Cinnamon storks, breakfast-based mind control, and other weird food facts

this has nothing to do with anything, I just thought they were cool

this has nothing to do with anything, I just thought they were cool

If you’re ever assembling a team for a pub quiz, don’t invite me.

I’m great at the pub part….it’s the quizzing that lets me down. Last time I was any help at a pub quiz they were having a special Jaws themed night, and I really should’ve been excluded on the grounds of fairness since I’ve been obsessed with that film since childhood.

Just in case there’s a food-themed quiz night heading your way, or you simply wish to dazzle people with knowledge, here are some fascinating facts I dredged up from the internet.

Did you know?…

1. The world’s first cookbook was written in Greece in 330BC. This doesn’t surprise me since Greek food is awesome. After a long day hunting woolly mammoths, there’s nothing more satisfying than an icy Mythos and a plate of saganaki.

2. Cheese was invented by an Arab nomad. Traversing through the desert, our hardy nomad decided to store his precious supply of milk in a handy animal stomach (as you do). Animal stomachs contain the curdling enzyme, rennet, so, by the time the Arab was ready for his lunch time milk, it had hardened into lunch time cheese. He ate it anyway because, really, in the middle of the desert what choice do you have?

I made my own cheese once, sans animal stomach

I made my own cheese once, sans animal stomach

3. Arabs started a cinnamon racket to drive up prices. Once upon a time, the western world had no clue where cinnamon came from. Arab merchants wanted to preserve the spice’s exclusive status so they told European traders that giant storks used cinnamon sticks to build their nests. According to these wily merchants, the storks had to be lured from their nests with slabs of meat while some brave soul collected the cinnamon. It doesn’t say much for Europeans that they fell for this until the 1400s when some Portuguese stumbled upon cinnamon trees in Sri Lanka. Doh.

4. Saffron is the most expensive spice in the world. Why? Because it comes from a sterile plant that no longer grows in the wild. Saffron is so precious that, in the 1300s, the Germans enacted the Safranschou Code which made tampering with the spice illegal. To really bring the message home, they roasted some poor saffron fiddler over a fire of his own faux-saffron product.

5. Bacon + eggs = mind control. You can thank Edward Bernays for this one. In the 1920s, the founding father of PR was struggling for a way to boost bacon sales for his client, the Beech-Nut Packing Company. Bernays decided to use his uncle Sigmund Freud’s techniques to convince the American public that bacon and eggs were the quintessential breakfast combo. He did such a good job at worming this message into the public consciousness that bacon and egg sales soared and even today you rarely get one without the other. I feel a little violated, but I’m not complaining.

thanks Eddie!

thanks Eddie!

6. The world’s most expensive coffee just got even more gross. It used to be that the world’s most expensive coffee was gathered from the droppings of a civet cat. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen a civet cat, but I’d be wary of consuming anything that had passed through the digestive tract of something that looks like a hairy Yoda. Anyways, if that wasn’t bad enough – a resort in Thailand has now begun producing even more expensive coffee. From elephant poo.

Apparently it’s got a ‘chocolately, floral’ taste to it. Y’know, alongside the subtle undertones of elephant intestine.

I toyed with the idea of putting a photo of the coffee-makers extracting elephant dung but then decided on this sleepy baby elephant instead. Awwwww.

I toyed with the idea of putting a photo of the coffee-makers extracting elephant dung but then decided on this sleepy baby elephant instead. Awwwww.

Weigh in: Would you drink elephant dung coffee? Did you know where cinnamon comes from? Are you a bacon n’ eggs fan?

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5 thoughts on “Cinnamon storks, breakfast-based mind control, and other weird food facts

  1. This was awesome! I learned a few things.
    The price of saffron always bums me out a bit – but I didn’t realize it’s from a sterile plant. And the elephant poo coffee does not sound delicious! I’ll stick to my locally roasted and poo-free beans, thankyouverymuch. 🙂

  2. No way. Never thought of it but always assumed it came from a tree. BIG fan, ever since I moved to Northern Ireland. But I need to make them myself,I don’t like soggy eggs and very fat bacon :-).

  3. After they sucked out a quart and half fat from me through plastic surgery … I promise to watch what i put in my mouth … Sorry … if it sounds like am bragging … Breakfast is great for you … Most of the time ,,, I eat protein diet and less carbohydrate … unless it is sweet … And pork and it’s derivatives are no no for me …

  4. The coffee thing really surprised me. What is up with getting coffee out of poo? No thanks. The bacon and eggs was interesting too. There are probably a lot of things in our current worlds that started as a marketing to sell more of something. It would be interesting to see a list of all the things that started that way.

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