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Frankenfoods: Six Snacks Prepared In The Lab

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1. Carbonated Fruit

FizzyFruit.jpgWhile enjoying a nice, crisp apple or a ripe, juicy pear, do you ever think to yourself, "This would be so much better with a little carbon dioxide"? Well, apparently you aren't the only one. Fizzy Fruit, the world's first carbonated fruit, is now hitting grocery store shelves near you.

Neurobiologist Galen Kaufman got the idea for carbonating fruit when he bit into a pear that had been hanging out in a cooler filled with dry ice. The carbon dioxide from the dry ice had mixed with the water content of the fruit, resulting in a carbonated effect. Together with the Food Innovation Center, a research facility at Oregon State University, Kaufman developed this idea into Fizzy Fruit. It's been a hit at pilot schools across the country and is now served in more than 600 school districts. And if the carbonation in the fruit doesn't have enough fizz factor for you, maybe you should think about adding your fizzy fruit to your fizzy yogurt"¦

2. Carbonated Yogurt

Fizzix.jpgFirst came drinkable yogurt. Then Go-Gurt, in tubes. Now, carbonated yogurt? Yep. It's called Fizzix and it comes in flavors that sound suspiciously like Pop Rocks, including Blue Raspberry Rage, Strawberry Lemonade Jolt and Fruit Punch Charge.

Brigham Young food scientist Lynn Ogden came up with the idea similar to the way Fizzy Fruit was conceptualized "“ after adding dry ice to yogurt it was filled with CO2 when the ice broke down. He and his students messed around with the idea for years before perfecting the technique (yogurt is prone to exploding when carbonated) and receiving a patent. Ogden started selling "Sparkling Yogurt" on the BYU campus and eventually sold the idea to General Mills in 2006. Although kids apparently love Fizzix, it didn't win any fans when Fortune magazine did a taste-test on the product "“ one tester referred to Fizzix as "Yuck-plait."

3. Caffeinated Donuts

If your idea of breakfast is more along the lines of a jelly donut and a Diet Coke or three, soon you can cut combine the two. Dr. Robert Bohannon, a molecular scientist who graduated from the Baylor College of Medicine, is the brains behind Encaff, an additive that inserts caffeine into everyday foods while hiding the bitter caffeine taste. Bohannon has already developed Buzz Donuts and Buzzed Bagels and is working with companies to inject Encaff into gum, breakfast bars and smoothies. Food that has been Encaffienated will contain somewhere between 50 to 100 mg of caffeine, which is a pretty typical amount "“ a standard cup of coffee contains about 50 mg.

4. Caffeinated Beer

B2E.jpgOne area of the market Bohannon can't corner, though, is beer. Caffeinated beer has been on the shelves since 2005, when Anheuser-Busch launched BE (pronounced "B to the E"). BE contains 54 mg of caffeine and smells like "blackberry and a little bit of cherry", according to the creator of BE, Nathaniel Davis. But one bartender says it tastes like tangerine. I guess it's one of those things you will just have to try for yourself "“ that is, if mixing a stimulant and a depressant doesn't concern you at all. BE "“ also known as Bud Extra "“ is now just one of many caffeinated beers available to consumers, including Labatt's Shok (60 mg of caffeine), and Molson's Kick (55 mg of caffeine).

5. Bacon-Flavored Salt

baconsalt.jpgBacon Salt is a product that was just launched by self-titled "Bacontrepreneurs" Justin Esch and Dave Lefkow. It's a zero-calorie, zero-fat, zero-carb, zero-meat seasoning that tastes just like bacon. It's even kosher. Justin and Dave came up with the idea while discussing their mutual love for bacon, and shortly thereafter, Bacon Salt was born. They held a taste-test amongst friends early in 2007 and received rave reviews, except for the maple-flavored bacon salt. However, the original, hickory and peppered flavors were big hits. Justin and Dave say that Bacon Salt is delicious on everything from grilled meats to veggies to, yes, bacon. Dave's father-in-law claims to like it on ice cream and a Bacon Salt fan sent a picture of Bacon Salt on watermelon. If anyone tries Bacon Salt on ice cream, be sure to let me know.

6. Sliced Jelly

pjsquares.jpgSliced jelly is for those days when you really don't have the energy to open up a jar and get out a knife to make your PBJ. John M. Codilis is president and CEO of P.J. Squares LLC, a company that makes a sandwich slices with strawberry or grape jelly on one side and peanut butter on the other. Hungry consumers just have to unwrap a slice, throw it on some bread and enjoy. No jars, no knives, no muss, no fuss! Although it might sound a little unnecessary and, OK, more than a little lazy, it does have practical origins: the inventor of peanut butter slices (plain peanut butter without a side made of jelly), John Bogan, was watching his young son attempt to make himself lunch. He was completely destroying his slices of bread in the peanut butter spreading process, so Bogan thought he would invent something easy for small kids to use. Codilis says about 40 percent of P.J. Squares buyers unwrap the slices and eat them solo, no bread required.

I'm sure these few examples are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to bizarre products on the market. What have you seen? Better yet, what have you tried?

You'll be seeing a lot more Weird Science here on the site, including a series of posts from Senior Weird Science Correspondent Chris Weber.

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Food
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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Big Questions
Why Do the Lions and Cowboys Always Play on Thanksgiving?
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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.

HOW 'BOUT THEM COWBOYS?


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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.

WHAT'S WITH THE NIGHT GAME?


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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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