10 Fun Recipes from Books, Movies, and TV Shows

iStock.com/USA-TARO
iStock.com/USA-TARO

In recent years, the internet has revealed that there's no shortage of talented pop culture fiends out there with a flair for the culinary arts. Here are some of the best real-life recipes for once-fictional delicacies featured in some of your favorite books, movies, and TV shows.

1. Harry Potter's Butterbeer

The beloved Hogsmeade beverage has rapidly become a hit with thirsty Muggles and a crowd-pleasing staple at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando Resort. Hoards of recipes exist, including a few alcoholic varieties, but most of them essentially consist of mixing cream soda with some sort of sweetener such as butterscotch syrup. For something a bit more involved, check out the video above. (And to watch a couple of Mental Floss staffers give it a try, check out this video.)

2. Dr. Seuss's Green Eggs and Ham

Dr. Seuss's alma mater, Dartmouth College, often treats its students to a meal of green eggs and ham in honor of the beloved children's poet. But you don't have to be an Ivy-Leaguer (or Sam-I-Am) to enjoy this whimsical dish: click here for a quick how-to guide.

3. The Lord of the Rings's Elven Lembas Bread

Going on a lengthy quest? Be sure to bake some Lembas bread first. Looking for something meatier? Epic Meal Time couldn't resist adding bacon to the Elvish dietary staple, which you can watch them prepare above.

4. Dune's Arrakeen Spice Coffee

Unlike the mystical substance that drives the universe of Frank Herbert's legendary Dune saga, the “spice” laced into this coffee won't turn your eyes into glowing blue orbs or grant you prescient powers. But, if you should happen to have some extra cinnamon lying around, it's a fun way to start your morning.

5. Star Trek's Romulan Ale

For Trekkies who are 21 or older, Geek In The City describes their Romulan Ale recipe as a “sure-fire way to get you arrested in the United Federation of Planets." The above video offers another take on this alien alcohol.

6. Star Wars's Bantha Milk

No trip to Tatooine is complete without a pint of cool, refreshing Bantha milk. Don't believe us? Check out this adorable ad above. But don't take our word for it, Earth-bound readers: mix up a glass for yourself. (And for a non-alcoholic recipe, go here.)

7. Futurama's Popplers

Futurama fans can relish this tasty, seafood-based replica of one of the Planet Express crew's favorite treats.

8. Soylent Green Crackers

You didn't really think we'd make it through this list without some sort of soylent green recipe, did you? Rest easy, sci-fi fans: no people were harmed in the making of these crackers.

9. The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy's Pan-Galactic Gargle Blaster

Unlike most of the culinary curiosities we've covered so far, author Douglas Adams actually wrote down a painstakingly specific recipe for his own creation in The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy. Unfortunately, just about every single ingredient is imaginary, leading fans to conjure up some wildly-inventive attempts to replicate Zaphod Beeblebrox's beverage of choice.

10. Game Of Thrones's Dothraki Blood Pie

The warring cultures in George RR Martin's smash-hit fantasy series are so meticulously detailed that an entire cookbook, A Feast of Ice and Fire, was published in 2012 to commemorate their respective cuisines. Among the most popular dish is the evocatively-named Dothraki blood pie.

An earlier version of this article ran in 2016.

Why Do We Eat Candy on Halloween?

Jupiterimages/iStock via Getty Images
Jupiterimages/iStock via Getty Images

On October 31, hordes of children armed with Jack-o'-lantern-shaped buckets and pillow cases will take to the streets in search of sugar. Trick-or-treating for candy is synonymous with Halloween, but the tradition had to go through a centuries-long evolution to arrive at the place it is today. So how did the holiday become an opportunity for kids to get free sweets? You can blame pagans, Catholics, and candy companies.

Historians agree that a Celtic autumn festival called Samhain was the precursor to modern Halloween. Samhain was a time to celebrate the last harvest of the year and the approach of the winter season. It was also a festival for honoring the dead. One way Celtics may have appeased the spirits they believed still walked the Earth was by leaving treats on their doorsteps.

