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Entenmann's / iStock
Entenmann's / iStock

12 Fresh-Baked Facts About Entenmann's

Entenmann's / iStock
Entenmann's / iStock

You know the blue-and-white packaging and that elegant cursive logo. And there's a good chance you know just where to find all those Honey Buns, crumb coffee cakes, and chocolate chip cookies in your local supermarket. But we're willing to bet a box of chocolate frosted doughnuts—the company’s best seller—that there are a few things you don’t know about Entenmann’s.

1. IT ALL STARTED IN BROOKLYN.

erlyrizrjr via Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

William Entenmann learned the baking trade in Stuttgart, Germany, where he spent his teenage years working at a bread factory. Eager to set out on his own, he moved to America with his family, and in 1898 opened a bakery on Rogers Street in Brooklyn. Every day, he delivered fresh-baked rolls, cakes, and bread loaves by horse-drawn wagon to customers throughout the neighborhood.

2. IT BECAME A LONG ISLAND TRADITION BY FLUKE.

A few years after opening his Brooklyn shop, William’s son, William Entenmann, Jr., came down with rheumatic fever. The family doctor recommended they move out of the city, where fresh air could flush out the illness. Entenmann moved his bakery 40 miles east to Bay Shore, Long Island, and eventually passed it down to his son, who helped grow Entenmann's into a profitable, far-reaching company. In 1961, Entenmann's opened what was then the world’s largest commercial bakery on the site of the elder Entenmann's shop. It remained a Long Island institution until 2014, when parent company Grupo Bimbo closed it.

3. BREAD USED TO BE A SPECIALTY.

For decades, Entenmann's turned out loaves of bread along with pastries, pies, and its original best seller, All Butter Loaf Cake. In 1951, after William Entenmann, Jr., died of a heart attack, his wife, Martha, and children gathered to discuss the company’s future. They decided they needed to narrow their focus in order to stay competitive. So they jettisoned the bread loaves and put all the company’s manufacturing muscle behind its pies, cakes, and other sweet treats.

4. MOVING TO SUPERMARKET SALES WAS A RISK.

The Entenmann family also decided to do away with home delivery and focus solely on retail sales. After decades spent building a loyal network of delivery customers, this was a big risk. And it was difficult to stay the course after frozen food sales, mail order, and other opportunities came calling. But the Entenmanns stuck with their choice and were rewarded handsomely as they rode the growth of the supermarket industry in America.

5. FRANK SINATRA HAD A STANDING ORDER.

The famous crooner had a thing for Entenmann’s coffee crumb cake, and would receive weekly deliveries to his house. Other famous clientele included J.P. Morgan and the Vanderbilt family.

6. THE COMPANY INVENTED THE FIRST SEE-THROUGH BOX FOR BAKED GOODS.

A few years after going all-in on retail sales, Martha Entenmann and sons had a revelation: If customers were able to see pies and cakes on display at the bakery, then shouldn’t the same hold true at the supermarket? In 1959, Entenmann’s came out with the first see-through packaging for baked goods. The company’s cellophane window boosted sales and quickly became an industry standard.

7. PEOPLE WOULD PASS THE CAKES AND PIES OFF AS UPSCALE TREATS.

In a 1979 feature for New York Magazine, writer Jean Bergantini Grillo confessed to passing off Entenmann's baked goods as her own gourmet creations. She also wrote about image-conscious hosts and hostesses who would present the company’s creations as homemade, or fresh from the local bakery. "Rich people have been stocking up on Entenmann’s cakes and pies for years, craftily disposing of the telltale boxes and serving them anonymously."

8. IT BATTLED NAGGING RUMORS INVOLVING A RELIGIOUS LEADER.

In the late '70s and early '80s, word spread that Entenmann's was funneling money into the Reverend Sun Myung Moon’s Unification Church. It’s not clear how the Korean religious leader, who considered himself the messiah and was imprisoned for tax fraud, came to be linked with a baked goods company. But the rumor was persistent. In 1979, Entenmann's sent out 10,000 letters to clergymen and other influential sources pleading its case. "Absolutely, completely, unequivocally false, untrue and unfounded," was how a company spokesman put it to the Associated Press.

