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7 Super Expensive Alternatives to Grocery Store Brands

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Lots of us only ask one question when we head to the grocery store: what's on sale? (At least that's what I do.) If you're flush with cash, though, even buying mundane staple foods can turn into an exercise in conspicuous consumption. Let's take a look at a few super pricey pantry mainstays that will set you back a bit more than the store brands.

1. Milk Your Wallet for All It's Worth

Should you find yourself stressed out in Japan and in desperate need of a glass of milk, Nakazawa Foods has just the thing for you. In 2007 the company introduced Adult Milk, a special formulation of the white stuff that supposedly helps relieve stress. The (cash) cows that produce the product are milked once a week at dawn, which is allegedly the peak time for melatonin production in cattle. This carefully timed milking results in a product that has up to four times as much of the stress-relieving hormone as regular milk. The price tag is decidedly less soothing, though: over $40 for a quart.

2. Don't Skimp on the Olive Oil

lambda
What to do if your wallet is dangerously full and you want to drizzle olive oil on some bread? Order a bottle of Lambda. The extra virgin olive oil bills itself as "the most expensive olive oil in the world," and it retails for around $50 for a 500 ml bottle. According to the oil's maker, Speiron Co., its hand-picked olives are cold-pressed within eight hours of being picked from trees in Crete. The unfiltered finished product supposedly boasts an intensely fruity flavor and a very low acidity.

3. Sweetness Comes at a Price

life-honey
Lambda made international news when famed London department store Harrods started offering the oil, but its shelfmate Life Mel Honey is no slouch, either. The honey, which goes for over $80 per 120g jar, is made in Israel by bees that are fed a strict diet of herbs that includes ginseng and Echinacea. It's more than just an expensive trend, though. The honey's makers tout it as the only honey that has been demonstrated in a clinical study to alleviate the side effects of chemotherapy. (Scientists later questioned the validity of these claims due to the tiny size of the clinical study.) Still, customers ranging from chemo patients to celebrities like Sienna Miller have snapped up the supposedly health-affirming honey.

4. Enjoy Your Coffee After a Weasel Does

400civetSure, the cup of joe you sip every morning wakes you up, but has it ever seen the inside of a weasel's stomach? If you're lucky enough to have an authentic mug of kopi luwak, it has. This Southeast Asian delicacy, which Miss Cellania mentioned last month in her round-up of creative uses for poop, is just like normal coffee, only it passes through the digestive tract of the Asian palm civet, a weasel-like critter, before it ever sees the inside of a pot. The result is a full-bodied coffee with little bitterness that can fetch anywhere from $100 a cup to $600 a pound.

Sure, it sounds gross, but kopi luwak devotees swear by the stuff. Farmed civets are fed fresh coffee berries, which they devour for their pulpy fruit, and the beans come out the other end a day or two later. During their stay in the civets' bellies, the beans interact with digestive enzymes that break down their protein structures and change their flavors. After the civet defecates the beans, farmers wash, dry, and roast them to make the world's priciest coffee. [Image by Wie146.]

5. Masa Super Premium: No Weak Cup of Tea

Just because you've sworn off coffee in favor of green tea doesn't mean that you have to keep your wallet closed. In fact, there's a green tea out there that makes kopi luwak look downright frugal. Last December, Japanese manufacturer Royal Blue Tea introduced a new product called Masa Super Premium. The bottled tea was made from rare handpicked leaves from Shizuoka Prefecture that were then infused for three days. The resulting liquid was poured into 750 ml wine bottles that were available for a cool $2,500 apiece.

6. Water with a Side of Bling

bling-h20If tap water just isn't doing it for you anymore, you can pick up a bottle of Bling H20. The trendy bottled water comes from a spring in Tennessee and undergoes a nine-step purification process that involves filtration and an ozone treatment. It's then poured into a 750 ml frosted-glass bottle adorned with Swarovski crystals. Want a bottle? It will set you back at least $40.

Of course, that's fairly inexpensive compared to a bottle of Hawaii Deep Marine's Kona Nigari seawater, a concentrate that fetches $33.50 for a two-ounce bottle. The water, which comes from 2000 feet beneath the surface off of Hawaii's coast, is prized in Japan as a dietary supplement that reduces stress, aids weight loss, and eases digestion. A 2004 USA Today story reported that the company was sending 80,000 of the two-ounce bottles to Japan each day.

7. No Small Potatoes

Think it's impossible to go broke eating potatoes? Think again. The French La Bonnotte potato can set you back over $300 a pound, which could lead to some awfully pricey French fries. The potato is harvested only during the first week of May on the French island of Noirmoutier and is so fragile that it has to be pulled up by hand. (This isn't the hardiest of plants; it almost went extinct between the World Wars and needs to be fertilized with seaweed.) Some years the yield is as low as 20,000 kilograms, which further drives up prices for the coveted tuber, which is noted for its slightly salty, lemony flavor.

