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Why do we give apples to teachers?

These days, it’s more likely for a teacher to be seen with an Apple iPad on her desk than a Golden Delicious. But it wasn’t that long ago that giving a crisp, shiny apple to a teacher on the first day of school was common practice. But where did this tasty tradition start? The true origin is mostly a mystery, though we do know that the apples have long served as a symbol of knowledge and education. From Greek references to a divine fruit that helped Hippomenes win a race for Atalanta’s hand, to Adam and Eve’s lesson of right and wrong, apples have been at the core of human history for a very long time. So how did they wind up on the desk of teachers in America? Gifting fruit has long been associated with surviving hardships throughout history. In the 1700s, poor families in Denmark and Sweden gave…

Can you guess the 10 oldest restaurant chains in America?

Travel back in time in America 60, 80, 100 years. You already know you would have to give up your laptop, your cell phone, and your Starbucks, but could you count on anything being the same? It turns out, yes. Believe it or not. Some of America’s biggest fast food mega-empires were built starting as early as 1919! Of course, they were much smaller scale, but some menu items even remain the same. So which of our fast food favs could we eat at on our trip to the past? Here are the 10 oldest fast food restaurants in the county: 10. McDonald’s Year founded: 1955 Cracking the top 10 list, is the most successful fast food chain of them all. McDonald’s got its start in 1955 when Ray Kroc saw the potential of a small California burger shop where the owners, Dick and Mac MacDonald, had developed some unique…

What’s the difference between an English muffin and a crumpet?

When it comes to breakfast breads, most of us are carb-loving connoisseurs. Toasts like wheat, rye, and sourdough are just the beginning. Scones, muffins — both blueberry and bran, biscuits and bagels make their way into our morning meal more commonly than we’d care to admit.  And of course you know the English muffin. It’s the sturdy, humble base to your oozing Eggs Benedict and the spongy exterior of your McDonald’s McMuffin. English muffins, and all of these other common carbs, are sold in the bakery and bread aisles of just about any grocery store nationwide. So that leaves the crumpet.  What the heck is it? You’ve probably joked about tea and crumpets in your best stuffy-English accent before, but did you really know what you were talking about? Have you actually ever seen one in the States? English muffins and crumpets are two entirely different creatures, but they have…

Why do we eat chocolate bunnies on Easter?

It’s hard to imagine what a chocolate rabbit has to do with anything in the religious realm. I mean, we’re not complaining — It’s a deliciously adorable Easter treat enjoyed by millions across the globe. But it’s just that, well, how did a milk chocolate mammal become the unofficial symbol of Christianity’s spring holiday? According to Time, the origins of Easter can be traced back to the pagans who celebrated Eostre, the goddess of fertility. Of course, reproduction is what rabbits do best, so it’s fitting that Eostre’s animal symbol was a bunny. Fast forward to the eighteenth century. Christian holidays had long since taken favor over pagan holidays, but some of the symbols and imagery were reappropriated. Part of the tradition of the Easter holiday in Germany included the folklore of an egg-laying rabbit named “Osterhase” or “Oschter Haws.” As Germans immigrated to the United States in the 1700s, so too…

The man who invented sliced bread and the origins of the popular phrase

Lots of things are declared “the greatest thing since sliced bread,” but have you ever wondered, just what timeline we are talking here? Sliced bread is one of those inventions that seems like it should have always been part of our diets, and the accompanying phrase, forever part of our vernacular. But it’s much more recent than you would expect. So when was this ubiquitous food staple first invented? Bread is one of the world’s most commonly prepared foods — it’s also one of the oldest. There is evidence of humans making crude variations of the stuff as far back as the Neolithic era. Sliced bread, however? That’s a different story. For perspective, Queen Elizabeth II, Tony Bennett, and Betty White are all older than sliced bread. The first automatically sliced commercial loaves of bread didn’t hit production until July 6, 1928, in Chillicothe, Missouri. It was all made possible…

