LookingBack Nov. 21

Photo by Vicki Harris

Photo by Vicki Harris

Each week Albany Herald researcher Mary Braswell looks for interesting events, places and people from the past. You can contact her at (229) 888-9371 or mary.braswell@albanyherald.com.

The week of Thanksgiving is here and the table will soon be covered in a wide variety of foods. Here is a look at a smorgasbord of trivial information about all sorts of edibles.

Gobble, gobble!

* In America, a family of four consumes almost 6,000 pounds of food annually.

* The average child will eat 1,500 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches by the time he or she graduates from high school.

* The dye used to stamp the grade on meat is edible. It is made from the skins of grapes.

* Van Camp's Pork and Beans was a staple food for Union soldiers during the Civil War.

* Vanilla is the extract of fermented and dried pods of several species of orchids.

* Shredded Wheat was the first commercially manufactured breakfast cereal.

* French fries are the largest selling restaurant food item. Fries are served with an estimated 22 percent of all the meals.

* About 27 million Cokes are consumed worldwide-hourly.

* Pepperoni is America's favorite pizza topping. In Japan it is squid, Australians prefer eggs, and pickled ginger is the favorite in India.

* Pan Am was the first airline to serve hot food to passengers. The year was 1935.

* The smaller the size of the berry, the sweeter.

* Aunt Jemima pancake flour, introduced in 1889, was the first ready-mix food available to American housewives and cooks.

* In total, there have been 37 kinds of animals in animal crackers since 1902.

* The only fruit with its seeds on the outside is the strawberry.

* Celery was given as an award to athletes in Ancient Greece.

* Lemon slices were first served with fish in the Middle Ages. It was believed that the acid from the juice would dissolve any accidentally swallowed bones.

* An apple, when fresh, is made up of about 25 percent air. This accounts for the fun involved when "bobbing" for them.

* Two-thirds of the world's eggplant is grown in New Jersey.

* Astronaut John Glenn ate the first meal in outer space when he dined on pureed applesauce from a tube aboard Friendship 7 in 1962.

* Sliced bread was introduced under the Wonder Bread label in 1930.

* Originally (1930), Birdseye called its frozen food "frosted food".

* The first Happy Meal was circus-wagon themed and cost $1. The 1979 meal included a hamburger or cheeseburger, small fries, small drink, cookie sampler and a toy. Some of the first prizes given were puzzle books, stencils, pencil erasers, ID bracelets and wallets.

* The first Dunkin Donuts and the first Howard Johnson's were in Quincy, Mass.

* An ear of corn always has an even number of rows.

* Avocados are about 22 percent fat.

* Chocolate manufacturers use about 40 percent of the world's production of almonds and 20 percent of the peanuts.

* Unlike most fruits, pears ripen better off the tree.

* It takes 3,500 calories to make a pound of fat.

* Each American eats about 22 pounds of tomatoes each year. Over half of that consumption is in the form of tomato sauce and/or ketchup.

* It takes over 300 gallons of water to grow one pound of rice. Rice is the staple food of more than half of the world's population.

* In Japan, Gerber's top selling baby food is a sardine dish.

* The Dough Nut was popular on cattle drives in the 1800s. The first of these were made of raised dough with a nut in the center and no hole. When fried, it was usually in bear grease.

* In 1919, the United States Alcohol Company owned the largest molasses storage tank in Boston. The steel structure was ninety feet in diameter, fifty-two feet in height and was filled to the top with 2.3 million gallons of molasses. Shortly before noon on Jan. 15, the vat exploded. Twenty-one people were killed in the flood.

* An etiquette writer in the 1840s advised: "Ladies may wipe their hands on the tablecloth, but not blow their noses on it."

* During the Alaskan Gold Rush of 1897-98, miners traded gold for potatoes because they were so valued for their vitamin C content.

* Fried chicken is the most popular food ordered in sit-down restaurants in the United States-- roast beef is second.

* On average in the U.S., a pound of potato chips cost 200 times more than a pound of potatoes.

* It is estimated than less than half of the home-cooked meals in the U.S. include vegetables.

* Apple cider, unlike apple juice, is made from the entire fruit, including the seeds and skin. This accounts for the fuller body and deeper color. Juice is pasteurized, cider is not.

* The Pillsbury Bake Off was first held in 1949 and carried a $50,000 prize. Today the prize is $1 million. The main rule today for the Pillsbury Bake Off is that contestants must use at least two products from a list of products made by Pillsbury.

* In 17th century Europe, it was believed that potatoes were to blame for outbreaks of leprosy and syphilis. As late as 1720 in America, eating potatoes was believed to shorten one's life.

* The National Biscuit Company (Nabisco) introduced the Oreo Biscuit in 1912. The name was changed to Oreo Creme Sandwich in 1958. The Oreo was introduced in 1996 to China and by 2006 was the country's top-selling cookie. There are, by the way, 12 "flowers" on the design stamped on each side with four petals each.

* Baskin-Robbins introduced a new flavor when man landed on the moon July 20, 1969. It was called Lunar Cheesecake.

* French toast was originally called German toast in America. The name was changed in 1918 as a way to remove all things German from the American lexicon. Sauerkraut was known during that time as "liberty cabbage."

* The flavor of bubble gum comes from the fusion of vanilla, wintergreen and cassia, a form of cinnamon.

It is said...

"I come from a family where gravy is considered a beverage." -- Erma Bombeck

"My doctor told me to stop having intimate dinners for four; unless there are three other people." -- Orson Welles

"Researchers have discovered that chocolate produces some of the same reactions in the brain as marijuana. The researchers also discovered other similarities between the two but can't remember what they are." -- Matt Lauer

"You better cut the pizza in four pieces, because I'm not hungry enough to eat six." -- Yogi Berra

"The only time to eat diet food is while you're waiting for the steak to cook." -- Julia Child