From pilgrims’ apples to space potatoes

Published 12:08 pm Tuesday, August 15, 2023

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Mark Twain penned, “Truth is stranger than fiction, but it’s because fiction is obligated to stick to possibilities; truth isn’t.” 

With that in mind, let’s have some fun and explore some interesting food facts that may surprise you. 

Did you know that pilgrims are responsible for apples being in America? That’s right, pilgrims planted the first U.S. apple trees in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. 

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Or did you know that ice cream is one of the oldest desserts in the world? The origin of this dessert goes back to the 2nd century B.C. The average American consumes 20 pounds of ice cream per year. The state that loves ice cream the most is California, where there are 4,263 ice cream shops. The state that seems to like ice cream the least is Minnesota…probably a bit too chilly. 

Another fun fact: pistachios aren’t nuts, they’re actually fruits, while strawberries, raspberries and blueberries, botanically, are nuts. Bananas, peppers and tomatoes are true berries. Figs aren’t fruits at all, but rather flowers that bloom inside a pod, which then matures into the fruit we eat. 

And potatoes were the first food planted in space. The technology to plant food in space was developed at the University of Wisconsin in October 1995. 

Pineapple plants can take two to three years to produce fruit and can live up to 50 years. By the way, a pineapple is actually a cluster of berries, fused together. Oranges, tangerines and lemons will all float because their rind has tiny air pockets. However, limes are dense and will sink.

Peaches and nectarines are essentially the same fruit. Both fruits are nearly genetically identical except for one thing. A gene that is either dominant in (peaches) or recessive in (nectarines) determines whether the skin is fuzzy or smooth.

Let’s explore the sweet side of things. Cotton candy was invented by a dentist. Dentist William Morrison joined with John Wharton, a candy maker from Tennessee in 1897, and worked on a formulation (the particular device used was referred to as the “fairy floss machine”) that would become cotton candy. It was first sold at the World’s Fair in 1908. 

Tony the Tiger, of Frosted Flakes fame, temporarily lost his job to Katy the Kangaroo, back in 1952. He reclaimed the title shortly thereafter and has been “gr-r-eat” ever since. Also, there was a fourth brother in the Snap, Crackle, Pop trio of Rice Krispies fame. “Pow” only appeared in a few commercials. And Cocoa Krispies contain almost no chocolate. In fact, they contain only about 2 percent or less of semisweet chocolate. The flavor most folks pick up on is the combination of sugar, vanilla and malt flavors. 

The average American will have consumed 1,500 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches by the time they graduate high school. Speaking of which, did you know some folks fear peanut butter? More specifically, it’s the fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of their mouth. The phobia is called “arachibutyrophobia.” Other culinary phobias include alektorophobia, the fear of chicken; mycophobia, the fear of mushrooms; and alliumphobia, the fear of garlic. 

Almost half of American adults eat a sandwich every day, and American cheese is not American. It was created in Switzerland, by Waltz Gerber and Fritz Stettler in 1911 to lengthen the shelf-life before it was shipped overseas. Cheese is the most stolen food. About 4% of all cheese made around the world, ends up stolen. 

David Crocker is a nutritionist and master personal trainer. Questions? Email David at or text to (864) 494-6215.