CLOSE
Original image
istock

10 Popular Foods Once Considered Unfit To Eat

Original image
istock

1. Potatoes

When you think potatoes, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? A side of fries? Eating them all mashed up and buttery with gravy on Thanksgiving? If you were a Frenchman during the 18th century, your answer might have been “leprosy” and “rampant, unchecked sexual urges,” since consuming potatoes was believed to lead to both of these things—probably because the starch was thought to resemble lepers' feet and testicles.

Potato cultivation was actually banned for a time until French agricultural pioneer Antoine-Augustin Parmentier began promoting the potato in the late 18th century. Parmentier gave potatoes a PR campaign boost by serving potato dishes to the likes of Benjamin Franklin (whose sexual appetite was famously always intact, potato or no potato) and hiring armed guards to protect his prized potato patch.

2. Tomatoes

It’s hard to believe that the tomato, so versatile and central to European cuisine, was thought of as poisonous on the continent during the 18th and 19th centuries. The savory fruits had a reputation for killing the elites of society, and for good reason, since quite a few upper-crust folks did fall gravely ill after eating them. However it was actually their pewter plates, high in lead content and made even more potent by acidic tomato juice, that were the culprit.

So what turned the corner for the tomato? Among other things, the invention of a cheap and undeniably delicious new dish called pizza, in the 1880s, is said to have helped the so-called “poison apple” gain Beatles-like levels of popularity.

3. Tuna

Tuna is currently the most widely eaten fish in America, but it took some crafty PR campaigning to bring the tasty, healthy saltwater fish to popularity. At the turn of the century, yellowfin and skipjack—the two darker tuna varieties most widely eaten today—were avoided by fishermen and largely thought of as “junk fish” due to America’s preference for lighter meat.

But once World War I and the Great Depression rolled around, the widely-available and efficient protein source was slapped with the label “chicken of the sea,” and Americans started eating tuna by the literal boatload. The rest is smelly, oily history.

4. Lobster

These days, lobster pretty much serves as shorthand for “fancy food.” But as anyone who’s read David Foster Wallace’s treatise on the American delicacy, Consider the Lobster, knows, the marine crustacean was once considered unfit for human consumption and was mostly eaten by prisoners and the poor. In fact, up until the 19th century, the abundant creatures were considered a nuisance and frequently ground up as a fertilizer after washing up on the East Coast.

So how did the massive, near-insects get fancy? Part of the shift has been chalked up to the American railroad, which spread the food well beyond the Northeast, where they were most abundant. Lobster was also one of very few foods that wasn’t rationed during World War II, which made it a more regular part of the American diet. It should also be noted that dipping anything in melted butter never hurts.

5. Hamburgers

With the rise of gastropub culture over the past twenty years, burgers have gone from greasy fast food fix to a gourmet American dish. But since being invented around 1900, the burger has come even further. Due to the nature of the meat industry during the early 20th century (as famously explored in Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle) hamburgers were widely viewed as unclean food for the poor.

In his landmark book Fast Food Nation, Eric Schlosser touches on the rise of hamburgers in America, largely crediting White Castle—which used "white" to give the impression of cleanliness—as the chain that helped burgers become a quintessential American meal. Steak 'n Shake also positioned itself to change perceptions of ground beef, calling their burgers “steakburgers” and grinding their meat within public view to show off their untainted product.

6. Oatmeal

Oatmeal: tasty for breakfast, even better in a cookie. But back before oats could be found in pantries across America, they were considered strictly animal feed in the States. It wasn’t until a German immigrant named Ferdinand Schumacher marketed his ground oats as an alternative to breakfast meat that the food started to catch on as a morning meal.

Schumacher’s Akron-based empire (which would eventually become part of Quaker Oats) expanded even further once the Civil War took hold. The federal government put in oatmeal orders quicker than Schumacher could supply them after Union soldiers gave an initial order of his product rave reviews.

7. Peanuts

Thought to have been brought to North America by African slaves, peanuts were once considered food fit for only the poorest poor and livestock. Peanuts started taking off as an American staple following the Civil War, and there’s a good chance you recognize a few of the names involved with the pro-peanut shift.