The first TV dinner was a Thanksgiving feast

While you may not think America’s most celebrated homemade holiday feast has anything to do with a modest frozen TV dinner, the two forever share a slice of history. The first mass produced TV dinner was, in fact, literally made from Thanksgiving leftovers. As the story goes, in 1952, someone in charge of purchasing at Omaha-based C.A. Swanson & Sons seriously overestimated how much turkey Americans would consume that Thanksgiving. With 520,000 pounds of frozen turkey to unload, a company salesman named Gerry Thomas had a light bulb idea. Thomas, having been inspired by the neatly packaged Pan Am Airlines airplane food, ordered 5,000 aluminum trays. He recruited women, armed with scoops and spatulas, to run his culinary assembly line, and work began making mini Thanksgiving feasts full of turkey, corn-bread dressing, peas, and sweet potatoes, thus creating the first-ever TV dinner. The original TV Dinners  sold for 98 cents…

This is why Coca-Cola cans are red

It’s one of the most memorable logos in the world. You see just a glimpse of the product and know it’s a Coke thanks to that highly recognizable shade of red. But why did the company chose this shade in the first place? Some fans think the red color came from some of the company’s first nationwide advertisements, which featured the now-iconic Christmas Santa Claus wearing a classic red and white suit, holding a bottle of Coke. But Santa didn’t begin popping up in Coca-Cola ads until the 1920s, and by that time the brand was nearly 40 years old. “It goes all the way back to the beginning,” said Coca-Cola Archivist Ted Ryan. The real story of Coke’s color red is essentially one of a happy accident. More than 130 years ago, Coca-Cola was distributed in large barrels at drug stores and pharmacies all across America. Alcohol was distributed…

This is why they’re called ‘deviled’ eggs

Deviled eggs are a staple at brunches, potluck, picnics, and office luncheons — especially around the holidays. The little halved egg appetizer has been a favorite diners look forward to for decades. At this point, many families even have recipes going back several generations. Traditionally made with mayonnaise, mustard, and paprika, deviled eggs are devilishly delicious. So how did something so heavenly get a name so satanic?  It turns out, the history goes back further than you think. The roots of the modern deviled egg recipe can be traced to ancient Rome, where the wealthy would be served boiled eggs seasoned with spicy sauces before the main meal. Eating eggs pre-meal was so common that the Romans even had a saying, “ab ova usque ad mala” — meaning from “eggs to apples”, or from the beginning to the end of a meal. Recipes for stuffed eggs began appearing in Andalusia, Spain…

The sweet history of Candy Corn

Every October, when the weather cools, we recognize that it’s time to start arguing about candy corn. But whether you think the little tri-colored candies are delicious or disgusting, no other candy is more iconic of Halloween. The history of candy corn and its place as a part of Halloween dates back more than a century ago. Though nobody knows for sure, candy corn is said to have been invented in Philadelphia by George Renninger, a candymaker for the Wunderle Candy Company. In 1898, George’s recipe rose to nationwide popularity when the Goelitz Confectionary Company picked it up and started marketing it as “Chicken Feed.” The candy packages pictured a rooster and a tag line that read, “Something worth crowing for.” The initial marketing was intended to appeal to Americans’ agricultural roots, and it was touted as a year-round treat. The Goelitz company, now known as Jelly Belly Candy Co., has the…

Bobbing for apples is a tradition based on love

All of the good holidays have traditions that we can look forward to. Whether it’s fireworks on the Fourth of July or turkey on Thanksgiving, every tradition has to start somewhere, and as it turns out, even Halloween’s bobbing for apples has a history. This year, as you plunge your head into a cold bucket of water in attempt to bite through the flesh of an apple, consider that the origins of this bizarre tradition are nearly 2,000 years old. Apples were once considered a symbol of love. In Scotland, the legend goes, a maiden would sit alone in a room and eat an apple in front of a mirror, whereupon the face of her husband would appear. In Montenegro, if a bride successfully threw an apple on the roof of her husband’s house, their union, it is said, would be blessed with children. In Greek mythology, Paris was tasked…