Dietribes: Lollipop Lollipop, oh lolli Lollipop

"¢Â Edible candy on a stick has been around for centuries in many forms, though the "lolly pop" as we now know it was fashioned in the 1920s. Even as far back as the Middle Ages, royalty would sometimes eat boiled sugar with sticks.

"¢Â A question that has been around perhaps as long as the candy itself ... how many licks does it take to finish a lollipop off? Of course, this postulation was made popular in the 1970s with Tootsie's unforgettable campaign that continues to amuse and baffle kids (and adults) to this day. There are, however, some scientific studies that have sought to find the answer to this Great Mystery.

"¢Â Stick a sock in it! Or ... a lollipop? Some British pub owners are helping to control noise pollution after closing by handing out lollipops to costumers to consume on their way home.

"¢Â Lollipops are so popular they can even sell for $4.5 Million ... well, a painting of them can. Picasso also took a stab at immortalizing the lollipop with a (very strange) 1938 painting, while Salvador Dali did his part by designing the logo for Chupa Chupas, as he was a family friend of the founder, Enric Bernat.

"¢ Lollipops are a popular subject matter for singers and rapper alike - Lil Wayne, The Chordettes (yes this is the song you're thinking of that will get stuck in your head) and of course ... Shirley Temple all have their classic versions regarding the pop Lolly.

"¢ Love Lollipops? Become a Lollipop man or woman. Not as fanciful as it may, the terms actually refer to crossing guards in the UK, a position that has seen a rise in applications lately due to the recession.

"¢ More successful Lollipop lads may be those from the Wizard of Oz's Lollipop Guild. Guild actor Billy Bletcher voiced the Big Bad Wolf in Three Little Pigs and Spike the Bulldog in Tom & Jerry, while his Guild co-star Pinto Colvig was the voice of Goofy and Pluto.

"¢ Lollipops can also do good. One similarly-named device has been found to help the blind better acquaint themselves with their surroundings. Actual lollipops can also replace the oral fixation of smoking - Kojak sucked on lollipops because the actor who played him, Telly Savalas, was trying to quit cigarettes.

"¢ ... They can also do bad. On the flip side, there were once candy-flavored nicotine-packed lollipops that the FDA eventually put a stop to. Lollipops can also occasionally be responsible for nearly putting out your eye (if you're David Bowie, anyway).

"¢ Finally, to answer another Lollipop conundrum: The "mystery flavor" Dum-Dum Pop is truly random. The mystery pop is a mixture of two flavors (the end of one batch of candy meets the beginning of the next batch). Candy lines are continuous, so when they switch over from one flavor to another, the result is some pops contain both flavors.

"¢ What are some of your favor flavors, Flossers? What are your feelings about the Buttered Popcorn flavor that Dum-Dums got rid of in 2001? Possibly related, what's the worst flavor you've ever tasted?

Hungry for more? Venture into the Dietribes archive.

"˜Dietribes' appears every other Wednesday. Food photos taken by Johanna Beyenbach You might remember that name from our post about her colorful diet.

University of Pittsburgh
Researchers Create Motorized Wheelchair Made for the Water Park
University of Pittsburgh
University of Pittsburgh

Despite advances in technology, there are many aspects of the world that remain inaccessible to people with disabilities. But researchers at the University of Pittsburgh are working to make one activity easier for people who use motorized wheelchairs: navigating water parks.

The average motorized wheelchair has a number of electrical and battery components that can’t get wet, limiting who can access the joys of splash parks and pools. But a new wheelchair that uses compressed air instead of a heavy battery could change that, Gizmodo recently reported.

Created through a joint research project between University of Pittsburgh engineers, the university’s medical center, and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the PneuChair is lighter and quicker to charge than traditional motorized chairs. It can also be repaired with basic hardware tools if something breaks in the midst of all the splashing.

The 80-pound chair (a traditional device can weigh up to 400 pounds) can travel about three miles on one charge, about a third of the maximum distance of an electric mobility device. Another benefit: It only takes 10 minutes to recharge rather than eight hours.

The university's Human Engineering Research Laboratories is also working on a scooter version for people who don't need the assistance of a full chair. “The potential to open opportunities for people with disabilities who need powered mobility to access splash parks, water parks, beaches or pools is transformative,” lab director Rory Cooper told the university's press service.

The PneuChair was designed in part for use at Morgan’s Inspiration Island, an upcoming water park in San Antonio that’s designed for people with disabilities. The accessible splash park—which is part of Morgan’s Wonderland, a fully accessible theme park—will initially offer 10 of the chairs to its guests for use while they’re there.

[h/t Gizmodo]

Dietribes: Cabbage

• Cabbages are derived from the wild mustard plant of the Mediterranean region, and have been popular since ancient times. Cato the Elder praised the cabbage for its many medicinal uses.

• Cabbages are highly nutritious, containing large amounts of Vitamin C, folate and fiber. That and its low calorie count is why some people use cabbage on weight-loss diets.

• However, the cabbage is also known to have a certain undesirable gastric side effect. As Nicholas Culpeper said in A Complete Herbal (1653) "Cabbages are extremely windy, whether you take them as meat or as medicine, as windy meat as can be eaten, unless you eat bag-pipes or bellows."

• Remember "freedom fries"? That wasn't the first time the name of one of our foods has been attempted to be changed because of political fervor. During World War I, Americans renamed sauerkraut "liberty cabbage."

• No one knows exactly how the Cabbagetown neighborhood in Atlanta got its name, though stories include the idea that the original poor Scotch-Irish residents (workers at the nearby cotton mill) would grow cabbages in their front yards, and that the smell of cooked cabbage was a nuisance (and later a point of pride). Other apocryphal suggestions include a train derailing or a Model T car overturning and spilling cabbages everywhere for people to snatch up, shouting "Free Cabbages!"

• Georgia has another cabbage connection - Cabbage Patch Kids, which were originally called Little People. In the late 1970s, art student Xavier Roberts started creating "soft sculptures," which he later expanded on by giving them birth certificates and allowing "adoptions." In 1982 the name changed to Cabbage Patch. By the mid-80s, the dolls went on record as having the most successful and in-demand introduction of a toy ever.

• Though cabbages have often been thought of throughout history as a cheap food, that's certainly not true in Northern Canada, where a cabbage can cost $28. The northern Canadian territory of Nunavut is so remote that anything not a product of hunting and gathering must be flown in.

• By the way, that corned beef and cabbage you cook up for St. Patricks Day? Not actually Irish. Though corned beef was made in Ireland in the 17th and 18th centuries, most Irish families were too poor to eat it. Instead it went to British citizens as well as the British and U.S. military. These days, the Irish reportedly find the dish just plain boring.

• Cabbages can have a killer instinct - genetically modified cabbages can produce scorpion poison that kills caterpillars when they bite leaves. But don't worry, the toxin is modified so it isn’t harmful to humans. (I like that the title of the article is "Venomous Cabbage"!)

• Another way to get rid of pests in your cabbage? Er, human urine. According to a 2007 study, "Our results show that human urine could be used as a fertilizer for cabbage and does not pose any significant hygienic threats or leave any distinctive flavor in food products." Good to know?

• The largest cabbage on record was called "The Beast" and weighed 127 pounds. Reportedly it wasn't actually particularly tasty, so it ended up as compost rather than on anyone's plate.

• How do you like to eat your cabbages, Flossers? And have you found a way to counteract their less-desirable side-effects?

Hungry for more? Venture into the Dietribes archive.

‘Dietribes’ appears every other Wednesday. Food photos taken by Johanna Beyenbach. You might remember that name from our post about her colorful diet.


More from mental floss studios