First, there’s PT Barnum, whose circus started selling “Hot Roasted Peanuts” in the late 19th century—baseball stadiums and food carts would soon follow suit. There’s also the famous African American botanist George Washington Carver, who advocated for switching from cotton crops to legumes during the early 20th century and developed some 100 recipes involving the peanut. The undeniable, stick-to-the-roof-of-your-mouth deliciousness of peanut butter, popularized a few years later, cemented the peanut as an omnipresent American ingredient.

8. Garlic

Garlic makes pretty much everything tastier, and pretty much everyone smellier, as well. The “smellier” part has led the pungent vegetable to be viewed as uncouth in England for centuries, and stigmatized in the United States until surprisingly recently.

Because of its odor, the English have long viewed garlic as a vulgar food and considered its smell unacceptable, especially on the breath of young, courting couples, and have only gotten on board with the ingredient over the last few decades. For many years, the United States borrowed the anti-garlic attitude of its mother country, and it wasn’t until Polish, German and Italian immigrants settled in massive numbers that public perceptions started to shift in favor of the once forbidden vegetable.

9. Portobello Mushrooms

The story of the portobello mushroom is yet another reminder you should never underestimate the power of great PR campaign. Until the 1980s, the large, meaty mushroom—which is really just the common agaricus bisporus (aka crimini) mushroom, left to grow and mature—was considered an unsightly waste product to be tossed in the trash.

It wasn’t until the 1980s rolled around and when raw, dark and whole foods started to come into fashion that these earthy shrooms were tagged with the schnazzy Italian-sounding name “portobello” and marketed as a healthy meat replacement to be stuffed with cheese, veggies, and bread crumbs, or marinated and covered with cheese steak-style.

10. Chicken Wings

It’s hard to think of any food Americans eat more voraciously in the 21st century than the almighty wing, particularly come football season. While wings have been enjoyed in various regions both in America and around the world (hey, if it’s edible, people have found a way to eat it), they were largely thrown away as scraps, used for broth, or generally considered far less valuable than the leg and the breast in much of the country prior to the 1960s.

So what happened in the 1960s? Someone in Buffalo, New York deep fried and threw some hot sauce on the suckers, and people pretty much lost their minds. The regional delicacy gradually swept the nation, to the point that we now consume 1.25 billion wings on Super Bowl weekend, an amount that the National Chicken Council Reports that would circle the earth twice if laid end-to-end.

All images courtesy of iStock.

Original image
Amazon
arrow
Smart Shopping
This Week's Best Amazon Deals You Can Still Get
Original image
Amazon

As a recurring feature, our team combs the Web and shares some amazing Amazon deals we’ve turned up. Here’s what caught our eye today, August 20.

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers, including Amazon, and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we only get commission on items you buy and don’t return, so we’re only happy if you’re happy. Good luck deal hunting!

GADGETS, TOYS, AND MEDIA

Crosley CR7007A-MA Patriarch Turntable with Radio, CD Player and Aux-In (Mahogany) for $103.00 (list price $169.95)

TaoTronics Bluetooth Headphones, Sweatproof Wireless In Ear Earbuds, Sports Magnetic Earphones with Built in Mic (IPX5 Splash Proof Rating, aptX Stereo, Up to 7 Hours of Talk Time, Ceramic Antenna) for $25.99 (list price $69.99)

New Matter MOD-t Desktop 3D Printer | Built-In WiFi, Easy to Use, Safe and Quiet for $269.10 (list price $399.00)

Parrot Zik 2.0 Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones (Yellow) for $124.95 (list price $124.95)

Samsung Gear VR - Virtual Reality Headset (US Version with Warranty) for $34.11 (list price $49.99)

JS Portable Mini Wireless Bluetooth Nut Speaker with Sling for iPhone iPad Android and More for $11.88 (list price $25.99)

[The Smallest] Jackery Mini 3350mAh Portable Charger - External Battery Pack, Premium Aluminum Power Bank, Portable iPhone Charger for iPhone 7, 6s, Galaxy S7, Galaxy S6 (Black) for $11.99 (list price $29.99)

Quirky PCORP-GY01 Cordies Pop Wire and Cable Organizer, Grey for $10.00 (list price $14.95)

