11 Things You Might Not Know About KitchenAid Mixers

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If wedding registries and cooking shows are any indication, KitchenAid’s iconic stand mixer may be home chefs’ most sought-after piece of equipment. Whether you’ve been whipping cream with one for decades or are thinking about plunking down the cash to buy your first one, there are a few things you might not know about the enduringly popular appliance. 

1. THEY WERE ORIGINALLY MEANT TO SAVE COMMERCIAL BAKERS TIME. 

In 1908, Herbert Johnson of the Hobart Manufacturing Company began designing a machine that would handle the task of mixing bread dough. By 1914, the company was marketing an 80-quart behemoth stand mixer called the Model H. It was a godsend to commercial bakers, who began snapping up the hulking contraptions. 

2. NAVY SAILORS WERE EARLY FANS. 

Before KitchenAid mixers were staples of cushy kitchens, they appeared in more rugged contexts. The United States Navy, always on the hunt for a way to save sailors time and efficiently feed large crews, ordered Model H mixers for three of its ships, where they proved so valuable that the device became part of Navy ships’ standard equipment.

3. AN EXECUTIVE'S WIFE NAMED IT.

Following the huge success of the commercial mixer, Hobart began working on a home model. As the story goes, once a prototype was completed, select executives and engineers took mixers home to their wives while they mulled over options for a catchy commercial name. When one of their wives praised the mixer as “the best kitchen aid” she had ever owned, culinary history was made. 

4. THE FIRST HOME VERSION WAS ENORMOUS.  

In 1919, home chefs finally got their own chance to cook with a scaled-down version of the contraption that had revolutionized bakeries and galleys. The domestic mixer, dubbed the Model H-5, didn’t enjoy the same instant success as its industrial predecessor. For one, it wasn’t quite the sleek KitchenAid we know and love today. The H-5 tipped the scales at 65 pounds, and it was 26 inches tall. The factory could only crank out four completed mixers per day, and retail outlets like hardware stores didn’t want to carry such a revolutionary product without first seeing that there was a market for it. Even home bakers who were interested in a mixer would have suffered from a case of sticker shock—the Model H-5 retailed for $189.50, or roughly $2600 in 2015. 

5. THE COMPANY HAD TO GET CREATIVE TO SELL THE MIXERS. 

When stores balked at carrying the home mixers, Hobart took to the streets to move units. A door-to-door sales force composed mostly of women lugged the hulking devices from one home to the next to show housewives just how useful the KitchenAid could be.   

6. A SMALLER VERSION GAVE KITCHENAID ITS BIG BREAK.

Compelling sales pitch or no, getting homemakers to shell out big money for an enormous mixer was still a tall task. In 1927, a new, even smaller version hit the market, and KitchenAid finally had its hit. The Model G was even smaller than the Model H-5 and a bit less expensive, which helped it find a sweet spot that fit both homemakers’ counter space and their wallets. The new version was a huge success that sold 20,000 units in just three years. 

7. IT STARTED LOOKING FAMILIAR IN THE 1930S. 

Soon after the Model G helped KitchenAid find traction in the marketplace, the Great Depression hit. While a major economic downturn would seem to be bad news for a relative luxury like a mixer, the company decided to keep innovating to maintain its customer base. In 1936, designer Egmont Arens came aboard to create new models of the mixer, a choice that would literally shape KitchenAid’s future. Arens was a proponent of “humaneering,” a philosophy that dictated designs should be pleasing to the senses in addition to being functional, and in August 1937, KitchenAid introduced an all-time crowd-pleaser, the Model K. 

How strong was Arens’s new design? Over 75 years later, the KitchenAid mixers brides and grooms are adding to their registries are, in the company’s words, “virtually unchanged” from the ones Arens rolled out in 1937. 

8. THEY ARE BUILT TO LAST.

Arens’s design isn’t the only enduring thing about KitchenAid. When the home mixers celebrated their 75th anniversary in 1994, KitchenAid launched a search to find the oldest working example of one of its mixers. Ninety-one-year-old Maude Humes of Blawnox, Pennsylvania took home the prize of $7500 and a new set of appliances for owning a working 1919 Model H. Humes admitted that she inherited the ancient mixer from an aunt and actually did her cooking with a more recent model: A 1930s-era Model G.  

9. THERE'S A SCIENCE BEHIND THEIR PERFORMANCE. 

Lize, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

It takes more than just an aesthetically pleasing design to become a kitchen hero for over seven decades. As KitchenAid’s marketing materials and review sites like The Sweethome alike note, KitchenAid mixers employ a “planetary” action to do their mixing. As a beater spins, it also rotates around within the bowl, which ensures more contact with the ingredients. The end result is that the ingredients get more fully mixed than they would using alternative mechanisms. 

