In the editor's office there is a large box simply marked: "Stuff people send us." Only very special items find their way into this box; namely, pictures, products and press releases that are sometimes interesting, even entertaining, but really have no particular use to us in our pursuit of the weekly news.
The No. 1 offenders of snazzy press kits containing useless information are food companies. We feel it is time to share some of this newfound food knowledge with the general public, for there is a vast amount of information floating out there in the food universe, most of it buried beneath mountains of other junk mail. What follows are some of the more insightful downright educational facts that, no doubt, will prompt excellent holiday conversation.
Did You Know?
Ranch dressing was created by a real rancher living on a ranch. Operating originally as a dude ranch during the '50s and '60s, Steve and Gayle Henson used to prepare homemade meals for all of their guests. Guests continuously raved about the creamy salad dressing served, often writing to ask for samples or the recipe. In 1967 the Henson's closed the ranch and began mass producing their creamy dressing. In 1974, Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing hit nationwide.
Commercial bakers began using paper bake cups (for cupcakes) after WWI.
The Heinz company has introduced (for the new millennium) the Heinz Ketchup Pin, a companion to their infamous Heinz Pickle Pin, which was first introduced at the Chicago World's Fair in 1893. The pin pair, each standing just over an inch tall, are available at www.heinz.com.
The Grill Drill
From the research teams at Weber Grills (as Weber's press releases say, "We have unearthed a treasure trove of barbecue-related information):
According to a 1999 Weber GrillWatch survey, 60 percent of Americans who own a grill own a gas grill. The other half of that interesting statistic, of course, is that 40 percent of the grill-owning population owns charcoal grills.
33 percent of Americans see themselves as better than average grillers. (As compared to who and what, we are not sure.)
63 percent of Americans purchase their first grill before the age of 25.
13 percent of Americans have grilled during an ice storm; 30 percent during a snow storm.
21 percent of the grilling population flips their food only once. (The experts say once is enough).
And ... mark your calendar. Beginning April 3, Weber has a Grill-Line which is open for calls. A team of CBEs (Certified BBQ Experts) will be standing by to answer all of your grilling questions, including those concerning seafood. Call 800/GRILL-OUT.
The Cupcake Runneth Over
Though nothing says American more than a good cookout, cupcakes may be a close second. At least the folks at Reynolds think so.
"Don't underestimate the power of cupcakes," says Betty Morton, manager of Reynold's Kitchens. "Cupcakes may be small in size, but they are packed with memories of happiness and fun."
Ms. Morton also offers this solid advice:
When using Reynolds Foil Bakecups (while creating memories of happiness and fun) remove the paper separators before filling the foil bakecups with batter.
Top three techniques for cupcake consumption:
1) Peeling the Reynolds Bake Cup back with each bite.
2) Using the Reynolds Bake Cup as a miniature plate and cutting the cupcake into smaller pieces.
3) The bottom-up method (my personal favorite) -- start with the cake foundation and hold the cupcake's crown of sweet frosting for the final bites!
Almost as exciting as cupcakes is the gelatin mold. But it seems that the folks from Wilton Enterprises, the leading designer of home celebration products, bakeware and cake decorating tools are worried about gelatin's slipping reputation. Contained in a fancy press packet touting the more aesthetic benefits of the jiggly stuff:
"It is a very adaptable type of dish and can be varied to meet anyone's taste. It also provides a nice bit of color and variety on an otherwise rather brown-colored Thanksgiving plate."
They further add that "the right gelatin mold can almost serve as a centerpiece." (Perhaps we should note the word "almost.")
Finally, from the Wheat Foods Council: www.smartbread.com. This informative site answers frequently asked questions and examines bread truths and bread myths.
So there you have it. Shameless self promotion ... oops, I mean, interesting, informative and intriguing food facts and figures, which will no doubt change your world as they have ours. Talk amongst yourselves.