Food For Thought: 40+ Unusual Food Facts

By Louise P August 1, 2023

This article was originally published on myfryingpan

How often do you buy a food item and pause to think about its components? Do you ever wonder if the coloring in foods is natural or dyed? We bet it doesn’t cross your mind too often. An item can look exactly like what you desire at a glance until you discover that its back story is not commonly talked about.

For instance, the idea of brown sugar being healthier than white sugar is a myth; there are no significant differences between the two except that brown sugar contains molasses which brings about the color change. There are tons of other food stories that most of us don’t know about.

If you’re really curious about the origin of your favorite food, then read on and find out about their shocking untold stories.

1. Peanut Butter Is A Diamond

Did you know that peanut butter is a gem that was brought out of a lunchbox into the lab, where it is turned into diamonds? Scientists found that peanut butter’s high carbon content makes it possible for it to be transformed into diamonds.

Image courtesy of Instagram/@amberlejones

All you have to do is take peanut butter and separate its oxygen from the carbon dioxide. Then put a lot of pressure on the carbon that is left. Who could have thought that the simplest sandwich in the world could be a hidden gem?

2. Peach and Nectarine Are Cousins

Peaches and nectarines are energizing fruits perfect for nourishing your body after a stressful day. They are pretty similar in looks and both are deliciously nutritious. But do you know how to tell the two fruits apart when you see them?

Image courtesy of Instagram/@goldenfruitsydney

Peaches and nectarines look mostly the same except for their skin. So don’t be fooled into having a hard time differentiating the fruits; just go straight for their texture. The fuzzy one is Peach, and the smooth one is Nectarine. Simple right?

3. Popsicles Are Accidental Discovery of An 11-Year-Old Boy 

The next time you take a bite out of a popsicle, always remember that you are enjoying the creation of an 11-year-old businessman. Popsicles were discovered by a kid from the San Francisco area named Frank Epperson. Thanks for the contribution to our childhood, Frank!

Image courtesy of seriouseats

Back then, Epperson left a mixture of soda and water outside overnight. The next day, his stirring stick was stuck in the frozen concoction. Frank thought this was a cool treat. He named it Epsicle and began selling it to his friends.

4. Potatoes Can Absorb And Reflect Radio Wave Signals

As weird as it may sound, potatoes can reflect and absorb WiFi signals as a result of their chemical makeup. A sack of potatoes is reportedly able to absorb nearly the same amount of WiFi signal as an adult human body. 

Image courtesy of Insider/@Joey Hadden

This is because potatoes have a high water content which makes them capable of absorbing and reflecting radio wave signals like humans. Have you noticed WiFi signals get stronger in potato stores? You can look out for this if you ever visit one.

5. Disturbing Fact About Raw Oysters

It is no secret that oysters are a favorite food around the world and that lots of people believe they have aphrodisiac properties. However, while many people enjoy eating oysters, there is one thing we’re afraid they’re not aware of.

Image courtesy of Instagram/@lisa_tink

And it is that raw oysters, the kind eaten on the half shell with mignonette sauce, are still alive when you eat them. This is disturbing to learn, especially when you think about the fact that they might be in pain while we eat them.

6. The Popular Mangoes Grown Today Are Not Native To India 

During the reign of Albuquerque, a Portuguese colonist, a new variety of mango was introduced to India when he traveled to the country. He aimed to produce sweet and strong mangoes that are better than the type found in India.

Image courtesy of Instagram/@thescribblingpintobean

For this reason, the Portuguese started planting mangoes to produce this new variety in India. They were successful in this, and what we enjoy today as the Alphonso mango, named after Alfonso de Albuquerque, is the result of their labor. 

7. Tomatoes Were Once Called Poison Apples 

Tomatoes were feared in Europe during the late 1700s. People used to believe that tomatoes were poisonous, so they nicknamed them “poison apples.” This is because whenever the aristocrats ate them, they fell ill, and some died. But, of course, tomatoes were not the real culprit.

