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20 Mind-Boggling Food Facts to Nourish the Mind

The next time you’re craving some food for thought, don’t reach for a book. Instead, open the fridge, peek into the pantry, or walk into the garden. How come? Why, because the foods in your kitchen and garden have countless interesting stories to tell. Here are 20 mind-boggling factoids about the foods we eat every day.

People drink more in spaces with loud music

Food Facts friends at the pub
Finally, we know why so many pubs turn up the music until you can’t even hear your own thoughts and not just your companions. An atmosphere with loud music can lead to excessive drinking - states a French study that tried to explain what factors affect people’s drinking habits in bars.

A single ostrich egg equals about 24 chicken eggs

Food Facts ostrich egg
An omelet with two dozen chicken eggs is what you’d be getting if you decided to cook an ostrich egg for breakfast. An average ostrich egg weighs around 3 pounds, and it contains around 2,000 calories, which is just about the entire recommended daily calorie intake for an adult.

Avocados ripen only when they fall off the tree

Food Facts Avocados on a tree
The avocado is something known as a “climacteric” fruit, which essentially means that it will continue to ripen after you've picked it from the tree. Fruits like plums, peaches, bananas, and tomatoes are the same. However, avocados are even more unique than that, as they only start ripening when they’re picked from the tree. So if you grow avocados, you can leave them on the tree, and they will not turn bad for up to 8 months!

Cheese is the most stolen type of food on Earth

Food Facts Slicing Cheese
No, we’re not talking about naughty mice… It turns out that certain cheese varieties, such as genuine Italian Parmigiano Reggiano, are worth quite a pretty penny per gram. So it’s not surprising that approximately four percent of all cheese produced is stolen every year. Where does all that cheese end up? They say there’s a black market for cheese (no, we’re not even kidding).

Croissants are not French

Food Facts Croissants
Shocker, we know! It’s common knowledge that the finest croissants in the world can be found in Paris. While France has certainly adopted the croissant, they did not invent the crescent-shaped pastry. The true country of birth for the croissant is Austria, particularly Vienna. These early “proto-croissants” are called kipferl, and they’re still around in many central and eastern European countries.

Cashews are not actually nuts

Food Facts cashew apple
These impostors are actually seeds that peek out of the bottom of the cashew apple (see image above). Such seeds are known as “drupes,” and they have a hard shell. Other examples of drupes are peaches, cherries, and plums. And for those of you wondering, both the fruit and the seeds are edible.

The most nutritious food in the world?

Food Facts garlic and vegetables
Move aside, broccoli and kale! Garlic is one of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet (and it can repel vampires too, they say). A single clove of garlic - weighing barely 5 grams - contains 0.2 grams of protein and 2% of one’s recommended daily intake of vitamin B6. This pungent vegetable has several benefits too, such as reducing cholesterol and blood pressure. Read all about those benefits here: The Surprising Medical Benefits of Garlic.

Only the rich could afford black pepper in the Middle Ages

Food Facts black pepper
It’s astounding to see how so many foods that are now widely available were in short supply in the past. You’ve probably heard of pineapples being a luxury item all across Europe and the US in the 1800s. But a few centuries earlier - in the Middle Ages - it was spices like cinnamon and black pepper that were considered a luxury. In fact, the discovery of the Americas was the result of the search by Europeans for a shorter route to India, the source country of these spices.

Broccoli is a type of cabbage

Food Facts Boy Eats Broccoli
In fact, broccoli wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for humanity’s efforts at selective breeding. We also got many other vegetables from the cabbage family this way, including cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kale, and even kohlrabi. The parent plant of all these vegetables is the species Brassica oleracea, or wild cabbage.

Mac and cheese for the elites

Food Facts Mac and cheese
What do you have for dinner when you’re out of fresh food in the fridge? Many people open the pantry and reach for a box of macaroni and cheese, which is now considered the ultimate convenience food. Well, you may be shocked to find out that the humble mac and cheese was considered a delicacy not so long ago. At the beginning of the 19th century, it was one of the fanciest and most popular dishes served in fancy restaurants in the United States.

Which came first - the fruit or the color orange?

