When you need a break from the food world taking itself a little too seriously, pick up The Gannet’s Gastronomic Miscellany and chuckle your way back to reality. This hilarious book of parody, satire and yes, many facts, is a stark contrast to croissant-doughnut hybrids and garnishes applied with tweezers. Enjoy these absurdist moments in food science that really happened, though it may be hard to believe.
Absurdist Moments In Food Science
A parody of the Nobel prizes, the Ig Nobels were established in 1991 “to celebrate the unusual, honour the imaginative, and spur people’s interest in science, medicine, and technology,” according to co-sponsor Marc Abrahams. Their motto: “First make people laugh, and then make them think.” A few of the awards have implications for food and drink…
Callum Ormonde and Colin Raston, and Tom Yuan, Stephan Kudlacek, Sameeran Kunche, Joshua N. Smith, William A. Brown, Kaitlin Pugliese, Tivoli Olsen, Mariam Iftikhar and Gregory Weiss won the Chemistry prize for inventing a chemical recipe to partially un-boil an egg.
Jiangang Liu, Jun Li, Lu Feng, Ling Li, Shubham Bose, Jie Tian and Kang Lee won the Neuroscience prize for trying to understand what happens in the brains of people who see the face of Jesus in a piece of toast.
Brian Crandall and Peter Stahl won the Archaeology prize for parboiling a dead shrew, swallowing it without chewing, and then carefully examining everything excreted during subsequent days, so they could see which bones would and would not dissolve inside the human digestive system.
Stephan Bolliger, Steffen Ross, Lars Oesterhelweg, Michael Thali and Beat Kneubuehl of the University of Bern, Switzerland, won the Peace prize for determining whether it is better to be hit on the head with a full bottle of beer or with an empty bottle.
Massimiliano Zampini of the University of Trento, Italy, and Charles Spence of Oxford University, UK, won the Nutrition prize for electronically modifying the sound of a potato chip to make the person chewing the chip believe it to be crisper and fresher than it really is.
Sharee A. Umpierre of the University of Puerto Rico, Joseph A. Hill of The Fertility Centers of New England (USA), Deborah J. Anderson of Boston University School of Medicine and Harvard Medical School (USA) won the Chemistry prize for discovering that Coca-Cola is an effective spermicide – shared with Chuang-Ye Hong of Taipei Medical University (Taiwan), C.C. Shieh, P. Wu and B.N. Chiang (all of Taiwan) for discovering that Coca-Cola is not an effective spermicide.
Antonio Mulet, Jos. Javier Benedito and Jos. Bon of the University of Valencia, Spain, and Carmen Rossell. of the University of Illes Balears, in Palma de Mallorca, Spain, won the Chemistry prize for their study Ultrasonic Velocity in Cheddar Cheese as Affected by Temperature.
Jillian Clarke of the Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences, and then Howard University, won the Public Health prize for investigating the scientific validity of the Five-Second Rule about whether it’s safe to eat food that’s been dropped on the floor.