Bits and pieces: Chocolate shortage, Betty Crocker’s PMS solution and other food news from the web, 11.10.10

Starting next week, Bits and Pieces will return to Mondays. Now, on to the news.

  • This first news item brought a tear to my eye. Some experts say that chocolate will be an expensive rarity similar to caviar in 20 years, according to an article in The Independent of London. According to the newspaper, the demand for chocolate exceeds the supply of cocoa beans, which make for a beastly crop to tend that yields little reward for farmers. We need to get the Oompa Loompas on this one.


  • Speaking of chocolate, Betty Crocker has devised a marketing plan to sell its Warm Delights dessert and play up on feminine stereotypes. According to the website Jezebel, the company has created a free PMS app. Check the link – I can’t make this one up. When it’s a woman’s time of the month, she and her partner will receive a coupon for Warm Delights to satisfy cravings for chocolate. From Betty Crocker via Jezebel:

When it’s “that time of the month,” most girls could really use a couple of things: a little advanced warning, a bit more understanding and support, and a lot of chocolate. … This free app also helps guys navigate this special time – from a place to practice foot massage, to suggested escape routes. Because sometimes the best thing to do is get her chocolate and get out of the way.

  • For the busy breakfast eater in all of us, Dunkin Donuts has launched Sausage Pancake Bites, little pieces of meat wrapped in syrup-soaked pancake, according to The Consumerist. I’ll just skip this and have the coffee, thanks.


  • The LA Times did a wonderful profile of Gluten-Free Girl, aka Shauna James Ahern, aka blogger, aka author. Shauna turned a diagnosis of celiac disease into an avenue to share her story and tasty recipes. Kudos to her success.


Bits and pieces: Kentucky State Fair Edition, 8.23.10

This week’s news from the web is dedicated to the 106th Kentucky State Fair, which began Thursday and continues through Sunday.

No words necessary.
  • There’s been a lot of talk about the Krispy Kreme burger, a new addition to the usual fair food available. The dish consists of a beef patty stuck between two Krispy Kreme donuts. And there’s also bacon, just in case you didn’t get enough fat in your meal. The concept is not new – Luther burgers have been around for at least a couple of years. Courier-Journal reporter Chris Quay ate it and survived. Should I?
  • Tom Eblen, a columnist for the Lexington Herald-Leadershadowed the volunteers who have the task of judging more than 4,000 dishes entered into the fair’s culinary competition. The judges take their job seriously – check out the debate about whether an entrant’s pie crust is bought or homemade.
  • Food is a big draw at fairs across the country. The fair in Montgomery County near Washington, D.C., is expanding the palates of attendees by introducing ethnic foods (in addition to classic fried foods, of course). According to the Washington Post, “as America’s population has diversified – and Montgomery County’s is among the most diverse anywhere – fair organizers in a few states have opened up their food stands to better reflect the people coming through the doors. They’re also appealing to a younger population with an increasingly sophisticated palate.” Some of the offerings at the Montgomery County fair include Ecuadorian fruit salad, Salvadorian tortillas and Greek gyros.
  • Need to know what’s going on at the fair? Check out the event’s official blog, The Shake Up, for a daily rundown. The Courier-Journal also has a great page devoted to the fair.

*Photo courtesy of *Jeffrey* via Flickr

Bits and pieces: Hunger legislation, white versus wheat and other food news from the web, 8.9.10

One bread reigns supreme.
  • Shoppers, watch our for some white-on-wheat violence in the bread aisle. Consumers are buying more wheat bread than white bread for the first time, according to the Chicago Tribune. And some of the best performing of these breads are produces with buzz words such as “whole grain” and “natural” in the name. I have a confession: my favorite bread is Nature’s Own. Am I just a sheep in the big ol’ food pasture?
  • A Georgia woman is using cornbread in an attempt to fight the foreclosure of her home, according to an article in the Wall Street Journal. Beverly Davis lost her job and eventually her $134,000 home. So she’s started cooking up recipes based around cornbread and selling her goods. Here’s her blog and website.
  • The U.S. Senate recently passed the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, a bill that will provide an additional $4.5 billion over 10 years to federal child nutrition programs, including school lunches, according to the Washington Post. The bill has not only received bi-partisan support, but First Lady Michelle Obama touted the measure in an op-ed in the Washington Post. Here’s some key points about the bill, which the senate passed by unanimous consent on Thursday, Aug. 5:
    • The bill allocates $1.2 billion to increase the number of children receiving food, an effort to meet President Obama’s pledge to end childhood hunger by 2015. The remaining $3.2 billion would be used to improve the quality of school meals. This includes an extra 6 cents per meal per student for schools that meet new, stricter nutrition standards and funding for schools to establish school gardens and to source local foods. (Washington Post)
    • The need for Federal food assistance has increased dramatically in recent years.  According to USDA’s November 2009 report, Household Food Security in the United States, 14.6 percent of U.S. households (17 million households representing 49.1 million people, including 16.7 million children) were food insecure at least some time during the year. Of that number, 6.7 million households were classified as having very low food security, meaning that the food intake of one or more household members was reduced and their eating patterns were disrupted at times during the year because the household lacked money and other resources for food. (Democratic Policy Committee)
    • The House of Representatives would need to pass its version of the bill in time for President Obama to sign the legislation before Sept. 30, when it is set to expire, or the programs risk losing the newly found funding. (Washington Post)
    • Money from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, aka food stamps) will be reallocated if the hunger-free kids act is made into law. (Politico)