When Catholics infiltrated Ireland in the 1st century CE, they rebranded many pagan holidays to fit their religion. November 1 became the “feasts of All Saints and All Souls," and the day before it was dubbed "All-Hallows'-Eve." The new holidays looked a lot different from the original Celtic festival, but many traditions stuck around, including the practice of honoring the dead with food. The food of choice for Christians became "soul cakes," small pastries usually baked with expensive ingredients and spices like currants and saffron.

Instead of leaving them outside for passing ghosts, soul cakes were distributed to beggars who went door-to-door promising to pray for souls of the deceased in exchange for something to eat. Sometimes they wore costumes to honor the saints—something pagans originally did to avoid being harassed by evil spirits. The ritual, known as souling, is believed to have planted the seeds for modern-day trick-or-treating.

Souling didn't survive the holiday's migration from Europe to the United States. In America, the first Halloween celebrations were a way to mark the end-of-year harvest season, and the food that was served mainly consisted of homemade seasonal treats like caramel apples and mixed nuts. There were no soul cakes—or candies, for that matter—to be found.

It wasn't until the 1950s that trick-or-treating gained popularity in the U.S. Following the Great Depression and World War II, the suburbs were booming, and people were looking for excuses to have fun and get to know their neighbors. The old practice of souling was resurrected and made into an excuse for kids to dress up in costumes and roam their neighborhoods. Common trick-or-treat offerings included nuts, coins, and homemade baked goods ("treats" that most kids would turn their noses up at today).

That changed when the candy companies got their hands on the holiday. They had already convinced consumers that they needed candy on Christmas and Easter, and they were looking for an equally lucrative opportunity to market candy in the fall. The new practice of trick-or-treating was almost too good to be true. Manufacturers downsized candies into smaller, bite-sized packages and began marketing them as treats for Halloween. Adults were grateful to have a convenient alternative to baking, kids loved the sweet treats, and the candy companies made billions.

Today, it's hard to imagine Halloween without Skittles, chocolate bars, and the perennial candy corn debates. But when you're digging through a bag or bowl of Halloween candy this October, remember that you could have been having eating soul cakes instead.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

Make Your Own Mouthwatering Pizza With Tomatoes From Frank Pepe’s

eugenesergeev/iStock via Getty Images
eugenesergeev/iStock via Getty Images

If you live in a rural area, the hunt for a quality slice of pizza—especially at a late hour—can be enough to make you consider moving to a pizza capital like New York. But what if you had the secret ingredient for a perfect pie right in your own kitchen?

Frank Pepe Pizzeria Italiana, the iconic New Haven establishment recently crowned America’s best pizzeria, is selling cans of its hand-selected tomatoes that you can purchase online or at any of its locations across Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and New York.

Like any good "secret" ingredient, the tomatoes that Frank Pepe’s chefs use in their critically acclaimed sauces are a little different than your regular grocery store pickings. Food & Wine reports that each year, Frank Pepe’s grandsons (now restaurant co-owners) conduct a blind taste test of several different tomato varieties harvested from farms in Naples, Italy, and decide which ones are worthy of being used in their pizza products. According to the pizzeria's website, “It’s not just a matter of taste, but of the tomatoes’ density, texture, and transition of flavor once they are cooked.”


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Of course, there’s more than one reason Frank Pepe’s pizzas are considered the gold standard in America. To achieve that famous “crisp, charred, chewy crust,” the pizzas are baked in a coal-fired oven rather than a wood-burning one. There’s also the fact that Frank Pepe and his ancestors have been perfecting the Neapolitan art of pizza-making for nearly a century (the pizzeria was founded in 1925). In other words: Don’t be disappointed if your first crack at a heavenly homemade pizza doesn’t come out exactly like the mouthwatering pictures on Frank Pepe’s website. Having said that, the magic of hand-chosen Naples tomatoes is sure to make your creation considerably better than any of its frozen, store-bought brethren.

You can order a pack of three cans of tomatoes for $10 here.

[h/t Food & Wine]

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