Why eggplants are called eggplants and 9 other fun food facts

Did you know that Doritos can help start a campfire? Our food is full of yummy surprises.

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Food provides just as much entertainment as it does nourishment, doesn't it?

It’s funny how food is something that, presumably, every person on Earth has encountered each and every day of their life—probably three times a day, for most of us. And yet, food never ceases to surprise us. There are endless new flavor mash-ups, hidden histories and health benefits to discover.

So, in honor of this…as we are more likely to celebrate Pi day, Mar 14, with a deep dish pizza or merengue-filled pastry than we are to do anything remotely mathematical, let’s sink our teeth into some fun food facts, shall we?

Enjoy 10 savory, sweet, and even surprising morsels of food-based tidbits below.

1. There’s actually a good reason we call them eggplants

eggplant, eggplant recipes

Totally see how they got the name eggplant now


Though across the pond these nightshades are called aubergine, they are called eggplants in the U.S. Which doesn't seem to make a lot of sense, given that the eggplants we buy at the store are oblong and purple. I don’t know about you, but I’d be concerned for whatever bird laid an egg like that.

But when eggplants were first discovered in the mid-18th century (well, discovered by the British occupiers of India, anyway) they grew small an white out of the vine, much more akin to a chicken egg. These types of white eggplants still exist, but just aren’t as marketable as their purple counterparts.

Oh, and eggplants are technically more of a berry. Remember that next time you’re at Olive Garden.

While we’re on the subject of berries….

2. Order a bouquet of…raspberries?

Raspberries, as well as strawberries and blackberries, aren’t actually berries, but are instead part of the rose family. Thorns and all.

However, botanically speaking, bananas, pumpkins and lemons totally are berries. Cause why not.

3. Going camping? Don’t forget the Doritos!

doritos, doritos campfire, camping

A nice campfire at only 150 calories per serving.

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According to Mashed.com, Doritos have the perfect combination of cornstarch, vegetable oil, and salt to make them “flammable enough to maintain strong flames.” This goes for any corn based chip, really. So if you’re more of a Fritos or Cheetos person, fear not!

4. Julius Caesar did not create the Caesar salad. A guy in Tijuana did.

caesar salad, caesar sala recipe

So basically these should be served in both Mexican and Italian restaurants.

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Back in 1927 hotel owner Caesar Cardini made the salad for some guests using the limited ingredients he had on hand at the time: lettuce stalks, olive oil, raw egg, croutons, parmesan cheese and Worcestershire sauce.The concoction became one of the most popular salads of all time.

Granted, Caesar had moved from Italy to Tijuana to avoid Prohibition, so you could still say Caesar salad is an Italian food.

5. Spam stands for 'spiced ham'

Considering Spam is made with just six ingredients—pork, salt, water, potato starch, sugar and sodium nitrate—seems a bit misleading. But definitely catchy.

6. Croissants aren't as French as they seem

cookie dough croissant, croissant recipe

No matter where they come from, croissants are delightful

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What with cookie dough croissants going viral right now, this history lesson seemed the most appropo.

While these fluffy, flaky, buttery pastries seem about as Parisian as it gets, it is widely agreed that this style of baked bread first came from Austria, with the kipferl.

As the popular legend goes, the kipferl celebrated Vienna’s defeat of the Ottoman Empire, its shape representing the moon on the Ottoman flag.

Essentially, Vienna was eating its enemies.

7. Peanuts are the bomb. Literally.

The oil in peanuts makes glycerol, which is sometimes used to make nitro-glycerine—a key ingredient of dynamite. Of course, peanuts are not an essential dynamite ingredient.

8. Don’t let Froot Loops’ rainbow colors fool you

froot loops, cereal

Red=froot, blue=froot, yellow=froot…you get it.

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There is only one flavor. "Froot flavor.” That’s it. That’s all there ever was, and likely all there ever will be.

9. German chocolate cake was brought to you by a Texan

The first-ever published recipe for German chocolate cake can be traced back to a Texas homemaker in the '50s. “German” was used as a credit to Sam German (also not German) whose brand of baking chocolate was used to bake the cake. In fact, it was originally called “German’s Chocolate Cake. But eventually the “‘s” was dropped.

10. One single spaghetti noodle is called a spaghetto.

Welp, SpaghettiOs make even less sense now.

Of course, these fun facts are only appetizers in the never-ending courses of interesting stories our foods provide. But still, something to chew on.

Think long and hard about your favorite thing to eat.

Take in all the delicious smells. The sheer joy from every last bite, sip, chomp, or slurp.

GIF via "Key & Peele."

Now, think long and hard about having to say goodbye to your favorite food forever.

GIF via "Adventure Time."

Because some of America's favorite foods and drinks won't make it much longer.

Yes, these sweet and savory delights are all at risk of experiencing a significant shortage, some as early as 2030.

These are five of the treats at stake and what you can do to stop them from disappearing:

1. Peanut butter. A moment of silence for all that naked toast, y'all.

You eat it by the spoonful when you're alone in your apartment, drop it in smoothies, and turn an ordinary sauce into a can't-miss satay. Americans gobble it up, consuming about three and a half pounds of peanut butter per person each year. It's an affordable pantry staple, packed with protein, and freaking delicious.

Oh yeah, and it's disappearing from the Earth.

Borderline pornographic photo by Dan McKay/Flickr.

It's really hard to grow a peanut, as the plants are kind of temperamental. They need just the right combination of sun and rain to survive each year. Some of the southeastern states where peanuts grow have experienced droughts in the past few years, and peanut plants have simply shriveled up.