Satechi Aluminum USB Headphone Stand Holder with Three USB 3.0 Ports and 3.5mm AUX port - Suitable For All Headphone Sizes (Gold) for $34.99 (list price $39.99)

Canon PowerShot G9 X Digital Camera with 3x Optical Zoom, Built-in Wi-Fi and 3 inch LCD touch panel (Silver) for $399.00 (list price $529.00)

Invoxia Smart Portable Speaker with Amazon Alexa, Green for $199.00 (list price $199.00)

Withings Activité Pop - Activity and Sleep Tracking Watch for $99.99 (list price $179.99)

KITCHEN

The Keyboard Waffle Iron for $54.75 (list price $69.99)

Curva Artisan Series Double Wall Beverage Glasses and Tumblers - Unique 8 oz Thermo Insulated Drinking Glasses, Set of 4 for $26.31 (list price $26.31)

MatchaDNA Handcrafted Matcha Tea Bowl - White for $16.89 (list price $29.99)

Nordic By Nature Insulated Neoprene Lunchbox Tote Lunch Bag Made For Women, Men and Kids | Includes 12" Big Bottle Cooler | Lightweight | Rugged Lunch Box | Washable | Designer Camo Pattern Bags for $19.99 (list price $27.99)

One White Apple Wooden Spoons Disposable, 6" Length Eco-Friendly Biodegradable Compostable Birchwood (Pack of 100) GO GREEN! for $12.98 (list price $16.98)

Bento Lunch Box by Lifemark Labs - Stylish Leakproof Lunch Kit with 3 Compartments - For Kids & Adults - Easy Portion Control - Container is Dishwasher & Microwave Friendly for $19.97 (list price $34.95)

Bellemain 4 Piece Airtight Acrylic Canister Set , Food Storage Container for $22.95 (list price $39.95)

koziol KASIMIR Hedgehog Cheese Grater, transparent red for $12.95 (list price $14.40)

Joseph Joseph 40085 Nest 9 Nesting Bowls Set with Mixing Bowls Measuring Cups Sieve Colander, 9-Piece, Blue for $40.00 (list price $42.99)

Cafe Du Chateau 34oz French Press, 4 Level Filtration System, 304 Grade Stainless Steel, Heat Resistant Borosilicate Glass for $22.95 (list price $27.95)

Bekith Brushed Stainless Steel Mortar and Pestle / Spice Grinder / Molcajete for $13.98 (list price $49.99)

Oster 2-Pound Expressbake Bread Machine with 13-Hour Delay Timer, CKSTBRTW20 for $43.12 (list price $59.99)

HOME

Vornado VFAN Vintage Air Circulator Fan, Vintage White for $95.00 (list price $119.99)

Saganizer Hamper with Wheels Rolling Cart Heavy Duty Triple Laundry Organizer/Sorter, Chrome/White for $37.99 (list price $49.99)

Bronze Dimmable Accent Table Lamp with 1 Vintage Edison Style Bulb, Plugin, Brooklyn Bulb Co. Hoyt Collection, Inset Switch, ETL Listed for $69.99 (list price $129.00)

T4U 3 Inch Ceramic Cameo Double Layer Howllow Design succulent Plant Pot/Cactus Plant Pot With Saucer Full colors Package 1 Pack of 3 for $19.93 (list price $49.86)

Rexford Mid-Century Walnut Table Lamp Set of 2 for $119.98 (list price $179.99)

Seville Classics 3-Tier Resin Slat Utility Shoe Rack, Espresso for $29.99 (list price $34.40)

Byredo - Burning Rose Candle for $68.24 (list price $95.00)

K&H Manufacturing Mod Dream Pod Gray/Black 22" (unheated) for $38.39 (list price $45.59)

Deco 79 68135 Metal Bookend Pair for $28.40 (list price $57.00)

Mini Ceramic Hanging Succulent Planters Flower Pots for Home Decor - White 2 Pieces HakkaGirl for $9.89 (list price $16.54)

Prevue Pet Products Kitty Power Paws Multi-Platform Posts with Tassel Toys, Natural for $71.95 (list price $82.74)

