WTF Fun Fact 13618 – Hong Kong’s Snake Pizza

Pizza Hut, the iconic American pizza chain, has taken a bold leap into the world of fusion cuisine in Hong Kong by introducing a pizza that’s causing quite a stir. This isn’t just any pizza; it’s topped with snake meat. Collaborating with Ser Wong Fun, a renowned local restaurant with over a century of history, Pizza Hut is reinventing traditional flavors and bringing a slice of local heritage to the pizza scene.

Pizza Hut Serving Snake Pizza

The snake pizza is a blend of traditional snake stew elements like shredded snake meat, black mushrooms, and Chinese dried ham. This blend rests atop the familiar pizza base, marrying the East with the West in an unexpected way. The pizza also swaps out the classic tomato sauce for abalone sauce, adding to the luxurious twist of flavors.

Snake stew has been a delicacy in Hong Kong, particularly enjoyed as the weather turns colder. Many locals believe in its warming and medicinal benefits. Pizza Hut’s new creation banks on this traditional belief, promising a nourishing experience that challenges the conventional palate. It’s a modern take on a dish deeply rooted in the region’s culinary culture.

Reactions to Pizza Hut’s snake pizza are as varied as the ingredients on the pizza itself. Some diners find the concept intriguing, drawn to the idea of snake meat’s rich texture and high-protein content. Others, particularly those not accustomed to the idea of snakes as food, express apprehension at the thought of trying this unconventional topping.

Expertise in Every Slice

To ensure authenticity, Pizza Hut has drawn on the expertise of Ser Wong Fun, which specializes in preparing snake meat delicately. The snake breeds used in the recipe, including Chinese rat snakes and banded kraits, are carefully selected to provide a balance of flavors that are both tantalizing and savory, suitable for the season.

This isn’t Pizza Hut Hong Kong’s first foray into localized menus. In addition to the snake pizza, they’re also introducing a pizza featuring Chinese preserved sausages, a nod to another local favorite. This trend of customizing menus to reflect local tastes is not exclusive to Hong Kong. Pizza Hut Taiwan has experimented with toppings like durian and pig blood curds, while Pizza Hut Japan has offered Tonkotsu ramen pizza, each reflecting the culinary preferences of their respective regions.

The snake pizza is a limited-time offering, available until November 22. It’s a bold statement in the world of fast food, where innovation and tradition collide to create new experiences for adventurous foodies. Whether it becomes a beloved staple or a seasonal novelty, Pizza Hut’s snake pizza has certainly captured the attention of pizza enthusiasts and culinary explorers alike.

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WTF Fun Fact 13603 – The Fight Over Taco Tuesday

Taco Bell enthusiasts across the U.S. have a reason to cheer: “Taco Tuesday” is now free for everyone to use in all 50 states, thanks to the fast food chain’s relentless legal battle.

Taco Bell’s Battle for the Beloved Term ‘Taco Tuesday’

The ubiquitous phrase might seem like a universal term. Still, until recently, legal restrictions prevented its widespread use. Taco Bell, believing that the phrase was too ingrained in popular culture to be trademarked, took action earlier this year. They sought to challenge two trademark regulations that limited the term’s use. The chain’s legal initiative wasn’t just for their benefit but aimed at ensuring that taco lovers everywhere could use and celebrate the term without hesitation.

Taco John’s, another prominent fast-food chain, had the trademark rights for “Taco Tuesday” in 49 states. But they folded to Taco Bell’s legal pressure, letting go of their trademark. Yet, there was still one last holdout – New Jersey.

New Jersey’s Tuesday Turmoil

The credit for “Taco Tuesday” in the Garden State goes to Gregory’s Restaurant and Bar, situated in Somers Point. They held onto their 1982 trademark for the phrase until this very week. But as they say, all good things come to those who wait.

Taco Bell’s patience paid off when the New Jersey restaurant decided to relinquish its rights, sealing Taco Bell’s victory across the nation. Their triumph allows everyone, from businesses to residents, to embrace the joy of “Taco Tuesday” without legal constraints.

Sean Tresvant, Taco Bell’s Chief Global Brand and Strategy Officer (and soon-to-be CEO), expressed the brand’s enthusiasm in a news release. He emphasized the company’s commitment to making “Taco Tuesday” accessible for everyone, whether they’re making, selling, or simply enjoying tacos.

In light of their legal win, the chain anticipates ushering in a new age for eateries throughout the U.S. The freedom to promote and relish “Taco Tuesday” now extends to all, from big chains like Taco John’s and Taco Bell to local taco joints.

