This web log serves as a forum for news, views and discussion about all things related to the science of food: food chemistry, microbiology, engineering, process technology, and nutrition. Also discussed are issues related to food safety, GMO foods, organic foods, health and wellness, and news about what's going on in the PSU Food Science Department.
Though it was domesticated more than 3,000 years ago, the editors of the recently published "The World of
Soy" state that hardly any other food plant is as modern as the
soybean - or as controversial [MORE].
Long before paper, gunpowder and the compass, the Chinese had invented
yet another staple of human civilization. A coil of dry noodles,
preserved for 4,000 years, sat beneath an overturned earthenware bowl
at an archaeological site in northeastern China. In 2005,
archaeologists discovered the spaghetti-like tangle, effectively
settling the score about whether the Chinese, Italians or Arabs began
producing pasta first. But as any gourmand worth an ounce of orzo will quickly tell you, there isn't a grain of truth to Polo as the pasta pioneer.
The sad yet, in its own commemorative way, triumphant news of the death of Frederick J. Bauer, the man who designed the packaging for Pringles potato chips
(and whose ashes were buried in just such a Pringles can—the man
ultimately consumed, in his own design) brings to mind two of the great
scientific endeavors that involved Pringles potato chips. The chips are
famous for being identically shaped — if you have mapped one Pringles
chip, you have mapped them all.
Not long ago, Charles Spence of Oxford University and colleague Massimiliano Zampini “investigated whether the perception of the crispness and staleness of potato chips can be affected by modifying the sounds produced during the biting action.” For details, see our May 23, 2006 Guardian column, and for further details consult the special Fish & Chips issue
of the Annals of Improbable Research (or just glance to your right
here, to see Dr. Zampini—biting a Pringle—on the magazine cover).
The other Pringles-related research recalled to mind if the study ”
The Aerodynamics of Potato Chips” by Scott Sandford et al., published
long ago in the very first issue of the Annals of Improbable Research, and reprinted in the book Best of Annals of Improbable Research. Dr. Sandford’s team did investigate the aerodynamic properties of Pringles, as well as of other chip types.
(Thanks to investigators Sally Shelton and Mary Kroner for bringing Mr. Baur’s historic passing to our attention.)
Ketchup and mustard are the king and queen of picnic faire (if you exclude the ever increasing sales of salsa). But why are the two positioned so uniquely in the condiment market? There are seemingly endless types of mustard; yellow, brown, Dijon, Dusseldorf, horseradish style - many more are mentioned here. But only one kind of ketchup seems to survive. Malcom Gladwell of Gladwell.com looks at the history of ketchup and recent product development efforts here.