Written by: Erin Decker, MS, RDN, LDN, CDCES
Turns out that April is National Humor Month, and it comes right after National Nutrition Month. So, it is only natural that this month’s blog would be about fun food facts. Not to mention, it is being posted on April Fool’s Day!
Why National Humor Month?
National Humor Month was founded by comedian, author, and speaker Larry Wilde who was on a mission to bring awareness to the benefits of laughing and humor on our health and wellbeing.
There are several proposed benefits of humor and laughter on our physical and emotional health. A Google search for “benefits of laughter” brings up a number of results, ranging from a reduction in stress hormones, facilitating connection with others, and offering a physical and emotional release from uncomfortable thoughts and feelings.
But are these benefits backed by science? While randomized controlled trials (the “gold standard” of research) are limited, there are certainly reports of laughter being used and showing benefits in a number of settings, including cancer, mental health, and general health care.
So, bottom line? Laughter may not be a proven cure to all ailments, but there are no risks and only potential benefits.
Finding the Fun in Food
As a dietitian, I often see the mental and emotional toll that diets take on us. Sometimes focusing on our diet improves our health, however sometimes it can cause more harm than good when it comes to our emotional wellbeing. Based on this observation, I decided to take some space today to bring some humor and fun back into nutrition! After searching the internet for funny food facts, I decided to research and see if they were true or false. Here’s what I learned:
10 Fun Food Facts
Ketchup used to be medicine.
In the 1800s, the claim is that ketchup was thought to be the cure for a variety of ailments, including indigestion and diarrhea. Is there any truth to this?
Well, kind of. Ketchup was originally tomato-free and was made from fermented fish in Ancient China. It was used to add a rich, salty, and savory flavor to dishes.
In the 1830s, Dr. John Cook Bennet was the first to add tomatoes to this condiment. He claimed that tomatoes, previously limited in American diets, actually had many health benefits. This claim took off and soon there were many varieties of tomato products and ketchup on the market claiming to be a cure-all.
Eventually, the public started to give these products the side-eye when many turned out to not contain tomato compounds at all, and the craze died out.
Today, we know Dr. Bennett was on to something; tomatoes are rich in antioxidants such as lycopene and vitamin C. Antioxidants are helpful for reducing inflammation and promoting heart health. That being said, like many of the supplements on the market today, we know that isolating these compounds is complicated and not likely to have the same impacts as eating a variety of whole, nutrient-dense foods.
American cheese is not American.
This claim suggests that American cheese was first invented by Swiss alchemists Waltz Gerber and Fritz Stettle. James Kraft, however, was doing the same process independently in the United States, and he was the first to patent the product in 1916. This became the beginning of what we know of today as Kraft Singles.
So, is American cheese actually American? I guess that depends on what you consider American. The Kraft singles you find at the store were in fact founded in the United States.
Human DNA is 60% the same as bananas.
A geneticist might say this is somewhere between “false” and “it’s complicated”. That being said, I am not a geneticist, so take my interpretation with a grain of salt.
I found no evidence to support this claim, though I did find a complicated explanation that in this type of claim, the words you use matter. “DNA” is incredibly broad and not that the meaningful.
It seems to be true that humans share a significant amount of genetic material with all living things (including bananas.) Most of this genetic material provides the basis for metabolic processes and DNA replication itself.
Produce can be “too ugly” to sell.
This is true! The USDA has quality standards for fresh produce, and grocers may have their own standards for what they will stock.
That being said, “ugly” produce does not necessarily go to waste. They may be fed to animals, sold at farmers’ markets, reincorporated into the soil, and there are some produce delivery services connecting consumers with produce that may be unattractive but still usable.
Peppers have more vitamin C than oranges.
According to the USDA food database, this is true! That being said, many factors can influence the vitamin and mineral content of foods, including where they were grown and in what conditions, ripeness, travel time prior to consumption, and even the variety of produce.
According to the database, yellow and red peppers are two-to-three times higher in vitamin C than an orange, while green peppers are just slightly higher.
|Produce||Vitamin C Content (mg)|
There is a Spam Museum.
This is true (and easy to find!) It’s in Minnesota. They also offer free, live virtual tours daily!
Nutmeg can cause hallucinations.
This is kind of true. Myristicin is a chemical found in nutmeg and some other naturally occurring herbs and spices that can cause undesirable symptoms at high doses. This compound affects the sympathetic nervous system leading to symptoms such as hallucinations, drowsiness, dizziness, and even seizures.
Luckily, these symptoms don’t happen at the doses typically used in cooking and baking!
Herbs and spices offer nutritional benefits; however, there’s not a lot of research on their use, especially at high doses. Use caution when taking any herbal supplement and be sure to check with your doctor and dietitian before use.
Jello is not vegetarian.
True! Jello is made with gelatin, a compound that is derived from animal bones. This is the same compound that thickens your homemade stock or bone broth as it cools.
Fruit loops are all the same flavor.
According to a 2014 Time Magazine report, this is true, and apparently was confirmed by Kelloggs in 1999. Disappointed? Me too.
Cotton candy was created by a dentist.
So, was he truly an avid inventor or just investing in job security? Turns out he was multi-passionate. He had interests in science and politics, and he even authored a number of children’s books.
I hope this article puts a smile on your face today! And if you find yourself feeling down about food these days, you’re not alone. Food and nutrition can be overwhelming. Learn more about our nutrition services and book an appointment with one of our registered dietitians!