Gregory’s Graceful Concession

But what about the man behind the trademark in New Jersey? Gregory Gregory, co-owner of Gregory’s Restaurant and Bar, held exclusive rights to the phrase for over three decades. However, he recently chose to step back, acknowledging the widespread love for “Taco Tuesday” that extended beyond his establishment.

In his statement, he shared his pride and excitement about the phrase’s history at his restaurant. And while the trademark might be gone, Gregory ensures that the delicious spirit of Tuesdays will remain a forever feature at his eatery.

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Source: “The Phrase ‘Taco Tuesday’ Can Now Be Used in All 50 States” — Food Network

WTF Fun Fact 13598 – The Science of Champagne Bubbles

Champagne toasts at celebrations are iconic, but have you ever wondered about the perfect straight-line rise of its bubbles? Scientists at Brown University and the University of Toulouse have uncorked the answer, revealing the science behind the behavior of bubbles in our favorite carbonated drinks.

Carbonation’s Mysteries Unveiled

In the world of carbonated drinks, from soda to beer, the bubbles’ behavior varies. But Champagne and sparkling wine stand out. They feature a continuous rise of gas bubbles, rushing to the surface in a single-file line. This phenomenon, called a stable bubble chain, contrasts with beverages like beer, where bubbles often take a more chaotic route upwards.

Researchers were intrigued: What caused Champagne’s bubbles to ascend in such an orderly fashion?

Surfactants: The Science of Champagne Bubbles

Delving deeper, the study unveiled that the straight rise of bubbles in Champagne and sparkling wine is due to the presence of soap-like compounds called surfactants. Surfactants reduce tension between the liquid and gas bubbles, facilitating a seamless and straight rise to the top.

Roberto Zenit, a senior author on the study, explains, “These protein molecules that impart flavor and uniqueness to the Champagne are also responsible for the stability of the bubbles they produce.”

Apart from surfactants, the bubble size too determines its stability. Larger bubbles in drinks cause a smoother ascent, forming stable chains similar to those with surfactants. This revelation establishes surfactants and bubble size as the key determinants in the formation of stable bubble chains in carbonated beverages.

This bubbly research isn’t just for beverage enthusiasts. Understanding the science of bubbles, especially stable bubble chains, has broader applications in fluid mechanics, a field that studies the behavior of fluids.

For instance, technologies employing bubble-induced mixing, like water treatment facilities, could benefit from this newfound knowledge. Furthermore, the study might pave the way for a better comprehension of natural phenomena, such as ocean seeps where methane and carbon dioxide are released from the ocean bed.

Experiments Worth Raising a Glass To

Researchers brought an array of beverages to the table, including Pellegrino sparkling water, Tecate beer, Charles de Cazanove champagne, and a Spanish-style brut. They utilized a plexiglass container with a needle at its base, enabling them to pump gas and create diverse bubble chains.

By systematically adjusting surfactants and bubble size, they found that both these factors independently contributed to transforming unstable bubble chains into stable ones. Additionally, numerical simulations on computers were conducted to delve into intricate details like surfactant quantity in gas bubbles and precise bubble velocities.

Champagne Bubbles in the Future of Fluid Mechanics

While enjoying that next glass of bubbly, one can marvel at the fluid mechanics at play. Researchers are keen on diving deeper into the behavior of bubbles, especially in their application to fluid mechanics. As Zenit summarizes, they aim to explore the movement of bubbles and their significance in both industrial applications and natural scenarios.

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Source: “Why do Champagne bubbles rise the way they do? Scientists’ new discovery is worthy of a toast” — ScienceDaily

WTF Fun Fact 13569 – Bermuda Fast Food Law

The Foreign Restaurants Act of 1977 is a Bermuda fast food law that restricts chain restaurants in the country. So don’t expect to find a McDonald’s if you take a vacation there. However, you will find a KFC.

The Foreign Restaurants Act of 1977

In the early 1970s, the global surge of fast food chains reshaped the way people dined. Companies, eyeing every potential market, began to cast their gaze on picturesque Bermuda. As this global trend started influencing the local food scene, the Bermudian government decided to take a proactive stance.

Enter the Foreign Restaurants Act of 1977. This significant piece of legislation sought to preserve Bermuda’s unique culinary identity, local businesses, and the health of its citizens. Under this act, international fast food chains received a clear message: Bermuda was off-limits.

The reasoning behind this choice varied. On one hand, Bermuda’s local entrepreneurs needed protection against the financial might of global chains. This act ensured that they could thrive without the overpowering competition. On the other hand, there were concerns about the potential health implications of the fast food industry and the desire to maintain the island’s distinct culinary flavor for residents and tourists alike.

