Food Non-Fiction

Food Non-Fiction tells the incredible true stories behind food. We delve deep into the history and fascinating facts about the most famous and interesting foods. We look forward to taking you on this wild food journey, through history, and around the world.
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Dec 16, 2015

This Food Non-Fiction podcast is all about Can Man Dan. This is the story of how Dan Johnstone became Can Man Dan.


Thank you to the following artists for the music in this episode: 

Paul Otten "Joy to the World" cover - Website | SoundCloud

Shaun Friedman "Deck the Halls" cover - Website | SoundCloud


Thank you to our Interviewees:

Dan Johnstone

Evan Cherot

Wood Buffalo Food Bank

Edmonton's Food Bank

Dec 9, 2015

1300 km past the Arctic Circle, nestled in the permafrost, amongst inhabitants like polar bears and reindeer, lies the Svalbard Global Seed Vault.

In the media, it’s better known as the “Doomsday Vault”. The vault contains backup copies of our world’s protects the genetic diversity of our crops in case of large-scale disasters.

The location was chosen in 1983 by the Nordic gene bank. Originally, they had used an old coal mine to store containers of seeds. The coal mines were so big that they had the idea to include the seeds from many other gene banks in this secure storage. But at the time, the project couldn’t get the international or financial support that it needed and it was put on hold.

In 2004 when The International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture was taken into force then the project was started again. The facility was opened in 2008.

Thank You To Our Interviewees:

Evjen Grethe Helene - Senior Advisor at Ministry of Agriculture and Food

Ahmed Amri - Head of the genetic resources unit at the International Centre for Agricultural Research for Dry Areas (ICARDA) 

Thank You to Looperman Artists for the Music:

2015 Holiday Movies Mashup ActionCue2 String Arp by supertex

Classic Choir 02 by Cbeatz

Summit Full Lead Remake 2 by Optimus1200

Dec 3, 2015

In this Food Non-Fiction podcast episode, we talk about the creation of the Rice Krispies Treats. In 1928, Kellogg’s introduced the Rice Krispies cereal to the public. In the same year, the company hired a recent home economics graduate of Iowa State University - her name was Mildred Day. Her job was to test recipes for Kellogg’s and she also travelled around the country conducting cooking schools for the company’s customers.

Kellogg’s recipe testers were asked to develop recipes using Kellogg’s cereals. So Mildred Day and her friend Malitta Jensen put their heads together to create something delicious.

They created what we now know as Rice Krispies Treats or Rice Krispies Squares, but back then they called it “marshmallow squares”.

By the way, they didn’t create the recipe from thin air, it’s likely they tweaked the recipe using either the Puffed Wheat Squares recipe in the 1938 cookbook, It’s Fun to Cook, or they may have used an older recipe from 1916 which was a recipe for something called Puffed Rice Brittle.

Either way, the molasses and vinegar were removed from the original recipe and Campfire Marshmallows were added. One source said that Mildred Day chose to replace molasses with marshmallows because marshmallows are less sticky.

You should also note that Mildred Day and Malitta Jensen were part of the Campfire Girls organization.

The Campfire Girls sold boxes of Campfire Marshmallows back then, much like how Girl Scouts sell Girl Scout Cookies. So perhaps that inspired the use of marshmallows in the recipe.

Soon after the marshmallow squares recipe was created, the Campfire Girls organization needed to raise some money to support their summer camp and activity programs. So, Kellog’s, being a company with a reputation for helping out in the community, lent a hand.

It was a good opportunity for them to test out their new marshmallow squares on the public after all. They set up a temporary kitchen to produce batches of marshmallow squares for the Campfire Girls to sell as part of a fundraiser.

Mildred Day worked in the temporary kitchen for two intensive weeks, every day from 6:30AM to 10PM. She was a dedicated Campfire Girls Troop leader and her scouts were able to sell hundreds of Rice Krispies Treats in Michigan during that summer in 1939.

