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    40 Random Food Facts That I Haven't Been Able To Stop Thinking About Since I Learned Them

    I'll never look at a Trader Joe's banana the same way again.

    1. Cilantro and coriander are the same thing.

    2. Peaches and nectarines are basically the same, too.

    Peaches and nectarines next to each other
    Sanny11 / Getty Images, Sneska / Getty Images

    They're almost genetically identical except for one thing: a gene that's either dominant (peaches) or recessive (nectarines). That's what makes the skin either smooth or fuzzy.

    3. In the U.K., arugula is called rocket.

    In Italy, a bag of arugula labeled as 'Wild Rocket'
    Lidl

    It's derived from the French word roquette.

    4. The all-time bestselling food items at Costco are rotisserie chicken, bacon, and food court hot dogs.

    5. The cheapest item at Trader Joe's is bananas. They cost 19 cents each — and the reason why is a little dark.

    A sign at Trader Joe's advertising 19-cent bananas
    Medianews Group / Getty Images

    An episode of Inside Trader Joe’s revealed that TJ's used to sell bananas by the pound back in the day. They were packaged in bags of four or five, so if you wanted less than that, you were out of luck.

    But 13 years ago, company CEO Dan Bane was visiting a TJ's — and he saw a much older woman buying fruit. “I asked her, ‘Ma’am, if you don’t mind me asking, I saw you looking at the bananas but you didn’t put anything in your cart,'” Bane said. “And she says to me, ‘Sonny, I may not live to that fourth banana.'”

    Bane said they decided the very next day that Trader Joe’s would sell individual bananas. They priced them at 19 cents each, and they’ve been that way ever since.

    6. Trader Joe's employees use a bell system to communicate with each other because higher-ups didn't like the way P.A. announcements sounded at other grocery stores.

    7. This is how quinoa grows:

    A large quinoa plant — with the quinoa growing similar to a flower.
    Aizar Raldes / Getty Images

    The part of the quinoa plant that we eat is the seed. But to get the seed, the plant first needs to flower.

    8. And this is how cranberries grow:

    Cranberries being harvested in a Wisconsin marsh
    Facebook: WisCranberries

    Unlike most other berries, they grow in marshes. More than 50% of the world's cranberries are grown in Wisconsin — and you can watch a video of the harvesting process here.

    9. A few years ago, Butterfinger changed its entire recipe.

    Two Butterfinger bars next to each other, one in the old packaging, and one in the new
    youtube.com

    The brand reworked the chocolate mixture, among other things. (But worth noting: some people *really* hated the new version.)

    10. Glass Gem corn! It exists.

    Harvested our first corn of this season. I’m blown away!!!

    Via Twitter: @watermicrobe

    Oklahoma farmer Carl Barnes spent years breeding the colorful corn as a way to reconnect with his heritage.

    11. Elephant garlic exists, too. 👀

    A woman holding up elephant garlic next to regular garlic
    marysheirloomseeds.com

    Just like regular garlic, the large mature bulb is broken up into cloves. You buy seeds online here, or a watch a video of elephant garlic being harvested here.

    12. Allspice isn't a mix of other spices.

    A container of ground allspice
    walmart.com

    Although it smells like nutmeg and cinnamon, Allspice is actually a fruit that's picked, dried, and sold either as whole "berries" or ground up into its own spice.

    13. But chili powder *is* a mix of other spices.

    walmart.com

    It's not just chili peppers. Chili powder also typically includes spices like cumin, onion powder, and oregano — plus garlic and salt.

    14. McDonald's fries were cooked in beef fat until 1990.

    15. And in France, McDonald's offers thick-cut potato wedges — in addition to the regular fries.

    Thick-cut potato wedges from McDonalds France
    Marie Telling / BuzzFeed

    You get to pick between the two for your side, and they're served with a "creamy deluxe" sauce. It's kind of like a creamier mayo with chives in it.

    Read more: Here's How French McDonald's Are Different From American Ones

    16. Jam is made with fruit — and jelly is made with fruit juice.

    A jar of jam next to a jar of jelly
    walmart.com

    Jam is made with fruit, sugar, and often pectin (a thickener). Jelly is made with fruit juice, sugar, and pectin. Another way to remember the difference? Jam is chunky (it'll have mashed fruit); jelly is smooth.

    17. Fruity Pebbles are just grains of white rice that have been flattened and puffed up again.

    Food Network

    With some coloring and flavoring added.

    18. Pomegranates grow on trees.

    A pomegranate tree in bloom
    Viewstock / Getty Images

    They're so big that I think at first I assumed they... grew underground?? IDK IDK.

    19. Asparagus grows straight outta the ground.

    White asparagus growing out of the ground
    Sean Gallup / Getty Images

    All varieties: green, white, purple.

    20. On Sesame Street, Cookie Monster's cookies are actually painted rice cakes.

    Cookie Monster eating a cookie, as shown on 'Sesame Street'
    PBS

    That's because the grease from the chocolate and oil in real cookies could damage the puppets.

    21. Rhubarb leaves are poisonous in large doses.

    A pile of fresh rhubarb with leaves visible
    Oli Scarff / Getty Images

    The raw leaves contain oxalic acid, among other things. And if you eat a ton of them, it can be lethal.

