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McDonald’s Engineers a New Type of Straw for Slurping Shamrock Shakes

The Shamrock Shake has been a seasonal McDonald’s specialty for decades, but even the classics can benefit from a high-tech update. This year, the fast food chain is launching a new version of the treat that layers the traditional mint flavor on top of chocolate. And in promotion of the new product, McDonald’s is also releasing a reinvented straw.

As Co.Design reports, the STRAW (Suction Tube for Reverse Axial Withdrawal) was designed by real engineers at the aerospace and robotics engineering firms JACE and NK Labs. What sets the device apart from conventional straws is the sharp bend in its shape and the three, eye-shaped holes in addition to the opening at the bottom end. The extra holes are positioned in a way that allows drinkers to take a sip that’s equal parts top mint layer and bottom chocolate layer. As the video below illustrates, it’s “a spectacularly unnecessary product.”

A total of 2000 STRAWs, complete with fancy, black carrying cases, will be given out for free at McDonald’s in 80 cities. You have the next few weeks to snatch up yours if you don’t want to be stuck sipping milkshakes the old-fashioned way.

[h/t Co.Design]

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The Brain Chemistry Behind Your Caffeine Boost
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Whether it’s consumed as coffee, candy, or toothpaste, caffeine is the world’s most popular drug. If you’ve ever wondered how a shot of espresso can make your groggy head feel alert and ready for the day, TED-Ed has the answer.

Caffeine works by hijacking receptors in the brain. The stimulant is nearly the same size and shape as adenosine, an inhibitory neurotransmitter that slows down neural activity. Adenosine builds up as the day goes on, making us feel more tired as the day progresses. When caffeine enters your system, it falls into the receptors meant to catch adenosine, thus keeping you from feeling as sleepy as you would otherwise. The blocked adenosine receptors also leave room for the mood-boosting compound dopamine to settle into its receptors. Those increased dopamine levels lead to the boost in energy and mood you feel after finishing your morning coffee.

For a closer look at how this process works, check out the video below.

[h/t TED-Ed]

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LaCroix
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How Do You Pronounce 'LaCroix'?
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LaCroix

For decades, Perrier was the sparkling water of choice for beverage enthusiasts. More recently, an upstart named LaCroix has captured the attention of millennials who don’t much care for Perrier’s elitist stature. Sold in aluminum cans rather than glass bottles and featuring festive, Florida-tinged designs (the parent company, National Beverage, is based in Fort Lauderdale), LaCroix has managed to become a market leader in bubbly water. National Beverage claims it’s the number one brand.

While consumers may enjoy the taste, requesting a LaCroix can be slightly problematic if you don’t know how to pronounce the name. Like the acai berry and quinoa before it, the name can be troublesome to the tongue.

The company instructs that the proper pronunciation is “Lah-croy,” rhyming with “enjoy.”

The name comes from the fact that LaCroix was originally developed in Wisconsin back in 1981. The “La” is for the city of La Crosse, and “Croix” from the St. Croix River.

Uttering “La-crux” might get you some judgmental stares among the bubbly water elite. Affecting a French accent and coughing out “la-kwah” might get you pardoned from the table. Stick with “lah croy." If you need a mnemonic device, you can tell yourself it rhymes with “enjoy.” Or you could just order tap water.

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