Kellogg's executives noted how much families loved the marshmallow squares.
Kids loved them because of the taste and parents loved them because of the price. Remember, this was 1939 - the back-end of the Great Depression and the front-end of the second world war, so price was important.

So, Kellogg's trademarked the Rice Krispies Treats name in 1940 and added the recipe to the back of the Rice Krispies cereal boxes in 1941.

In 1995, Kellogg's started making the packaged version of the treats for grocery stores.

We spoke with Malitta Jensen's grandson, Jay Hewlett about his grandmother. She was a determined and successful businesswoman and a loving grandmother.


Special Thanks to Our Guest:

Jay Hewlett


Thank you to Looperman Musicians:

What’s Goin Down by rasputin1963
Visuality by danke
140 BPM Acoustic Guitar by ferryterry

Nov 26, 2015

In this Food Non-Fiction podcast episode, we tell the story of how Las Vegas became a destination market for gambling, how the nature of destination markets created competition amongst the many casinos, how casino food amenities were used as a competitive tool, and how casino restaurants have changed over time from buffet to gourmet.

In October of 1929, the stock market crashed. October 29th was the worst day of this crash. It was named “Black Tuesday”. On Black Tuesday, over 16 million shares were traded on the New York Stock Exchange. Billions of dollars were lost and the economy was on a downward spiral into the Great Depression of the 1930’s. So, in 1931, Phil Tobin, a 29 year old freshman member of the legislative assembly introduced a bill to legalize gambling in Nevada. He wasn’t a gambler himself, in fact, he was a cowboy, but he knew that legalizing gambling would bring the state of Nevada some much-needed revenue. The revenue would come from gaming taxes.

At this time, in 1931, the Hoover Dam was scheduled for construction. It was built between 1931 and 1936. This meant that thousands of workers would be coming to Nevada. And these would be federal workers, so it was likely that a lof of the illegal casinos would be shut down. So instead, of having the casinos shut down when the workers came, legalizing casinos would bring in a ton of tax revenues.

Phil Tobin’s bill made financial sense. So, on March 19 of 1931, the Governor signed Assembly Bill 98 into law.

Assembly Bill 98 legalized the following games:

Big Injun
Stud Poker
Draw Poker

The bill is also known as the “Wide Open Gambling Bill”.

After World War II, there were strict gambling laws in most states, so Nevada really became the center of gambling in the U.S. - especially, of course, in the Las Vegas strip - which is, by-the-way, located south of the actual city of Las Vegas.

The Las Vegas strip was, and still is, a destination market. People travel there specifically to experience the gambling and entertainment. Destination markets offer a lot of the same thing. For example, you go to Hawaii to surf so there are a lot of surfing schools and they need to compete.

Same thing with going to Las Vegas to gamble - there are so many places you can gamble that these places need to compete for your dollars. So casinos, over time, 

have offered more and more amenities.

Casino resorts started popping up in the 1940’s. You could go to a casino resort, and not only gamble, but have your hotel, live shows and food, all in one place.

Casino restaurants were designed to bring people to the casinos. The strategy back in the middle of the 20th century was to offer cheap food, sometimes even free food. The logic was that if you could offer great price value for food at your casino, then people might choose to come to your casino, rather than go to a standalone restaurant or another casino.

So casino restaurants used to operate as what is called “loss leaders” - casino restaurants would lose a little money, but then gain that money back and more when customers played the gambling games.

There are 2 ways that having a restaurant at a casino can increase revenue.
One - is that the restaurant draws in more players
Two - is that it gets each player to spend more while they’re at the casino.

The Vegas strip is the ULTIMATE gambling destination, but the relationship between casino restaurants and gambling spending is different in Vegas. Certainly, your average Vegas casino restaurant is not operating at a loss anymore. This shift in Las Vegas from the days of cheap casino buffets, designed for the convenience of gambling clients, to high end, big profit restaurants has been gradual.

