4 Food-Origin Tidbits to Dish Out at Parties

Next time you’re stuck making small talk a party, try trotting out these food-origin factoids.


Photo by: grafvision ©grafvision

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Your favorite foods always please you — that’s why they’re your faves. But who knew they could also surprise you? A video posted online by the network Great Big Story fills us all in on the unexpected origins of six disparate yet equally beloved foods.

Here are four takeaways from the video to trot out and impress the people you’re stuck making small talk with at all those holiday parties you’re apt to find yourself at this season.

When offered a seafood canape:

Did you know lobster was once considered “the poor man’s food”? In the 16th century, the oceans were crammed with lobster, and American settlers ate so much of them that they came to disdainfully refer to them as “the cockroaches of the sea.” Out of favor, lobsters were used to fertilize fields and feed prisoners. But in the 1800s, with the advent of train travel and canning, they reached a wider U.S. market and gained popularity, which drove up prices to the point where lobsters became the high-end delicacy we consider them to be today.

While grazing on cheesy nachos:

Did you know nachos were named after an actual guy named Nacho? According to Great Big Story, in the 1940s a maitre d’ at a Mexican restaurant just over the Texas border named Ignacio Anaya (nickname: “Nacho”) came up with the dish to please some peckish U.S. military wives from a nearby base. They brought the dish back stateside, where it took off, launching Nacho’s career as a restaurateur and changing bar food as we know it.

At the condiment station:

Did you know ketchup didn’t always feature tomatoes? It originated in China in the 6th century and used to be made of fish entrails, salted and fermented in the hot sun. Eventually, the video notes, it migrated to Europe and then to America, where, in the mid-1800s, tomato was added to it. By the end of that century, it had been declared “America’s national condiment.”

During dessert:

Did you know Dippin’ Dots were created by a microbiologist trying to make a more efficient cow feed? In the ’80s, Curt Jones applied his flash-freezing-in-liquid-nitrogen process to ice cream, creating the now-popular summer treat, but he couldn’t sell them in stores, because they needed to be kept at a lower temperature than the usual grocer’s freezer. So he came up with an alternative way of marketing them: at ballgames and on boardwalks, and in malls, museums and zoos.

If you want more party-ready tidbits, the video is really worth watching.

Related Links:

Everything You Need to Know About Langoustines

Macaroon vs. Macaron: Two Very Different Cookies With a Linked Past

8 Things Only Southerners Know About Tea

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