*Photo courtesy of doitsunosensei via Flickr

Bits and pieces: Promiscuous olive oil, ice cream for dogs and other food news from the web, 7.26.10

  • NPR nails this saucy headline: “Your olive oil may not be the virgin it claims.” According to the article, a study from the University of California-Davis showed that more than two-thirds of random samples of imported so-called extra-virgin olive oil doesn’t make the grade. “To be extra-virgin,” the story says, “olive oil can’t be rancid or doctored with lesser oils. (Chemist Charles) Shoemaker wasn’t all that surprised that many of the 14 major brands failed certain tests.” Learn more about the virgin labels at’s blog.


  • Being overweight can cause as many problems to your bank account as your body, according to a study published in The American Journal of Epidemiology. 

Adults who have been overweight since high school are more likely to be unemployed or on welfare than those who gained weight gradually during their 20s and 30s, according to a piece on the New York Times Well blog about the study. People who have been persistently overweight since high school are also more likely to be single at 40 and have no more than a high school education.


  • Your office desk harbors more germs than your toilet, according to microbiologist Charles Gerba of the University of Arizona. Here’s some scary stats from the “In the office, the “germiest” items are the phone and the desk top followed by the computer keyboard and mouse. The number of bacteria per square centimeter on a desk top is typically 400 times greater than on a toilet seat.” There is also a list at the bottom of the article that names the five germiest workplaces. Who uses the fourth worst workspace? Media workers (my former profession).


  • Dogs in Britain are having a heck of a summer. The K99 is an ice cream truck with treats made especially for dogs, according to the Daily Mail. The truck offers two flavors of ice cream: “Dog Eat Hog World” and “Canine Cookie Crunch.” The truck even plays the Scooby-Doo theme music. But the best part? All proceeds go to a non-profit that provides volunteer search-and-rescue dogs.

Bits and pieces: stoner cuisine, murder-for-hire and other food news from the web, 5.18.10

Real life can really get in the way of blogging.

I was busy taking care of business, and I spent the weekend away from a suitable Internet connection. My apologies for the late postings. But I’m back, so enjoy some Web news.

  • Chefs are giving new meaning to “half-baked.” Apparently, there’s a marijuana subculture among a handful of chefs. The drug, according to the NY Times, not only eases their minds, but stimulates the creation of intricate treats. From the NY Times:

Today, a small but influential band of cooks says both their chin-dripping, carbohydrate-heavy food and the accessible, feel-good mood in their dining rooms are influenced by the kind of herb that can get people arrested.

Call it haute stoner cuisine.


  • Got a hankerin for some bear? A group of hunters in California donated 250 pounds of elk, deer, sheep, wild pig and, of course, bear to the Union Rescue Mission in Los Angeles. The meaty feast was sponsored by the Sportsman Channel as a part of its national “Hunt. Fish. Feed.” initiative, according to the LA Times. (story)
  • Tyler Cowen is an economist, ethnic foodie and all-around interesting guy. He blogs about the best ethnic food places in the DC area (note: find them in the suburbs). There’s a great profile of Cowen in the Washington Post. (story, blog)
  • You know your allergy to pine nuts? Well, you might not really be allergic. Many who think they have food allergies actually do not, according to the NY Times. About 30 percent of people say they have food allergies, but “the true incidence of food allergies is only about 8 percent for children and less than 5 percent for adults,” the article states. (story)
Juan-Carlos Cruz (via LA Times)
  • Police say former Food Network chef Juan-Carlos Cruz participated in an alleged scheme to hire two homeless men to kill his wife. Cruz was the host of Calorie Commando, a show “in which guests challenged him to prepare their favorite meals with fewer calories while retaining the taste.” The show was canceled back in 2006, according to the LA Times. (story)

Nothing but pizza for a month? Sounds tasty…

Could you eat this for a month straight?

Nick Sherman is a man on a mission.

Sherman participated in his own Pizza Challenge last month. The challenge, which the Brooklyn dweller has done for a couple of years, required him to eat nothing but piece for a month. That’s right, 30 days straight. Nothing but dough, cheese, sauce and various toppings.

Here’s a blurb from Sherman’s blog, Pizza Rules!:

First I’ll clarify the specifics of the rules I’ve set out, because many people ask about them. The first part is pretty simple: anything I eat during the month of April will be pizza. This means no snacks, appetizers, desserts, candy… nothing …

On top of that, as with previous Pizza Months, I’m also attempting to eat at a different pizza place (i.e. one that I haven’t been to yet this month) every day.

The challenge sounds pretty cool, but potentially devastating to the wallet, especially if you live in a place without a kajillion pizza places.

But let’s say money is no object, and you had to do a challenge of your own. What food would you like to eat for an entire month? Leave your answer in the comments below.