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10 Memorable Neil deGrasse Tyson Quotes
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Neil deGrasse Tyson is America's preeminent badass astrophysicist. He's a passionate advocate for science, NASA, and education. He's also well-known for a little incident involving Pluto. And the man holds nearly 20 honorary doctorates (in addition to his real one). In honor of his 59th birthday, here are 10 of our favorite Neil deGrasse Tyson quotes.

1. ON SCIENCE

"The good thing about science is that it's true whether or not you believe in it."
—From Real Time with Bill Maher.

2. ON NASA FUNDING

"As a fraction of your tax dollar today, what is the total cost of all spaceborne telescopes, planetary probes, the rovers on Mars, the International Space Station, the space shuttle, telescopes yet to orbit, and missions yet to fly?' Answer: one-half of one percent of each tax dollar. Half a penny. I’d prefer it were more: perhaps two cents on the dollar. Even during the storied Apollo era, peak NASA spending amounted to little more than four cents on the tax dollar." 
—From Space Chronicles

3. ON GOD AND HURRICANES

"Once upon a time, people identified the god Neptune as the source of storms at sea. Today we call these storms hurricanes ... The only people who still call hurricanes acts of God are the people who write insurance forms."
—From Death by Black Hole

4. ON THE BENEFITS OF TECHNOLOGY INVENTED FOR USE IN SPACE

"Countless women are alive today because of ideas stimulated by a design flaw in the Hubble Space Telescope." (Editor's note: technology used to repair the Hubble Space Telescope's optical problems led to improved technology for breast cancer detection.)
—From Space Chronicles

5. ON THE DEMOTION OF PLUTO FROM PLANET STATUS 

PBS

"I knew Pluto was popular among elementary schoolkids, but I had no idea they would mobilize into a 'Save Pluto' campaign. I now have a drawer full of hate letters from hundreds of elementary schoolchildren (with supportive cover letters from their science teachers) pleading with me to reverse my stance on Pluto. The file includes a photograph of the entire third grade of a school posing on their front steps and holding up a banner proclaiming, 'Dr. Tyson—Pluto is a Planet!'"
—From The Sky Is Not the Limit

6. ON JAMES CAMERON'S TITANIC

"In [Titanic], the stars above the ship bear no correspondence to any constellations in a real sky. Worse yet, while the heroine bobs ... we are treated to her view of this Hollywood sky—one where the stars on the right half of the scene trace the mirror image of the stars in the left half. How lazy can you get?"
—From Death by Black Hole

7. ON DEATH BY ASTEROID

"On Friday the 13th, April 2029, an asteroid large enough to fill the Rose Bowl as though it were an egg cup will fly so close to Earth that it will dip below the altitude of our communication satellites. We did not name this asteroid Bambi. Instead, we named it Apophis, after the Egyptian god of darkness and death."
—From Space Chronicles

8. ON THE MOTIVATIONS BEHIND AMERICA'S MOONSHOT

"[L]et us not fool ourselves into thinking we went to the Moon because we are pioneers, or discoverers, or adventurers. We went to the Moon because it was the militaristically expedient thing to do."
—From The Sky Is Not the Limit

9. ON INTELLIGENT LIFE (OR THE LACK THEREOF)

Perhaps we've never been visited by aliens because they have looked upon Earth and decided there's no sign of intelligent life.
Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/n/neildegras615117.html
Perhaps we've never been visited by aliens because they have looked upon Earth and decided there's no sign of intelligent life.
Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/n/neildegras615117.html

"Perhaps we've never been visited by aliens because they have looked upon Earth and decided there's no sign of intelligent life."

10. PRACTICAL ADVICE IN THE EVENT OF ALIEN CONTACT 

A still from Steven Spielberg's E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
Universal Studios
"[I]f an alien lands on your front lawn and extends an appendage as a gesture of greeting, before you get friendly, toss it an eightball. If the appendage explodes, then the alien was probably made of antimatter. If not, then you can proceed to take it to your leader."
—From Death by Black Hole
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40 Fun Facts About Sesame Street
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Now in its 47th season, Sesame Street is one of television's most iconic programs—and it's not just for kids. We're big fans of the Street, and to prove it, here are some of our favorite Sesame facts from previous stories and our Amazing Fact Generator.

Sesame Workshop

1. Oscar the Grouch used to be orange. Jim Henson decided to make him green before season two.

2. How did Oscar explain the color change? He said he went on vacation to the very damp Swamp Mushy Muddy and turned green overnight.

