Think Twice Before Grabbing Vanilla Ice Cream, Here’s Why
Ah, look at this cute little thing! I’m sure you know this one is a beaver, but little do you know that the goo they use to mark their territory can also be used in food production.
Scientifically, this goo is called “castoreum,” and this substance has a prominent musky and vanilla scent. Just picture it: a group of food scientists discovered it, and they’re like: “Hey, why don’t we incorporate the beavers’ goo in some recipes?” “Yeah, bro, cool idea, it smells sweet, we can add it to the ice creams, desserts, you name it!” Actually, it’s been used for hundreds of years, in things like medicine and perfume, and flavorings, but not so much lately.
Meanwhile, real vanilla is quite rare and is even going extinct right now... But the flavoring that comes from underneath a beaver’s behind... Ah, right, I forgot to mention that. This goo is often a mix of gland secretions and urine. One strawberry ice cream for me, please.
Remember making sand pies in a sandbox when you were a kid? Yeah, you must have ingested some sand back then at least once. Well...if you want to simulate those careless days now that you’re an adult, you got to go to Wendy’s. Rumor has it they use sand as an anti-caking agent for their chili. Sounds pretty terrifying, huh?
Let’s take a closer look and not make rushed decisions. First off: this very anti-caking agent is called silicon dioxide. Nope, it’s not just sand collected on a beach, let’s say sand is just another name for silicon dioxide. It has an even more frightening name — some call it glass powder.
But anyway, it is used to prolong the life of chili and prevent eventual clumping, so the texture stays perfect. Silicon dioxide is often used in flour-based baking mixtures and even in cosmetics. Unlike the vanilla goo-based analog, it only has a terrifying name and quite a wide range of uses from cement and glass to food additives.
Let’s talk about lanolin. Grab any cream, ointment, or even chewing gum. Right, you can find lanolin among the ingredients. Now, let’s play a guessing game: what’s lanolin made of?
A. It’s mostly made of plants;
B. It’s made of mud;
C. It’s made of sheep wool.
Those who opted for options A and B — sorry guys, but you’re wrong. Maybe you’ll guess it right next time. Those who picked option C — congrats! Lanolin is produced from sheep wool. The thing is, the sheep have sebaceous glands, and they produce a sort of wool wax.
This substance helps sheep shed water and helps the sheep stay dry. To get that wool wax, people first need to cut the sheep’s wool and put it through a centrifuge machine. There, the oil gets separated from the hair and all the other things. But honestly, I’ll never look at chewing gum the same way again...
Some creepy things in your food may actually be... approved by the FDA. As weird as it may sound, the FDA is ok with 30 or more insect parts per chocolate bar. Wanna know more? Ok. How about rodent hair in your peanut butter? Yummy!
Even though peanut butter is one of the best controlled FDA products out there, they don’t see anything bad in a couple of rodent hairs per jar. Now let’s check your intuition! Another guessing game for those who failed the lanolin test.
Question one: how much mold is acceptable in apple butter according to the FDA?
Not that much, actually — 12 % mold is acceptable.
Question two: how much mold is okay for cherry jam?
Things are getting stinkier, as 30% mold is ok for cherry jam.
The last one — what about blackcurrant jam?
Ready! 75% moldy blackcurrant jam is FDA-approved. Ahem, I don’t think I’m going to eat peanut butter with jam ever again...
Now imagine you suddenly notice a fly in your drink. Is it doing the backstroke? No really, will you finish the glass or pour another one? Welp, it depends on the gender of the fly. If you get a female fly in your drink, a couple of minutes later the taste will get funky. If a male fly wants to take a bath in your glass, it won’t ruin the drink.
The thing is, the female flies have certain pheromones that are in charge of that funky smell. Even if you fish the fly out instantly, the drink can still lose its original taste, as even 1 nanogram of pheromone is enough. But since you probably won’t be able to tell the fly’s gender, you probably wanna pour a new glass. Yeah, a fly in your stomach won’t do anything bad to you, but it’s...sorta gross.
Ever eaten canned food? Chances are, you’ve hoovered up some maggots too. Those critters can be found in all types of foods: canned tomatoes? Sure thing. Canned mushrooms? Absolutely, maggots are crazy about those! They love it so much that 20 maggots are good to go for 3.5 oz of drained mushrooms. Sorry dude, there’s nothing we can do, just accept it.
Now, who doesn’t love cheese? Welp, maybe this fact will significantly reduce the number of cheese lovers, huh? Remember the anti-clumping agent used for Wendy’s chili? Cheese might get clumpy too. To prevent it, manufacturers use sawdust!
Just kidding, I’m not talking about sawdust created while making furniture or something, I’m talking about cellulose. Not more than 3.5% of cellulose in a cheese portion is actually nutritionally sound. I must add an important disclaimer here: cellulose is only used for producing and packing shredded or grated cheese. So, if you buy a lump of cheese and grate it at home, it’ll be cellulose free.
Every time you eat bread you also unknowingly ingest human hair or duck feathers. While everything is pretty clear with human hair — like, it may accidentally get there in a bakery even if it actually should never happen, things can’t be that easily explained when it comes to duck feathers. In reality, when I say you ingest human hair I mean not something you expected.
To mass-produce bread, manufacturers often use dough conditioners. This ingredient helps soften the dough, so the whole process of baking gets much smoother. Dough conditioners contain an amino acid called L-Cysteine. You’ve already guessed it, have you?
Right, L-Cysteine is made of either human hair or duck feathers. About 80% of all L-Cysteine is made of human hair. However, McDonald’s uses the one made with duck feathers. Sounds Daffy to me. Still, every time you enjoy baked hot apple pie or a warm cinnamon roll there, you kind of munch on duck feathers.
What’s in common between potato chips and detergent? Both contain cleaning agents. No, I don’t say you can clean toilets with potato chips and use detergents as a snack. But both products have Sodium bisulfite in them.
In reality, it’s quite an innocent ingredient. It has many applications: with its help, people make paper and leather, it can be used for dye production, and it’s a great food preservative. Snacks often have it among the ingredients as it extends the shelf life. Also, it makes the chips appear more appetizing since it prevents discoloration.
Whenever you eat jello, you may also be eating pork at the very same moment. The thing is, you need collagen to produce gelatin, and manufacturers most often use pigskin for this purpose. However, there’s a large variety of vegan jello on the market today. Agar-agar is an alternative to gelatin, and it can actually completely replace it. It’s 100% plant-based and made from seaweed.
If we could time travel, and somehow you got back in time, you’d be surprised if you ordered French fries with ketchup. The ketchup we’re used to eating today is such a modified version that actually has nothing to do with the original ketchup recipe. There were many variations, and there are a couple of theories about the etymology of the word ketchup. I’m gonna tell you about one of them.
Stop me if you’ve heard this one. Some scientists believe that ketchup originated in China, and the Chinese mixed pickled fish and spices, calling it kêchiap, which means the brine of pickled fish. The first more or less modern version appeared in 1817 and it contained anchovies. By the 1850s, the anchovies disappeared from the recipe. So, go fish.