Thank you to our interview guests:

Dr. Sarah Tanford

Dr. David G. Schwartz

Thanks to the Looperman Artist for the Music:

Chillwave bass and synth by djpuzzle

Nov 19, 2015

In this Food Non-Fiction podcast episode, we reveal how bacon became a breakfast food. In 1925, the Beech-Nut Packing Company asked Edward Bernays to help increase bacon sales. Why did they ask Edward Bernays? Because Bernays was a master of influencing public opinions. His campaigns increased smoking amongst women, the use of disposable Dixie cups instead of washable glass cups, and more. Back then, breakfasts were very light meals. For example, a breakfast could be a cup of orange juice, some coffee and a roll. So Bernays asked his physician whether a heavier breakfast would be better for the body, given the logic that the body needs to replenish energy lost during sleep. After his physician concurred with the idea, Bernays asked the physician to write to 5000 other doctors to get their opinion. Bernays then published the findings in magazines and articles, concluding that bacon and eggs would make a great healthy breakfast. He succeeded in increasing bacon sales.


The American Table

Baltimore Post-Examiner

Bloomberg Business


Daily Dawdle

Music Thanks to Looperman Artists:

Big Room Lead by djpuzzle
EDM Trap 808 by 7venth12
pop drums acoustic drumset 1 by martingunnarson
progressive house melodic synth for intro by capostipite
Lookin For This by FLmoney

Nov 12, 2015

In this Food Non-Fiction podcast episode, we look into the origins of the ice cream sundae. About a dozen towns claim to be the birthplace of the ice cream sundae, but there are 3 main contenders that are always mentioned. By chronological order, we share the stories from 1. Two Rivers, Wisconsin in 1881, 2. Evanston, Illinois in 1890 and 3. Ithaca, New York in 1892.

In Two Rivers, the ice cream sundae was created when a man named George Hallauer asked for chocolate syrup on top of his ice cream. The Berners' Soda Fountain owner, Edward C. Berners, obliged. 

In Evanston Illinois, the passing of the Blue Law prevented people from consuming soda water, because it was considered too frivolous. That meant that people also couldn't buy ice cream sodas, which were already invented. So one inventive pharmacist. Mr. Garwood, who had a thriving business in ice cream sodas, removed the soda water from the ice cream treat, calling it a "Sunday soda". The name was later shortened and the spelling was changed to be more respectable of the lord's day. So it became known as the "sundae".

In Ithaca, New York, the first sundae was created at Platt & Colt Pharmacy. The pharmacy's co-owner, Chester Platt, often got together with the pastor, John M. Scott, from the Unitarian Church after services. One day, when the two were together, he served up ice cream with cherry sauce and they loved it so much that they named it Cherry Sunday after the flavor and the day of the week.

We present the evidence for each and you can decide which story you want to believe. 


Sundae Fight Song lyrics:
In Two Rivers, in Winsconsin,
History was made.
And our pride in that first sundae,
it will never fade.
Made right here by old Ed Berners
Eighteen eighty-one
Now we celebrate that sundae
And have lots of fun
Others try to claim the sundae
started in their towns
But the story of our sundae
turns their smiles to frowns
Evanston and Ithaca,
They are among the worst,
but confronted with our facts,
Concede that Ed was first.
Topped with chocolate, or with cherries and with lots of nuts
Try to claim our sundae
and we’ll kick you in your butts!
On Two Rivers! On Wisconsin.
It’s with pride we burst
as we shout out to the whole world
Ed was first!

Two Rivers, Puh-leeze lyrics:
Two Rivers, why live in denial,
The story you compile, won't play.
Your sign maker, a truth faker,
without sundae proof your claim's melting away.
Ed Berners off to fool the world.
There's such a lot of fools you see.
Though sometimes the truth may offend-
still you can pretend,
my sweet Wisconsin friend,
Two Rivers-puh-leeze.

