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Why Do We Crave Greasy Food When We’re Hungover?

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No matter how much fun you have into the wee hours of the morning, hangovers are a rough trade-off for a night of boozing. Friends may suggest and swear by dozens of so-called cures, from a very specific type of ice cream, to listening to music, to the “hair of the dog” method. But sometimes all you want is a few gallons of water and a big plate of the greasiest food you can find. So what is it about greasy food that is so enticing when you’re trying to remember what you did with the Advil, but your head hurts too much to think about it? The answer may have something to do with laziness and your need to re-energize.

“One of the most powerful laws in psychology is the law of least effort,” Cornell University College of Human Ecology professor David Levitsky tells mental_floss. “Greasy food is a surrogate for fat and fat is the nutrient for the highest energy density. We go for calorically dense food because it takes the minimum of preparation and yields [the] highest caloric payoff.”

As someone whose job is to teach others about nutrition, Levitsky acknowledges that this craving is not the smartest idea, but sometimes the hunt for energy becomes a higher priority than maintaining a healthy diet. “Evolution doesn’t care that it will kill you when you are 70,” he says. “You have finished procreating by then.” 

If you’d rather not accept the idea that you were temporarily not strong enough to resist temptation, there is another theory that may shift the blame to your brain. International Business Times cites a 2004 study by Princeton University that suggests that a chemical in the brain called galanin is the real culprit. The study involved injecting rats with the chemical to see how it affected their consumption of alcohol. Rats injected with galanin were found to consume more alcohol, even when their food and water intake remained normal. When observed during the day, the otherwise nocturnal rats would drink alcohol during hours that did not match their usual eating and drinking schedules, but they would still not drink water off-schedule and would not eat.

“There seems to be a cycle of positive feedback,” Bartley Hoebel, the study's co-author, said. “Consumption of alcohol produces galanin, and galanin promotes the consumption of alcohol. That would perpetuate the behavior.”

"Alcohol is the only drug of abuse that is also a calorie-rich food, and it undoubtedly has important interactions with systems that control food intake and nutrition," researcher Michael Lewis added.

So the next time you party hard all night, roll out of bed the next afternoon, and head to the nearest diner or fast food restaurant, there are two possible explanations to choose from while fighting off those judgmental stares.

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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The Annual Festivals That Draw the Most People in Every State
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Every state has that one big event each year that draws residents from across the region or even across the nation. Louisiana has Mardi Gras. Kentucky has the Kentucky Derby. South Dakota has Sturgis. Genfare, a company that provides fare collection technology for transit companies, recently tracked down the biggest event in each state, creating a rundown of the can't-miss events across the country.

As the graphic below explores, some states' biggest public events are national music and entertainment festivals, like Bonnaroo in Tennessee, SXSW in Texas, and Summerfest in Wisconsin—which holds the world record for largest music festival.

Others are standard public festival fare. Minnesota hosts 2 million people a year at the Minnesota State Fair (pictured above), the largest of its kind in the U.S. by attendance. Mardi Gras celebrations dominate the events calendar in Missouri, Alabama, and, of course, Louisiana. Oktoberfest and other beer festivals serve as the biggest gatherings in Ohio (home to the nation's largest Oktoberfest event), Oregon, Colorado, and Utah.

In some states, though, the largest annual gatherings are a bit more unique. Some 50,000 people each year head to Brattleboro, Vermont for the Strolling of the Heifers, a more docile spin on the Spanish Running of the Bulls. Montana's biggest event is Evel Knievel Days, an extreme sports festival in honor of the famous daredevil. And Washington's biggest event is Hoopfest, Spokane's annual three-on-three basketball tournament.

Mark your calendar. Next year could be the year you attend them all.

A graphic list with the 50 states pictured next to information about their biggest events
Genfare
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Alexa Can Now Help You Find a Wine Pairing
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Even if you enjoy wine regularly, you may not know exactly how you’re supposed to pair it with food. But you don’t have to be a sommelier to put together a good pairing at home. According to Lifehacker, you can just ask Alexa.

An Alexa skill called Wine Finder is designed to help you figure out which wine varietal would go best with whatever food you’re planning to eat. You just have to ask, “What wine goes well with … ”

Created by an app developer called Bloop Entertainment, the Amazon Echo skill features a database with 500 wine pairings. And not all of them are designed for someone working their way through Mastering the Art of French Cooking. The skill will also help you find the proper pairing for your more casual snacks. In one demo, the skill recommends pairing nachos with a Sauvignon blanc or Zinfandel. (Note that the latter also goes well with Frito pie.)

You can also ask it to find you the perfect wine to drink with apple pie and pizza, in addition to the meats, cheeses, and other wine-pairing staples you might expect. However, if you ask it what to pair with hot dogs, it says “water,” which is an affront to hot dog connoisseurs everywhere.

There are a few other wine-pairing skills available for Alexa, including Wine Pairings, Wine Pairings (two different skills), and Wine Expert. But according to user reviews, Wine Finder is the standout, offering more and higher-quality suggestions than some of the other sommelier apps.

It’s free to enable here, so drink up.

[h/t Lifehacker]

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