March 13, 2002


You Want Fries With This Column?

By Roy Rivenburg
Eater’s Digest: Some people regard Martha Stewart as the ultimate authority on food and drink. But can she tell you where to buy pants made of Jell-O? Or how to turn cayenne pepper into a tax write-off? Of course not.

Unfortunately, neither can we. Just kidding. Step into our food fact warehouse and we’ll fill all of your culinary information needs. We even know where to get class credit for drinking bourbon. In Claremont, Calif., you can sign up for an adult-education course on ‘‘The Art and Appreciation of Bourbon Whiskey.’’ Students are asked to ‘‘bring their favorite shot glass’’ to class. In other vitally important food news:

-- A North Carolina man has announced plans to open a restaurant serving nothing but Jell-O. He might be onto something. A traveling Jell-O museum recently began touring the U.S. And our favorite supermarket tabloid reports that a Dutch designer has invented Jell-O pants. ‘‘They’re hip, they’re sexy and they taste good,’’ the tabloid says.
-- How do you spell (tax) relief? C-a-y-e-n-n-e. According to Business Insurance magazine, the pepper can now be deducted as a medical expense -- if it is used to treat Raynaud’s disease, a circulatory disorder that causes fingers and toes to turn white in cold weather.
-- A Scottish company has introduced ‘‘mood-enhancing’’ ice cream, which purportedly contains a substance that makes people relax.
-- Dunkin’ Donuts once toyed with the idea of selling barbecued doughnuts.
-- While some scientists squander their brain power inventing vaccines or computer gadgets, others tackle more urgent problems, such as the crusty gunk that collects on mustard bottle caps. Their work has finally paid off. French’s is set to unveil a cap that sucks all excess mustard back into the bottle after it is squeezed. The modernized mustard arrives in stores later this month.
-- Flavored lattes, the dark force behind Starbucks, will celebrate birthday No. 20 this year.
-- For years, Burger King has dominated the arena of weird fast-food gimmicks. In 1998, near London, it opened the world’s first ‘‘fly-thru’’ restaurant, a helicopter landing pad where pilots could order food without leaving the cockpit. Next, it debuted a Bolivian franchise at 11,000 feet above sea level. The outlet didn’t have rappel-through windows for mountaineers, but the air was so thin that Burger King’s oxygen-fanned flame broilers had to go electric. Now, it’s McDonalds’ turn to get strange. According to Reuters news service, the chain just opened a drive-thru window for snowmobiles 80 miles south of the Arctic Circle, in Pitea, Sweden.
-- Mr. T was recently spotted wearing a gold plate, knife, fork and spoon around his neck. Can a gold blender or Cuisinart necklace be far behind?
-- Last but not least, because there’s always room for Jell-O, one last gelatin tidbit: One of the most sought after pins at the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City showed a bowl of green Jell-O with the caption ‘‘Mormon Soul Food.’’

Quote of the Week: From comedy writer Susan Isaacs, commenting on reports that China is leading the race to clone humans: ‘‘Like China NEEDS more people.’’

Supermarket Tabloid Headline of the Week: ‘‘Born-Again Beavers! Critters Build 8-Foot Miracle Cross in Maine!’’ (Weekly World News)

Said one expert: ‘‘The craftsmanship is by no means flawless, but for a beaver, it’s the equivalent of the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.’’

Unpaid Informants: Wireless Flash News Service, David Allen of the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, Baltimore Sun, ‘‘The Junk Food Companion’’ by Eric Spitznagel, New Scientist.

Copyright 2002 by Roy Rivenburg
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