CLOSE

Who Invented the Turducken?

Whether you interpret this question as "Who's to thank for the turducken?" or "Who's to blame for the turducken?" the answer is equally muddled.

Nearly every attempt to trace the history of the turducken—chicken stuffed inside of a duck, which is then stuffed into a turkey—cites early examples of similar poultry nesting dolls from the 18th or 19th century. The 1774 book The Art of Cookery contains a recipe for "Yorkshire Christmas Pie" that involves stuffing pigeon, partridge, fowl, goose, and finally turkey all into one another. Several sources claim that, in 1807, Alexandre Balthazar Laurent Grimod de La Reynière, a famous Napoleonic-era gastronomist, served a rôti sans pareil, or "roast without equal," that applied the same principle to what may have been as many as 17 different birds. An American reference pops up in the 1832 diaries of John B. Grimball for a "Charleston preserve of fowl" that included dove, quail, guinea hen, duck, capon, goose, and either a turkey or peacock.

With precedents like that, the three-bird turducken doesn't seem quite so extreme. But still, credit is contested. The honor is often awarded to Paul Prudhomme, a celebrity chef who claimed to have invented the Thanksgiving indulgence at a lodge in Wyoming (although he wouldn't say when). Prudhomme himself, however, was from Louisiana, and was credited during his lifetime with popularizing Cajun and Creole cuisines—a notable fact that lends some credence to a less widely-circulated theory that turducken actually stems from a specific nine-bird dish created by the owner of Corinne Dunbar's, a Creole restaurant in New Orleans.

Prudhomme's recipe for turducken appears in his 1987 cookbook, and it was around then that he started serving the decadent dish at his New Orleans restaurant, K-Paul. Elsewhere in Louisiana, at a butcher shop in Maurice, brothers Junior and Sammy Hebert claim that while Prudhomme's celebrity status helped raise the dish's profile, they actually beat him to the invention—at least of the name. Junior has said that, in 1984, a farmer came into his shop with a chicken, a duck, and a turkey asking to have them stuffed. Junior improvised, putting the three together before filling the cavity with cornbread stuffing and calling the whole thing a "turducken." Unfortunately for the Hebert brothers, Prudhomme would go on to trademark the name in 1986.

Although we'll never know for sure who first engineered or named the turducken, it's largely uncontested that football announcer John Madden gets credit for making it a phenomenon.

''The first one I ever had I was doing a game in New Orleans,'' Madden told The New York Times in 2002. ''The P.R. guy for the Saints brought me one. And he brought it to the booth. It smelled and looked so good. I didn't have any plates or silverware or anything, and I just started eating it with my hands.'' That game wasn't on Thanksgiving, but Madden liked the dish so much he brought it back for his holiday broadcast and it quickly became a Thanksgiving tradition.

nextArticle.image_alt|e
iStock
arrow
Animals
Switzerland Just Made It Illegal to Boil Live Lobsters
iStock
iStock

No, lobsters don’t scream when you toss them into a pot of boiling water, but as far as the Swiss government is concerned, they can still feel pain. The path most lobsters take to the dinner plate is supposedly so inhumane that Switzerland has banned boiling lobsters alive unless they are stunned first, The Guardian reports.

The new law is based on assertions from animal rights advocates and some scientists that crustaceans like lobsters have complex nervous systems, making death by boiling incredibly painful. If chefs want to include lobster on their menus, they’re now required to knock them out before preparing them. Acceptable stunning methods under Swiss law include electric shock and the “mechanical destruction” of the lobster’s brain (i.e. stabbing it in the head).

The government has also outlawed the transportation of live lobsters on ice or in icy water. The animals should instead be kept in containers that are as close to their natural environment as possible until they’re ready for the pot.

Proponents of animal rights are happy with the decision, but others, including some scientists, are skeptical. The data still isn’t clear as to whether or not lobsters feel pain, at least in the way people think of it. Bob Bayer, head of the University of Maine’s Lobster Institute, told Mental Floss in 2014 that lobsters “sense their environment, but don’t have the intellectual hardware to process pain.”

If you live in a place where boiling lobsters is legal, but still have ethical concerns over eating them, try tossing your lobster in the freezer before giving it a hot water bath. Chilling it puts it to sleep and is less messy than butchering it while it’s still alive.

[h/t The Guardian]

nextArticle.image_alt|e
iStock
arrow
Food
Hate Red M&M's? You Need a Candy Color-Sorting Machine
iStock
iStock

You don’t have to be a demanding rock star to live a life without brown M&M's or purple Skittles—all you need is some engineering know-how and a little bit of free time.

Mechanical engineering student Willem Pennings created a machine that can take small pieces of candy—like M&M's, Skittles, Reese’s Pieces, etc.—and sort them by color into individual piles. All Pennings needs to do is pour the candy into the top funnel; from there, the machine separates the candy—around two pieces per second—and dispenses all of it into smaller bowls at the bottom designated for each variety.

The color identification is performed with an RGB sensor that takes “optical measurements” of candy pieces of equal dimensions. There are limitations, though, as Pennings revealed in a Reddit Q&A: “I wouldn't be able to use this machine for peanut M&M's, since the sizes vary so much.”

The entire building process lasted from May through December 2016, and included the actual conceptualization, 3D printing (which was outsourced), and construction. The entire project was detailed on Pennings’s website and Reddit's DIY page.

With all of the motors, circuitry, and hardware that went into it, Pennings’s machine is likely too ambitious of a task for the average candy aficionado. So until a machine like this hits the open market, you're probably stuck buying bags of single-colored M&M’s in bulk online or sorting all of the candy out yourself the old fashioned way.

To see Pennings’s machine in action, check out the video below:

[h/t Refinery 29]

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios