| 1. Why is Milk white?
Those chalky-white mustaches that color our lips after chugging down a refreshing ice-cold glass of creamy milk is caused by the protein called Casein.
Rich in calcium, Casein helps contribute to milk's white color.
In addition, the cream that is found in milk contains white colored fat. The more cream in milk the more white it is.
Low and non-fat milk appear more grayish rather than white because they contain less cream.
Another reason milk looks white to our naked eyes is because some objects do not absorb very much light. Rather than absorb light, these objects reflect light. For instance, red colored objects reflect only red light and absorb the other colors of light in the rainbow spectrum. The molecules that make up Casein and cream reflect light. That's why milk is white.
| 2. Why is it called a "hamburger" when there is no ham in it?
Why is it "Where's the beef" when it should be where's the ham?
The answer is really quite simple: because Hamburg, Germany made the first hamburgers.
However, the history of the hamburger is actually more complicated. Who actually invented the first hamburger remains a mystery.
Some say it was a group of nomadic people called the Tartars who tenderized their beef by placing it under a horse's saddle--flattening it into a patty. Others believe it was the German immigrants who traveled to the United States during the 19th century bringing with them their favorite meal called Hamburg Style Beef-- a raw chopped, piece of beef. Some argue Americans placed the first cooked beef patty on a roll at the St. Louis World's Fair in 1921.
Although beef is the most popular meat used in hamburgers, other meats such as pork and turkey have been used.
Ever since Bob's Big Boy introduced the first double patty burger, new varieties of burgers have been created. Today people enjoy veggie burgers, turkey burgers, and quarter-pound burgers with many different toppings including lettuce, mushrooms, cheese, onions, tomatoes, ketchup, mustard, and pickles.
Hamburgers remain one of the most favorite foods among Americans today.
Ranking #1 among all restaurants with 26,000 stores in 119 countries, McDonald's serves billions of hamburgers worldwide.
On average, Americans eat 3 hamburgers a week.
McDonald's has sold 12 hamburgers for every person in the world.
60% of all sandwiches eaten are hamburgers.
| 3. What are hot dogs made of?
Are hot dogs really made from pigs' snouts and unused meat scraps? Contrary to popular belief, hot dogs are not made from left-over meat laying around on the floors of meat-packing houses. Whether it is pork or beef that is stuffed into a hot dog, the meat trimmings are carefully selected just like the meat you buy in your grocer's coolers.
Most recipes for hot dogs combine together a tasty blend of favorite meats (pork, beef, chicken, or turkey), meat fat, a cereal filler which could be either bread crumbs, flour, or oatmeal, a little bit of egg white, and a mouth-watering array of herbs and seasonings including garlic, pepper, ground mustard, nutmeg, salt, and onion.
Once these ingredients are grinded together, the stuffing is squeezed into sausage casings. Many of the hot dogs sold in stores are enclosed in synthetic cellulose casings, but most home-made hot dogs are made out of natural animal intestines.
Following the stuffing process is the pre-cooking cycle in which the hot dog links are tossed into boiling water for approximately 15 minutes. Finally, the dogs are packaged, loaded on delivery trucks, and sent off to food markets.
Hot dogs are popular among Americans because they are easy to make, inexpensive, and delicious. Hot dogs can be prepared in a number of great ways--nuke-em, grill-em, sauté-em, roast-em, fry-em or boil-em.
What is your favorite type of hot dog? - a chili dog, a cheese dog, or a foot-long dog? A multitude of toppings can enhance the flavor of your hot dog. Common toppings used on hot dogs include ketchup, mustard, onions, relish, chili, cheese, and sauerkraut.
Hot dog lingo. Hot dogs are also called franks, frankfurter, weiner, mini sausages, ball parks, and dachshund.
| 4. Why do Onions make us cry?
It is not the strong odor of the onion that makes us cry, but the gas that the onion releases when we sever this member of the lily family.
The onion itself contains oil, which contains sulfur, an irritant to both our noses and to our eyes. Cutting an onion arouses a gas contained within the onion, propanethiol S-oxide, which then couples with the enzymes in the onion to emit a passive sulfur compound. When this upwardly mobile gas encounters the water produced by the tear ducts in our eyelids, it produces sulfuric acid.
In response to the caustic acid, our eyes automatically blink, and produce tears which irrigate the eye, and which flush out the sulfuric acid.
Another reflex to rid the eyes of a foreign substance, that of rubbing our eyes with our hands, often exacerbates the situation, because our hands are coated with the caustic, sulfuric acid producing oil from cutting the onion, which we then rub directly into our eyes.
Much to our chagrin, the only remedy for ridding the onion of its pungent, irritating oil is to boil it, not to slice it or dice it.
| 5. How is chewing gum made?
All recipes for chewing gum manufactured today share the same main ingredients: a gum base, sweeteners, primarily sugar and corn syrup, and flavorings. Some also contain softeners, such as glycerin and vegetable oil. The amount of each added to the mix varies as to which type of gum is being manufactured. For example, bubble gum contains more of the gum base, so that your bubbles don't burst…especially during class!
Though gum manufacturers carefully guard their recipes, they all share the same basic process to reach the finished product. Preparation of the gum base at the factory, by far the lengthiest step, requires that the raw gum materials be melted down in sterilized in a steam cooker, and then pumped to a high-powered centrifuge to rid the gum base of undesirable dirt and bark.
Once the factory workers clean the melted gum base, they combine approximately 20% of the base with 63% sugar, 16% corn syrup, and 1% flavoring oils, such as spearmint, peppermint, and cinnamon. While still warm, they run the mixture between pairs of rollers, which are coated on both sides with powdered sugar, to prevent the resulting ribbon of gum from sticking. The final pair of rollers comes fully equipped with knives, which snip the ribbon into sticks, which yet another machine individually wraps.
The gum base used in these recipes is, for the most part, manufactured, due to economic constraints. In the good old days, the entire gum base came directly from the milky white sap, or chicle, of the sapodilla tree found in Mexico and in Guatemala. There, natives collect the chicle by the bucketful, boil it down, mold it into 25-pound blocks, and ship it directly to chewing gum factories. Those with little or no self-restraint, chew their chicle directly from the tree, as did New England settlers, after watching Indians do the same.
The concept of chewing gum stuck, and continues to play a vital role in our economy, largely due to the many benefits associated with its use. Sales of chewing gum first began in the early 1800s. Later, in the 1860s, chicle was imported as a substitute for rubber, and finally, in approximately the 1890s, for use in chewing gum.
The pure pleasure derived from enraging a schoolteacher by blowing bubbles in class, or from annoying a co-worker by snapping it, is only one of the attractions of chewing gum. Chewing gum actually helps to clean the teeth, and to moisturize the mouth, by stimulating saliva production, which helps to neutralize tooth-decay-forming acids left behind after eating fermented food.
The muscular action of chewing gum also helps to curb a person's appetite for a snack or for a cigarette, to concentrate, to stay alert, to ease tension, and to relax one's nerves and muscles. For these very reasons, the armed forces supplied soldiers with chewing gum in World War I, World War II, in Korea, and in Vietnam. Today, chewing gum is still included in field and combat rations. In fact, the Wrigley Company, following the Department of Defense specifications supplied to government contractors, supplied chewing gum for the distribution to troops stationed in Saudi Arabia during the Persian Gulf War. It is safe to say that chewing gum has served our country well.
| 6. How is chocolate made?
The creation of this confection is tedious and time-consuming, and has both a sweet and a bittersweet ending. Initially, skilled workers cut ripe cacao bean pods from the cacao tree, split them open, and scrape out the pulp contained inside. After the mass of pulp ferments for a few days, workmen spread it in the hot sun to dry, separate the dried seeds from the remainder of the pulp, and bag them for shipment to the market.
