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Courtesy of Cow Candy

Candy-Flavored String Cheese Exists. Why? Your Guess Is as Good as Ours

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Courtesy of Cow Candy

Kids and teens need plenty of calcium, but it’s hard to get enough of it when they prefer candy to cottage cheese. To entice picky diners, Eater reports that a Wisconsin-based company called Cow Candy has created fruit-flavored Monterey Jack cheese sticks, designed to be a sweet alternative to sugary treats.

Contrary to its name, Cow Candy’s products aren’t packed with sugar. According to the manufacturer, each cheese stick contains just 1 to 2 grams of the addictive additive and gets its taste and color from natural fruit flavoring. And just like conventional cheese sticks, they're packed with calcium.

Cow Candy’s current selection of flavored cheese snacks includes grape, orange, honey, and two branded flavors—Pinkie Pie Strawberry and Optimus Prime Fruit Punch—inspired by a recent partnership with toy manufacturer Hasbro. If these flavors sound strange, keep in mind that they’re designed for kids and that adults also enjoy fruit-flavored milk products, like yogurt.

"I like to explain to people that think we are a bit out-there (which we are totally OK being), that fruit and cheese have been paired together for eons," Cow Candy founder Danyel O'Connor told The Huffington Post in an email. "Even today, as adults, we enjoy cheese and wine together or pair our cheeses with grapes, apples, figs and the like. Cow Candy is just the juvenile expression of this pairing (P.S. strawberry milk exists and so does yogurt with fruit flavorings―and a whole lot more sugar)."

Whether you’re intrigued by candy-flavored cheese or think it sounds like a Willy Wonka plot gone wrong, you can sample them for yourself by visiting select grocery stores in states including Minnesota, Arizona, and California. Cow Candy products are also available for online purchase.

[h/t Eater]

Photos courtesy of Cow Candy

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Big Questions
Why Can't Dogs Eat Chocolate?
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Even if you don’t have a dog, you probably know that they can’t eat chocolate; it’s one of the most well-known toxic substances for canines (and felines, for that matter). But just what is it about chocolate that is so toxic to dogs? Why can't dogs eat chocolate when we eat it all the time without incident?

It comes down to theobromine, a chemical in chocolate that humans can metabolize easily, but dogs cannot. “They just can’t break it down as fast as humans and so therefore, when they consume it, it can cause illness,” Mike Topper, president of the American Veterinary Medical Association, tells Mental Floss.

The toxic effects of this slow metabolization can range from a mild upset stomach to seizures, heart failure, and even death. If your dog does eat chocolate, they may get thirsty, have diarrhea, and become hyperactive and shaky. If things get really bad, that hyperactivity could turn into seizures, and they could develop an arrhythmia and have a heart attack.

While cats are even more sensitive to theobromine, they’re less likely to eat chocolate in the first place. They’re much more picky eaters, and some research has found that they can’t taste sweetness. Dogs, on the other hand, are much more likely to sit at your feet with those big, mournful eyes begging for a taste of whatever you're eating, including chocolate. (They've also been known to just swipe it off the counter when you’re not looking.)

If your dog gets a hold of your favorite candy bar, it’s best to get them to the vet within two hours. The theobromine is metabolized slowly, “therefore, if we can get it out of the stomach there will be less there to metabolize,” Topper says. Your vet might be able to induce vomiting and give your dog activated charcoal to block the absorption of the theobromine. Intravenous fluids can also help flush it out of your dog’s system before it becomes lethal.

The toxicity varies based on what kind of chocolate it is (milk chocolate has a lower dose of theobromine than dark chocolate, and baking chocolate has an especially concentrated dose), the size of your dog, and whether or not the dog has preexisting health problems, like kidney or heart issues. While any dog is going to get sick, a small, old, or unhealthy dog won't be able to handle the toxic effects as well as a large, young, healthy dog could. “A Great Dane who eats two Hershey’s kisses may not have the same [reaction] that a miniature Chihuahua that eats four Hershey’s kisses has,” Topper explains. The former might only get diarrhea, while the latter probably needs veterinary attention.

Even if you have a big dog, you shouldn’t just play it by ear, though. PetMD has a handy calculator to see just what risk levels your dog faces if he or she eats chocolate, based on the dog’s size and the amount eaten. But if your dog has already ingested chocolate, petMD shouldn’t be your go-to source. Call your vet's office, where they are already familiar with your dog’s size, age, and condition. They can give you the best advice on how toxic the dose might be and how urgent the situation is.

So if your dog eats chocolate, you’re better off paying a few hundred dollars at the vet to make your dog puke than waiting until it’s too late.

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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Food
Kinder Eggs Will Finally Be (Legally) Available in the U.S.
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Kinder

Kinder eggs are finally coming to the U.S., bringing delightful toys and milky chocolate to Americans, according to CNN Money.

While black-market Kinder Surprise eggs are already relatively easy to find in the U.S., they are technically forbidden by the FDA because they contain inedible toys, which makes them a choking hazard in the eyes of the law.

The legal Kinder eggs coming to the U.S. in January 2018 will be a little different than those available in Europe. Instead of Kinder Surprise, the eggs that Ferrero (the Italian company that makes, in addition to Kinder chocolate, Nutella and Tic Tacs) is launching will be Kinder Joy, a variety that comes in two individually packaged halves. One half contains chocolate cream with two wafers and a teeny spoon to eat them with, and the other contains the toy.

Kinder Joy eggs also differ from Kinder Surprises in that their marketing is gender-segregated, with both a blue "boys" version and a pink "girls" version (despite the fact that many toy makers have moved away from marketing their wares to specific genders, doing away with stereotypical assignations for action figures or princess dolls).

As with all Kinder products, the U.S. is way behind—Kinder Joys have been available in Italy since 2001, and are widely available around the world.

The spoonable cream of Kinder Joy may not satisfy the die-hard fans of Kinder Surprise’s sweet chocolate shell, but alas. Gotta protect the children.

[h/t CNN Money]

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