As kids, it seemed as if we were inundated with “facts” of varying veracity on a daily basis. Some of these turned out to be true (You really shouldn’t stick a pair of tweezers in an electrical outlet – trust me), while others – like waiting an hour to swim after eating lunch – turned out to be complete hogwash. Many of these revolved around food in one way or another, and we’re debunking the 10 biggest food-related urban legends once and for all.
Some people still believe that Pop Rocks were briefly discontinued in the early 1980s after a poor unfortunate kid (in some instances, the actor who played “Mikey” in the classic Life cereal commercial) perished after downing mass quantities of Pop Rocks and Pepsi at the same time, causing his stomach to explode. In reality, the fizziness caused by Pop Rocks is the same carbonation that makes soda fizzy, and it’s completely benign, even when mixed with a carbonated beverage. It might give you a stomachache if you down a whole lot of it, but nothing more serious than that.
One of the most bulletproof urban legends states that Twinkies are shelf stable in perpetuity, and never actually expire. According to the myth, there’s a giant warehouse out there where billions of Twinkies are stored, and new ones haven’t been made in decades; some even believe that Twinkies contain embalming fluid. In reality, Twinkies have a shelf life of less than a month. This is slightly longer than most other packaged baked goods, but that’s because they don’t contain dairy products.
There has always been a debate surrounding this issue. The fact is that, yes, turkeys do have an amino acid called tryptophan that acts as a sedative. However, tryptophan takes its effects better on an empty stomach, and it needs to be consumed in massive quantities to have any actual effect. If you feel sluggish after the Thanksgiving feast, that's probably because of the thousands of calories you just consumed.
You most likely believe that regularly drinking glasses of milk is good for your bones, and can help prevent broken bones later in life. Sadly, this couldn’t be further from the truth. According to a recent study published in the British Medical Journal, “dietary calcium intake is not associated with risk of fracture, and there is no clinical trial evidence that increasing calcium intake from dietary sources prevents fractures." In fact, all that excess calcium can cause gastrointestinal issues, lead to heart disease, or cause kidney stones. Fermented dairy products, like yogurt, have been proven to lower the risk of bone fractures, however.
You probably already know that if you drop a few Mentos into a bottle of Diet Coke, the reaction will force a fountain of soda out through the bottle top (we suggest you try this one outside). But there’s a related legend asserting that if you eat Mentos and wash them down with Diet Coke, your stomach will explode. This rumor was started by a Brazilian news outlet that published the story without doing any research or fact-checking whatsoever, and it’s a complete fabrication.
Another popular urban legend claims that the chickens used by KFC in its fried chicken have been genetically modified to not have feathers, beaks, or feet in order to make processing them easier. In fact, that’s the reason why the chain was forced to change its name from Kentucky Fried Chicken to KFC – because those poor creatures couldn’t legally be called “chicken.” As you might have guessed, this is patently false. Not only does technology not even exist to create birds without feathers, beaks, or feet, but even if it did, KFC wouldn’t have a reason to use it.
After a rumor started several years ago claiming that McDonald’s used a slurry of otherwise inedible chicken parts similar to “pink slime” in its chicken, the chain was forced to reaffirm that in fact the only chicken in its chicken nuggets is the white meat, boneless variety.
If seems as if every child is told that swallowed gum will stay in their stomach for seven years. Even though gum base is insoluble and won’t be fully digested, gum will work its way through your digestive tract just like anything else you eat.
The vernal equinox (and the spring season in general) has long been associated with eggs, a symbol of rebirth (just look at how much they factor into Easter, which has its roots as a celebration of the equinox). Many people also believe that due to some sort of astronomical phenomenon, eggs can be balanced on one of their ends on this day, and this day only. In reality, however, eggs can be balanced on their ends on any day of the year – it just takes some practice, and the egg needs to be the correct shape.