Once the bagged seeds arrive at their destination, the manufacturer's processing mill, they are cleaned to remove foreign material. Next, they are roasted, to loosen their husks, which are then literally blown away in yet another process. Finally, the inner kernel of the seed is broken into bits called "nibs." At this juncture, the road in the chocolate making process forks, as what is done next with the nibs determines the final product.
When the nibs are ground under heavy stone mills, the oil within the nibs is released, and transforms the mass into "chocolate liquor," a thick substance which, upon hardening, produces the bitter chocolate used in recipes for baking and for candy-making. The method of producing sweet chocolate follows that of producing bitter chocolate, with the addition of other substances, such as cocoa butter, a fat.
Workmen obtain cocoa butter, a byproduct of the cocoa making process, by grinding the nibs, and by separating part of the fat from the resulting mass. Not only is cocoa butter an essential ingredient in producing sweet chocolate, but also in producing cosmetics and medicines. Once the cocoa butter is extracted for its various uses, the remaining mass is finely, and finally, ground to produce cocoa.
Cocoa, the drink, is the mother of all chocolate making. The ancient Aztecs prepared the original version of this beverage by crushing cacao beans, which they boiled with water and various spices, seasoned with pepper, and served cold.
Spanish explorers, who stumbled upon this potent Aztec drink, stole the recipe, deleted the pepper from it, and substituted an equal measure of sugar to the crushed cacao beans and water before boiling it. The Spaniards successfully squirreled away their new and improved drink recipe for almost 100 years until, in the mid 17th century, a Frenchman found sweet success by discovering the art of making solid chocolate from finely ground cacao beans.
The secret was out, and the rest is history!
| 7. What makes popping corn pop?
Corn is a generic term to describe the fruit (grain) of cereal plants in particular. In Britain corn generally refers to wheat. However, in the US, the word corn refers to maize. Popping corn is just one of the many varieties of maize grown commercially.
The bulk of tissue within a grain of corn is called the endosperm. Endosperm is specialized storage tissue providing nutrients for the embryo when the seed germinates. It is also a source of carbohydrates for humans. In popcorn, the outer part of the endosperm is hard but the center is soft. When the corn is heated, the water in the central part turns to steam causing the seed to burst (the pop that you hear) and turn inside out.
| 8. Why do carbonated drinks seem to bubble more in plastic cups?
The properties and characteristics of a particular member of the plastics family, PET (polyethylene terephthalate), causes carbonated drinks to bubble more in plastic cups.
PET, a clear, strong polymer, has unsurpassed gas and moisture barrier properties. Its ability to contain carbon dioxide makes it the plastic, and the material of choice for carbonated beverage containers.
PET containers have no competition in retaining carbon dioxide, the gas responsible for the effervescent, bubbling effect. The property that gives rise to a vast number of bubbles is the unique barrier layers, which prevent the loss of carbonation. The barrier layers serve to keep the container airtight, which keeps the carbon dioxide from leaking out, and oxygen from entering. This is why containers made from PET plastic keep carbonated beverages colder, more flavorful, and fizzier.
| 9. How does caffeine affect us?
Caffeine is an addictive drug, affecting 90% of all Americans, which alters the brain's natural state, and stimulates it in a manner similar to the amphetamines cocaine and heroin.
The mechanisms employed by caffeine, cocaine, and heroin, are to close blood vessels in the brain, so the brain and body cannot sleep, to cause the release of adrenaline into the body, so the body remains active and alert, and to manipulate dopamine production in the brain, so the person experiences a temporary "high."
Caffeine may be found in its natural state in many plants, including tea leaves, coffee beans, and cocoa nuts. The pure form of caffeine is a bitter, white, crystalline powder derived from the decaffeinating process of coffee and tea. The vast number of products in which caffeine comes, range from coffee, to tea, to colas, to milk chocolate, and to pain relievers, just to mention a few.
Most people are unaware of caffeine's addictive properties. Those who consume 300 mg. or more per day, suffer from withdrawal symptoms if they abruptly cut off their caffeine supply. Most users will suffer from symptoms of fatigue and depression, irritability, tremors, jumpiness, deprivation of deep sleep, and vascular headaches, as the blood vessels in the brain dilate. Caffeine, however, can be medically useful as a cardiac stimulant, and also as a mild diuretic used to flush the system.
