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Looking Back Aug. 14

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.

From fresh vegetables to school lunches, food is such an integral part of everyday life that it often fails to get the attention deserved. Here is a look back at a cornucopia of food trivia.

* A&P is the oldest supermarket chain in America, having opened its first store in 1859. While this chain is no longer the dominant one, there are still more than 300 A&Ps in operation.

* Cotton candy is 80 percent air and 20 percent sugar.

* In the phrase "soda pop," the pop originated from the sound the bottle caps made upon removal.

* The thermal bottle was created by Reinhold Burger, a German glassblower, in 1904.

* A cupcake is called a cupcake because the original recipe called for one cup of each ingredient.

* In this age of automation and technological advances, coffee beans are still picked by hand.

* Red and/or white round potatoes, also known as boiling potatoes, are different from the russet variety because they contain more moisture and less starch.

* Carrots originated in Afghanistan and were more purple than orange.

* If the yolk of a hard-boiled egg is greenish in color, it simply means it was overcooked.

* In 1961, Jean Nidetch began a support group with other overweight housewives. "Weight Watchers" was incorporated in 1963. In 1978, the company sold to the H.J. Heinz Co. for $72 million.

* Tootsie Rolls were the first individually wrapped candies sold to the public. The year was 1896.

* Also in 1896, Thomas A. Sperry and Shelly B. Hutchinson issued the first stamp as a reward for a purchase. Later known as S&H Green Stamps, one stamp was issued for each dime spent at participating stores.

* In 1991, Kentucky Fried Chicken officially changed its name to KFC. The change came about as Americans became obsessed with cholesterol issues. It seemed a good idea to not have the word "fried" so prominent. The good news is that KFC stills "fries" its chicken.

* Regardless of what some cooks say, it really makes no difference which side of the aluminum foil is on the outside when cooking.

* Onions make us cry because they contain certain aromatic sulfuric compounds which are released when the onion is cut. The majority of those compounds are located at the bottom (root) end of the bulb.

* Cashews are in the same family as poison ivy and poison sumac. The cashew plant contains powerful chemical irritants, so handling raw cashews will cause the familiar itchy skin reaction in people sensitive to the chemicals. The irritants are found in the shell oil, but not in the nuts themselves.

* Hawaii is the state credited with the most Spam eaters. It is often eaten with pineapple.

* Robert Welch was the founder of The John Birch Society. He was also a candymaker and, in 1925, Welch created the Sugar Daddy.

* The first sugar-free soda was created by Royal Crown in 1958 under the name Diet Rite Cola.

* The all-time favorite camping treat, S'mores, was created by the Girl Scouts. The recipe appeared in a phamplet called "Tramping and Trailing with Girl Scouts" in 1927.

* The average child will eat 1,500 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches by high school graduation.

In the White House

* Herbert Hoover was fond of Virginia ham, black cherries and lobster. A rapid eater, staff was known to wager on how long it would take the president to finish a meal.

* Frankiln Delano Roosevelt's meals were generally whatever Eleanor Roosevelt wanted them to be. From creamed chipped beef to fried cornmeal mush, food was simple. A variety of cheeses were always on hand for snacking. The Queen of England was once served hotdogs while visiting The White House

* Harry S. Truman preferred traditional farm style food, like roast and fried chicken. The Trumans would bring back sorghum molasses from trips home to Missouri. It was a family favorite served on cornbread

* Dwight D. Eisenhower often ate supper on a tray in front of the television -- frozen dinners and soup were favorites.

* John F. Kennedy enjoyed French cuisine, but also loved New England clam chowder, corn muffins and baked beans.

* Lyndon B. Johnson loved Fresca so much that a soda dispenser was installed in the Oval Office. LBJ was also fond of sweet potatoes with marshmallows.

* Richard Nixon requested that fresh yogurt be flown in from California daily. Breakfast was usually cottage cheese and fruit -- sometimes topped with ketchup.

* Gerald Ford's favorite meal was pot roast, red cabbage and butter pecan ice cream.

* Jimmy Carter likes cornbread and sirloin steak (medium rare), as well as peanuts and pecans.

* Ronald Reagan was a big fan of jelly beans -- licorice-flavored ones, in fact. His sweet tooth went beyond candy to pumpkin pecan pie, monkey bread, ice cream and a lot of chocolate.

* George H.W. Bush tops off everything from eggs to pork rinds with hot sauce. He has made it clear that he dislikes (and will not eat) broccoli.

* Bill Clinton enjoys burgers from McDonald's. When Hillary was out of town, the chef would often send down a steak and onion rings for Clinton's White House Happy Meal.

* George W. Bush prefers Tex-Mex and beef tenderloin. He, like his father, is no fan of green foods.

* Barack Obama eats a lot of vegetables, many of which are grown in the White House garden. Michelle Obama told Paula Deen that the president loves chili, which has prompted an endless supply of recipes to come to the White House.