9. IT’S BEEN THROUGH QUITE THE CORPORATE SHUFFLE.

The Entenmann family sold the company to pharmaceutical giant Warner-Lambert in 1978. Four years later, Warner sold the baking brand to General Foods, which then sold Entenmann's to Kraft. The company was sold again several years later, this time to Bestfoods, which was purchased by Unilever in 2000. Unilever offloaded its baking division to Canadian manufacturer George Weston. Finally, in 2008, Entenmann’s sold to Mexican baking company Grupo Bimbo, its current owner.

10. IT SELLS SCENTED CANDLES.

Ever wished your home or apartment smelled more like butter pound cake? Well wish no more! Several years ago, Entenmann's introduced scented candles that recreated the smell of some of its hallmark creations, like apple strudel, caramel pecan pie and, yes, butter pound cake. The candles even come in see-through boxes that replicate the baked goods’ packaging.

11. IT TURNS OUT MORE THAN 100,000 DOUGHNUTS EVERY HOUR.

To keep all those college dorms and office break rooms stocked, Entenmann's turns out a dizzying 15 million donuts every week, and upwards of 780 million each year.

12. THE ENTENMANN FAMILY IS STILL IN BUSINESS.

The wine business, that is. After selling the baking company in 1978, Robert Entenmann, grandson of founder William, bought a potato farm on Long Island’s North Fork and turned it into a horse farm. In the mid-'90s, he converted the property into a vineyard, and today it turns out bottles of red, white, and bubbly under the Martha Clara label.

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Food
11 Things You Might Not Have Known About Garlic
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National Garlic Day may be a holiday best celebrated alone—or with a hefty box of breath mints and a very charitable loved one—but few foods are as deserving of their very own day of recognition as the amazing, edible bulbous plant (okay, “bulbous plant” might not sound super appetizing, but it’s certainly accurate). Celebrate National Garlic Day on April 19 with your favorite garlic-laced meal and a few fun facts about this delicious, flavor-packed add-in that can do almost anything, from reducing your cholesterol to keeping vampires at bay.

1. YOU CAN EAT MORE THAN JUST THE STANDARD GARLIC CLOVE.

When you think “garlic,” you inevitably picture garlic cloves, but despite the ubiquity of that particular image of the plant, it’s not the only part you can eat. Hard-neck varieties of garlic produce “scapes,” green shoots that can be especially delicious and tender when they’re young. Think of them as garlic-flavored scallions. They also make a wonderful addition to pestos, soups, and butters.

2. CHINA PRODUCES THE MOST GARLIC.

Garlic is native to central Asia and has long popped up in European and African cooking, too. But it's China that currently holds the record for most garlic grown. Per a 2012 study, China grows a staggering two-thirds of the world’s garlic, believed to be around 46 billion pounds per year.

3. AVERAGE CONSUMPTION OF GARLIC IS BELIEVED TO WEIGH IN AT AROUND TWO POUNDS PER PERSON.

Even with just two pounds, that means eating roughly 302 cloves per person per year, as each clove typically weighs about three grams.

4. GARLIC'S HEALTH BENEFITS ARE MYRIAD, INCLUDING AN ABILITY TO REDUCE CHOLESTEROL.

The best way to release the health-happy power of garlic is to cut it, which then turns garlic’s thio-sulfinite compounds into allicin, an antibiotic and antifungal that is believed to reduce “bad” cholesterol, as it inhibits enzymes from growing in liver cells.

5. ALLICIN IS ALSO GOOD AT COMBATING HEART DISEASE.

Allicin helps nitric oxide release in the blood vessels, relaxing them and thus bringing about a drop in blood pressure. Keeping blood vessels relaxed and lowering blood pressure is good for the heart and the rest of the vascular system (and it’s tasty).

6. GARLIC CONTAINS TONS OF VITAMINS, MINERALS, AND ANTIOXIDANTS THAT ARE GOOD FOR YOU, TOO.

The bulbs are packed with potassium, iron, calcium, magnesium, manganese, zinc, selenium, beta-carotene, zeaxanthin, and Vitamin C.

7. GARLIC'S USE AS A HEALTH AID DATES BACK TO ANCIENT HISTORY.

It’s believed that Egyptian pharaohs plied their pyramid-builders with garlic for strength, and an ancient Egyptian medical document—the Ebers Papyrus—counts a stunning 22 different medicinal uses for the plant. Garlic also pops up in texts from Virgil, Pliny the Elder, Chaucer, and Galen, all of which detail its various uses and share lore about the magic plant.