One of the mechanisms that caffeine addiction, cocaine addiction, and heroin addiction share, is that they block an adenosine's ability to slow the nerve cells' activity in preparation for sleep, and instead increase the speed of their activity and of the neuron firing in the brain. The caffeine causes the blood vessels in the brain to constrict, because it has blocked the adenosine's ability to open them to allow sleep. The ability of caffeine to close the blood vessels is why many pain relievers contain caffeine. If a person has a vascular headache, the caffeine in the medicine will shut down the blood vessels, thus easing the pain.
The increased neuron firing in the brain triggers the pituitary glands to release hormones that tell the adrenal glands to produce adrenaline, also known as epinephrine. Adrenaline, the "fight-or-flight" hormone, gives the user's body a boost, and heightens the person's alertness.
One final mechanism caffeine, cocaine, and heroin share, is their ability to manipulate dopamine production. Dopamine, a neurotransmitter, activates the "pleasure centers" in certain parts of the brain, and simply makes a person feel good. Naturally, the pleasurable effect produced by dopamine manipulation plays a prominent role in caffeine addiction.
The short-term effects resulting from caffeine consumption, such as alertness, renewed energy, and pleasure, may not necessarily outweigh the longer-term effects of caffeine addiction. Caffeine, despite its similarities to amphetamines, has side effects that are not nearly as severe, and withdrawal symptoms that are, generally, not life-threatening.
| 10. Why does caffeine keep us awake?
Caffeine interrupts our daily sleeping patterns by altering the chemical reactions in our brain.
An addictive drug that 90% of Americans consume every day, caffeine prevents us from getting our ZZZZs by increasing nerve activity in our bodies-keeping us alert and hyperactive.
After drinking a hot cup of caffeinated coffee, the caffeine causes three different chemical reactions that boost our energy levels:
* It energizes us by pumping the hormone adrenaline into our systems.
* It increases dopamine levels within our bodies. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that stimulates our "pleasure areas" in our brain making us feel good.
* It blocks the connection of adenosine to nerve cells. Adenosine is the chemical that attaches to receptors in the brain and causes drowsiness by slowing down nerve cells activity.
The addictive and mood altering effects caused by caffeine consumption has had an increasing impact on the soft drink industry. Over the past 25 years, the amount of soda consumed by Americans has doubled. For instance, Americans spent $54 billion on 15 billion gallons of soda in 1998.
Fifteen billion gallons of soda is the equivalent to every American chugging down 585 12-once cans per year!
Today, 70% of all sodas in the United States contain caffeine. Teenagers especially have become dependent on caffeinated sodas or what many refer to as "liquid candy." Teenage boys and girls drink about twice as much "liquid candy" as milk, whereas twenty years ago they drank twice as much milk as soda.
While many soda companies argue that caffeine is necessary to a soft drink's flavor, many researchers have shown that most people are hooked to a soda's caffeine content-NOT its taste. Most people can't tell the difference between caffeinated and uncaffeinated soft drinks. Soda guzzlers prefer the soft drink brands that contain caffeine because the caffeine stimulates alertness and boosts of energy.
| 11. Why do bananas get bruised as they age?
Bananas do not bruise as they age, unless they are mishandled.
Liken the black spots on bananas to the liver spots on mature adults…they appear with age, even if they go untouched. The hormone ethylene, a ripening agent found in the skin of the banana, transforms a green banana into the appealing yellow fruit we purchase at the market.
Ethylene, however, continues the ripening process, which gives the banana a "bruised" appearance, and eventually turns the banana black in color. There is no switch to turn off this process, but by placing the banana in a cool place, one can slow the process. The refrigerator is no place for a banana, because this is certain to blacken it prematurely. The cold air, to which the banana is exposed, causes the production of blackening compounds known as polyphenals.