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The Sporkful

The Sporkful is an award-winning podcast and blog about eating, where we discuss, debate, and obsess over the most ridiculous food-related minutiae, always seeking new and better ways to eat. Hosted by Dan Pashman and Mark Garrison, former co-workers at NPR, The Sporkful encourages everyone to eat more, eat better, and "EAT MORE BETTER!"

Monday, July 28, 2014

  • Weather and Eating and Desserts Named After Weather
    There are a lot of desserts named after severe weather phenomena, but not all of them are created equal. We asked tornado alley's top meteorologist, Gary England, to help us rank some of these desserts, based on the severity of the weather they are named for. In addition to Gary England's dessert rankings, the newest episode of The Sporkful includes a conversation Paul Breslin about how weather affects our tastes. Breslin is a professor with the Department of Nutritional Sciences at Rutgers University. He also works with the Monell Chemical Senses Center, researching taste perception.

Friday, July 25, 2014

  • I Dreamed of a Dairy Queen Blizzard Last Night
    I was eight years old when Dairy Queen introduced their now-famous Blizzard. A perfect concoction of ice cream and candy, it nurtured the young eater that I was, and led me to gain more than a few pounds during that magical summer. Years later, working a dead-end temp job in Chicago, my life had a lot less magic. But the Dairy Queen Blizzard visited me in my dreams one night, giving me solace and hope. The dream was so vivid and so intense, that I spent most of the next day writing a poem about the Blizzard; and I share that fine poem with you now. Dan as a weighty youngster, circa 1987, around the time he discovered the Dairy Queen Blizzard. I Dreamed of a Dairy Queen Blizzard Last Night I dreamed of a Dairy Queen Blizzard last nightWith M&Ms, ice cream and moreIt was filled to the b

Thursday, July 24, 2014

  • Is This A Sandwich? Or #NotASandwich
    Sporkful host, Dan Pashman, throws down over what does and doesn't constitute a sandwich...beginning with his controversial stance that a hot dog is NOT a sandwich. He's joined by participants from a variety of backgrounds, including John Hodgman, Micki Maynard of the New York Times, Grammar Girl Mignon Fogarty, and the Planet Money team (who recently reported on why the state of New York defines a burrito as a sandwich). "@WNYC: Is a hot dog a sandwich? @leonardlopate @thesporkful #NotASandwich" NOT. A. SANDWICH. — Dr. Sean (@the7thpoint) July 24, 2014 Hot dogs (&Hamburgers) might fit technical "sandwich" definition, but they're in a league of their own, so NO #notasandwich @thesporkful — Mary Jane (@mjfrombuffalo) July 24, 2014 For those playing catchup, listen to me explain

Thursday, July 17, 2014

  • Spiral Cut Watermelon: A Summertime Treat For Any Size Face
    Melon balls look nice, but they roll all over the plate. Squares and rectangles are fine but boring. Wedges can work well, but if they're too wide your face gets covered in juice, and if they're too narrow they're unsatisfying. Enter the Spiral Cut Watermelon. By employing the same spiral cut technology used for Easter hams and county fair fried potatoes, we can eat watermelon better. This technique allows you to slice off watermelon wedges of varying widths with only a single cut. One watermelon produces many size wedges for many size faces, and everyone goes home happy. Plus it just looks so beautiful.  For more eatovations like this check out my forthcoming book, Eat More Better: How to Make Every Bite More Delicious.