Image courtesy of Insider/@Joey Hadden

The shocking fact is that these people’s deaths were caused by the tableware they used. Then, rich Europeans used pewter plates that contained lead, and because tomatoes are very acidic, they absorb the lead from the plates and become poisonous.

8. You Can Have Maggots In Your Canned Mushrooms

When it comes to vegetables, canned mushrooms might be a good substitute for fresh mushrooms. Aside from the fact that they’re cheap, meaty, and durable, they also supplement your meals with vitamin B, iron, and magnesium, together with a few maggots.

Image courtesy of rolandfood

Yes, if you’ve ever consumed canned mushrooms, there’s a good chance that you also consumed one or two maggots unknowingly. There’s no escape from this disgusting phenomenon, so if you’d rather not eat slimy worms, then your best bet is to stop having canned mushrooms. The more you know!

9. Chocolate Used To Be More Than A Delicacy

Finding someone who dislikes chocolate is very difficult. Even the sound of the word “chocolate” can make you feel giddy. But did you know that cocoa beans, which are the major ingredient in chocolate, were used for trade back in the day?

Image courtesy of cargill

The ancient Mayans used cocoa beans as a currency. Some even turned them into chocolates and traded them for goods like food and clothing. Just imagine; today’s favorite snack was formerly considered a bitter beverage rather than a savory treat. How strange!

10. Cucumbers Are Majorly Composed of Water

Many people are surprised to find out that cucumbers are primarily made up of water, yet they are still solid. In reality, cucumbers have the highest water content found in any food. They are made up of about 96% of water.

Image courtesy of Flickr/@Karen and Brad Emerson

Cucumbers are great if you have a hard time drinking liters of water a day. You can try snacking on some cucumbers for a hydration kick. Who knew there was more to cucumbers than just covering your eyes during a facial? 

11. Sometimes Grape Can Be A Ticking Bomb

Grapes are common fruits known for their sweetness and amazing health benefits. However, aside from this popular knowledge, grapes exhibit a feature that’s commonly not talked about. That feature is that when placed in a microwave, grapes will burst open.

Image courtesy of Insider/@Julia Naftulin

This is because a confined water source expands as steam when heated. The inside of the grape fills with steam until it explodes. The same also happens to many things like eggs and potatoes. Now you know your grapes have no business in the microwave.

12. Ranch Dressing Is Dyed With Chemicals

Ranch dressing is an amazing salad topper. It is so popular that for some, eating vegetables is not complete without having a ranch dipper. However, we are sorry to break it to you, but your ranch dressing is made of chemicals.

Image courtesy of Flickr/@Becky Stern

Ranch dressing contains titanium dioxide, an ingredient used in sunscreen and face lotions, which gives them a white color. This isn’t what you want to hear, but sadly, most food has some chemicals in them, and your favorite ranch dressing is no exception.

13. Kale Was Once Meant For Decorations

Could you believe that an amazing food like Kale was once hated by all? Then, nobody considered Kale as food. Well, this might be attributed to its bitterness. Kale was really only used for decoration. In fact, Pizza Hut uses mounds of Kale just as a stand to display its Pizza.

Image courtesy of Instagram/@suloinenjoutilaisuus

But today, many people have different ways to take the bitterness out of Kale and have discovered it to be a superfood with amazing nutritional benefits. We believe this advantage is a good reason to make Kale your favorite too.

14. Occasionally, Figs Contain Tiny Insects Or Their Larvae

If you love figs but hate bugs then you might not want to know that some figs contain dead bugs. This is because figs are pollinated by a wasp species that lays its eggs inside the developing fig. Thus, when the wasp eggs hatch, the larvae grow inside the fruit. 

Image courtesy of Twitter/@LightSAMPS

At times the fig envelopes the larvae itself, which keeps it inside the fruit even after it has been harvested. However, it’s vital to remember that figs are nutritious, and the presence of insects in them does not present a health risk.

