to disperse. Synthetic molecular replications of this popcorn gas was later used by the military in developing chemical weapons.

In recent months, the use of microwave popcorn in the workplace has come under fire from employee advocate groups nationwide. Citing loss of taste, smell and nausea, these groups lobbied Congress to introduce a bill banning popcorn of any type in the workplace.

Popcorn manufacturers and the North American Association of Dentists have pulled together to try and stop the bill from advancing.

*some information has been fabricated to make the subject more interesting.

Posted by Paul! at February 24, 2005 10:37 AM


Thanks a lot! Now I want to eat popcorn and chips and drink pop and jellybeans.


Posted by: Oorgo at February 24, 2005 06:11 PM

As an archaeologist I have uncovered clear evidence that the ancient Minoans defended the island of Thera using tortilla chips as throwing stars and an early version of "fruit roll ups" were used as armor.

Posted by: Brian at February 25, 2005 06:34 AM