    22. Raw cashew shells are poisonous too.

    Unshelled cashews going down an assembly line
    Issouf Sanogo / Getty Images

    They contain urushiol, which is toxic. To remove it, cashews go through an extensive roasting or steaming process before they're packaged and sold.

    23. The same guy invented Cool Whip, Pop Rocks, and Tang.

    A tub of Cool Whip, a container of Tang, and packets of Pop Rocks all next to each other
    walmart.com

    Minnesotan William A. Mitchell = a busy dude!

    24. A chipotle pepper is just a dried and smoked jalapeño.

    A chart depicting various chiles
    katamaniacos.com

    And an ancho chile is a dried and smoked poblano.

    25. European chocolate generally tastes better than U.S. chocolate because it's required by law to have more milk fats and dry milk solids.

    Kinder chocolate on display at a store
    Sopa Images / SOPA Images/LightRocket via Gett

    In Europe, chocolate is required to have a minimum of at least 14% dry milk solids. In the U.S., the minimum is 12%. European chocolate is also slightly richer because it's required to have at least 3.5% milk fat. In the US, the minimum is 3.39%.

    Read more: I Just Learned Why European Chocolate Tastes So Different Than American Chocolate

    26. Sour Patch Kids and Swedish Fish have the same base.

    A bag of Sour Patch Kids and a bag of Swedish Fish next to each other
    Walmart

    Sour Patch Kids are just pumped into a different mold and finished with a sour coating.

    27. Mahogany cake was America's first chocolate cake — though it's been largely forgotten since.

    Slice of mahogany cake with creamy frosting
    Joe Lingeman / Via thekitchn.com

    Dating back to the 1800s, it's America's first chocolate cake on record. Early versions used ermine frosting, a whipped buttercream that was the icing of choice in the US before cream cheese frosting came along.

    28. A single spaghetti noodle is called a spaghetto.

    BuzzFeed

    🍝🍝🍝

    29. Too much nutmeg can get you high.

    Container of ground nutmeg
    walmart.com

    It contains myristicin, a compound that has hallucinatory qualities — and bad side effects — if ingested in very large doses. (Don't try it, obvs.)

    30. Paprika is made of ground up red bell peppers.

    Red peppers being sliced, dehydrated, and pulsed into Paprika
    youtube.com

    To make paprika, they're chopped, dried, and ground. And while they're typically red bell peppers, paprika can be made from other types of peppers too — depending on the variety. (Smoked, sweet, etc.) Watch a video of how to make homemade paprika here.

    31. Reese's Pieces have a different filling than Reese's Peanut Butter Cups.

    amazon.com

    The filling of Reese's Pieces has a slightly different formula and consistency. Also, the color distribution of the Pieces is preset: A bag or box will be approximately 50% orange, 25% brown, and 25% yellow.

    32. A few years ago, Nabisco redesigned its famous animal crackers box after PETA flagged it.

    Boxes of Nabisco Animal crackers next to each other, one in the old packaging, and one in the new
    Nabisco / PETA

    The new design uncages the animals and puts them in the wild.

    33. Pineapples can take two to three years to grow.

    A pineapple growing on a farm
    Getty Images

    It's a looong process. The next time you grab one at the grocery store, think about how far the thing has come!

    34. It can take at least three years for a vanilla plant to produce its first vanilla bean.

    A pile of vanilla bean pods
    Tony Karumba / Getty Images

    Real vanilla is incredibly labor-intensive to produce. When the flowers finally do bloom, they stay open for only one day and have to be pollinated within 12 hours.

    35. Jelly Belly is one of the few jelly bean companies that flavors both the inside *and* the outside of the bean.

    amazon.com

    This results in a more intense flavor — because jelly beans are typically only flavored on one or the other. Also, of the 100+ flavors that Jelly Belly makes, the most popular include: Very Cherry, Licorice, Buttered Popcorn, and Sizzling Cinnamon.

    36. Ritter chocolate bars were invented to be square so they could fit into jacket pockets without breaking.

    A grocery store shelf display of Ritter chocolate bars
    Michelle No / BuzzFeed

    And last year, Ritter won a German lawsuit allowing it to be the only major chocolate brand to sell a square bar rather than a rectangular one.

    37. Brussels sprouts, kale, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, and kohlrabi all come from the same plant.

    Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower all next to each other
    Karaidel / Getty Images

    Brassica oleracea was selectively bred over hundreds of years to create dozens of very different veggies.

    38. One of the most bizarre food-related disasters in history was the Great Molasses Flood in Boston.

    View this video on YouTube

    youtube.com

    In 1919, a storage tank that contained more than 2 million gallons of molasses exploded. It flooded Boston streets, crushed buildings, and killed 21 people and injured 150 more.

    39. Out of all the popular alcoholic drinks, red wine makes you the sleepiest.

    Several alcoholic beverages next to each other, with an arrow pointing at the red wine
    Jon Premosch / Buzzfeed

    That's according to a study by British Medical Journal, which surveyed 29,000 people about how they felt (energized, relaxed, sexy, confident, tired, aggressive, etc) after drinking various types of alcohol.

    40. Tootsie Rolls start out as gigantic 13-pound logs that are then shaped down to their mini size.

    Tootsie Rolls being shaped on an assembly line
    Cooking Channel

    And they're still made using their original recipe from 1896.

    What's the most interesting food fact you know? Share in the comments!