Whether you consider food solely as fuel or you eat to taste every flavor and texture, everyone needs food to survive and carry out their daily tasks. In fact, every American eats about 1,996 pounds of food per year. How insane is that? Whether you crave Hershey kisses or reach for a plate of carrots, here are 100 fun facts about food that might surprise you. To learn other interesting foodie tidbits, check out our 100 Craziest Fast Food Facts.
Do you hate getting things stuck to the roof of your mouth? You’re not alone; you might have arachibutyrophobia. Arachibutyrophobia is the fear of getting peanut butter stuck to the roof of your mouth.
Even though Spam is a popular Hawaiian treat, the home of spam is in Minnesota. There’s even a spam museum.
The mushroom capital of the world is located in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania. They are the largest exporters of mushrooms, followed by California.
Pound cake is called pound cake because there was a pound of every ingredient in the original recipe.
The Mayan and Aztec cultures were the first to make “hot chocolate.” This precursor to hot chocolate was used for religious ceremonies such as coming of age celebrations as well as weddings.
Honey is basically bee vomit. Some bees are “forager” bees, which collect nectar from flowering plants. The foragers drink the nectar and keep it in their “honey stomach.” When the forager bee takes the nectar back to the hive, it regurgitates the nectar into the honey stomach of the “processor” bee near the entrance to the hive, which regurgitates it on the hive and allows it to ripen.
Yams and sweet potatoes are not the same things. They are actually different.
Although most carrots are orange, it turns out that it wasn’t always that way. The original carrots were purple and yellow.
Ever curious as to why students have always gifted apples to teachers? It’s because from the 16th to 18th-century teachers salaries were so low, students families would compensate for that by providing them with apples (which were a common crop during this time period).
Your favorite foods contain bug fragments! The FDA allows trace amount of bug parts in everyday items.
When you have wasabi with your sushi, it’s not always real wasabi! Sometimes it’s flavored horseradish.
Ever wonder what makes jelly beans shiny? It’s the same thing that makes your gel manicure shiny: shellac. It will appear on your food label under the guise of “confectioner’s glaze.”
Too much of a spice can be a bad thing, and nutmeg is no exception. If you have two or more teaspoons of the spice, it can actually cause hallucinations!
Next time you’re feeling dehydrated and don’t feel like drinking water, try snacking on a cucumber; it’s 96 percent water.
Products with gelatin in them aren’t exactly vegetarian or vegan-friendly. Why? Gelatin is made from boiling skin, cartilage and bones from animals such as pigs, cows, and chickens.
If you’re making your daily lemon water, you’ll notice that lemons float. They float because they have similar density to water!
Almonds are seeds, not nuts. According to Plant Information Center, nuts are “a one-seeded, dry, indehiscent fruit with a hard pericarp, usually derived from a one-loculed ovary” but an almond is actually a “drupe.” The Plant Information Center defines a drupe as “a fleshy fruit with a stony endocarp.”
Peanuts are actually an ingredient in dynamite. They have an oil in them called glycerol that’s used to create nitroglycerin, a key ingredient in dynamite.
American cheese has been available since the 1950s and was manufactured by James L. Kraft. Unlike real cheese, American slices are actually a “pasteurized prepared cheese product.” (In fact, that’s why they are branded as “American singles” instead of “American cheese.”) By FDA definition, cheese products have at least 51 percent cheese—the rest is milk and additives.
You can make sure your cranberries are fresh by throwing it on the counter and seeing if it bounces back to you.
Documents in Syria imply that olive oil around 2,000 BCE was five times more valuable than wine and two and a half times that of seed oils.
A majority of the balsamic vinegar sold in the United States isn’t legit because it’s not from “Modena” even though labels might suggest it. Real Balsamic vinegar “must be aged for at least 12 or 25 years, and most importantly, it’s made with Trebbiano grapes, thanks to the optimal climate conditions of the city, so it has a thick consistency.”
Although Brits are famous for their tea obsession, it was an American who ultimately revolutionized the leafy drink. New Yorker Thomas Sullivan is credited with creating tea bags. He would send samples of the product in silk bags and people started to throw them into the teapot. And, that’s how tea bags came to be. The rest is history.
Artificial Vanilla Flavoring
Be cautious next time you bake or buy something vanilla-flavored because artificial vanilla has castoreum, which is a product that comes from a gland in a beaver’s butt.
Carmine is what gives red skittles or candies their ruby hue. Carmine is made with boiled, cochineal bugs, aka beetles.
Everyone’s favorite store-bought salad dressing has a weird ingredient. Ranch, for example, contains titanium dioxide, which is what’s used in sunscreen to give it its bright white color.
Although Froot Loops come in many colors, they’re all, in fact, the same “froot flavor.”
