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Monday, March 21, 2005
*** French Fries
Linguists argue over which came first, the French or the frenching. Specifically, some say that even though they originated in Paris (as Pommes Frites), French fries get their name not from the country, but from the fact that they are cut in long strips, or "Frenched". Others contend that the term frenching arose in response to French Fries. Whatever the case, they arrived in the States as French fried potatoes and were shortened in the 1930's to their current moniker. Today they're eaten by the handful by fast food customers who could'nt imagine a hamburger without them. The preferred condiment here is ketchup. In England, it's malt vinegar.

*** Jell-O
Believe it or not, this so-easy it's embarrassing dessert was once the height of haute cuisine. Gelatin, in case you didn't know (or had banised it from your mind), is usually derived from cow bones, hides, and connective tissues. In the 19th century only the gentry ate enough meat to accumulate the spare body parts needed to make this wobbly treat. But in 1845 American invenor Peter Cooper developed a way to preserve gelatin in a stable, powdered form. Two years later, American inventor Pearle Wait developed a fruit flavored version of Cooper's gelatin. His wife Mary, came up with the name Jell-O. In 1899 Wait, unable to create a market for his invention, sold the formula and name to manufacturer and salesman Orator F. Woodward -- for $450. Woodward made it a success by sending out salemsan armed with cookbooks explaining how to create fancy-looking dishes just like the rich folks. Shortly thereafter (and forevermore), desserts made from endered cow parts became staples of picnics, family reunion, and lowbrow wdding recptions.

*** Cotton Candy
If you want a sweet treat with no redeeming nutritional qualities whatoever, this is it. Cotton candy (originally called Fairy Floss)is nothing but raw sugar that's melted, spun into gossamer filaments, and then collected on a paper cone. Ironically, one fo the four men who developed the process in the early 20th century was a dentist named Josef Delarose Lascaux. We're guessing business at his practice picked up after he introduced the confections.

*** Chiclets
Sporting an old-timey logo that makes it look like the brand goes back to Arthurian England (actually, it dates only to the early 1900s). Chiclets package the chew of gum and the crunch of a cnady coating in one impossibly thin box -- even though today's kids would rather go for the Bubble Yum. Maybe it's because Chiclets are so high maintenace, requiring a good three or four pieces just to develop a decent wad. Still, has there ever been a vending machine cooler than the chrome and glass Chiclet gum machine?

*** Kool Aid
The beverage that created thousand red tongues ( and makes an excellent temporary hair dye as well) was invented by Nebraska tinkerer Edwin E. Perkins. He ran a small manufacturing concern called Perkins Products Company, and one of his best selling products was a soft drink syrup called Fruit Smack. In 1927 Perkins, who shipped by mail and hated paying extra postage to cover the glass Fruit Smack bottle,figured out a way to dehydrate the name to Kool-Ade (now Kool-Aid) and a century spanning tradition was born. These days more than 563 million gallons are consumed each year. There's no word as to how much of that winds up on shirts, car upholstery, and long living room couches.

*** Kraft Macaroni and Cheese
The purpose of a convenience food is to transform something difficult into something easy. Yet one of the world's great convenience foods,Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, achieved enormous popularity by taking an already dead-simple dish (cheesy pasta) and doing nothing more than powdering the cheese, sealing it in a packet, and selling it in the same box with elbow macaroni. Introduced in 1937, it took off during the Word War II, when it helped bulk up many a rationing-- trimmed dinner. Variations--spirals and wheels-- were added in 1975 and 1988. All hell broke loose in the mid '90s when the theme was supplemted with such variations as Super Mario Brothers and, Pokemon and Spongebob.

*** Carnation Instant Breakfast
The popularity of Tang might be waning, but this powdered breakfast drink is still going strong. Indeed, you could do a lot worse than downing a glass of this foamy, lumpy beverage. The first Men's Health Nutrition Awards, in 2002, included a nod to a Carnation Instant Breakfast, a serving of which furnished 25 percent of the adult daily requirements for protein, along with half the required calcium. Of course, the label doesn't mention that the drink is also recommended by Carnation to doctors whose patients want to gain weight.

*** Tang
Possibly the orangest beverage ever invented. Tang was introduced by the General Foods Corpoation in 1959. But it really took off (in the most literal sense) when it was selected for use on manned space flights. Not because it was better tasting than real orange juice, but because the just add water powder was eay to store. Kids promptly clamored for the astronaut approved mix, which parents reluictantly provided. It was basically sugar and food coloring.

*** Chef Boyardee
The real Chef Hector Boiardi was born in Italy in 1898 and made a name for himself at the Ritz Carlton and other restaurants in New York City and beyond. He even catered President Woodrow Wilson's wedding. Now he is Americanized name is synonymous with canned Pasta that carries upward of 1,190 mg of sodium per serving. It's hard to iamgine more text book example of entropy.

(abstracted from The Encyclopedia of Guilty Pleasures
by: Sam Stall, Lou Harry and Julia Spalding)
posted by infraternam meam @ 3:46 AM  
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Name: infraternam meam
Home: Chicago, United States
About Me: I am now at the prime of my life and have been married for the past 25 years. Sickly at times, but wants to see the elixir vita, so that I will be able to see my grandchildren from my two boys.
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