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You asked: Why does V8 cure hangovers?

One of our readers (okay, it was my friend Lisa) noticed a mention of "National Hangover Day" in our new-holiday contest -- a day of bleary-eyed and queasy celebration on which "V8 will be vastly discounted." Lisa wanted to know why V8 juice and other tomato products seem to cure hangovers -- and, as an ardent subscriber to that theory, I did too! It seems the theory hasn't been fully tested by science, but there are several reasons a big glass of the red stuff might help on a rough morning:

1. A lot of it boils down to dehydration. Tomatoes, those blessed vegetables fruits, are about 90 percent water. Quenching your thirst helps the liver and kidneys process the leftover alcohol in your system.

2. Too much drinky-drink also impairs the body's ability to absorb vitamins, leaving you short. (Some scientists think many hangover symptoms can be blamed on a lack of B12.) Tomatoes and tomato products are high in many nutrients, particularly vitamin C and lycopene.

3. Through a series of chemical reactions that are way too complex for this blog, drinking limits the liver's ability to supply the brain with glucose, leading to fatigue, weakness, mood swings, and decreased attention and concentration. V8 isn't quite as good on this count as orange juice -- an 8-ounce can provides 10 grams of carbohydrates (8 of them sugars) compared to 25 for the same amount of OJ -- but it's less acidic, so at least it's easier on the stomach.

As for the other hangover culprits -- an alcohol byproduct called acetaldehyde and a type of impurity in liquors and cheap wines known as a congener -- I can't seem to find any evidence that tomato juice interacts with them, but I will continue to conduct trials of my own.

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History
The Secret World War II History Hidden in London's Fences

In South London, the remains of the UK’s World War II history are visible in an unlikely place—one that you might pass by regularly and never take a second look at. In a significant number of housing estates, the fences around the perimeter are actually upcycled medical stretchers from the war, as the design podcast 99% Invisible reports.

During the Blitz of 1940 and 1941, the UK’s Air Raid Precautions department worked to protect civilians from the bombings. The organization built 60,000 steel stretchers to carry injured people during attacks. The metal structures were designed to be easy to disinfect in case of a gas attack, but that design ended up making them perfect for reuse after the war.

Many London housing developments at the time had to remove their fences so that the metal could be used in the war effort, and once the war was over, they were looking to replace them. The London County Council came up with a solution that would benefit everyone: They repurposed the excess stretchers that the city no longer needed into residential railings.

You can tell a stretcher railing from a regular fence because of the curves in the poles at the top and bottom of the fence. They’re hand-holds, designed to make it easier to carry it.

Unfortunately, decades of being exposed to the elements have left some of these historic artifacts in poor shape, and some housing estates have removed them due to high levels of degradation. The Stretcher Railing Society is currently working to preserve these heritage pieces of London infrastructure.

As of right now, though, there are plenty of stretchers you can still find on the streets. If you're in the London area, this handy Google map shows where you can find the historic fencing.

[h/t 99% Invisible]

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holidays
Custom-Design the Ugly Christmas Sweater of Your Dreams (or Nightmares)
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For those of you aspiring to be the worst dressed person at your family's holiday dinner, UglyChristmasSweater.com sells—you guessed it—ugly Christmas sweaters to seasonal revelers possessing a sense of irony. But the Michigan-based online retailer has elevated kitsch to new heights by offering a create-your-own-sweater tool on its website.

Simply visit the site's homepage, and click on the Sweater Customizer link. There, you'll be provided with a basic sweater template, which you can decorate with festive snowflakes, reindeer, and other designs in five different colors. If you're feeling really creative, you can even upload photos, logos, hand-drawn pictures, and/or text. After you approve and purchase a mock-up of the final design, you can purchase the final result (prices start at under $70). But you'd better act quickly: due to high demand, orders will take about two weeks plus shipping time to arrive.

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