The most expensive ice cream sundae can be found at Serendipity 3 in New York City. The sundae has Tahitian vanilla cream with a 23-karat gold leaf, almonds, caviar, and a sugar-encrusted orchid. It takes eight hours to make and comes in a $350 Baccarat crystal goblet (with more gold leaf) and an 18-karat gold spoon.
During the 17th century, pretzels came to symbolize undying love. According to lore in 1614, a Swiss royal couple used a pretzel in their wedding to seal their bond and some historians believe this is where “tying the knot” came from.
Afraid of whipping up a meal? You might have mageirocophobia, also known as the fear of cooking. While it sounds super scary, it’s fairly common.
During the 1830s ketchup was said to have medicinal properties. People thought it would cure diarrhea, indigestion, jaundice, and rheumatism.
M&M’s stands for Mars & Murrie, who created the famous candy.
Popsicles were invented by 11-year-old Frank Epperson when he left a mixture of powdered soda, water and a mixing stick out overnight in freezing temperatures.
The first food to ever be consumed in space was applesauce.
Weirdly enough, cotton candy was actually invented in 1897 by a dentist. He partnered with a confectioner and they created cotton candy, which at the time was called “Fairy Floss.” Eventually, another dentist created a similar fairy floss machine in 1921 and called the confection “cotton candy,” which stuck better than the previous name.
Breaking news: White chocolate isn’t really chocolate. White chocolate doesn’t contain the dark chocolate cacao solids, which means it’s not chocolate. It does contain a ton of cocoa butter.
Everyone knows that iconic commercial about how many licks it takes to get to the center of tootsie pop. The truth is that it can take anywhere from 144-411 licks to get to the center.
The name of Pez candy from the German word for peppermint, “pfefferminz.” Pez originally marketed them as an anti-smoking device. In fact, there 1920s slogan was, “Smoking prohibited, PEZing allowed.”
This candy was originally called this because they have pieces of vanilla, strawberry and chocolate candy in them! During World War II, due to rations, they converted it to just chocolate.
The Yubari cantaloupe is the most expensive fruit in the entire world. They have been auctioned off for as much as $27,295.
A pomegranate can actually have any number of seeds.
Apples (Part 2!)
Some apples you buy in the supermarket can be over a year old! They are still fresh because they were held in cold storage.
Sadly, carrots do not really improve your night vision, but if you have too many carrots, your skin can turn orange.
Potatoes were the first vegetables ever planted in space. They were first brought into space in October 1995 while abroad Space Shuttle Columbia in its Microgravity Astroculture Laboratory.
In ancient Egypt, radishes, as well as onions and garlic, were given to workers as wages. These were provided to workers because they helped with infectious disease.
Asparagus loses its flavor the quickest out of any vegetable; therefore, it’s best to eat it the day of purchase.
Before Milton Hershey created his famous Hershey chocolate, he owned the Lancaster Caramel Company. He started to coat his caramels in chocolate and the rest is history.
Pufferfish is a delicacy in Japan, despite the Tetrodotoxin it has in it. If the fish isn’t prepared correctly, it can easily kill the enamored eater. Since it’s so dangerous, chefs are required to train two-plus years and then take an extremely challenging exam (which a third of applicants fail).
French fries were actually created in Belgium not France! They are called French fries because of how they are prepared — julienned.
The first gum was from Europe over 9,00 years ago but is a far cry from the gum we know and love today. People were originally chewing birch bark.
The cream in the middle of a Twinkie isn’t cream at all. In fact, it’s mostly vegetable shortening. Also, note that a single Twinkie has 37 ingredients!
Oreos were originally called “Oreo Biscuits” when they were first produced. The oreo cookie we know and love today comes in countless flavors, but when these cookies made their debut, they launched the original chocolate cookies and a lemon meringue flavor.
Even if you don’t order nori, you’re still enjoying some seaweed in your food. Carrageenan (a type of seaweed) is commonly used as a thickening and emulsifying agent in dairy and non-dairy products, such as chocolate milk, cheese, ice cream and cottage cheese.
The word Dorito means “little golden things” in Spanish.
Honey Nut Cheerios
Do you see any nuts in Honey Nut Cheerios? Neither do we. The current recipe is actually a change from the original 1979 formulation. The first recipe did contain real ground almonds until 2006, but the nuts were replaced with “natural almond flavor.”
The holiday favorite was introduced at the second Thanksgiving in 1623.
Lollipops have been around thousands of years! Rumor has it that cavemen invented them by collecting honey from beehives with a stick and licked the stick to eat them.
Figs are made by fig wasps which mate inside the fig, leaving it to blossom.
Bell peppers have different amounts of lobes, which can help determine their use. Four lobes are sweeter and are best raw and three lobs are best cooked.
Corn is one of the most versatile crops out there. In fact, there are over 4,000 different uses for corn. It can be found in anything from your pet’s food to fireworks.
Canned White Tuna
Canned white tuna has three time mores mercury than chunk light.
Most decaf coffee still has some caffeine.