KFC: The Exception to the Bermuda Fast Food Law

While the Foreign Restaurants Act drew a clear boundary, one particular establishment found itself in a unique position. A KFC outlet, which had set up shop in Bermuda before the act’s introduction, continued its operations. The reason? This franchise received a ‘grandfathered’ status, meaning that due to its existence prior to the law, it was allowed to continue its operations unaffected.

Many often wonder how this single KFC managed to secure such a unique place in Bermudian culinary history. When global fast food chains began targeting Bermuda, KFC was one of the first movers. Its timely establishment on the island ensured that when the Foreign Restaurants Act came into force, the KFC was already a part of the local dining landscape.

Bermuda, with its ban on global fast food chains, carved a unique niche for itself in the world of gastronomy. Travelers to Bermuda won’t find the golden arches of McDonald’s or the regal visage of Burger King. Instead, they’ll discover a plethora of local eateries, each offering a taste of the island’s rich culinary traditions.

Local restaurants, cafes, and food stalls thrive, presenting dishes that merge British influences with flavors from the Caribbean, Portuguese cuisine, and other global tastes. From fish chowder spiced with sherry pepper sauce to the delectable Hoppin’ John, a dish made with rice, peas, and thyme, Bermuda offers a rich palette of flavors.

And what about the residents? Without the ubiquitous presence of global fast food, many Bermudians enjoy a diet deeply connected to their environment. Fresh fish, fruits, and vegetables play starring roles, reinforcing a strong bond with local produce and seafood.

Bermuda’s KFC: More than Just Fast Food

Interestingly, Bermuda’s lone KFC holds a special place in the hearts of many locals. It’s not just another fast food joint but a testament to the island’s unique approach to global trends. While it serves the same crispy chicken as any other KFC worldwide, this outlet represents Bermuda’s balanced stance between global influences and local preservation.

Moreover, for many Bermudians, this KFC offers a taste of global culture without diluting their island’s distinct identity. It’s a symbol of Bermuda’s resilience and adaptability in the face of global change.

Bermuda’s decision to restrict international fast food chains, while allowing one to remain, paints a fascinating picture of a nation’s attempt to protect its heritage while acknowledging the unstoppable force of globalization.

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Source: “From the grandfathered KFC to pink sand beaches, Bermuda is artwork” — Franchise Times

WTF Fun Fact 13543 – KFC Slogan Lost in Translation

KFC prides itself on its famous slogan, “It’s finger-lickin’ good.” The line captures the essence of KFC’s promise: irresistibly tasty chicken that might compel diners to lick their fingers, savoring every drop of flavor.

Well, that didn’t exactly translate well when KFC expanded into China in the 1980s.

A Finger-Lickin’ Faux Pas

Successfully entering a new market involves more than just setting up shops; it’s about making sure the brand’s message resonates with the local populace.

In the 1980s, KFC translated its iconic slogan into Mandarin to appeal to the Chinese market. But this attempt resulted in a phrase that sounded less than delicious.

“Finger-lickin’ good” became something more like “Eat your fingers off.”

So instead of imagining the delightful experience of enjoying KFC’s chicken, Chinese customers encountered an oddly gruesome suggestion.

The KFC Slogan Gets Lost in Translation

Effective translation isn’t a straightforward task. It requires deep knowledge of local idioms, expressions, and cultural subtleties.

Mandarin, with its intricate tones and nuances, can entirely shift the meaning of phrases. Furthermore, the richness of Chinese culture, steeped in symbols and metaphors, means brands must navigate carefully.

Of course, upon recognizing the error, KFC immediately set things right. The company collaborated with local experts to refine its brand message for the Chinese audience.

Beyond just a slogan correction, KFC began to delve into Chinese culinary preferences, introducing menu items such as congee, Beijing Duck wraps, and spicy Sichuan chicken.

It kind of sounds like something they should have done to begin with…right?

Getting It Right

KFC’s initial hiccup in China highlights the crucial importance of cultural sensitivity for international businesses. While the “Eat your fingers off” incident brings chuckles now, it could have tarnished KFC’s image among Chinese customers permanently.

However, today, KFC has thousands of outlets across China and enjoys a reputation as one of the country’s top fast-food chains. Its dedication to understanding Chinese tastes and culture played a significant role in this achievement.