15. Would You Eat Corn That Looks Like this? 

A main characteristic of the human race is our sense of reasoning. We are constantly innovating and exploring. Just look at what a genius farmer from Oklahoma did to produce a unique ear of corn that looks like crystal beads.

Image courtesy of Twitter/@watermicrobe

He cross-bred different species of corn over and over again, so the product would be corn with different colors when it grows. After many trials, he finally achieved his aim and got the most unique corn ever. We think this is brilliant!

16. Egg Yolk Is Bad For Your Health

Eggs are nutritious and are common food items used in dishes all around the globe. However, this favorite meal contains a component that is not good for your health. And that part is its yellowish component called the egg yolk.

Image courtesy of Twitter/@mishra_baibhav

You should avoid eating egg yolk because it contains cholesterol, sodium, and fat, which is bad for people with high cholesterol. This doesn’t stop you from enjoying eggs, though. You can always go for the egg white, which causes no harm. Enjoy!

17. Jell-O Is Made From Animal Waste

Jell-O is kids’ favorite and is also loved by many who desire to lose weight. Your attention may always be drawn to that sugary, jiggly, colorful snack on the grocery shelves. However, there is one component of this dessert that we are concerned about.

Image courtesy of Instagram/@jozefinatrampolina

This fact about Jell-O will change the way you see it forever. Jell-O is made from gelatin. That snack you enjoyed so much is made from a product harvested by boiling animal skin, bones, and cartilage before being processed into a powder.

18. Brown Sugar Is Just White Sugar With Molasses 

People intentionally go for brown sugar because they are made to believe that brown sugar is more nutritious than white sugar. Well, let us be the one to tell you that this is a myth; brown sugar isn’t exactly what you think it is.

Image courtesy of Instagram/@yengmunoz

Brown sugar is made by adding molasses to white sugar, which gives it a brown color and slightly softer texture. Henceforth, whenever you eat brown sugar, remember that you are eating white sugar with color and flavor, not healthier sugar.

19. A Single Burger Meat Could Come From 100 different Cows

A hamburger is a classic meal that is served on buns with salad dressing, tomatoes, onions, ketchup, or any other condiment of your choosing. It’s a go-to meal for many people. But here’s a shocking fact about the meat used in a burger. 

Image courtesy of Instagram/@leahitsines

A fast food burger can contain meat from various cows, and this could be as many as 100 different cows in one burger. That’s something! Of course, this doesn’t mean that all the meat from the 100 cows is in one burger. Well, unless you’re eating a really big burger.

20. Red Velvet Cake Got Its Color From Bugs

No doubt, red velvet cake is delicious and is one of the top cakes out there. Its yummy taste and cream cheese frosting are second to none. But have you ever wondered about what gives it its characteristic red color?

Image courtesy of Instagram/@recetardass

You might be surprised to learn that your favorite grocery store red velvet cake got its color from insects. Yes, the food dye used in making red velvet contains mainly Carmine, which is a natural dye made by crushing insects found in cacti.

21. Honey Can Change Color And Give Different Tastes

We all know that honey never goes bad when stored properly. However, do you know that your honey can change color over time, and this has nothing to do with how you store the honey or make use of it?

Image courtesy of Reddit/@midlyinteresting/u/Zig-Zag

The surprising reason behind this change is related to its production. The season, bees, and the type of flowers pollinated all contribute to the change in color over time. This only applies to natural honey, though. You won’t experience this if your honey is processed.

22. High Altitude Can Mess Up Your Taste Buds

We all have a unique taste for food. However, the same food may taste differently according to your location at a particular time. This commonly happens when you are at a high altitude, for example, when you are flying on a plane. 

Image courtesy of Instagram/@travelaroundtheglobee andairplanefoodsnaps

In the air, your taste for food becomes different compared to when you are on land. This is because cabin air dries up your nasal cavities. Also, the change in your body pressure can cause this taste difference. So, maybe airplane food is not actually that bad.