HERNGEE Deer Head Single Wall Hook / Hanger Animal shaped Coat Hat Hook Heavy Duty, Rustic, Decorative Gift , Grey for $12.98 (list price $14.98)

OFFICE, SCHOOL, AND CRAFTS

Eames Style Aluminum Group Management Office Chair Reproduction Leather White for $345.00 (list price $1,345.00)

Acrylic Desktop, Folder and Makeup Palette Organizer - Mail, Paper/Paperwork Organizer - File Sorter; File Folder Holder - Laptop Rack - by Unum - Black and Clear, 9" x 6.75" x 6.5" for $20.99 (list price $29.99)

Microsoft Designer Bluetooth Mouse for $23.53 (list price $29.95)

Arteza Real Brush Pens - 24-Colors - Watercolor Markers - (Set of 24) for $21.99 (list price $66.99)

KABB Modern Digital Mechanical Retro Flip Dоwn Clock wіth Internal Gear Operated (Black) for $43.99 (list price $89.99)

Block Sketch Desk Tidy, Blue for $29.06 (list price $38.00)

Sharpie Tank Highlighters, Chisel Tip, Assorted Colors, 12-Count for $4.99 (list price $12.96)

Scotch Magic Tape, 3/4 x 1000 Inches, Boxed, 6 Rolls (810K6) for $9.89 (list price $11.45)

Wilson Jones 3 Ring Binder 3 Inch, Round Ring View Binder, Basic, 362 Series, Customizable, White (W362-49W) for $4.89 (list price $7.18)

eBoot 12 Inches Plastic Ruler Straight Ruler Plastic Measuring Tool for Student School Office, Clear, 2 Pack for $6.99 (list price $8.99)

Mead Composition Notebook, College Ruled, 100 Sheets, 5 Pack (72930) for $13.90 (list price $20.30)

Personal Daily Planner Organizer Will Help You to Keep Work-Life Balance & Achieve a Little More Goals - NO DATES Calendar Planner ( 8,5 X 5,7 ) - Diary Notebook for Man and Women 2017 / 2018 / 2019 for $18.99 (list price $29.99)

HEALTH AND BEAUTY

Conair Oval Shaped Double-Sided Lighted Makeup Mirror, 1x/7x magnification, Polished Chrome Finish for $26.09 (list price $34.99)

Mudder Silicone Cosmetic Containers Cream Jar with Sealed Lids, 3 Pieces (20 ml) for $8.99 (list price $14.99)

Dukes Daily Age-Defying Facial Moisturizer Cream 4oz - Anti-Aging Lotion - Day/Night Face Wash Fuel for Men – All Organic for $19.99 (list price $45.00)

Himalayan Pink Salt Bar Soap Bar with Rose (Everest) (4 Oz)- Handmade Organic with Essential Oils. Natural Moisturizing Body Soap for Skin and Face. With Shea Butter, Coconut Oil, Natural Glycerin for $7.99 (list price $9.00)

Umbra Stowit Jewelry Box - Modern Keepsake Storage Organizer with Hidden Compartment Drawers for Ring, Bracelet, Watch, Necklace, Earrings, and Accessories for $42.05 (list price $60.00)

Gentleman Jon Deluxe Wet Shave Kit | Includes 8 Items: Safety Razor, Badger Hair Brush, Shave Stand, Canvas & Leather Dopp Kit, Alum Block, Shave Soap, Stainless Steel Bowl and Astra Razor Blades for $75.00 (list price $95.00)

Trader Joe's Tea Tree Tingle Shampoo with Peppermint, Tea Tree and Eucalyptus Botanicals, 16-Ounces for $11.43 (list price $12.00)

Buxton Men's Addison Leather U-Zip Hanging Travel Kit, Cognac for $37.88 (list price $70.00)

Eye Cream Anti Aging Moisturizer - for Dark Circles, Puffiness, Wrinkles and Bags - Best Natural & Organic Ingredients - Use Day & Night - 1.7 OZ for $17.99 (list price $25.99)

Red Clay Honey Mask 9 fl oz for Anti Aging Facial Treatment, Facial Cleanser, Pore Reducer, Anti Aging Mask, Acne Treatment, Blackhead Remover, Cellulite Treatment & Natural Moisturizer for $15.95 (list price $49.99)

