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Dietribes: Halloween Candy

• 9 billion kernels of candy corn are manufactured for each Halloween, but they don't all end up in snack packs or bowls. Some show up in Hershey Kisses, jack o’ lanterns, even all-you-can-eat Halloween pancakes at IHOP and soda flavoring.
 
• But enough of all that, how is candy corn made?
 
• Consumers may spend $20.29 on candy per household for the estimated 36 million trick-or-treaters coming to their door, but over the course of the year Americans will eat up almost 24.3 pounds of candy!
 
• Flossers who were trick-or-treating in the early 90s (like myself) may recall the advent of the "minis" (one bite, as opposed to the two-bite fun size introduced by Mars in the late 1950s). Before that, 'Candy bars were available in only one size until the late 1950's,' said Hans Fiuczynski, a spokesman for M & M/Mars. 'They were like the Model T: you could have it in any size you wanted as long as it was the standard size.'

• CandyUSA.com's statistics show that the majority (52%) of those providing treats to costumed kiddies will be passing out chocolate, while three?in?ten will drop hard candy or lollipops into the sacks. About 26% of households will include full-size candy (chocolate and non-chocolate) in their Halloween activities. Kids say (unsurprisingly) that they prefer anything made with chocolate (68%) followed by lollipops (9%), gummy candy (7%) and bubble gum or chewing gum (7%)

• For those looking to strategize their candy map, according to a Hershey's survey, houses with black shutters are 77 percent more likely to hand out Kit Kat Wafer Bars while ranch houses look the other way when it comes to Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. If you're looking for a Reese's, two-story houses offer a 26 percent greater chance of success. And homes with brown doors tend to hand out, with 32% greater frequency, Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bars.

• If you have lots of chocolate candy left over (as if!), you can always make a leftover candy pie.

• Need more sugar? Here are a few vintage mental_floss posts about Halloween and candy.

• What were (are?) your favorite Halloween candies, Flossers? And when you came home did you sort, stash, swap or eat all of your candy? (I was a sorter - chocolate got eaten first ... in moderation, thanks Mom ... the rest was stowed and consumed over the remainder of the year)!

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.

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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]

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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.

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