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Will Yelp Put Restaurant Chains Out of Business?

Finding great local restaurants can be a challenge. There seem to be a dozen mediocre, even bad restaurants, for every good one. That's why chains have gotten so popular in the last few decades. They may not be as good as some independent local places, but you can rely on them to carry the same food with the same level of quality.

But Yelp is managing to shake things up a bit with thousands of new user reviews appearing every day, the site is pushing more and more people to try new independent restaurants than ever before. In fact, Good Magazine wonders whether the site might finally help local spots beat back the big chains:

"Researcher Michael Luca at Harvard Business School analyzed data from Yelp and the Washington State Department of Revenue to see how the online database affected Seattle restaurants. He found that Yelp had rated 70 percent of all operational restaurants in 2009, while the city’s largest newspaper had only reviewed 5 percent of them."
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"A one-star increase in Yelp rating leads to a 5-9 percent increase in revenue."
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"This effect is driven by independent restaurants; ratings do not affect restaurants with chain affiliation."

If there really is a Yelp effect, it could have a huge impact on the restaurant business in the next few years. Do you use Yelp or another online review site to find quality spots in your area?

[Image courtesy of Dystopo's Flickr stream.]

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iStock
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Food
Hate Red M&M's? You Need a Candy Color-Sorting Machine
iStock
iStock

You don’t have to be a demanding rock star to live a life without brown M&M's or purple Skittles—all you need is some engineering know-how and a little bit of free time.

Mechanical engineering student Willem Pennings created a machine that can take small pieces of candy—like M&M's, Skittles, Reese’s Pieces, etc.—and sort them by color into individual piles. All Pennings needs to do is pour the candy into the top funnel; from there, the machine separates the candy—around two pieces per second—and dispenses all of it into smaller bowls at the bottom designated for each variety.

The color identification is performed with an RGB sensor that takes “optical measurements” of candy pieces of equal dimensions. There are limitations, though, as Pennings revealed in a Reddit Q&A: “I wouldn't be able to use this machine for peanut M&M's, since the sizes vary so much.”

The entire building process lasted from May through December 2016, and included the actual conceptualization, 3D printing (which was outsourced), and construction. The entire project was detailed on Pennings’s website and Reddit's DIY page.

With all of the motors, circuitry, and hardware that went into it, Pennings’s machine is likely too ambitious of a task for the average candy aficionado. So until a machine like this hits the open market, you're probably stuck buying bags of single-colored M&M’s in bulk online or sorting all of the candy out yourself the old fashioned way.

To see Pennings’s machine in action, check out the video below:

[h/t Refinery 29]

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Oreo, Amazon
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Food
Try New Oreo Flavors Each Month With a Cookie Club Subscription Box
Oreo, Amazon
Oreo, Amazon

The best cookies are the kind that are delivered directly to your doorstep. Now, as delish reports, the Oreo cookie brand is offering that service to its customers on a monthly basis. Oreo fans who sign up for the Cookie Club will receive a curated box of goodies around the beginning of the month.

Each subscription package comes in a box decorated with the cookie’s iconic design. Inside recipients will find two snacks, which can be any combination of the brand’s many cookies and candy bar flavors (such as classic Oreo and golden Oreo cookies as their examples).

The delivery also includes a recipe card and an Oreo-inspired gift. That gift could be a mug, a hat, a game, or any piece of Oreo-branded swag the company can fit into the box. According to one Amazon user, the box for January included cinnamon Oreo cookies, chocolate hazelnut Oreos, Oreo hot cocoa mix, Oreo socks, and a recipe for cinnamon Oreo mug cake.

The subscription costs more than it would to purchase the cookies from a store, but for true fans the higher price tag may be worth it. The Cookie Club is an opportunity to try out new Oreo flavors that you may have had trouble finding otherwise. It also makes a great gift for any adventurous cookie fans in your life. Subscriptions are available to purchase exclusively through Amazon in 3-month, 6-month, or 12-month packages, with the prices for each coming out to around $20 a box.

[h/t delish]

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