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Caffeine is everywhere

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Has our nation become caffeine-obsessed? From hyper-caffeinated Starbucks coffees to a proliferation of energy drinks that puts the Cold War arms race to shame, it's the rare American who's more than an arms-length from a few hundred milligrams of liquid happiness. (Confession time: I'm an espresso guy. One in the morning and one in the afternoon. Not only does it taste better than regular coffee (who needs milk and sugar?) but one serving of espresso has less caffeine than a regular cup of coffee, not to mention that less liquid equals less bloaty stomachness and fewer trips to the loo. Rant over.)

purecaf.jpgBut our national obsession may be rounding the corner to becoming a national craze: witness novelty products like "Shower Shock," which is "scented with peppermint oil and infused with caffeine anhydrous." If you build up a good lather in the shower, their website claims, you end up absorbing about 200mg of caffeine through your skin. Personally, I think energy drinks and even Shower Shock miss the point; half of what's great about getting your caf in the morning is the ritual of the coffee/espresso brewing, the smell, the texture -- it's a sensual thing you can't get from something that comes cold in an aluminum can.

But for those who insist on caffeinating things Mother Nature never intended, now there's Purecaf, a 2-oz. grenade of liquid caffeine that you can use to spice up anything from orange juice to water to wine. It's not recommended that you tipple straight from the can, though -- one teaspoon of this stuff is enough to caffeinate any drink to Starbucks strength; the can itself carries the equivalent of 44 Diet Cokes. According to Energy Fiend's handy-dandy "Death by Caffeine" calculator, in which you enter your weight and caffeinated drink of choice and let their Death Engine do the rest, it would only take six cans of Purecaf to send me to that great java stand in the sky. Yeesh.

Maybe I'll switch to decaf.

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Let Alexa Help You Brine a Turkey This Thanksgiving
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There’s a reason most of us only cook turkey once a year: The bird is notoriously easy to overcook. You could rely on gravy and cranberry sauce to salvage your dried-out turkey this Thanksgiving, or you could follow cooking advice from the experts.

Brining a turkey is the best way to guarantee it retains its moisture after hours in the oven. The process is also time-consuming, so do yourself a favor this year and let Alexa be your sous chef.

“Morton Brine Time” is a new skill from the cloud-based home assistant. If you own an Amazon Echo you can download it for free by going online or by asking Alexa to enable it. Once it’s set up, start asking Alexa for brining tips and step-by-step recipes customized to the size of your turkey. Two recipes were developed by Richard Blais, the celebrity chef and restaurateur best known for his Top Chef win and Food Network appearances.

Whether you go for a wet brine (soaking your turkey in water, salt, sugar, and spices) or a dry one (just salt and spices), the process isn’t as intimidating as it sounds. And the knowledge that your bird will come out succulent and juicy will definitely take some stress out of the holiday.

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Rey Del Rio/Getty Images
Big Questions
Why Do the Lions and Cowboys Always Play on Thanksgiving?
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Rey Del Rio/Getty Images

Because it's tradition! But how did this tradition begin?

Every year since 1934, the Detroit Lions have taken the field for a Thanksgiving game, no matter how bad their record has been. It all goes back to when the Lions were still a fairly young franchise. The team started in 1929 in Portsmouth, Ohio, as the Spartans. Portsmouth, while surely a lovely town, wasn't quite big enough to support a pro team in the young NFL. Detroit radio station owner George A. Richards bought the Spartans and moved the team to Detroit in 1934.

Although Richards's new squad was a solid team, they were playing second fiddle in Detroit to the Hank Greenberg-led Tigers, who had gone 101-53 to win the 1934 American League Pennant. In the early weeks of the 1934 season, the biggest crowd the Lions could draw for a game was a relatively paltry 15,000. Desperate for a marketing trick to get Detroit excited about its fledgling football franchise, Richards hit on the idea of playing a game on Thanksgiving. Since Richards's WJR was one of the bigger radio stations in the country, he had considerable clout with his network and convinced NBC to broadcast a Thanksgiving game on 94 stations nationwide.

The move worked brilliantly. The undefeated Chicago Bears rolled into town as defending NFL champions, and since the Lions had only one loss, the winner of the first Thanksgiving game would take the NFL's Western Division. The Lions not only sold out their 26,000-seat stadium, they also had to turn fans away at the gate. Even though the juggernaut Bears won that game, the tradition took hold, and the Lions have been playing on Thanksgiving ever since.

This year, the Lions host the Minnesota Vikings.


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The Cowboys, too, jumped on the opportunity to play on Thanksgiving as an extra little bump for their popularity. When the chance to take the field on Thanksgiving arose in 1966, it might not have been a huge benefit for the Cowboys. Sure, the Lions had filled their stadium for their Thanksgiving games, but that was no assurance that Texans would warm to holiday football so quickly.

Cowboys general manager Tex Schramm, though, was something of a marketing genius; among his other achievements was the creation of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders.

Schramm saw the Thanksgiving Day game as a great way to get the team some national publicity even as it struggled under young head coach Tom Landry. Schramm signed the Cowboys up for the game even though the NFL was worried that the fans might just not show up—the league guaranteed the team a certain gate revenue in case nobody bought tickets. But the fans showed up in droves, and the team broke its attendance record as 80,259 crammed into the Cotton Bowl. The Cowboys beat the Cleveland Browns 26-14 that day, and a second Thanksgiving pigskin tradition caught hold. Since 1966, the Cowboys have missed having Thanksgiving games only twice.

Dallas will take on the Los Angeles Chargers on Thursday.


Patrick Smith/Getty Images

In 2006, because 6-plus hours of holiday football was not sufficient, the NFL added a third game to the Thanksgiving lineup. This game is not assigned to a specific franchise—this year, the Washington Redskins will welcome the New York Giants.

Re-running this 2008 article a few days before the games is our Thanksgiving tradition.


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