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Source: “The Hilarious Translation Mistake KFC China Made With Its Slogan” — Mashed

WTF Fun Fact 13538 – The Power of Smelling Coffee

Do you perk up in the morning after smelling coffee? Maybe you start to feel it working even before you’ve had a sip. Or perhaps you do some of your best work at the coffee shop when you can smell those invigorating beans all day.

Well, that makes sense!

Coffee’s Olfactory Power

Many of us start our day with the intoxicating aroma of coffee. But there’s more to this scent than just an olfactory delight. In 2008, a group of researchers led by scientist Han-Seok Seo looked into the science behind this phenomenon. Their findings reveal that coffee’s aroma doesn’t just wake up the senses but might also rejuvenate the brain.

Smelling Coffee vs. Sleep Deprivation and Stress

Lack of sleep stresses the body and mind. Sleep-deprived individuals often grapple with cognitive and physical health challenges.

Given these effects, Seo’s team wondered if coffee’s aroma could counteract the negative impacts of sleep deprivation. Their subject of choice for this exploration? Laboratory rats.

The team exposed both well-rested and sleep-deprived rats to the scent of coffee. They then examined gene and protein expressions in the brains of these rats. The results were astonishing.

Rats exposed to the coffee aroma showed varied activity in 17 genes. Out of these, 13 exhibited different mRNA expressions when comparing the sleep-deprived group to the group that inhaled coffee while sleep-deprived.

Translating Science: What it Means for Us

In simple terms, inhaling coffee aroma seemed to recalibrate the brain’s workings. It potentially offsets the harmful impacts of sleep deprivation.

Among the impacted genes, some are linked to proteins with antioxidant properties. These antioxidants help protect nerve cells from stress-induced damage.

So, the smell of coffee might do more than just perk us up; it could protect our brain cells from stress-related harm.

The Power of Smelling Coffee Goes Beyond Coffee

Seo’s groundbreaking findings pave the way for more questions. If the aroma of coffee yields such benefits, what about other scents? Could the whiff of freshly baked bread or the scent of rain bring their own set of health benefits?

Next time the weight of sleeplessness bears down on you, remember the power of scent. As you pass a café or brew your morning cup, take a moment to inhale deeply. Behind that sense of alertness and the smile that follows lies a fascinating dance of molecules and biology.

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Source: “Coffee’s Aroma Kick-starts Genes In The Brain” — Science Daily

WTF Fun Fact 13536 – Digitizing Smell

In order to smell, our brains and noses have to work together, so the idea of digitizing smell seems pretty “out there.”

However, if you think about it, our noses are sensing molecules. Those molecules can be identified by a computer, and the smells the humans associated with them can be cataloged. It’s not quite teaching a computer to smell on its own, but maybe it’s best we don’t give them too many human abilities.

The Enigma of Olfaction

While we’ve successfully translated light into sight and sound into hearing, decoding the intricate world of smell remains a challenge.

Olfaction, compared to our other senses, is mysterious, diverse, and deeply rooted in both emotion and memory. Knowing this, can we teach machines to interpret this elusive sense?

Digitizing Smell

A collaboration between the Monell Chemical Senses Center and the startup Osmo aimed to bridge the gap between airborne chemicals and our brain’s odor perception. Their objective was not just to understand the science of smell better but to make a machine proficient enough to describe, in human terms, what various chemicals smell like.

Osmo, with roots in Google’s advanced research division, embarked on creating a machine-learning model. The foundation of this model was an industry dataset, which detailed the molecular structures and scent profiles of 5,000 known odorants.

The idea? Feed the model a molecule’s shape and get a descriptive prediction of its smell.

That might sound simple, but the team had to make sure they could ensure the model’s accuracy.

The Litmus Test: Man vs. Machine

To validate the machine’s “sense of smell,” a unique test was devised.

A group of 15 panelists, trained rigorously using specialized odor kits, was tasked with describing 400 unique odors. The model then predicted descriptions for the same set.

Astonishingly, the machine’s predictions often matched or even outperformed individual human assessments, showcasing its unprecedented accuracy.

Machines That Can ‘Smell’ vs. Digitizing Smell

Beyond its core training, the model displayed unexpected capabilities. It accurately predicted odor strength, a feature it wasn’t explicitly trained for, and identified distinct molecules with surprisingly similar scents. This accomplishment suggests we’re inching closer to a world where machines can reliably “smell.”

But for now, that’s overstating it. The team has made a major leap towards digitizing smell. But machines don’t have senses. They can only replicate the kind of information our brains produce when we smell things. Of course, they don’t have any sense of enjoyment (or repulsion) at certain smells.