23. White Chocolates Are Not Chocolates

Chocolates are savory delights that are hard for a lot of people to resist. However, this fact about a particular type of chocolate will make you think twice before eating it. Do you know that white chocolates are typically not chocolate? 

Image courtesy of Instagram/@theboroughbred

White chocolates are not considered chocolate because they don’t contain cocoa, which is the major ingredient found in chocolates. Instead, they are just a mixture of cocoa butter, sugar, and flavors. That is why white chocolate reacts differently to being cooked than regular chocolate does.

24. Tomatoes Do Not Originate From Italy.

Tomatoes are a popular and widely used ingredient in Italian dishes. So popular, in fact, that you might think they originated in Italy. In actuality, tomatoes are a product of South America, where they have been cultivated for millennia. Isn’t that fascinating?

Image courtesy of Instagram/@nicholaevan5

Tomatoes were introduced to Europe in the early 16th century, where they became known and enjoyed all around the world. Tomatoes have a much broader history than what we know, and the fact that they are not native to Italy is fascinating.

25. Mcdonalds Fries Were Previously Cooked In Beef Fat

Mcdonald’s fries are known worldwide. The company uses varieties of ingredients like potatoes, salts, dextrose, and many others to achieve the right balance of flavor that everyone loves. However, there used to be more to these tasty fries than these ingredients.

Image courtesy of Instagram/@hungrylittlefoodies

The fries were once cooked in beef fat. However, in the early 1990s, consumers demanded less saturated fat, which made the company switch to vegetable oil. Now, you can enjoy your yummy french fries without worrying about all the beef fat.

26. Mountain Dew Contains Orange Juice 

In general, you should avoid drinking soda on a regular basis because these sweetened drinks include unhealthy ingredients. But do you know that Mountain Dew is an exception to this rule because it has unharmful components and many nutritional values?

Image courtesy of YouTube/@Bradlee Wannemacher

In addition to ingredients like high fructose, corn syrup, citric acid, and natural flavors that contribute to its taste and value, Mountain Dew also contains orange juice, which is rich in vitamins and minerals that are essential for the body.

27. Floating Eggs Are Rotten Eggs

Do you have eggs you have left in the fridge for a while? And are you worried about finding out if they are safe to eat or not? Here’s a little trick you can use to quickly determine whether eggs are still safe to consume. 

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You only need to put your eggs in a cup or dish of water and check if they float or sink. If the eggs sink,  they are still good for consumption, but if they float, they are already rotten, so you should discard them.

28. You Are Eating Horseradish With Green Food Dye, Not Wasabi 

We know a plate of sushi is not complete until it is served with Wasabi. Wasabi gives the spice needed to put the mouth on fire. However, do you know the Wasabi you find in most restaurants is not authentic Wasabi? 

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Wasabi is not a common product found anywhere, it is quite rare and expensive, and only a few shops can offer customers real Japanese horseradish. Instead, most places sell you regular horseradish with green food dye and call it Wasabi.

29. You Consume Wood Pulp Every Time You Eat Shredded Cheese

We all like to add a cheesy touch to our meals. However, it might surprise you that your favorite bag of shredded cheese is full of paper. The majority of shredded cheese contains cellulose, a plant-based fiber made of wood pulp.

Image courtesy of Instagram/@lyjao.pk

Cellulose is often used as an anti-caking ingredient to prevent cheese from clumping. So, if you are not into the idea of having paper in your cheese, this is a warning sign for you to stay away from shredded cheese.

30. Kidney Beans Are Originally From Portugal

It might be interesting to learn that some South Asian foods that are popular and considered local cuisine in countries like India, Nepal, and Pakistan are not native to the lands. Most of these meals are adopted from other cultures.

Image courtesy of Instagram/@whatnexttoeat

An example of this is kidney beans which are usually served with rice. It is a dish from Portugal prepared with a Mexican style of cooking which has now become a typical local dish in India. We wonder how far other foods have traveled.