Dental Tool Set, ElleSye Dental Hygiene Tool Kit for Home Oral Care, Stainless Steel Tartar Remover Dental Pick Dental Scaler Dental Tweezers Anti-fog Mouth Mirror for Personal and Pet Use for $11.69 (list price $29.99)

OUTDOORS, GARDEN, AND SPORTS

Poler Men's Retro Rolltop Backpack, Black, One Size for $63.71 (list price $74.95)

Everstryke Match Pro Lighter - Waterproof Fire Starter Especially for Survival and Emergency Use for $9.99 (list price $29.95)

JOOLA Midsize Table Tennis Table for $144.98 (list price $219.95)

Streamline Rainbow Color Wheel Umbrella for $23.99 (list price $26.81)

mKitchen World Marshmallow Roasting Sticks | Telescoping Smores Skewers Hot Dog Extending Stainless Steel Fork | Extra Long 3.75 FT-45’’|Set of 5|Fire Pit, Camping, Campfire, Bonfire Kids Accessories for $16.99 (list price $37.64)

Schwinn Discover Women's Hybrid Bike (700C Wheels),White,28" for $249.39 (list price $275.37)

Running Belt – Fanny Pack – iPhone 6 , 7 Plus Pouch for Runners - Best Fitness Gear for Hands Free Workout – Reflective Waist Pack by Sport2People for $14.97 (list price $37.47)

Joovy Bicycoo Balance Bike, Red for $117.87 (list price $129.99)

eBags Crew Cooler II (Blue Yonder) for $34.99 (list price $49.99)

2 Pack Swimming Cap - TURATA Waterproof Unisex Premium Earmuffs Silicone No-Slip Swimming Cap for Adults Kids Woman and Men One Size Hat - Black & Blue for $11.99 (list price $29.99)

SEMOO Water Resistant ,2-3 Person,1 Door,3-Season Lightweight Tent for Camping with Carry Bag for $42.99 (list price $79.98)

Moon Lence Outdoor Ultralight Portable Folding Chairs with Carry Bag Heavy Duty 242lbs Capacity Camping Folding Chairs Beach Chairs for $34.99 (list price $67.99)

TOOLS

Bosch GMS120 Digital Multi-Scanner for $65.00 (list price $69.99)

True Utility FIXR Multi-Tool (20 Tools in 1) for $4.09 (list price $14.99)

GlowGeek 120 to 3000 Grit Sandpaper Assortment, Dry/Wet, 9 x 3.6 Inch, 42 Pieces,Sand Paper for Automotive Sanding, Wood Furniture Finishing, Wood Turing Finishing for $9.96 (list price $24.99)

First Aid Kit (275 Pieces 40 Unique Items) Family Emergency Disaster Earthquake & Survival. Large Portable Bag Ideal for Home Car Boat Kayak Backpack RV Sports Camping Hiking. Protect Your Loved Ones for $44.95 (list price $69.95)

Dremel 2200-01 Versa Flame Multi-Function Butane Torch for $39.00 (list price $42.99)

Plus Pen Style Compact Twiggy Scissors with Cover, White (34609) for $4.36 (list price $5.99)

Dremel 8220-1/28 12-Volt Max Cordless Rotary Tool for $79.00 (list price $99.00)

Southwire Tools & Equipment POUCH4 Leather Tool Pouch for $15.28 (list price $17.98)

NoCry Safety Glasses with Clear Anti Fog Scratch Resistant Wrap-Around Lenses and No-Slip Grips, UV Protection. Adjustable, Black & Green Frames for $9.39 (list price $10.49)

Signstek 45 in 1 Professional Portable Opening Precision Screwdriver Hand Tools Kit Set with Tweezers & Extension Shaft for Precise Repair Maintenance for $8.00 (list price $19.99)

Bingogous 5.0Ah 20V Max Premium XR Lithium Li-ion Replacement Battery for Dewalt DCB205 Dewalt DCB180,DCB204-2,DCB205-2,DCB200-2,DCB200 Dewalt DCD/DCF/DCG Series Dewalt 20V Battery 2 Pack for $59.99 (list price $99.99)

