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35 Interesting Food Facts That I Haven't Been Able To Stop Thinking About

I was today years old when I learned...

1. The only difference between Pepsi and Coke is that Pepsi is made with citric acid while Coke is not.

Screenshot of Pepsi's nutrition facts, including an entire list of its ingredients with the "Citric Acid" circled in red
Pepsi Co.

Maybe that explains why Pepsi is known to have a more citrusy taste, compared to Coke's more syrupy taste??

Read more: This Ingredient Is The Only Difference Between Pepsi And Coke

2. Mountain Dew is largely orange juice.

Mountain Dew nutrition facts with orange yellow pointing to "Concentrated orange juice," which is third in its list of ingredients
Pepsi Co.

Orange juice is one of Mountain Dew's three main ingredients, along with carbonated water and high fructose corn syrup.

Read more: 27 Random Food Facts That Will Fuck With Everything You Know

3. Cranberries grow in marshes, not on trees.

A cranberry marsh in Wisconsin
Wisconsin State Cranberry Growers Association / Via Facebook: WisCranberries

More than 50% of the world's cranberries are grown in Wisconsin — and you can watch a video of the harvesting process here.

4. And asparagus grows straight outta the ground.

Asparagus growing out of the ground
Fhm / Getty Images

All varieties: green, white, purple.

5. The white gunk that comes out of cooked salmon isn't fat — it's protein.

A cooked salmon filet with white gunk visible on top
tasty.co

It's easy to mistake the foamy white paste as fat, but it's actually a harmless protein called albumin.

Read more: Here's The Truth About The White Gunk On Salmon

6. Experts agree you usually don't need to wash chicken before you cook it.

A bowl of raw chicken
tasty.co

In fact, everyone we spoke to — including a USDA rep, a germ expert, and a prominent NYC chef — discouraged the practice. Lots of people do it, but it can often be more harmful than helpful.

Read more: We Asked Experts Whether Washing Raw Chicken Was Legit Or Useless

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

youtube.com

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, ill, restless, tearful) after drinking various types of alcohol.

Read more: 15 Booze Facts That'll Make You Say, "Really?"

8. Take 5 bars are filled with Reese's peanut butter.

Two pictures, side-by-side: The first one is a close-up of a Take-5 bar, with a red arrow pointing to the peanut butter filling. The second picture is a Reese's bar, pointing to the same exact peanut butter filling inside it.
The Hershey Company

Yep! This popular chocolate bar is made using the filling of another popular chocolate.

Read more: I Just Learned Something About Take 5 Bars That Will Mildly Disturb You

9. The filling in Kit Kats is made with broken Kit Kats.

Broken bar of Kit Kat with yellow arrow pointing to the filling
BuzzFeed

Call it chocolate cannibalism. Kit Kats that get damaged during production are repurposed as the inside of future Kit Kats.

Read more: I Just Found Out What's In A Kit Kat Bar And Honestly? It Surprised Me.

10. European chocolate generally tastes better because it's required by law to have a higher percentage of milk fats and dry milk solids.

Grocery store shelf stocked with various German Ritter chocolate bar flavors
Michelle No / BuzzFeed

European chocolate requires a minimum of at least 14% dry milk solids. In the US, 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

11. Hershey's chocolate gets its unique flavor from butyric acid — an acid that makes chocolate last longer on shelves but gives it a "tangy" flavor that many Europeans find totally off-putting.

Messy pile of various Hershey's fun-size bars
amazon.com

If you grew up with Hershey's, there's a high chance you've never noticed the flavor that many people abroad find totally repulsive.

12. Potatoes are mostly water.

Picture of potato next to two glasses filled with potato water
Heikerau / Getty Images

Specifically, they're said to be 80% water and 20% solid.

13. A few years ago, Nabisco redesigned its iconic animal crackers box cover after receiving criticism from PETA.

The "before" and "after" designs on the iconic animal crackers box.
Nabisco / PETA

Before 2018, when the design change occurred, the animals on the box were caged.

Read more: 15 Cookie Facts More Interesting Than Your IG Feed

14. Butter can be stored outside the fridge for up to ten days.

Slice of bread roll smeared thickly with a butter knife
Albertochagas / Getty Images

Despite the popular opinion that butter should be stored in the fridge, various health authorities actually say it's perfectly fine to store it on your kitchen counter — as long as your room temperature doesn't drop below 68°F.

Read more: Here's Everything You Need To Know About Storing Butter At Room Temperature

15. The seeds of stone fruits contain deadly cyanide.

A bowl of cherries
Jeymin / Getty Images

This includes the seeds of everything from apricots, cherries, and plums to peaches, mangoes, and nectarines. You should avoid eating them, and you should definitely avoid eating them crushed.

16. The cookies that the Cookie Monster enjoys on Sesame Street are actually painted rice cakes.

The cookie monster about to eat a chocolate chip cookie
PBS

That's because if the producers used real cookies, the oil from the cookies might have damaged the muppets, according to Sesame Street Unpaved.

17. The word "cookie" comes from the Dutch "koekje," meaning little cake.

White table organized with a cup of coffee and tray of sugar cubes, as well as a tray of neatly stacked plain cookies
Corinne Poleij / Getty Images

The word, along with the cookies, was imported by Dutch settlers to North America.

18. You won't actually find many fortune cookies in mainland China.

A broken fortune cookie with fortune visible
Tetra Images / Getty Images

Here's even more proof that the concept of Chinese fortune cookies is exclusively American in origin and popularity: When Wonton Foods, Inc., America's largest manufacturer of fortune cookies, tried to expand its business to China, the company found that the idea didn't translate, as unsuspecting diners often accidentally ate their fortunes.

