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February 8 is National Girl Scout Cookie Day

National Girl Scout Cookie Day Worldwide Weird Holidays

A “Money Counts” merit badge? I guess greed really is good.

 

The first National Girl Scout Cookie Day was celebrated on February 8, 2013, created to “highlight the real purpose of the $790-million cookie program, which is to teach girls five essential skills: goal setting, decision making, money management, business ethics, and people skills.”

It appears not everyone buys into GSblog’s statement that cookie fans should order boxes “in honor of their success in running the largest girl-led business enterprise in the world.”

While researching this seemingly sweet and innocent holiday, I discovered a groundswell of belief that these cookie pushers have darker purposes. I found it in, of all places, The Washington Post, in the comment section of an article about how supply chain problems are affecting the production of Girl Scout cookies.

For context, a top article that day stated Biden’s White House would distribute 400 million free N95 masks to help control the spread of COVID-19, which continues to ravage Earth’s populace abetted by a concurrent plague of ignorance.

Another story detailed how AT&T and Verizon agreed to limit their rollout of new high-speed 5G networks near airports due to their potential to interfere with “airplane safety technology.” Turns out conspiracy theorists who shriek that 5G transmits COVID-19 simply lack imagination. For my money, dying in a plane crash because some idiot is checking his phone for up-to-the-minute health advice from Joe Rogan is way scarier. (Because of course those same folks will use 5G with no sense of irony. It’s faster.)

I normally stay away from comment boards for reasons anyone who doesn’t enjoy a headlong plunge down a manhole will understand. But a story about cookies, one that mentions Adventurefuls, the new “brownie-inspired cookies with caramel flavored crème and a hint of sea salt” seemed like a low-stakes issue. (I was a Girl Scout once. I never earned a merit badge and quit owing 20¢ in dues. I shudder to think how much interest has accrued.) So I looked at the comments, curious to read some lighthearted reminiscences.

When the first few seemed to equate Girl Scout cookies with crimes against humanity, I was intrigued, lured as always by the siren song of absurdity accompanied by a chorus of achingly earnest concern.

There were comments about sexism, racism, exploitation of minors, virulent consumerism, and environmental catastrophe. I enjoyed the ones that complained the cookies didn’t taste right and there were fewer in a box, apparently unhappy they weren’t provided more lousy cookies to hate-eat. Many mentioned the use of high fructose corn syrup in parallel with these concerns. (That assertion, at least, is untrue.) So I was primed to find that annoying when I read this:

I stopped buying Girl Scout cookies when they started using questionable ingredients like high fructose corn syrup and palm oil, the impacts of which are counter to the spirit of scouting, as I understand it. Palm oil, in particular, is the product of deforestation and threatens species like orangutans. As cheap as it is, I imagine the importation of it would be tied up at some of these ports and I’m not losing sleep over this type of supply chain issue.

These cookies aren’t about supporting Girl Scouts, but industries and interests behind it.

I responded:

Palm oil, yes. This needs to be phased out of everything. But it is difficult to engineer the same texture and flavors without it. That’s not an excuse but these cookies are like Proust’s madeleine. They take us back to our youth and we expect them to taste the same.

But they no longer contain high fructose corn syrup. Of course, it’s easy to hack the sugar shown in the ingredients by listing it in its individual forms to keep the blanket term “sugar” from being one of the first three ingredients.

And, for the love of Pete, of course, the makers and importers profit from it. Some of the profits do benefit the Girl Scouts organization, though. Everything we touch, wear, watch, eat, and drive benefits some corporate fat cats somewhere. That doesn’t make it right but we have to choose which things we rail against, don’t we? Otherwise, we’d be rocking in a corner, unable to do anything because of its potential butterfly effect.

I have to decide what I’m going to focus on and realize that my choices have consequences. And, consequently, I’ve spent the last ten minutes writing about how cookies are not going to make my list of corporate greed-head evils. So shame on me, I guess.

Now I’m going to go buy cookies from the Girl Scouts of Greater NY’s Troop 6000, which serves the NYC shelter system. I found it through a link on goodmorningamerica.com.

Reading this again just now, I can see how mild the original comment was. I am reminded once again of why I should avoid comment sections; I can huff up so much fake outrage that I get high on it and fancy myself a balancing force of sarcasm.

I did place an order. The Thin Mints and Do-Si-Dos are just as I remember them. The Samoas were a disappointment only because Keebler makes a superior (alleged) dupe I’ve been eating for years. The Adventurefuls have “sugar” as the main ingredient and just don’t taste great, in my opinion. And, yes, I still ate the whole box.

Happy National Girl Scout Cookie Day!

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January 22 is National Hot Sauce Day

national hot sauce day

Today is National Hot Sauce Day. It celebrates the birthday in 1865 of Wilbur Scoville, who created a method to determine a pepper’s spiciness that is still in use today.

Scoville, an American chemist, devised the system in 1912. It measures the concentration of capsaicin, the active component that gives chilies their spicy taste, using Scoville Heat Units (SHU). Ratings range from 0 for a bell pepper to 16,000,000 for pure capsaicin.

Capsaicin content, which causes a burning sensation when it comes in contact with any tissue, is measured by dissolving a pepper in alcohol to extract its capsaicin oil, then diluting the oil in sugar water.

If a panel of five testers detects any spiciness, the mixture is diluted again until three of the five cannot discern any hotness. Heat level is measured by how many dilutions are necessary. Every instance increases the SHU, since hotter chilies must be weakened many times for no heat to be detected.