ORIA 86 in 1 Precision Screwdriver Set, Magnet Repair Tool Kit with Portable Bag for iPhone/ Cell Phone/ iPad/ Tablet/ PC/ MacBook and Other Electronics for $29.99 (list price $89.99)

Hole Saw Sets,16 Pcs Hole Saw Kit 3/4"-5" Inch Metal Circle Cutter Wood Steel Saws with Mandrels and Install Plate for Door Knob Lock for $16.14 (list price $18.99)

Original image
PAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images
arrow
Big Questions
Should You Keep Your Pets Indoors During the Solar Eclipse?
Original image
PAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images

By now, you probably know what you’ll be doing on August 21, when a total solar eclipse makes its way across the continental United States. You’ve had your safety glasses ready since January (and have confirmed that they’ll actually protect your retinas), you’ve picked out the perfect vantage point in your area for the best view, and you’ve memorized Nikon’s tips for how to take pictures of this rare celestial phenomenon. Still, it feels like you’re forgetting something … and it’s probably the thing that's been right under your nose, and sitting on your lap, the whole time: your pets.

Even if you’ve never witnessed a solar eclipse, you undoubtedly know that you’re never supposed to look directly at the sun during one. But what about your four-legged family members? Shouldn’t Fido be fitted with a pair of eclipse glasses before he heads out for his daily walk? Could Princess Kitty be in danger of having her peepers singed if she’s lounging on her favorite windowsill? While, like humans, looking directly at the sun during a solar eclipse does pose the potential of doing harm to a pet’s eyes, it’s unlikely that the thought would even occur to the little ball of fluff.

“It’s no different than any other day,” Angela Speck, co-chair of the AAS National Solar Eclipse Task Force, explained during a NASA briefing in June. “On a normal day, your pets don’t try to look at the sun and therefore don’t damage their eyes, so on this day they’re not going to do it either. It is not a concern, letting them outside. All that’s happened is we’ve blocked out the sun, it’s not more dangerous. So I think that people who have pets want to think about that. I’m not going to worry about my cat.”

Dr. Jessica Vogelsang, a veterinarian, author, and founder of pawcurious, echoed Speck’s statement, but allowed that there’s no such thing as being too cautious. “It’s hard for me to criticize such a well-meaning warning, because there’s really no harm in following the advice to keep pets inside during the eclipse,” Vogelsang told Snopes. “It’s better to be too cautious than not cautious enough. But in the interest of offering a realistic risk assessment, the likelihood of a pet ruining their eyes the same way a human would during an eclipse is much lower—not because the damage would be any less were they to stare at the sun, but because, from a behavior standpoint, dogs and cats just don’t have any interest in doing so. We tend to extrapolate a lot of things from people to pets that just doesn’t bear out, and this is one of them.

“I’ve seen lots of warnings from the astronomy community and the human medical community about the theoretical dangers of pets and eclipses, but I’m not sure if any of them really know animal behavior all that well," Vogelsang continued. "It’s not like there’s a big outcry from the wildlife community to go chase down coyotes and hawks and bears and give them goggles either. While we in the veterinary community absolutely appreciate people being concerned about their pets’ wellbeing, this is a non-issue for us.”

The bigger issue, according to several experts, would be with pets who are already sensitive to Mother Nature. "If you have the sort of pet that's normally sensitive to shifts in the weather, they might be disturbed by just the whole vibe because the temperature will drop and the sky will get dark,” Melanie Monteiro, a pet safety expert and author of The Safe-Dog Handbook: A Complete Guide to Protecting Your Pooch, Indoors and Out, told TODAY.

“If [your pets] have learned some association with it getting darker, they will show that behavior or at a minimum they get confused because the timeframe does not correspond,” Dr. Carlo Siracusa of Penn Vet Hospital told CBS Philly. “You might put the blinds down, but not exactly when the dark is coming but when it is still light.” 

While Monteiro again reasserts that, "Dogs and cats don't normally look up into the sun, so you don't need to get any special eye protection for your pets,” she says that it’s never a bad idea to take some extra precautions. So if you’re headed out to an eclipse viewing party, why not do your pets a favor and leave them at home. They won’t even know what they’re missing.

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios