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Do Peaches Make Your Lips Itch?

The tingling begins a few minutes after you finish your fruit salad. A strange itch starts with your lips and spreads to your tongue. “What is this?” you wonder. “What’s happening to me?” And then, just as quickly as it came, the itch is gone, and you forget all about it—until the next brunch.

If this sounds familiar, you may be one of the many Americans with oral allergy syndrome (OAS). People with OAS find that their mouths and throats itch or tingle when they eat certain raw fruits and vegetables. Unlike allergies to peanuts or bee stings, pollen food allergy, as it’s also known, is usually nothing to worry about.

With seasonal allergies and hay fever, the presence of pollen in the air leads to sneezing, runny noses, and congestion. In OAS, the presence of pollen-like proteins in fruits and vegetables leads to a mouth-specific reaction.

OAS reactions are generally pretty mild, lasting just a few minutes to an hour. (In rare cases, a person's throat can swell up, but most people just experience itching or tingling.) That’s because once the problem protein reaches your stomach, your digestive juices start breaking it down. OAS occurs when pollen and pollen-like proteins have built up in a person’s body, so it’s more common in adults than in children.

Most people with allergies react to one or two types of pollen, which bear similarities to the proteins in specific fruits or vegetables. Check out the infographics below from the Washington Post for more information on the relationship between pollen and produce.

Fruit


Vegetables


Herbs and Spices

It’s worth noting that people with OAS usually only react to a few foods—not necessarily every food on the list for their pollen type. But once you know which foods set off your allergies, it’s a pretty easy fix: avoid them. If you absolutely can’t give them up, try cooking them first. Even zapping a piece of fresh fruit in the microwave for 15 seconds will reduce its reactivity, because cooking breaks down the offending proteins just like your stomach would.

Of course, if you notice a reaction to any food, it’s important to see your doctor. Many allergic reactions look alike, and some of them are deadly. A quick medical test can determine if OAS is the culprit.

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Dave Jones, Flickr // CC BY 2.0
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technology
A Rare Apple Lisa 1 Computer Is Up for Auction on eBay
Dave Jones, Flickr // CC BY 2.0
Dave Jones, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

For superfans of vintage Apple products, a working Apple Lisa 1 is the holy grail of collector's items. First released in 1983, the pioneering computer (the first to feature a graphic interface and a mouse) was a commercial failure and only sold 100,000 units, very few of which survived to the present day. But an eBay seller is offering up the super-rare opportunity to own one, as DesignTAXI reports.

The computer in question, selling for more than $55,000 as of January 8, is in mint condition. According to the listing, it has only been turned on a few times.

A Lisa 1 computer
professorinschubert, eBay

As you can see in the video below, everything seems to be in working order.

The seller estimates that there are only 20 to 100 Lisa 1s left in the world. And even for a Lisa 1, this one is a rare machine. Lisa computers, reportedly named after Steve Jobs’s daughter (though there have been some other theories about the name), were the only machines Apple released with its doomed Twiggy disk drives—a faulty format that turned out to be incredibly unreliable, leading to the product’s downfall. Apple then released the Lisa 2 with standard 3.5-inch floppy disk drives, offering customers free upgrades for their Lisa 1 Twiggy drives.

Since most customers jumped at the chance to make their $10,000 computer ($24,700 in today's dollars) run properly, Lisas that still have their original Twiggy drives are incredibly hard to find. The Lisa 1 on sale still has its twin Twiggy drives though, and they work, at least as well as the drives ever worked.

Whether the seller will actually get his $55,000 is questionable. In 2010, a similar Lisa 1 sold for just $15,000. But the model seems to have gained a lot of value since then, since one sold for $50,000 in November 2017.

[h/t DesignTAXI]

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Big Questions
Why Do Honeycrisp Apples Cost So Much?
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iStock

Apples to apples is no longer a valid comparison. As gastronomic writer Sarah Jampel at Food52 has observed, shoppers who prefer a premium fruit experience by opting for Honeycrisp apples can pay up to four times as much as they would for other varieties. When did Granny Smiths become the RC Cola to Honeycrisp’s Coke?

According to Jampel, the answer invokes the old law of supply and demand. There’s plenty of demand for the apple, but prices get engorged when there isn't enough to go around.

The scarcity is a result of the Honeycrisp’s eccentric nature. Introduced commercially in 1991 after being invented by University of Minnesota scientist David Bedford, who cross-pollinated seeds to create a more durable and winter-resistant apple, the Honeycrisp tree demands very specific soil and maintenance requirements. The fruit can ripen at various times, necessitating more frequent harvests; the skin is thin and delicate, so they must be trimmed off by hand. Many of the trees are so delicate they require a trellis [PDF] to support their branches.

All the extra labor means more time and money—the latter of which is passed along to the consumer.

Growers who didn’t anticipate the surging popularity of Honeycrisps were also caught off-guard. As trees can take up to six years to bear enough fruit for commercial purposes, the number of trees currently producing isn’t really proportionate to the level of demand.

That will change as more are planted, although it might be a little while before the Honeycrisp proves to be on the same economic footing as its Red Delicious counterpart. Before you celebrate a cheaper version, remember that growers looking to feed the market might opt to grow the apple in less-than-perfect conditions that could affect its famously crunchy taste. Enjoy it while you can.

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

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