31. Egg Yolk Color Has A Meaning

Do you know the color of your egg yolk tells a lot about the hen’s feed and the nutrients you get from it? While some hens have a healthy diet, others do not receive as much nutritious feed, which causes a difference in the yolk color.

Image courtesy of Twitter/@slava_pestov

The yolk color can either be pale orange or bright orange. In general, you should go for a yolk with bright orange color. These yolks come from hens fed with fresh grass, corn, and additives which make their eggs nutritious.

32. Unknown Fact About Strawberry

Various classifications of fruits and vegetables can be so confusing. For example, the cucumbers and tomatoes we have always known to be vegetables are actually considered fruits. That is pretty surprising, right? Here is another unusual fact that is widely unknown.

Image courtesy of Instagram/@marycaraheart

Do you know that strawberries are not classified as berries at all? How could this even be possible? Well, the surprising news is that the real fruits are the tiny seeds found in strawberries. Well, whatever they are, they are delicious.

33. Puffball Mushrooms Are Superb

A puffball mushroom is a common go-to meal for many vegetarians. It is an interesting veggie known for its round shape and soft feel. Though many people are not a fan of mushrooms, this mushroom, in particular, is a must-have.

Image courtesy of Reddit/@midlyinteresting/u/kfranky

It is low in calories and is also a good source of protein. Its mild flavor and nutritional value make it a great choice to add to your supper. If you have never had this mushroom, then you should try it.

34. Bell Peppers Are A Good Source Of Vitamin C Than Oranges

As is popularly known, oranges are a good source of vitamin C. When we think of vitamin C, this fruit is the first that comes to mind. In actuality, though, we have been missing a fruit that has more vitamin C than oranges.

Image courtesy of Twitter/@cajigasmia

That fruit is Bell pepper. Though many think of them as vegetables, they are fruits. They contain so much vitamin C that you can get two to three times the amount of vitamin C found in oranges from green bell pepper.

35. Lobster Were Once Considered A Poor Man’s Meal

Lobster, which is known as a food for the rich, was once a mark of poverty during colonial times. Lobsters were dirt cheap because they were overabundant, so it was easy for poor people to get them. It was also a routine meal for slaves and prisoners.

Image courtesy of Instagram/@cr.sarahcarter

Over time, canned food became a thing, and this is what changed the story of lobsters. Fresh lobsters became popular, causing high demand for this crustacean. Gradually it moved from being the cockroaches of the sea to a fine dinner staple for the elite.

36. Eating Garlic Is Good For You

Garlic is known to have a pungent smell that prevents people from eating it. Of course, nobody wants bad breath from eating some garlic. However, this root, with a bad reputation, has a lot of health benefits not often talked about.

Image courtesy of TikTok/@anna.antonje

Garlic is packed with nutrients and antioxidants needed by the body. Eating a clove of garlic provides you with vitamin B6, and it also helps to reduce your cholesterol level and blood pressure. It’s a food you should add to your plate.

37. Little Secret About Bananas And Humans

Bananas are delicious and nutritious fruits that everybody loves. They are a good source of fiber and potassium. However, we believe this love for bananas is not only because of their delish tastes and nutrients but because of this little secret.

Image courtesy of Instagram/@cycling_cycy

The shocking fact is humans share a high percentage of DNA with bananas. We share about 40 to 60 percent DNA similarities with bananas! This is to tell you that the fruit you enjoyed so much can be considered your distant relative. Just wow!

38. You Could Also Drink Potatoes

Thinking about what to eat? You can always go for potatoes. Potatoes are a top-notch vegetable. They are cheap and readily available, and they can be prepared in different ways, like boiling, frying, baking, and roasting, according to your preference.

Image courtesy of Instagram/@deannacat3

However, there is another method to enjoy your potatoes that you might not know about. This is drinking your potatoes. Yes, potatoes are made of 80% water. We bet you might be surprised because not everybody knows that potatoes can be turned into a smoothie.