19. Parmesan cheese contains an almost negligible amount of lactose.

Rows of wooden shelves stacked with aging wheels of Parmiggiano Reggiano cheese
Guvendemir / Getty Images

A serving of Parmesan cheese contains less than 1 gram of lactose per serving, making it lactose-free by some accounts.

Read more: I Just Learned A Life-Changing Fact About Parmesan Cheese

20. Flamin' Hot Cheetos were invented by a janitor who worked at the Frito-Lay plant.

21. According to the FDA, you should never double-dip.

NBC

Especially in the age of Covid-19, when we're all too aware of what can happen when an asymptomatic carrier spreads germs, it's probably best to put dip on your own plate and double-dip to your heart's content.

Read more: We Asked The FDA About 8 Popular Food Safety Myths

22. Drinking milk a few days after its past-due date is probably fine.

Two opened cartons of milk
Cherrie Herrin-michehl / Getty Images

According to the FDA, it might be more of a taste issue than a safety issue. That's only as long as you're not part of an immunocompromised population (elderly people, pregnant women, and young children would fall into that category), and if your milk is just a few days past its expiration date.

Read more: We Asked The FDA About 8 Popular Food Safety Myths

23. It's perfectly fine to drink a glass of water that's been left out overnight.

Water being poured into a glass
David Rowland / Getty Images

It might taste weird but water itself has no ingredients that would make it go bad.

Read more: We Asked The FDA About 8 Popular Food Safety Myths

24. You know those loofahs you used to lather yourself with in the shower? They're actually grown in gourds.

Neon green lofah gourds hanging in rows
Joloei / Getty Images

They're not manufactured in large loofah-making plants, or picked from the sea. Loofahs are, as hard as it might be to believe, all natural.

Read more: Today I Learned Where Loofahs Come From And I Need To Share This Information

25. President John Adams — who lived to 90 years old — drank about a quarter pint of cider every morning.

A bartender pouring a pint of cider
Oli Scarff / Getty Images

"I continue my practice of drinking a Jill of Cyder in the Morning and find no ill but some good Effect," he wrote in his diary. A "gill" of cider, by the way, refers to about four ounces, or a quarter pint.

Read more: 15 Booze Facts That'll Make You Say, "Really?"

26. The white spots on an old piece of chocolate are just fat blooms — not mold.

Red Table Talk / Via giphy.com

The chocolate might feel a little brittle, and it might be covered in white spots, but don't worry — this white films occurs when cocoa butter fats separate from cocoa.

Read more: We Asked The FDA About 8 Popular Food Safety Myths

27. All fruit and vegetables should be washed before eating.

Close-up of mix of cut strawberries and whole blueberries
Oli Scarff / Getty Images

Unless it's marked as pre-washed, all your produce should get a thorough rinse before being cooked. And to be honest, even if it is marked as pre-washed, I'd give it an extra rinse since consuming any fresh produce means taking a tiny risk.

Read more: We Asked The FDA About 8 Popular Food Safety Myths

28. La Croix produces its flavors by heating the skins or rinds of fruits.

Image of a bowl of fruit being heated by a cartoonish fire
Pixelpot / Getty Images (Edited)

That's basically the secret behind its "essence," aka the one ingredient in every La Croix can besides water. More specifically, a Wall Street Journal article describes the chemical as vapors that are “captured, condensed and eventually sold by the 55-gallon barrel.”

Read more: I Just Found Out What LaCroix's "Natural Flavor" Is And I'm Delighted

29. Straight whiskey is actually clear — and gets its color from the oak barrels in which it's aged.

Barrels of whiskey stacked at a distillery
Massanph / Getty Images

On the other hand, Scotch Whisky is sometimes mixed with caramel coloring.

Read more: 15 Booze Facts That'll Make You Say, "Really?"

30. Pineapples take two to three years to grow.

A hand holding a small pneapple
Kanchanaphimai / Getty Images

Generally, a pineapple takes 24 months to go from propagation to fruiting. It can then take even longer to actually ripen.

31. And by the way, did you know a single pineapple is actually made up of up to 200 flowers that bloomed and formed a single mass?

youtube.com

A pineapple is actually made up tons of flowers that have joined together to bloom and create something called a "multiple fruit." It's kind of beautiful. Figs and breadfruit are other examples of a multiple fruit.

32. Milk helps you eat spicy foods because capsaicin (a compound in chili peppers) is fat-soluble.

First We Feast / Hot Ones

Another thing to note is that capsaicin is not water soluble, meaning that drinking water won't help as much as coating your mouth with literally anything fatty, like milk, ice cream, or even olive oil.

33. Cellulose is a common ingredient in foods like shredded cheese and cereal.

A pile of pre-shredded cheese
Douglas Sacha / Getty Images / Via flic.kr

"There's actually cellulose in all kinds of foods. Basically, anything that is labeled ‘added fiber' probably has cellulose in it," said Jaydee Hanson, Policy Director at the Center for Food Safety.

34. Bananas looked very different before humans domesticated them into the sweet, peelable fruits they now are.

Cut wild-type banana, depicted with thick, hard green flesh and hard seeds
en.wikipedia.org

The bananas humans eat were bred from seedless mutants that were occasionally produced from wild-type bananas.

35. Green Haribo gummy bears are actually strawberry-flavored in the U.S. — and apple-flavored in the UK and Germany.

A shelf of Haribo gummies at the grocery store
LightRocket via Getty

"Our Goldbears have five flavors – strawberry (green), raspberry (red), lemon (yellow), orange (orange) and pineapple (white). In Germany/U.K., the flavors include strawberry (light red), raspberry (darker red), lemon (yellow), orange (orange), pineapple (white) and apple (green)," a Haribo representative told BuzzFeed food.

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