Monday, July 14, 2014

  • Eating While Parenting
    Anyone who takes care of kids knows that eating off children's plates is part of the everyday dining experience. But which kid scraps make for the most delicious eats? How can an eater make these scraps even better? And which touched/dropped/pre-masticated foods are just too gross to consume? Hillary Frank of WNYC's parenting podcast The Longest Shortest Time is disgusted by Dan's answers, but Dan remains undeterred. He talks with Arun Venugopal of WNYC's Micropolis about the role of eating with your hands in Indian culture and how it can help parents find prized morsels in the post-meal detritus. Plus, former New York Congressman Anthony Weiner discusses the scraps he most enjoys eating from his toddler's high chair, and Dan's own daughters demonstrate how they eat and share food with

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

  • Anthony Weiner Leaves No Child's Mac and Cheese Behind
    How do you find deliciousness among the detritus of your kids' table scraps? Do you ever sneak treats when your kids aren't looking, or try to get them to order the thing you want to eat at a restaurant, since you know they won't finish it anyway? If so, what's the best way to do it without them catching on? Next week on The Sporkful we'll talk about all this and more when we cover Eating While Parenting. Our guests will include Hillary Frank of WNYC's parenting podcast The Longest Shortest Time and Arun Venegopal of WNYC's Micropolis, plus a special cameo from former New York Congressman Anthony Weiner. Listen to the above preview, in which I ask the congressman about his policy on whether to eat his two-and-a-half year old son's leftover scraps.
  • How to Eat off Your Children's Plates
    Like burying beetles and blowflies, parents are natural scavengers. We have no time or energy to make our own decent meals so we scavenge for what we can, where we can, defying the laws of grossness to which non-parents adhere. (And sometimes we even find some tasty morsels.) I've identified a hierarchy of small children's table scraps, to help parents decide where to draw the line between edible and trash-worthy. Here they are, from the ideal scenario to the bottom of the barrel: Dan's Hierarchy of Kids' Table Scraps 1. On the plate, untouched.  2. On the plate, mushed around with hands.  3. Picked up and dropped on the floor.  4. Put in the mouth and returned to the plate.  5. Put in the mouth and dropped on the floor by accident.  6. Put in the mouth and dropped on the floor on p

Monday, June 30, 2014

  • Hot Dogs and Hot Doug's
    There's no shortage of hot dog and sausage joints in Chicago, but one restaurant inspires a level of devotion unlike any other--Hot Doug's. People come from all over the country to wait in line for hours for a taste. In part that's because the menu extends far beyond the standard Chicago style hot dog and includes dishes like alligator sausage and duck fat fries. It's also because of chef and owner Doug Sohn, who has stood at the counter and taken every single order himself since he opened his doors 13 years ago. Doug has turned down million dollar offers to expand, and recently, he actually announced that he's closing up shop in October. People are freaking out. In this week's episode of The Sporkful, Dan Pashman travels to Chicago to find out what makes Hot Doug's special and to ask Dou
  • Beating Bad Buns and Overcoming Overcondimentation
    As we head into July 4th weekend it's time to look at some of the common barriers to hot dog enjoyment, and cover the solutions. Bad buns are a dry and crumbly scourge on our great land. Even some of the fresh baked varieties are problematic, because they're so thick that they throw off the proper dog-to-bun ratio. When you do get the bun right, you still have to worry about condiments. Spread them carelessly and there is no going back. That's why I recommend dipping your dog on a per-bite basis. This allows you to regulate ratios and try different condiments (or no condiment) on different bites. If you're stuck with bad buns, don't lose hope. I've developed a variety of techniques to help. Watch the latest installment of my Cooking Channel web series You're Eating It Wrong (above) for m
  • 4 Tips for Beating Bad Buns and Overcoming Overcondimentation
    Bad hot dog buns are a dry and crumbly scourge on our great land. Even some of the fresh-baked varieties are problematic, because they're so thick that they throw off the proper dog-to-bun ratio. When you do get the bun right, you still have to worry about condiments. Spread them carelessly and there’s no going back. Here’s how to overcome overcondimentation and make bad buns better: 1. Buy better buns. The best are top-sliced buns that you griddle in butter. Next best option: potato buns. The bun and the dog, happy together.  2. Use the dog to improve the bun. If you’re stuck with a dry bun, as soon as you put the hot dog in it, press the bun down all around to smoosh it into the dog. The heat and moisture from the dog will warm and moisten the bun. Plus you’re

