Weird History

Food History Facts That Sound Made Up, But Aren't

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Vote up the most bizarre historical stories about common foods.

Waffles, bagels, and bacon sounds like an awesome breakfast - but did you know that 17th-century Polish women got bagels as birthing gifts, the ancient Greeks had waffle irons, and Neil Armstrong ate bacon on the moon? These bizarre food history facts will make you think twice before reaching for a chocolate bar or shelling out extra for lobster as a treat. 

Some weird food history facts sound completely fake. For example, ketchup used to contain fish and mushrooms. Or medieval bakers used bird claws to carry their chicken pot pies. And while you might know something about astronaut food (we all remember the dehydrated ice cream sandwich from that one field trip, right?), you probably don't know the first meal man ate on the moon. On our journey through the most bizarre food facts in history, you'll also learn what an "Epsicle" is and how the ancient Romans fattened up their chickens.

Vote up the most interesting food facts that sound too bizarre to be true.

  • Carrots weren't always orange. In fact, wild carrots only came in white, yellow, or purple until a few centuries ago. 

    When people began cultivating the carrot in Eurasia, it looked very different from today's crunchy vegetables. Ancient Greeks talked about carrots and parsnips interchangeably. People in Central Asia began domesticating purple and yellow carrots around 900 AD. Orange carrots are actually a mutation that farmers cultivated for its sweeter taste. 

  • On the Lewis And Clark Expedition, Men Sometimes Ate 9 Pounds Of Meat Each In One Day
    Photo: Missouri History Museum / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain
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    On the Lewis And Clark Expedition, Men Sometimes Ate 9 Pounds Of Meat Each In One Day

    In 1804, the Lewis and Clark Expedition set out on its way to the Pacific Ocean. Unsure of what they would find in the West, the team brought along a huge amount of food. On a keelboat hauled from Camp Dubois in Illinois, the expedition carried 7 tons of flour, coffee, pork, corn, beans, and sugar. That included 93 pounds of dried soup.

    A year into the trip, Clark jotted down a note about their dining habits. "We eat an emensity of meat; it requires 4 deer, or an elk and a deer, or one buffaloe to supply us plentifully 24 hours."

    When the men could catch wild game, they ate as much as 9 pounds of meat per day. 

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    The First Mechanical Dough Mixer Was Invented In The First Century BC

    The Romans were known for their baking - but until the second century BC, baking was a domestic job done by women. As Romans grew more wealthy, women tired of baking their own bread. Instead, they started visited professional bakeries, where they would buy loaves fired in a wood oven. 

    Professional bakers came up with some improvements to the breadmaking process. A freed slave named Marcus Virgilius Euryasaces invented the first mechanical mixer for dough. Bakers would place the dough in a stone basin. A horse or donkey would walk around the basin to pull wooden paddles that mixed the dough.

  • PEZ wasn't always a fruit-flavored candy sold in novelty dispensers. When an Austrian named Eduard Haas III invented PEZ in 1927, he thought the drops would be used as a smoking alternative.

    At first, customers could only buy PEZ in round drop form. And the only flavor was peppermint. That's how the candy got its name: Pfefferminz, the German word for peppermint, was shortened to PEZ. But Haas eventually changed the design to the tiny brick shape and added more flavors.