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8footpizza.com

The Largest Versions of 8 Delicious Foods

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8footpizza.com

1. Pizza

The world’s largest commercially available pizza didn’t come from New York City or Chicago. The prize actually goes to the Dirt Road Cookers in San Antonio, Texas, who broke the record this past August. Their pizza was more than 46 square feet, and weighed 100 pounds. But that’s small time compared to the 26,883-pound pizza made by South Africa’s Norwood Hypermarket in 1990. Or the more than 51,000-pound, gluten-free pizza created by Dovilio Nardi, an Italian, in 2012. Because pizza lovers are apparently very specific, theses pizzas can all call themselves world-record holders.

While the Pizza Boss pizza cutter might not be able to handle a 51,000-pound pie, it should be much, much more than sufficient for any pizza you cook up in your home oven.

2. Chocolate Chip Cookie

Immaculate Baking Company

The world’s largest cookie was created by the Immaculate Baking Company in 2003. After eight months of planning—which included strategizing, building a special oven, test baking, and acquiring 40,000 pounds of ingredients—the bakers set to work in a field next to Immaculate Baking’s Flat Rock, N.C., store. The final product was 102 feet wide, beating the previous record holder by about 20 feet. Immaculate Baking sold pieces of the cookie for $10, with proceeds going toward the building of a folk artist museum.

For your own, potentially less epic, cookie-baking, try the new baking gift set from our store!

3. Pumpkin Pie

The New Bremen Giant Pumpkin Growers of New Bremen, Ohio, put those giant pumpkins to good use in 2010 when they created the world’s largest pumpkin pie. It was 20 feet in diameter and weighed nearly 3700 pounds, destroying New Bremen’s previous world record pie, which measured 12 feet and weighed a measly 2020 pounds.

This holiday season, try removing your pumpkin pies from the oven with the Poppin' Hot Oven Mitt.

4. Ice Cream Cone

World Record Academy

Officially, the world’s largest ice cream cone was made in Italy and was actually filled with gelato (of course). The internal part of the cone, which was 9 feet tall, consisted of a mix of wafer and white chocolate, and was then decorated with 2,000 round wafer biscuits. But according to reports, this record was beaten in 2012 by experimental chef Heston Blumenthal in Gloucester, England. His cone was a staggering 13 feet high and held more than 2,200 pounds of ice cream, leading to serious brain freeze.

Turn the work of making ice cream into play with the Ice Cream Ball ice cream maker. Good luck making 2,200 pounds!

5. Salad

Who said being the world’s biggest meant you had to be unhealthy? The largest salad was created by more than 600 volunteers in Crete, Greece, and weighed almost 30,000 pounds. In true Greek style, the fixings included tomatoes, cucumber, onions, green peppers, feta cheese, olive oil, oregano, and salt. In other salad news, the dining services team at the University of Massachusetts made the world’s largest fruit salad this month, weighing in at nearly 7000 pounds. The salad included basic fruit, like grapes and apples, as well as lychee and dragonfruit. I wonder if those college kids still opted for cheese fries in the dining hall?

Try fixing up your own healthy goodness in style with the Hands on Salad Bowl.

6. Burrito

CBRiveras

For some of us, burritos are big enough as is. But that didn’t stop CANIRAC La Paz, in Mexico, from creating one that weighed nearly 13,000 pounds in 2010. The burrito was filled with fish, onion, chile, and refried beans. Most impressive? It was made from a single flour tortilla and required 3,000 volunteers to fill and roll it.

Use the colorful Nest 9 Plus stacking prep bowls to serve up all the fixin's for your next giant burrito night!

7. Cupcakes

The bakers at Georgetown Cupcake in Washington, D.C.—who also have their own TLC reality show, DC Cupcakes—hold the record for the world’s largest cupcake. It weighed more than 2,500 pounds, stood at 3 feet tall, and was 56 inches in diameter. The oven and pan used to bake the cupcake were both custom made for the endeavor, which was featured on an hour-long DC Cupcakes episode.

We can't promise you your own reality show, but we can show you this Batterfinger spatula that comes in handy when you want to sample the batter of your own homemade treats!

8. Cocktail

After all that big food, what could be more perfect than a giant margarita to wash it down? The “Calarita Margarita,” a concoction made by Nick Nicora in Sacramento, California, consisted of 2100 gallons of Jose Cuervo tequila, 4 gallons of Cointreau, 2800 gallons of margarita mix, 75 40-pound bags of ice, 5190 gallons of water, and 50 gallons of lime juice. A 30-foot-tall “cocktail shaker” was also crafted for the event. Nicora has been trying his hand at big food for a few years now: he helped create a 777-pound, 1.3 million-calorie hamburger in 2011.

Become a mad scientist of mixology yourself with the Chemistry Cocktail Set!