When it comes to eating an orange, there are usually 10 segments in one fruit!
Blueberries were called “Star Berries” by Native Americans because at the blossom end of the berries looks like a five-pointed star.
Leeks were a favorite of the Roman emperor Nero because he believed they helped strengthen his voice.
Strawberries are actually not berries because berries technically only have seeds on the inside and strawberry seeds are on the outside.
When early explorers saw pineapple, they thought they looked like pine cones, which is how the tropical fruit got its name.
The popular paisley pattern is actually based on the mango!
Ice cream has been around for a very long time. In fifth century BCE, the Greeks enjoyed a dish similar to ice cream and from there the love for ice cream grew.
Chocolate Chip Cookies
According to legend, the chocolate chip cookie has a ton of origin stories. Some say that Ruth Wakefield (the creator) unexpectedly ran out of nuts for ice cream cookies and used chunks of chocolate instead. Another theory is chocolate chunks fell into the industrial mixer but none of these rumors are confirmed to be true.
The first wedding cake was actually savory. Records of wedding cakes go back to ancient Rome when a groom sealed his marriage by smashing a barley cake over the bride’s head.
King Umberto I and Queen Margherita visited Naples in 1889 and they got bored of the fancy food and asked for pizza (which was a food for the poor). The queen loved the “pizza mozzarella” which was a pie topped with soft white cheese, tomatoes, and basil and from then on that combo became known as Margherita.
Thomas Jefferson is credited with making pasta popular in America. He brought over the first macaroni machine to the USA after spending time in Paris. He even created the design himself. He also was the first person to introduce mac and cheese to Americans.
If your bread goes stale, there are two easy ways to revive it. One is to run it underwater, and the other way is to heat it in the oven at 300-325 degrees Fahrenheit for six to seven minutes.
The oysters you eat are a different species from the ones that bear pearls. The kind that are eaten are called ostreids and the pearl-producing oysters are called Pterioida.
Once upon a time, lobsters were served as prison food and regarded as food for the poor since they were so plentiful.
Thomas Jefferson was quite the gardener. He introduced pasta to the U.S. as well as broccoli and other vegetables from France.
When your purchasing frozen peas, they’re frozen within two and half hours of harvest.
Green beans have tiny hairs on them that can trap bugs.
Lime was one of the cures for scurvy: a disease caused by vitamin C deficiency. Although lemons and oranges were the original vitamin C-rich fruits to cure the disease, doctors thought lime juice would be a more effective cure as they have more acid than lemon juice does.
Cauliflower isn’t just white. The veggie comes in four different colors, including orange and purple. The next time you’re shopping, pick one of the colorful cauliflowers to enjoy additional nutrients and benefits.
Raw lima beans contain a large amount of cyanide, which is lethal to humans; however, the beans are safe to eat as long as they are thoroughly cooked.
Rhubarb isn’t toxic but its leaves are. They contain oxalic acid, which can lead to stomach and kidney issues.
Contrary to popular belief, cashews aren’t nuts; they’re actually seeds. They can also be toxic due to the anacardic acid, which can cause some damage to your body.
The hottest part of the chili pepper is not the seeds, but the flesh.
Eating kiwi helps your body process protein.
No one likes onion breath. How can you get rid of it? Have a bite of some parsley.
Eggplants aren’t vegetables; they’re actually berries.
The Cavendish banana is seedless and can’t reproduce, so every banana is a clone.
If you have a latex allergy, you are likely allergic to papaya.
They are over 3,000 varieties of pears in the world and America produces 84 percent of them!
Most Greek yogurt has double the amount of protein as its regular counterpart.
Coconuts originated in the areas near the Pacific and Indian Oceans. The Pacific coconuts likely were cultivated in Philippines, Malaysia, and Indonesia whereas the Indian ones were cultivated in Sri Lanka, the Maldives, and the Laccadives.
Watermelon is the official vegetable of Oklahoma. Yes, Oklahomans consider watermelon to be a vegetable (another fun fact: it’s part of the cucumber family), but if you ask a botanist, they’ll tell you the summer produce is a fruit.
Chickpeas, garbanzo beans, sanagalu, Ceci beans, chana and Bengal gram are all the same thing. Not only do chickpeas have a ton of names, they also come in a variety of colors such as red, black, brown and pale yellow.
Oatmeal is commonly used as a stabilizer in food items such as ice cream.
If you add sugar to a vase of freshly-cut flowers, it can help prolong their life. For more on sugar, check out 6 Ways to Stop Your Sugar Addiction in Its Tracks and get tips on how to curb your sweet tooth—and lose weight—in The No-Sugar 14-Day Diet.
The heaviest tomato in the world weighed 8.61 pounds and was grown in Washington State.
Some sodas use an ingredient called sodium benzoate, which can react with the acid in soda to create benzene: a compound that has been associated with cancer. For more on soda, check out 70 Most Popular Sodas Ranked by How Toxic They Are.