The Highest-Rated Debates in History

Big plans for Clinton-Obama III?

The two remaining Democratic candidates take the stage tonight for one final debate before the March 4th primaries. People everywhere are talking about this race "“ and by 'everywhere,' I mean my barbershop, selected friends' Facebook profiles and on MSNBC. But where will tonight's contest rank historically?

Last week's Austin debate drew roughly 7.7 million viewers, while last month's showdown in Hollywood was seen by 8.3 million. These numbers understandably pale in comparison to viewership for general election debates. According to Nielsen Media Research data provided to the Commission on Presidential Debates, the largest debate audience came in 1980, when 80.6 million people watched Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter. Here's the top ten:


1. Reagan-Carter, October 28, 1980 (80.6 million)
2. Clinton-Bush-Perot, October 15, 1992 (69.9 million)
3. Carter-Ford, September 23, 1976 (69.7 million)
4. Reagan-Mondale, October 21, 1984 (67.3 million)
(tie) Bush-Dukakis, October 13, 1988 (67.3 million)


6. Clinton-Bush-Perot, October 19, 1992 (66.9 million)
7. Kennedy-Nixon, September 26, 1960 (66.4 million*)
8. Reagan-Mondale, October 7, 1984 (65.1 million)
(tie) Bush-Dukakis, September 25, 1988 (65.1 million**)
10. Carter-Ford, October 6, 1976 (63.9 million)

* The four Kennedy-Nixon debates were seen on a larger percentage of televisions in 1960 than other debates on this list. But there were far fewer televisions.

** It's a little strange to me that the 1984 and 1988 debates had virtually identical ratings. A second source backs it up.

Previously on mental_floss...

"¢ The Projectionist: Memorable Moments from Past Debates
"¢ Take the quiz: The Debating Game

The Simple Way to Reheat Your French Fries and Not Have Them Turn Into a Soggy Mess

Some restaurant dishes are made to be doggy-bagged and reheated in the microwave the next day. Not French fries: The more crispy and delectable they are when they first arrive on your table, the more of a soggy disappointment they’ll be when you try to revive them at home. But as The Kitchn recently shared, there’s a secret to making leftover fries you’ll actually enjoy eating.

The key is to avoid the microwave altogether. Much of the appeal of fries comes from their crunchy, golden-brown exterior and their creamy potato center. This texture contrast is achieved by deep-frying, and all it takes is a few rotations around a microwave to melt it away. As the fries heat up, they create moisture, transforming all those lovely crispy parts into a flabby mess.

If you want your fries to maintain their crunch, you need to recreate the conditions they were cooked in initially. Set a large pan filled with about 2 tablespoons of oil for every 1 cup of fries you want to cook over medium-high heat. When you see the oil start to shimmer, add the fries in a single layer. After about a minute, flip them over and allow them to cook for half a minute to a minute longer.

By heating up fries with oil in a skillet, you produce something called the Maillard Reaction: This happens when high heat transforms proteins and sugars in food, creating the browning effect that gives fried foods their sought-after color, texture, and taste.

After your fries are nice and crisp, pull them out of the pan with tongs or a spatula, set them on a paper towel to absorb excess oil, and sprinkle them with salt. Now all you need is a perfect burger to feel like you’re eating a restaurant-quality meal at home.

[h/t The Kitchn]

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