10. OLDER ATTACHMENTS STILL WORK. 

One positive side effect from Arens’s enduring design: Very old attachments still work, even on brand-new KitchenAid mixers. While many chefs loving hooking the pasta maker or sausage grinder attachments onto their mixers, with some digging, you can find discontinued 1950s-era attachments to help turn your mixer into a machine that shells peas, buffs silver, and opens cans. 

11. THERE'S AN ENTIRE KITCHENAID MUSEUM.

m01229, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

Since the 1940s, every KitchenAid mixer has been built in the same factory in Greenville, Ohio, which has turned into something of a shrine to kitchen appliances. The KitchenAid Experience boasts a retail store and factory tours, but for hardcore fans of mixing, the highlight has to be the museum, which boasts early models, vintage ads, and notable mixers like the K5A owned by Julia Child

12 Intriguing Facts About the Intestines

When we talk about the belly, gut, or bowels, what we're really talking about are the intestines—long, hollow, coiled tubes that comprise a major part of the digestive tract, running from the stomach to the anus. The intestines begin with the small intestine, divided into three parts whimsically named the duodenum, jejunum, and ileum, which absorb most of the nutrients from what we eat and drink. Food then moves into the large intestine, or colon, which absorbs water from the digested food and expels it into the rectum. That's when sensitive nerves in your rectum create the sensation of needing to poop.

These organs can be the source of intestinal pain, such as in irritable bowel syndrome, but they can also support microbes that are beneficial to your overall health. Here are some more facts about your intestines.

1. The intestines were named by medieval anatomists.

Medieval anatomists had a pretty good understanding of the physiology of the gut, and are the ones who gave the intestinal sections their names, which are still used today in modern anatomy. When they weren't moralizing about the organs, they got metaphorical about them. In 1535, the Spanish doctor Andrés Laguna noted that because the intestines "carry the chyle and all the excrement through the entire region of the stomach as if through the Ocean Sea," they could be likened to "those tall ships which as soon as they have crossed the ocean come to Rouen with their cargoes on their way to Paris but transfer their cargoes at Rouen into small boats for the last stage of the journey up the Seine."

2. Leonardo da Vinci believed the intestines helped you breathe.

Leonardo mistakenly believed the digestive system aided respiratory function. In 1490, he wrote in his unpublished notebooks, "The compressed intestines with the condensed air which is generated in them, thrust the diaphragm upwards; the diaphragm compresses the lungs and expresses the air." While that isn't anatomically accurate, it is true that the opening of the lungs is helped by the relaxation of stomach muscles, which does draw down the diaphragm.

3. Your intestines could cover two tennis courts ...

Your intestines take up a whole lot of square footage inside you. "The surface area of the intestines, if laid out flat, would cover two tennis courts," Colby Zaph, a professor of immunology in the department of biochemistry and molecular biology at Melbourne's Monash University, tells Mental Floss. The small intestine alone is about 20 feet long, and the large intestine about 5 feet long.

4. ... and they're pretty athletic.

The process of moving food through your intestines requires a wave-like pattern of muscular action, known as peristalsis, which you can see in action during surgery in this YouTube video.

5. Your intestines can fold like a telescope—but that's not something you want to happen.

Intussusception is the name of a condition where a part of your intestine folds in on itself, usually between the lower part of the small intestine and the beginning of the large intestine. It often presents as severe intestinal pain and requires immediate medical attention. It's very rare, and in children may be related to a viral infection. In adults, it's more commonly a symptom of an abnormal growth or polyp.

6. Intestines are very discriminating.

"The intestines have to discriminate between good things—food, water, vitamins, good bacteria—and bad things, such as infectious organisms like viruses, parasites and bad bacteria," Zaph says. Researchers don't entirely know how the intestines do this. Zaph says that while your intestines are designed to keep dangerous bacteria contained, infectious microbes can sometimes penetrate your immune system through your intestines.

7. The small intestine is covered in "fingers" ...

The lining of the small intestine is blanketed in tiny finger-like protrusions known as villi. These villi are then covered in even tinier protrusions called microvilli, which help capture food particles to absorb nutrients, and move food on to the large intestine.

8. ... And you can't live without it.

Your small intestine "is the sole point of food and water absorption," Zaph says. Without it, "you'd have to be fed through the blood."

9. The intestines house your microbiome. 

The microbiome is made up of all kinds of microorganisms, including bacteria, viruses, fungi, and protozoans, "and probably used to include worm parasites too," says Zaph. So in a way, he adds, "we are constantly infected with something, but it [can be] helpful, not harmful."

10. Intestines are sensitive to change.

Zaph says that many factors change the composition of the microbiome, including antibiotics, foods we eat, stress, and infections. But in general, most people's microbiomes return to a stable state after these events. "The microbiome composition is different between people and affected by diseases. But we still don't know whether the different microbiomes cause disease, or are a result in the development of disease," he says.

