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Panda Express Introduces Hybrid Utensil Called Chorks

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Squirreled away in Panda Express' latest press release about their new menu items is a small but exciting note: The fast food chain will soon be offering a new utensil with their meals. In the near future, food court diners will be able to consume their food with chorks—a beautiful union of forks and chopsticks. 

Disappointingly, this does not mean chopsticks with little forks at the end. Instead, the device features a pair of chopsticks with a fork tethered to the opposite end. That means that eaters who struggle with chopsticks can have something a little less unwieldy—sort of like training wheels or water skis that are tied together. It also means that when you get toward the bottom of your meal and the pieces get harder to pick up, you can quickly switch to a fork to shovel the rest of the food down. 

Panda Express explains in the press release that the chorks are "a perfect way to illustrate the mashup of American and Chinese cultures." They are being announced at the same time as their addition of General Tso's chicken to the menu, which is also a blend of American and Chinese culture, although arguably more American than anything else. Eater points out that while the restaurant did not invent chorks, they will be responsible for bringing the utensil into the mainstream. Will chorks one day take over sporks as the hybrid utensil of choice? Only several trips to the mall food court will tell. In the meantime, you can get ahead of the craze and buy some chorks online

[h/t Eater]

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Animals
Switzerland Just Made It Illegal to Boil Live Lobsters
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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]

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Food
Hate Red M&M's? You Need a Candy Color-Sorting Machine
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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]

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