39. Nutmeg Has Harsh Side Effects

Nutmeg is an essential ingredient in baking and cooking; no baking recipe is complete without nutmeg. But how crazy is it that ingesting too much of this non-toxic substance can make you hallucinate? Imagine being high because you ate a cake.

Image courtesy of Instagram/@cassandraensnared

A substance in nutmeg called myristicin causes several side effects, including hallucination, if consumed in high quantities. Beware of this whenever you want to add nutmeg to your food. Go easy on the nutmeg, or you’ll give your guests quite the experience.

40. Pineapples Used To Be Expensive

Who could have thought that pineapple, which is seen freely in the market today, used to be a fruit for the rich? It used to be so rare and expensive that buying a single pineapple could cost you thousands of dollars.

Image courtesy of Instagram/@dannysmiamigarden

This is traced to the fact that the pineapple is a perennial crop that flowers once and produces a single fruit. Imagine having to wait two to three years before harvesting a single pineapple. We should be grateful that there are so many pineapples now.

41. Quail Egg Is The New Trend

Chicken eggs are cheap, big, and easy to get in the market. They are the favorite in many households. However, these eggs are not the best eggs for the body. Quail eggs are the new trend and should be on your list.

Image courtesy of Twitter/@adehun_adekunle

Though Quail eggs are smaller and more expensive than Chicken eggs, the pro is that they offer vitamins and proteins not found in chicken eggs. Try Quail eggs next; we are sure you would say bye-bye to chicken eggs forever.

42. Coriander Tastes Like Soap To Some People

Coriander is an essential herb in many cuisines. Many people are fond of it because it adds a delicious taste to every recipe it touches. To some people, though, it is just a leaf with a pungent smell and soapy taste.

Image courtesy of Instagram/@cultivosnatural and mat.gomez.gomez

These people don’t appreciate citrusy coriander because they have a gene called OR6A2. This smell-receptor gene picks up the smell of aldehyde chemicals used in soap making. And these chemicals are naturally present in coriander, thereby bringing about a soapy taste for these people.

43. Cashews Are Awesome

Do you always wonder what this funny-looking fruit is? That is cashew, an evergreen fruit found in South America and some parts of Africa and Asia. Without the nut that sprouts out from it, you would think it is an apple.

Image courtesy of Instagram/@djtomas

Its fruit is commonly eaten as food and is also used in making fruit juice. Its nut is rich in copper, magnesium, and zinc, so it has incredible health benefits. We think you might want to add it to your next grocery shopping list.

44. Cherish Bananas Now That You Can Have Them

We have already established that bananas are loved all over the world. However, there is a chance that the world could be without this delicious fruit in the future. Oh no! The reason for this is that bananas cannot reproduce.

Image courtesy of Twitter/@D_Mertens_10

All bananas are clones of a single variety, which makes them vulnerable to diseases that could wipe out the entire crop. So, it is important for you to cherish bananas while you can still have them and do your part to ensure their survival.

45. Concerning Ingredient In Fruit Snacks

Fruit snacks are a go-to snack for many people. The chewy gums serve the important task of keeping the mouth busy. However, if you knew what this yummy fruit snack is made of, you would think twice before having one. 

Image courtesy of Twitter/@Elizabeth_Orf

Fruit snacks contain some ingredients like gelatin and corn syrup which are not so good for you. It also contains carnauba wax, a substance made from palm tree leaves that are used in vehicle wax and shoe polish. Imagine eating wax!

46. Unlikely Berries

So, we have already established that, despite their name, strawberries are not, in fact, berries at all. Well, other non-berries with misleading names are raspberries and blackberries. But if all of these aren’t berries, then what is a berry?

Image courtesy prepdish

Turns out that the beloved banana is a berry! Avocados, kiwis, and pomegranates are also berries. Perhaps someone should have a word with the people in charge of naming fruit. They got it all wrong and have now confused the world.