In 2013, The Guinness World Record for hottest chili pepper went to the Carolina Reaper, a cross between a ghost pepper and a red habanero created by Ed Currie of the aptly named PuckerButt Pepper Company. The Reaper’s official heat level is 1,569,300 SHU but ranges up to 2,200,000. (By comparison, Tabasco sauce has a level 0f 2,500 to 5,000.)

The Reaper was bested in 2017 by Dragon’s Breath, which clocked in at 2,480,000 SHU. Currie surged back with Pepper X, a Frankenstein’s monster at 3,180,000 SHU. Unlike Dragon’s Breath, which will only be used for medicinal purposes, Pepper X is available as a sauce dubbed The Last Dab.

Studies have shown that heat levels evoke the same pain response in spice lovers and haters and everyone in between. So why do so many of us like it? Could it predict other risk-taking behaviors? Check out this TED Ed lesson for answers.

 

 

For some serious fun, watch The Hot Ones challenge celebrities, actors, and musicians to eat ever-hotter sauces as they chat. Dave Grohl is especially awesome. But nothing compares to okurrr’s video contrasting Lorde‘s pure enjoyment with others’ abject suffering. It’s guaranteed to make you smile.

 

 

Then buy the same sauces from Heatonist to stage your own challenge for friends or maybe people you don’t like so much. There’s even a game called Truth or Dab you can use if you’re into that retro board game kind of thing.

I went to Heatonist’s shop in NYC’s Chelsea Market and told the hot sauce sommelier–if it’s not a thing, it should be–that the only thing I couldn’t put hot sauce on was ice cream. He said, “We’ve got one for that” and turned me on to Hell Yeah, I’m Hot, a blackberry-hibiscus-habanero blend that has become my everyday yogurt topping. I’m on my third bottle.

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September 4 is Eat an Extra Dessert Day

Today is Eat an Extra Dessert Day, always celebrated on September 4th. We don’t know who started it or when, but we sincerely hope it will go on forever because, let’s face it, the only thing better than one dessert is two.

Eat an Extra Dessert Day

We’re neither mathematicians nor philosophers, but we wonder: Is there such a thing as half a dessert? To paraphrase Yoda, there is only dessert and no dessert. Wouldn’t that apply here, too? If eaten at once, there can be only one dessert. (We’re throwing in a little Highlander here, too. Please pardon our mixed movie metaphors.)

Theoretically, one dessert could last forever. Perhaps the purpose of Eat an Extra Dessert Day is to allow us a moment to escape the sweet-time continuum. It may be the only chance we’ll get all year.

Good luck, and, when you come back to the table, please bring the chocolate sauce. There’s work to be done.

Copyright © 2018 Worldwide Weird Holidays

March 3 is National Cold Cuts Day

Today is National Cold Cuts Day. Some look at a seemingly wacky holiday and say, “Why?” At Worldwide Weird Holidays, we say, “Why not?”

National Cold Cuts Day

The term “cold cuts” refers to any cooked meat that is thinly sliced, often eaten in a sandwich. According to SupermarketGuru, there are three types:

Whole cuts are slices carved directly from chicken, turkey breast, corned beef or other precooked sources.

Formed or “restructured” products are made by combining meat chunks with sticky proteins and/or artificial additives, emulsifying them into a thick slurry. The blend is then forced into a mold or casing and cooked to bind it into its new shape.

Processed meats include cured, smoked and otherwise preserved foods like sausage and hot dogs as well as bologna and liverwurst. Manufacturing steps are similar to those of formed meats, with an important exception. These mixtures may include “by-products” such as lips, stomachs, and hearts.

Note: Any lunch meat appended with the word “loaf”—olive loaf, ham loaf, pickle loaf—might warrant a peek at the list of ingredients. A word to the wise: If it calls itself a loaf but it isn’t bread, proceed with caution.

Want to know more? Watch a five-minute segment devoted to deli meats on Discovery Channel’s “How It’s Made” program. The script sounds suspiciously like advertising, but maybe the narrator just really, really loves lunch meat.

If you’d prefer more comprehensive reportage, prepare to be dazzled by Season 14, Episode 43 of “Modern Marvels,” a 45-minute tour de force titled, simply, Cold Cuts.

On a more serious note, we find it alarming that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (which lengthened its name in 1992 but still refers to itself as the CDC) advises pregnant women, people over 65, and those with weakened immune systems to heat cold cuts to 165° F before eating them, due to the possible presence of Listeria, a hard-to-kill bacterium that grows even when refrigerated. Did you know that? We didn’t.

There have been many cases of infection due to seafood, hot dogs, raw unpasteurized milk and cheese, as well as this one caused by lunch meat and detailed in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) on October 25, 2002:

A multistate outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes infections with 46 culture-confirmed cases, seven deaths, and three stillbirths or miscarriages in eight states has been linked to eating sliceable turkey deli meat. Cases have been reported from Pennsylvania (14 cases), New York (11 in New York City and seven in other locations), New Jersey (five), Delaware (four), Maryland (two), Connecticut (one), Massachusetts (one), and Michigan (one).

Find general CDC information regarding Listeria here. and resources specifically for pregnant women here. No one is saying we can’t enjoy a hoagie but let’s be careful out there. Have a Happy National Cold Cuts Day!

Copyright © 2018 Worldwide Weird Holidays