In any case, the Monell and Osmo collaboration has significantly advanced our journey in understanding and replicating the sense of smell. As we move forward, this research could revolutionize industries from perfumery to food and beyond.

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Source: “A step closer to digitizing the sense of smell: Model describes odors better than human panelists” — Science Daily

WTF Fun Fact 13533 – The Matrix Code is Sushi

Nearly two decades ago, the Wachowskis unveiled the first film in their iconic trilogy, captivating fans worldwide with its intricate storyline and rich mythos – but do you know the secret of The Matrix code? The iconic green code that rains down the screen in the film has a deliciously surprising backstory.

Simon Whiteley: The Man Behind The Matrix Code

Simon Whiteley, a British production designer, deserves the credit for this innovative visual. During an interview with CNET, he spilled the beans: the Matrix code has its roots in a Japanese cookbook owned by his wife. He scanned the characters from the pages and then digitally transformed them into the green symbols we’ve come to associate with this cinematic universe.

From Sushi to Cyberspace

“I like telling everyone that the Matrix code comes from Japanese sushi recipes,” Whiteley divulged. Yes, you read that right—sushi recipes. He took mundane elements from his domestic life and manipulated them into something extraordinary. The phrase “Without that code, the Matrix doesn’t exist,” could never ring truer.

The Wachowskis effectively used the green code to hint at the nature of the Matrix from the film’s very beginning. While this digital aesthetic sets up the film’s narrative, its origin remains a delightful secret. With its new-found connection to a cookbook, the green code is not just mysterious but also relatable and even comical.

A Recipe Hidden in Plain Sight?

Given its culinary origins, one can’t help but speculate: Is there a complete sushi recipe encrypted within that green text? While Whiteley’s revelation is a fun nugget of information, it opens up amusing avenues of speculation. What if this distraction is precisely what the Matrix wants, to keep us from questioning our own reality?

The green code has captivated millions, inspired parodies, and sparked numerous discussions about virtual reality and existence. But its roots in a simple sushi cookbook serve as a humorous reminder that even complex systems can have unexpectedly mundane beginnings.

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Source: “The Matrix Code Is Actually a Sushi Recipe” — Nerdist

WTF Fun Fact 13525 – Elephant Dung Coffee

Who’s in the mood for some elephant dung coffee?

When you think about coffee, elephants probably don’t come to mind. But in the case of Black Ivory Coffee, these gentle giants play a crucial role. Produced mainly in Thailand, this luxurious brew costs a fortune but offers a unique taste experience that leaves a lasting impression.

Elephant Dung Coffee Really Exists

Farmers feed carefully selected Arabica coffee cherries to elephants. The animals savor the cherries, and their digestive systems get to work. As the cherries pass through, a natural fermentation occurs. Later, farmers collect the beans from the elephants’ waste.

Why involve elephants? The answer lies in chemistry. The digestive enzymes of the elephant break down coffee’s bitter proteins. The process also adds new flavors to the beans, resulting in a complex profile with floral notes and less bitterness.

Cleanup and Roasting

After collection, workers thoroughly clean the beans. They then proceed to dry and roast them. The roasting heightens the unique flavors imparted during the elephant’s digestive process. After roasting, the beans are ready for brewing, and coffee connoisseurs can finally taste this exotic brew.

The unusual production method raises questions. Is it ethical to use elephants in this way? Producers argue that they treat the elephants with care and respect, ensuring a humane process. Some even allocate a portion of their earnings to elephant conservation efforts. Still, the debate continues.

Because an elephant processes a limited number of cherries and many beans get lost or damaged during digestion, the output remains low. This scarcity, coupled with labor-intensive collection and cleaning, explains the high cost, which often exceeds $500 per pound.

The Niche Market

Given its steep price, Black Ivory Coffee targets a specific audience. Luxury hotels and high-end restaurants primarily serve this unique beverage. These establishments cater to clientele who seek a rare and exclusive coffee experience.

For those who can afford it, brewing methods matter. Most prefer using a French press to fully capture the complexity of flavors. The result? A cup of coffee that not only delights the taste buds but also tells a story from bean to brew.

Conservation Questions about Elephant Dung Coffee

Some Black Ivory Coffee producers claim that their business aids elephant conservation. However, the extent to which these efforts actually benefit conservation initiatives remains unclear.

Black Ivory Coffee defies conventional coffee production and offers a taste experience that’s in a league of its own. Though it courts controversy and caters to a niche market, it also challenges our perceptions of what coffee can be.

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Source: “No. 1 Most Expensive Coffee Comes From Elephant’s No. 2” — NPR