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istock

10 Snack Foods Originally Sold as Medicines

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istock

There was a time when you could have subsisted on graham crackers, Moxie, and Goo-Goo Clusters and called it a healthy diet. In fact, a lot of foods and beverages we consider snack items today were once marketed as medicines or tonics to a gullible public.

1. COCA-COLA 

The original intent of Coca-Cola, as you probably know, was a health drink. Created by John Pemberton, it was sold for 5 cents at soda fountains because people thought carbonated beverages would increase their wellness. Pemberton's company also sold Pemberton's Indian Queen Hair Dye and Pemberton's Globe Flower Cough Syrup.

2. GRAHAM CRACKERS

These snacks were invented in 1829 by Reverend Sylvester Graham, who felt the bland food was a perfect prescription for those prone to excessive amounts of "self-abuse." Apparently dry crackers would bore the sexual appetite right out of you.

3. CORN FLAKES

OK, it might be a stretch to call corn flakes a snack food, but I'm sure I'm not alone in downing a bowl of cereal when I want a little something. John Harvey Kellogg was looking for something to improve the diet of hospital patients and decided that corn flakes were a great bread substitute that helped digestion (and curbed masturbation). His brother, William Keith Kellogg, later added sugar to the flakes and started a company to sell them.

4. GOO-GOO CLUSTERS

Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

During the Great Depression, these treats were marketed to consumers as a "nourishing lunch for a nickel." Sure, I employ that theory on candy all of the time: peanuts are protein, chocolate has calcium, marshmallow has ... marshmallow.

5. FIG NEWTONS

Although Fig Newtons are marketed as "fruit and cake" these days, back in 1892 they were considered digestive aids. A lot of doctors thought that digestion problems were the root of all kinds of other illnesses, so you see a lot of digestive aids from that era. They were originally fig rolls instead of the square pastry we're familiar with now.

6. MOXIE

Moxie was one of the first mass-produced soft drinks commercially available. It was created sometime around 1876 by a doctor whose friend, Lieutenant Moxie, was using the extract of a South American plant to prevent paralysis, "softening of the brain," nervousness and insomnia. The good doctor took Moxie's plant extract and stuck it in soda water, calling it "Beverage Moxie Nerve Food."

7. HEATH BAR

Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Heath bars could just as well have been called Health Bars—the use of the best milk chocolate, almonds, butter, and pure cane sugar was thought to pep a person up.

8. 7-UP

This is probably not a big shocker for you, since many of us still use the miracle tonic to soothe an upset stomach. Originally called "Bib-Label Lithiated Lemon-Lime Soda," it contained lithium citrate, so it really was a mood-stabilizing drink. The drink was introduced in 1929; lithium wouldn't be removed from the product until 1948.

9. DR PEPPER 

This soda has a similar story. Like Coke and 7-Up, it was sold as a brain tonic and pick-me-up and was available at drugstores to cure what ails ya.

10. MCVITIE'S DIGESTIVE BISCUITS 

Calling cookies "digestives" started with McVitie's back in 1892. Because the biscuit contained a high amount of sodium bicarbonate, the inventor theorized that eating the biscuits after a large meal would be beneficial to one's health. They're still called digestives, but McVitie's now prints a disclaimer on them that says, "The ingredients in this biscuit do not contain any substances that assist digestion."

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iStock
An Eco-Friendly Startup Is Converting Banana Peels Into Fabric for Clothes
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iStock

A new startup has found a unique way to tackle pollution while simultaneously supporting sustainable fashion. Circular Systems, a “clean-tech new materials company,” is transforming banana byproducts, pineapple leaves, sugarcane bark, and flax and hemp stalk into natural fabrics, according to Fast Company.

These five crops alone meet more than twice the global demand for fibers, and the conversion process provides farmers with an additional revenue stream, according to the company’s website. Fashion brands like H&M and Levi’s are already in talks with Circular Systems to incorporate some of these sustainable fibers into their clothes.

Additionally, Circular Systems recycles used clothing to make new fibers, and another technology called Orbital spins those textile scraps and crop byproducts together to create a durable type of yarn.

People eat about 100 billion bananas per year globally, resulting in 270 million tons of discarded peels. (Americans alone consume 3.2 billion pounds of bananas annually.) Although peels are biodegradable, they emit methane—a greenhouse gas—during decomposition. Crop burning, on the other hand, is even worse because it causes significant air pollution.

As Fast Company points out, using leaves and bark to create clothing may seem pretty groundbreaking, but 97 percent of the fibers used in clothes in 1960 were natural. Today, that figure is only 35 percent.

However, Circular Systems has joined a growing number of fashion brands and textile companies that are seeking out sustainable alternatives. Gucci has started incorporating a biodegradable material into some of its sunglasses, Bolt Threads invented a material made from mushroom filaments, and pineapple “leather” has been around for a couple of years now.

[h/t Fast Company]

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Apeel
New Plant-Based Coating Can Keep Your Avocados Fresh for Twice as Long
Apeel
Apeel

Thanks to a food technology startup called Apeel Sciences, eating fresh avocados will soon be a lot easier. The Bill Gates–backed company has developed a coating designed to keep avocados fresh for up to twice as long as traditional fruit, Bloomberg reports, and these long-lasting avocados will soon be available at 100 grocery stores across the Midwestern U.S. Thirty or so of the grocery stores involved in the limited rollout of the Apeel avocado will be Costcos, so feel free to buy in bulk.

Getting an avocado to a U.S. grocery store is more complicated than it sounds; the majority of avocados sold in the U.S. come from California or Mexico, making it tricky to get fruit to the Midwest or New England at just the right moment in an avocado’s life cycle.

Apeel’s coating is made of plant material—lipids and glycerolipids derived from peels, seeds, and pulp—that acts as an extra layer of protective peel on the fruit, keeping water in and oxygen out, and thus reducing spoilage. (Oxidation is the reason that your sliced avocados and apples brown after they’ve been exposed to the air for a while.) The tasteless coating comes in a powder that fruit producers mix with water and then dip their fruit into.

A side-by-side comparison of a coated and uncoated avocado after 30 days, with the uncoated avocado looking spoiled and the coated one looking fresh
Apeel

According to Apeel, coating a piece of produce in this way can keep it fresh for two to three times longer than normal without any sort of refrigeration or preservatives. This not only allows consumers a few more days to make use of their produce before it goes bad, reducing food waste, but can allow producers to ship their goods to farther-away markets without refrigeration.

Avocados are the first of Apeel's fruits to make it to market, but there are plans to debut other Apeel-coated produce varieties in the future. The company has tested its technology on apples, artichokes, mangoes, and several other fruits and vegetables.

[h/t Bloomberg]

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