Thursday, June 26, 2014

  • Are Hot Dogs Sandwiches?
    When it comes to the correct definition of a sandwich, I’m a strict constructionist. I believe we must look to the Earl of Sandwich’s original intent, which is why I’ve been dubbed the Scalia of Sandwiches. Even with my conservative approach to sandwichdom, I consider a hot dog to be a sandwich. That’s why I was shocked to see recently that a man I respect and admire, Judge John Hodgman, had ruled that hot dogs are not sandwiches. He writes, “Unlike any sandwich, you would NEVER cut and serve a hot dog in halves, unless under some weird duress. A half sandwich may be saved or shared, but a hot dog is a unity. Listen to the above clip from The Sporkful, in which I dismantle Judge Hodgman’s verdict piece-by-piece. Subscribe to the podcast in iTunes. And check out next week’s wh

Monday, June 16, 2014

  • Inside the Mind of a Culinary Mad Scientist
    In the beginning, stuffed crust pizza was not beautiful. “I did the first prototype in the lab and it looked like a Schwinn bike tire,” says Tom Ryan, the flavor chemist who invented it. “It was ugly as hell.” But he was on to something. Years of research had shown him two things: People always like more cheese on their pizza, and most people don’t eat the crust. (He calls the leftover crust “pizza bones,” because it usually goes to the dog.) Filling the crust with a ribbon of cheese was exactly what people wanted, even if they didn’t know it. When Ryan finally presented a stuffed crust pizza to a focus group, one man looked at him and said, “My dog is going to hate you.” He knew he had a winner. He would go on to create the McDonald’s McGriddle, another one of the mo

Monday, June 2, 2014

  • Eat Me Some Peanuts and Cracker Jack
    Baseball season is in full swing and if someone takes you out to a ball game, you'll likely ask them to buy you some peanuts and Cracker Jack. (Not Cracker Jacks, of course, because there's no such thing). Before you place your order, listen to Dan explore the intricacies of these classic foods with three experts: Nile Brisson is a third generation peanut man and president of Peanut Processors, Inc. in North Carolina. He uses his teeth to crack the shells open and says that once you've eaten the nut, unsalted shells make a great addition to your garden soil. (He also explains how they get the salt inside the shells in the first place.  Mike Pesca looks at the history of the song "Take Me Out To The Ballgame" in a classic "On The Media" piece, and tries to put a dollar value on the free ad

Friday, May 23, 2014

  • 8 Tips for Summer Food Festival Success
    Food festivals can confer great rewards, but they also come with great peril. Choices abound — but stomach space is limited. Craft a plan, execute it well, and you’ll feel like the ruler of all you survey. Go in looking for Weapons of Mass Deliciousness with too many unknown unknowns and you could easily find yourself in a quagmire. I address this issue in depth in my forthcoming book, Eat More Better: How to Make Every Bite More Delicious, where I warn of the bad decisions one may make when shrouded in the Food Festival Fog of War. (Hint: Look to Sun Tzu’s The Art of War for guidance.) Here are some tips based on my years of research and scholarship: Brussels sprouts from Tso Fried Chicken at Smorgasburg in Williamsburg. 1. Do research before you go. You’re reading this article,

Monday, May 19, 2014

  • When Belgian Waffles Came to America
    Back in 1964, Americans hadn’t set foot on the moon and Belgian waffles hadn’t set foot on our plates. Enter MariePaule Vermersch and her family, Belgian immigrants who saw an opportunity to share a piece of their culture and build a business at the same time. At the World's Fair of 1964-65, the Vermersches served Belgian waffles to eager eaters who were delighted by the taste and novelty of the hand-held waffle with the deep wells and crisp crust. "The line never ended...we had 24 machines that never stopped running," MariePaule says. At the end of the day, she explained that, "Sometimes we had fights, we had people fighting, 'one more, one more!'" But MariePaule’s father was unable to capitalize on the stand’s popularity, which remains a sore point for her family to this day. The
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