These and plenty more BIG time fun, geeky products for the Smart Chef in the Foodie section of the Floss online store! Plus free shipping this week on orders over $50!

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iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva
technology
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Man Buys Two Metric Tons of LEGO Bricks; Sorts Them Via Machine Learning
May 21, 2017
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iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva

Jacques Mattheij made a small, but awesome, mistake. He went on eBay one evening and bid on a bunch of bulk LEGO brick auctions, then went to sleep. Upon waking, he discovered that he was the high bidder on many, and was now the proud owner of two tons of LEGO bricks. (This is about 4400 pounds.) He wrote, "[L]esson 1: if you win almost all bids you are bidding too high."

Mattheij had noticed that bulk, unsorted bricks sell for something like €10/kilogram, whereas sets are roughly €40/kg and rare parts go for up to €100/kg. Much of the value of the bricks is in their sorting. If he could reduce the entropy of these bins of unsorted bricks, he could make a tidy profit. While many people do this work by hand, the problem is enormous—just the kind of challenge for a computer. Mattheij writes:

There are 38000+ shapes and there are 100+ possible shades of color (you can roughly tell how old someone is by asking them what lego colors they remember from their youth).

In the following months, Mattheij built a proof-of-concept sorting system using, of course, LEGO. He broke the problem down into a series of sub-problems (including "feeding LEGO reliably from a hopper is surprisingly hard," one of those facts of nature that will stymie even the best system design). After tinkering with the prototype at length, he expanded the system to a surprisingly complex system of conveyer belts (powered by a home treadmill), various pieces of cabinetry, and "copious quantities of crazy glue."

Here's a video showing the current system running at low speed:

The key part of the system was running the bricks past a camera paired with a computer running a neural net-based image classifier. That allows the computer (when sufficiently trained on brick images) to recognize bricks and thus categorize them by color, shape, or other parameters. Remember that as bricks pass by, they can be in any orientation, can be dirty, can even be stuck to other pieces. So having a flexible software system is key to recognizing—in a fraction of a second—what a given brick is, in order to sort it out. When a match is found, a jet of compressed air pops the piece off the conveyer belt and into a waiting bin.

After much experimentation, Mattheij rewrote the software (several times in fact) to accomplish a variety of basic tasks. At its core, the system takes images from a webcam and feeds them to a neural network to do the classification. Of course, the neural net needs to be "trained" by showing it lots of images, and telling it what those images represent. Mattheij's breakthrough was allowing the machine to effectively train itself, with guidance: Running pieces through allows the system to take its own photos, make a guess, and build on that guess. As long as Mattheij corrects the incorrect guesses, he ends up with a decent (and self-reinforcing) corpus of training data. As the machine continues running, it can rack up more training, allowing it to recognize a broad variety of pieces on the fly.

Here's another video, focusing on how the pieces move on conveyer belts (running at slow speed so puny humans can follow). You can also see the air jets in action:

In an email interview, Mattheij told Mental Floss that the system currently sorts LEGO bricks into more than 50 categories. It can also be run in a color-sorting mode to bin the parts across 12 color groups. (Thus at present you'd likely do a two-pass sort on the bricks: once for shape, then a separate pass for color.) He continues to refine the system, with a focus on making its recognition abilities faster. At some point down the line, he plans to make the software portion open source. You're on your own as far as building conveyer belts, bins, and so forth.

Check out Mattheij's writeup in two parts for more information. It starts with an overview of the story, followed up with a deep dive on the software. He's also tweeting about the project (among other things). And if you look around a bit, you'll find bulk LEGO brick auctions online—it's definitely a thing!

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Nick Briggs/Comic Relief
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What Happened to Jamie and Aurelia From Love Actually?
May 26, 2017
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Nick Briggs/Comic Relief

Fans of the romantic-comedy Love Actually recently got a bonus reunion in the form of Red Nose Day Actually, a short charity special that gave audiences a peek at where their favorite characters ended up almost 15 years later.

One of the most improbable pairings from the original film was between Jamie (Colin Firth) and Aurelia (Lúcia Moniz), who fell in love despite almost no shared vocabulary. Jamie is English, and Aurelia is Portuguese, and they know just enough of each other’s native tongues for Jamie to propose and Aurelia to accept.

A decade and a half on, they have both improved their knowledge of each other’s languages—if not perfectly, in Jamie’s case. But apparently, their love is much stronger than his grasp on Portuguese grammar, because they’ve got three bilingual kids and another on the way. (And still enjoy having important romantic moments in the car.)

In 2015, Love Actually script editor Emma Freud revealed via Twitter what happened between Karen and Harry (Emma Thompson and Alan Rickman, who passed away last year). Most of the other couples get happy endings in the short—even if Hugh Grant's character hasn't gotten any better at dancing.

[h/t TV Guide]

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