Farmers and agricultural researchers are working on drought-resistant varieties, but the big culprit, climate change, isn't going away.

2. Beer. Sweet, sweet beer.

It takes a few ingredients to brew a great beer, including hops. Hops are the flowers making your beer super tasty, and they're primarily grown in the Pacific Northwest. But due to rising temperatures and a dwindling water supply, hop yields have decreased significantly.

Left: Hops on the vine. Photo by The mad Penguin/Flickr. Right: A flight of beers. Photo by Lauren Topor/Flickr.

In March, more than 40 breweries large and small signed on to the Climate Declaration, a group of businesses urging policymakers to act on climate change. Many of those breweries have already done their part to help make their businesses sustainable, but they need some assistance at the top to make a lasting impact.

3. Chocolate. Good heavens. What have we done?

To make delicious chocolate chips, Nutella, and other fudgy delights, you need cocoa. A whopping 70% of the world's cocoa supply comes from West African nations like Ghana and Cote d'Ivoire.

I want to go to there. Photo by Various Brennemans/Flickr.

According to a study from the International Center for Tropical Agriculture, this region is predicted to experience a 2-degree (Celsius) temperature change by 2050. This may not seem like much, but more water will evaporate from the air and leaves, leaving little behind for cocoa plants. These areas will become inadequate for cocoa production as early as 2030.

4. Coffee. Nature's most aromatic alarm clock.

Ever want to feel alive again, or at the very least somewhat awake? Time to make a move on climate change, amigo.

Photo by Susanne Nilsson/Flickr.

Different varieties of coffee are so closely adapted to their specific region and climate zone that even a half-degree increase can have a noticeable impact. Warmer temperatures can expand the reach of bugs and fungi that prey on coffee plants. In fact, three of the top five coffee-growing countries in the world (India, Costa Rica, and Ethiopia) have seen a significant drop in yield.

And you may be thinking, "Fine, I'll switch to tea." Not so fast. Tea farmers are experiencing problems of their own.

5. All things pumpkin. Yes, even the lattes.

Pumpkin pie. Pumpkin bread. Pumpkin cake. If you've been to a grocery store the past six weeks, you know this list could be very long. And all of it is at risk because of the shrinking pumpkin crop.

Is this the last pumpkin pie ever? No, but don't get complacent with the amount of pumpkin in your life. Photo by David Goehring/Flickr.

Libby's, the company behind 80% of the world's processed pumpkin, suffered a major shortage this year due to an exceptionally soggy summer at its Illinois farm. In the past 100 years, Illinois has experienced a 10% increase in precipitation. And three of the four wettest years in Illinois have happened since 2010.

"We're fairly certain that's tied to climate change," Jim Angel, a state climatologist for the Illinois State Water Survey, told Scientific American.

While none of these foods are critical for our survival, their sharp declines (and price increases) may spur more people to act.

We may not notice if there are fewer snow leopards or if it's a little bit warmer this winter. But when there are just a few cans of pumpkin on the shelf or our morning coffee doubles in price, more and more of us will start to ask questions, take action, and demand change.

If you weren't already doing everything you can to fight climate change, then do it for your favorite indulgence.

Call your representatives, support sustainable industries, let your voice be heard.

Because after all chocolate, beer, and peanut butter (and the growers who make them possible) have done for us, it's time we return the favor.

GIF via cinematic tour de force "Armageddon."


Pay close attention these lyrics of "Take Me Out to the Ball Game," commonly sung at baseball games.

"Take me out to the ball game,
Take me out with the crowd.
Buy me some peanuts and crackerjacks,

I don't care if I never get back.

Let me root, root, root,
For the home team.
If they don't win it's a shame.
For it's one,
Three strikes you're out
At the old ball game."

For some kids, that whole "never get back" part in this classic song can be taken literally.

What do I mean?

Let me get a bit ... graphic here.

GIF via FlorenceFreedomPro/YouTube.

When a child with food allergies ingests something they're allergic to, physiological effects begin within five to 30 minutes.

And guess what: That includes eating it, breathing minuscule fibers/particles of it, or even touching it.

First, some itching might start, then swelling of the affected area begins and can worsen. If it involves the mouth or air passages, they can swell to a point of making it impossible to breathe.

That can end badly ... sometimes in death. It's why many people carry an EpiPen, or epinephrine injector, which causes a temporary reversal of the biological process. But emergency services are still required — it just buys a little time.

Scary? You bet.

So back to the ballgame, already in progress.

Image by 주전자/Wikimedia Commons.

What's the #1 place you can think of that usually has peanuts?

The lyrics above probably clued you in ... that's right, baseball games.

Because peanut allergies have been rapidly rising for the last 18 years, a number of stadiums are featuring "peanut-free" nights, where they scrub the stadium before the game and do not allow any peanuts to be sold. At all. No outside food, either.

It's a small price to pay for kids to be able to enjoy a baseball game without that whole choking-to-death thing.

Ready for some numbers? All from FoodAllergy.org.

  • Up to 15 million people have food allergies.
  • 1 of every 13 children has some sort of food allergy.
  • Every three minutes, a food allergy sends someone to the emergency room or brings EMS to them.

Here's a clip about what they're doing at one stadium in Kentucky to make the game more allergy-friendly, featuring Blake and Logan:

To find sports games near you without peanuts, try PeanutFreeBaseball.com and FoodAllergy.Org.

And for a shocking but reality-based view into what anaphylactic shock looks like, check out this clip — but it's a little hard to watch.