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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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technology
The iMac Was Almost Called the MacMan
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John G. Mabanglo/Getty Images

After breaking out with its Macintosh line of personal computers in the 1980s, Apple was in a slump. Sales had flagged as Microsoft's Windows operating system made waves. In 1998, the company was set to unveil a product that it hoped would reinvigorate its brand.

And they almost blew it.

According to Ken Segall, the advertising genius behind their "Think Different" campaign, Apple founder Steve Jobs was expecting the iMac to reverse the company's ailing fortunes. Where older Macs had been boxy, beige, and bland, the iMac came in an assortment of colors and had a transparent chassis that showed off its circuitry. The problem, as Segall writes in his new book, Insanely Simple, was that Jobs didn't want to call it the iMac. He wanted to call it the MacMan.

"While that frightening name is banging around in your head, I'd like you to think for a moment about the art of product naming," Segall writes. "Because of all the things in this world that cry out for simplicity, product naming probably contains the most glaring examples of right and wrong. From some companies, you see names like 'iPhone.' From others you see names like ‘Casio G'zOne Commando' or the ‘Sony DVP SR200P/B' DVD player."

According to Segall, Jobs liked the fact that MacMan was slightly reminiscent of Sony's Walkman branding concept for its line of cassette players. (Later, Sony had a Discman, Pressman, and Talkman.) But Segall, who named products for a living, feared the name would take away from Apple's identity as being original. It was also gender-biased, and alienating an entire demographic of consumers was never a good thing.

Instead, Segall suggested "iMac," with the "i" for internet, because the unit was designed to connect easily to the web. Jobs "hated" the idea, along with other suggestions, even though Segall felt the iMac could provide a foundation to name other devices, just as Sony's Walkman had. Segall kept suggesting it, and Jobs eventually had it printed on a prototype model to see how it would look. After encouragement from his staff, he dropped MacMan. With this key contribution, Segall made sure no one would be lining up to buy a PhoneMan 10 years later. 

[h/t FastCoDesign]

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Big Questions
What Are Those Tiny Spots on Apples?
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iStock

The little pinprick spots on apples, pears, and potatoes are called lenticels (LEN-tih-sells), and they’re very important.

Plants need a constant stream of fresh air, just like people, and that “fresh air” means carbon dioxide. Flowers, trees, and fruit all take in carbon dioxide and give off oxygen. But unlike people, plants don’t have nostrils.

That's where a plant's lenticels come in. Each little speck is an opening in the fruit or tuber’s skin or the tree’s bark. Carbon dioxide goes in, and oxygen comes out. Through these minuscule snorkels, a plant is able to “breathe.”

Like any opening, lenticels are vulnerable to infection and sickness. In an apple disease called lenticel breakdown, a nutrient deficiency causes the apples’ spots to darken and turn into brown pits. This doesn’t hurt the inside of the fruit, but it does make the apple look pretty unattractive. In the equally appealing “lenticel blotch pit,” the skin around the apple’s lenticels gets patchy and dark, like a weird rash. 

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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