11. Transferring bacteria from one gut to another can transfer disease—or maybe cure it.

"Studies in mice show that transplanting microbes from obese mice can transfer obesity to thin mice," Zaph says. But transplanting microbes from healthy people into sick people can be a powerful treatment for some intestinal infections, like that of the bacteria Clostridium difficile, he adds. Research is pouring out on how the microbiome affects various diseases, including multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's, and even autism.

12. The microbes in your intestines might influence how you respond to medical treatments.

Some people don't respond to cancer drugs as effectively as others, Zaph says. "One reason is that different microbiomes can metabolize the drugs differently." This has huge ramifications for chemotherapy and new cancer treatments called checkpoint inhibitors. As scientists learn more about how different bacteria metabolize drugs, they could possibly improve how effective existing cancer treatments are.

15 Unique Illnesses You Can Only Come Down With in German

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The German language is so perfectly suited for these syndromes, coming down with them in any other language just won’t do.

1. Kevinismus

At some point in the last couple of decades, parents in Germany started coming down with Kevinismus—a strange propensity to give their kids wholly un-German, American-sounding names like Justin, Mandy, Dennis, Cindy, and Kevin. Kids with these names reportedly tend to be less successful in school and in life, although some researchers have suggested this could be due to a combination of teachers’ prejudices toward the names and the lower social status of parents who choose names like Kevin.

2. Föhnkrankheit

Föhn is the name for a specific wind that cools air as it draws up one side of a mountain, and then warms it as it compresses coming down the other side. These winds are believed to cause headaches and other feelings of illness. Many a 19th century German lady took to her fainting couch with a cold compress, suffering from Föhnkrankheit.

3. Kreislaufzusammenbruch

Kreislaufzusammenbruch, or “circulatory collapse,” sounds deathly serious, but it’s used quite commonly in Germany to mean something like “feeling woozy” or “I don’t think I can come into work today.”

4. Hörsturz

Hörsturz refers to a sudden loss of hearing, which in Germany is apparently frequently caused by stress. Strangely, while every German knows at least five people who have had a bout of Hörsturz, it is practically unheard of anywhere else.

5. Frühjahrsmüdigkeit

Frühjahrsmüdigkeit or “early year tiredness” can be translated as “spring fatigue.” Is it from the change in the weather? Changing sunlight patterns? Hormone imbalance? Allergies? As afflictions go, Frühjahrsmüdigkeit is much less fun than our “spring fever,” which is instead associated with increased vim, vigor, pep, and randiness.

6. Fernweh

Fernweh is the opposite of homesickness. It is the longing for travel, or getting out there beyond the horizon, or what you might call wanderlust.

7. Putzfimmel

Putzen means “to clean” and Fimmel is a mania or obsession. Putzfimmel is an obsession with cleaning. It is not unheard of outside of Germany, but elsewhere it is less culturally embedded and less fun to say.

8. Werthersfieber

An old-fashioned type of miserable lovesickness that was named “Werther’s fever” for the hero of Goethe’s The Sorrows of Young Werther. Poor young Werther suffers for the love of a peasant girl who is already married. Death is his only way out. A generation of sensitive young men brought made Werthersfieber quite fashionable in the late 18th century.

9. Ostalgie

Ostalgie is nostalgia for the old way of life in East Germany (ost means East). If you miss your old Trabant and those weekly visits from the secret police, you may have Ostalgie.

10. Zeitkrankheit

Zeitkrankheit is “time sickness” or “illness of the times.” It’s a general term for whatever the damaging mindset or preoccupations of a certain era are.

11. Weltschmerz

Weltschmerz or “world pain,” is a sadness brought on by a realization that the world cannot be the way you wish it would be. It’s more emotional than pessimism, and more painful than ennui.

12. Ichschmerz

Ichschmerz is like Weltschmerz, but it is dissatisfaction with the self rather than the world. Which is probably what Weltschmerz really boils down to most of the time.

13. Lebensmüdigkeit

Lebensmüdigkeit translates as despair or world-weariness, but it also more literally means “life tiredness.” When someone does something stupidly dangerous, you might sarcastically ask, “What are you doing? Are you lebensmüde?!”

14. Zivilisationskrankheit

Zivilisationskrankheit, or “civilization sickness” is a problem caused by living in the modern world. Stress, obesity, eating disorders, carpal tunnel syndrome, and diseases like type 2 diabetes are all examples.

15. Torschlusspanik

Torschlusspanik or “gate closing panic” is the anxiety-inducing awareness that as time goes on, life’s opportunities just keep getting fewer and fewer and there’s no way to know which ones you should be taking before they close forever. It’s a Zivilisationskrankheit that may result in Weltschmerz, Ichschmerz, or Lebensmüdigkeit.

This list first ran in 2015.

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