3. During a 2004 episode, Cookie Monster said that before he started eating cookies, his name was Sid.

4. In 1980, C-3PO and R2-D2 visited Sesame Street. They played games, sang songs, and R2-D2 fell in love with a fire hydrant.

5. Mr. Snuffleupagus has a first name—Aloysius

6. Ralph Nader stopped by in 1988 and sang "a consumer advocate is a person in your neighborhood."

7. Caroll Spinney said he based Oscar's voice on a cab driver from the Bronx who brought him to the audition.

8. In 1970, Ernie reached #16 on the Billboard Hot 100 with the timeless hit "Rubber Duckie."

9. One of Count von Count's lady friends is Countess von Backwards, who's also obsessed with counting but likes to do it backwards.

10. Sesame Street made its Afghanistan debut in 2011 with Baghch-e-Simsim (Sesame Garden). Big Bird, Grover and Elmo are involved.

11. According to Muppet Wiki, Oscar the Grouch and Count von Count were minimized on Baghch-e-Simsim "due to cultural taboos against trash and vampirism."

12. Before Giancarlo Esposito was Breaking Bad's super intense Gus Fring, he played Big Bird's camp counselor Mickey in 1982.

13. Thankfully, those episodes are available on YouTube.

14. How big is Big Bird? 8'2". (Pictured with First Lady Pat Nixon.)

15. In 2002, the South African version (Takalani Sesame) added an HIV-positive Muppet named Kami.

16. Six Republicans on the House Commerce Committee wrote a letter to PBS president Pat Mitchell warning that Kami was not appropriate for American children, and reminded Mitchell that their committee controlled PBS' funding.

17. Sesame Street's resident game show host Guy Smiley was using a pseudonym. His real name was Bernie Liederkrantz.

18. Bert and Ernie have been getting questioned about their sexuality for years. Ernie himself, as performed by Steve Whitmere, has weighed in: “All that stuff about me and Bert? It’s not true. We’re both very happy, but we’re not gay,”

19. A few years later, Bert (as performed by Eric Jacobson) answered the same question by saying, “No, no. In fact, sometimes we are not even friends; he can be a pain in the neck.”

20. In the first season, both Superman and Batman appeared in short cartoons produced by Filmation. In one clip, Batman told Bert and Ernie to stop arguing and take turns choosing what’s on TV.

21. In another segment, Superman battled a giant chimp.

22. Telly was originally "Television Monster," a TV-obsessed Muppet whose eyes whirled around as he watched.

23. According to Sesame Workshop, Elmo is the only non-human to testify before Congress.

24. He lobbied for more funding for music education, so that "when Elmo goes to school, there will be the instruments to play."

25. In the early 1990s, soon after Jim Henson’s passing, a rumor circulated that Ernie would be killed off in order to teach children about death, as they'd done with Mr. Hooper.

26. According to Snopes, the rumor may have spread thanks to New Hampshire college student, Michael Tabor, who convinced his graduating class to wear “Save Ernie” beanies and sign a petition to persuade Sesame Workshop to let Ernie live.

27. By the time Tabor was corrected, the newspapers had already picked up the story.

28. Sesame Street’s Executive Producer Carol-Lynn Parente joined Sesame Workshop as a production assistant and has worked her way to the top.

29. Originally, Count von Count was more sinister. He could hypnotize and stun people.

30. According to Sesame Workshop, all Sesame Street's main Muppets have four fingers except Cookie Monster, who has five.

31. The episode with Mr. Hooper's funeral aired on Thanksgiving Day in 1983. That date was chosen because families were more likely to be together at that time, in case kids had questions or needed emotional support.

32. Mr. Hooper’s first name was Harold.

33. Big Bird sang "Bein' Green" at Jim Henson's memorial service.

34. As Chris Higgins put it, the performance was "devastating."

35. Oscar's Israeli counterpart is Moishe Oofnik, whose last name means “grouch” in Hebrew.

36. Nigeria's version of Cookie Monster eats yams. His catchphrase: "ME WANT YAM!"

37. Sesame's Roosevelt Franklin ran a school, where he spoke in scat and taught about Africa. Some parents hated him, so in 1975 he got the boot, only to inspire Gob Bluth’s racist puppet Franklin on Arrested Development 28 years later.

38. Our good friend and contributor Eddie Deezen was the voice of Donnie Dodo in the 1985 classic Follow That Bird.

39. Cookie Monster evolved from The Wheel-Stealer—a snack-pilfering puppet Jim Henson created to promote Wheels, Crowns and Flutes in the 1960s.

40. This puppet later was seen eating a computer in an IBM training film and on The Ed Sullivan Show.

Thanks to Stacy Conradt, Joe Hennes, Drew Toal, and Chris Higgins for their previous Sesame coverage!

An earlier version of this article appeared in 2012.

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