Food Facts orange
If it wasn’t for the zesty citrus fruit, chances are we’d still be conflating the color orange with red. According to etymology research, the name for the color orange is derived from the Old French word orenge (circa 12-century), meaning "orange tree." Until the 1510s, the word orange was not used as a color in English. The closest English color names at that time were citrine or saffron. For even more amazing facts about colors, read this article: 15 Mind-Blowing Facts About Color.

Ciabatta madness 

Food Facts Ciabatta madness
There is a common belief that this Italian bread belongs in the pantheon of traditional Italian dishes. But can you really call a pastry traditional if it was only invented in 1981? This white bread was developed and popularized by a baker from the city of Rovigo in the Veneto region of Italy. At the time, all of Europe was crazy about baguettes, and this was the Italian take on this French bread recipe.

The mistake that brought us chicken noodle soup

Food Facts Campbell's Soup
In 1934, Campbell’s released a new type of canned soup that included chicken broth, chicken, and noodles. They named it "Noodle with Chicken Soup.” Alas, their entire radio marketing campaign went all wrong when the announcer misnamed the new product "Chicken Noodle Soup." After a few weeks, the company was forced to rename the new soup variety Chicken Noodle Soup, and that’s what it’s called even today.

Apple seeds and fruit rarely match

Food Facts Apple tree
Have you ever tried growing an avocado or a lemon tree from seed? A surprising number of store-bought produce can be propagated and cultivated from seed, even if it will take you years before the first harvest. Unfortunately, apples are not part of that list, as they are not “true to seed.” This means that if you plant an apple seed from your favorite apple variety at the store, you won’t get the same kind of apple once the seed develops into a tree. The only way to grow a particular apple variety is to cut a whole branch of that variety and graft it into the trunk of another apple tree.

Why are salted tomatoes so delicious?

Food Facts tomatoes
Ever wonder why a dash of salt can turn the taste of a tomato from ordinary to amazing? This magical transformation happens thanks to a chemical reaction between glutamate and salt that results in a compound called monosodium glutamate (or MSG). In the culinary world, the resulting delicious taste is called umami. The closest English term for it is "savory."

Pizza Margherita

Food Facts Pizza Margherita
Have you been spelling it "pizza margarita” all these years? Well, it’s better to write it "Pizza Margherita,” here’s why. This classic Italian style of pizza was named after the Queen of Italy, Margherita of Savoy. As for the ingredients of the toppings - the red tomato sauce, the white mozzarella cheese, and the green basil - they are meant to represent the colors of the Italian flag. Neat, huh?

Pineapple can break down meat

Food Facts Pineapple
Fresh pineapples contain an enzyme called bromelain that can dissolve protein. At first glance, this fact may sound kind of creepy, but this property is often used in recipes to render meat more tender, so it’s actually quite handy, as long as you use it right. You can also drink pineapple juice after a heavy, protein-rich meal, to digest it more easily. We haven’t tried it yet ourselves, but we totally will now that we’re aware of this useful factoid!

Potatoes were the first type of food grown in space

Food Facts Potatoes
In October 1995, a partnership between NASA and the University of Wisconsin sowed the first seeds in space. These were no metaphorical seeds either, but a bunch of potato seeds that were intended to test if it’s possible to grow vegetables in space. Even though astronauts eventually adopted a different technique to grow fresh produce while orbiting Earth, this first experiment gave us the first food ever cultivated in space.

Pink margarine

Food Facts Pink margarine
This is not a sequel to the famous Dr. Seuss children’s book; it is a real story from the 1870s wherein the dairy lobby forced margarine manufacturers to tint their products pink to let consumers distinguish between butter and margarine. This smear campaign against the vegetable-based spread was dubbed "The Margarine Wars," and it lasted until 1898 when the Supreme Court struck down the ridiculous pink margarine law.

What is the filling of Kit Kats made of?

Believe it or not, the filling for the popular chocolate bar is made of broken-down Kit Kat wafers. The wafers get mashed up into a paste, and then used to fill whole sheets of wafers. Need proof? The video below details the entire Kit Kat manufacturing process:
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