8. DESPITE ITS ASIAN ORIGINS, ITS NAME IS DERIVED FROM ANGLO-SAXON SPEECH.

A combination of two Anglo-Saxon words—“gar” (spear) and “lac” (plant)—is believed to be the source of the plant’s name, specifically in reference to the shape of its leaves.

9. GARLIC'S REAL HEALTH BENEFITS ARE PROBABLY THE REASON FOR ONE OF ITS MOST PREVALENT MYTHS.

Garlic had long been recognized as a wonderful health aid before writer Bram Stoker introduced the concept of the vampire—a beast repelled by garlic—to the public with his 1897 novel Dracula. In the book, Van Helsing uses garlic as a protective agent, and it’s believed that Stoker lifted that idea from garlic’s many medicinal purposes, particularly as a mosquito repellent (think of the blood-sucking).

10. YOU CAN USE GARLIC TO MAKE GLUE.

The sticky juice that’s in garlic cloves is often used as an adhesive, especially for delicate projects that involve fragile items like glass. You just need to crush the cloves to get to the sticky stuff which, despite its smell, works surprisingly well as a bonding agent for smaller jobs.

11. GARLIC CAN CLEAR UP SKIN TROUBLES.

You can battle both acne and cold sores with garlic, simply by slicing cloves in half and applying them directly to the skin. Hold for a bit—as long as you can stand!—and while the smell might not be the best, the antibacterial properties of the miracle plant will speed along the healing process.

All images courtesy of iStock.

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Big Questions
Why Is a Pineapple Called a Pineapple?
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by James Hunt

Ask an English-speaking person whether they've heard of a pineapple, and you'll probably receive little more than a puzzled look. Surely, every schoolchild has heard of this distinctive tropical fruit—if not in its capacity as produce, then as a dessert ring, or smoothie ingredient, or essential component of a Hawaiian pizza.

But ask an English-speaking person if they've ever heard of the ananas fruit and you'll probably get similarly puzzled looks, but for the opposite reason. The average English speaker has no clue what an ananas is—even though it's the name given to the pineapple in almost every other major global language.

In Arabic, German, French, Dutch, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Swedish, Turkish—even in Latin and Esperanto—the pineapple is known as an ananas, give or take local variations in the alphabet and accents. In the languages where it isn't, it's often because the word has been imported from English, such as in the case of the Japanese パイナップル (painappuru) and the Welsh pinafel.

So how is it that English managed to pick the wrong side in this fight so spectacularly? Would not a pineapple, by any other name, taste as weird and tingly?

To figure out where things went wrong for English as a language, we have to go back and look at how Europeans first encountered the fruit in question, which is native to South America. It was first catalogued by Columbus's expedition to Guadeloupe in 1493, and they called it piña de Indes, meaning "pine of the Indians"—not because the plant resembled a pine tree (it doesn't) but because they thought the fruit looked like a pine cone (umm, ... it still doesn't. But you can sort of see it.)

Columbus was on a Spanish mission and, dutifully, the Spanish still use the shortened form piñas to describe the fruit. But almost every other European language (including Portuguese, Columbus's native tongue) decided to stick with the name given to the fruit by the indigenous Tupí people of South America: ananas, which means "excellent fruit."

According to etymological sources, the English word pineapple was first applied to the fruit in 1664, but that didn't end the great pineapple versus ananas debate. Even as late as the 19th century, there are examples of both forms in concurrent use within the English language; for example, in the title of Thomas Baldwin's Short Practical Directions For The Culture Of The Ananas; Or Pine Apple Plant, which was published in 1813.

So given that we knew what both words meant, why didn't English speakers just let go of this illogical and unhelpful linguistic distinction? The ultimate reason may be: We just think our own language is better than everyone else's.

You see, pineapple was already an English word before it was applied to the fruit. First used in 1398, it was originally used to describe what we now call pine cones. Hilariously, the term pine cones wasn't recorded until 1694, suggesting that the application of pineapple to the ananas fruit probably meant that people had to find an alternative to avoid confusion. And while ananas hung around on the periphery of the language for a time, when given a choice between using a local word and a foreign, imported one, the English went with the former so often that the latter essentially died out.

Of course, it's not too late to change our minds. If you want to ask for ananas the next time you order a pizza, give it a try (though we can't say what you'd up with as a result).

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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