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10 Food Myths That Need to Be Squashed

By Jake Beardslee · March 4, 2024

You think you know food, but you have no idea. From the chocolate cake you've been devouring to the pizza you've been loving, so many of our deeply-held beliefs about the culinary world are total myths. Did you think German chocolate cake was actually...German? Or that Caesar salad was named after an Italian emperor? Get ready to have your assumptions challenged and your culinary knowledge enriched!  Shourav Sheikh/Unsplash

The Chocolate Cake That's Not So German

While German chocolate cake may sound like it hails from the land of lederhosen and bratwurst, it's actually an American invention. The "German" in the name refers to the type of chocolate used, which was created by a man named Samuel German for the Baker's Chocolate Company. So the next time you indulge in that coconut-pecan frosted delight, you can savor its Texan roots.  Umesh Soni/Unsplash

MSG: The Misunderstood Flavor Enhancer

For decades, monosodium glutamate (MSG) has been unfairly vilified as a harmful additive, particularly in Asian cuisine. However, numerous studies have failed to establish a definitive link between MSG and adverse health effects. In fact, many popular snacks like Doritos and Cheetos contain this umami-boosting compound. It's time to stop demonizing MSG and appreciate its role in enhancing flavors.  FASTILY/Wikimedia

Fortune Cookies: A Japanese-American Fusion

While fortune cookies are often associated with Chinese cuisine, their origins can be traced back to Japan. These crisp, fortune-filled treats are believed to be inspired by the Japanese "tsujiura senbei" or "fortune crackers." It was likely Japanese immigrants who brought this tradition to America, where it was adapted and popularized in Chinese restaurants, becoming an iconic post-meal treat.  Mattia Bericchia/Unsplash

Nightshades: Not as Sinister as They Sound

The term "nightshades" may evoke images of poisonous plants or witchcraft, but the reality is far less ominous. Nightshades are a family of vegetables that include common foods like tomatoes, potatoes, and eggplant. While excessive consumption can be problematic for some individuals, nightshades are generally safe and nutritious when consumed as part of a balanced diet.  Chad Stembridge/Unsplash

Beer's Resilience to Temperature Changes

Contrary to popular belief, beer can be safely re-chilled after becoming warm. The brewing and distribution process involves multiple temperature fluctuations, so your beer has already endured such changes. Feel free to pop that room-temperature six-pack back in the fridge without fear of "skunking" it.  Jon Parry/Unsplash

Hot Drinks Don't Cool You Down

While spicy foods can induce perspiration and provide a cooling effect, the same cannot be said for hot beverages. Experts agree that drinking warm liquids will raise your body temperature, not lower it. So, on a sweltering day, reach for an icy beverage instead of a steaming cup of tea or coffee.  Julian Hochgesang/Unsplash

Crab Rangoon's American-Chinese Fusion

While crab rangoon may seem like a quintessential Chinese appetizer, its origins lie in the ingenuity of an American restaurateur. Victor Bergeron, the founder of Trader Vic's, is credited with inventing this deep-fried delight, which combines imitation crab meat, cream cheese, and wonton wrappers. Bergeron's penchant for culinary experimentation led to this unlikely fusion of flavors, which has since become a beloved staple on Chinese-American menus.  jeffreyw/Wikimedia

The Real Caesar Behind the Salad

Contrary to popular belief, the Caesar salad was not named after the famous Roman emperor Julius Caesar. Instead, it owes its moniker to Caesar Cardini, an Italian-American restaurateur who first tossed the iconic salad together in Tijuana, Mexico. Originally conceived as a finger food, Cardini's creation of romaine lettuce, croutons, Parmesan cheese, and the signature dressing has become a beloved classic worldwide.  Chris Tweten/Unsplash

The Canadian Origins of Hawaiian Pizza

The pairing of pineapple and ham on a pizza may conjure up images of tropical Hawaiian flavors, but this controversial combination was actually born in Ontario, Canada. Greek chef Sam Panopoulos is credited with the creation, which he dubbed "Hawaiian Pizza" after the brand of canned pineapple he used as a topping. Despite its name, this pizza's roots are firmly planted in North American soil.  bckfwd/Unsplash

Hydration Myths Debunked

The notion that we need to drink eight glasses of water a day is a persistent myth. The truth is that our hydration needs vary based on factors like body size, activity level, and climate. Moreover, we obtain fluids not just from water but also from beverages like tea, coffee, and milk, as well as from the foods we consume. So ditch the obsession with arbitrary water intake goals and listen to your body's thirst cues.  Manki Kim/Unsplash

As we've explored, many of our preconceived notions about food are mere myths or misunderstandings. From the origins of dishes to their supposed health benefits or detriments, we've been fed a fair share of misinformation over the years. However, by confronting these culinary fallacies head-on, we can approach our dining experiences with a more informed and open-minded perspective. The next time you encounter a food-related claim, don't hesitate to question it – you might just uncover a surprising truth that enriches your appreciation for the diverse and fascinating world of cuisine.  Lily Banse/Unsplash