Special thanks to:
Ithaca recording artists, "Rock Beats Paper"
Arrangement: Robert Dietz
Engineering: James Cannon/Panic Room Studios

Music Thanks to Looperman Artist:

1950s Rock N Roll Piano Riff by rasputin1963

Special Thanks to our Interviewees:

Eden Juron Pearlman - Executive Director of the Evanston Historical Center in Evanston Illinois

Bruce Stoff - Director of Ithaca/Tompkins Convention & Visitors Bureau

Gregory Buckley - Two Rivers City Manager

Ron LaQuaglia - Owner of Glenburn Soda Fountain and Confectionery


Book: A Month of Sundaes by Michael Turback

Visit Ithaca

What's Cooking America


Nov 5, 2015

This is the incredible true story of passenger pigeons. There used to be an estimated 3-5 billion passenger pigeons. People killed them for food, then sold the surplus to local markets. With the advancements of technology, people were able to sell their surplus to regional then national markets. Improvements in telegraph technology allowed hunters to communicate where the birds were, and the spread of railroads allowed transportation of huge numbers of passenger pigeons to far away markets.

There was a time when you could buy a passenger pigeon for pennies a piece. There were thousands of hunters that just hunted passenger pigeons all year round. Eventually, the passenger pigeons started dying out, but instead of hunting less to allow the birds to rebuild their numbers, hunters would grab passenger pigeon chicks as soon as they hatched and then mash them together into make a paste.

In 1914, Martha, the last passenger pigeon in the world died at the Cincinnati Zoo.

Special Thanks to Joel Greenberg for the fascinating interview!


Book: “A Feathered River Across the Sky” by Joel Greenberg 

Thank you to Looperman for the Music:

Night Strings HD by jawadalblooshi
Sad Acoustic by EpicRecord
Wood Chimes by danke
Poppy Acoustic 3 by EpicRecord

Oct 28, 2015

In this Food Non-Fiction podcast episode, we find out the truth behind Halloween candy poisonings. Our guest, Dr. Joel Best, is the world's leading expert on Halloween sadism (Halloween sadism is the term that describes poisoning Halloween candy). He became interested in the topic when he was in graduate school and spending his term reading about deviant behaviours. What he noticed was that criminals always have a motive. He didn't believe that strangers would poison candy because what would be the motive behind that? In fact, there has been no cases of random acts of Halloween candy poisoning in all the years that Dr. Best has been scouring the news for data (1958 onwards). The real danger is sending kids out into the dark with costumes that could limit visibility or cause them to trip. 

Dr. Joel Best notes that "an urban legend is harder to kill than a werewolf" because people continue to believe that Halloween candy gets poisoned each year, even though the overwhelming evidence says otherwise.

Special Thanks to our guest, Dr. Joel Best.

Music is thanks to Looperman artists:

Bass Like Skrillex by TOSHYO
Cutie Pie Anxious Rhodes by JulietStarling
Nice Orchestral Beat HD by jawadalblooshi
Ambellient by Danke
Lookin For This by FLmoney

Oct 22, 2015

This Food Non-Fiction podcast episode reveals the creation of Betty Crocker. In 1921, the Washburn-Crosby (now General Mills), created a non-existent employee named "Betty Crocker" who was "chief of correspondence". All customer inquiries about domestic matters were responded to immediately in personal letters signed by Betty Crocker. People loved her. Betty's replies were always prompt and informative. She not only taught people cooking and cleaning techniques, but she also guided women in how to keep happy relationships. Eventually, Betty Crocker's voice was heard on the radio. Washburn-Crosby Company bought a failing radio station and renamed it WCCO. Betty Crocker hosted a cooking radio show that has graduated over a million students.


Article: "Home Cooking: Betty Crocker and Womanhood in Early Twentieth-Century America"

MN90: WCCO - How Betty Crocker Became a Good Neighbor

MN90: The Invention of Betty Crocker

Article: The Radio Made Betty (by Sarah Murray)

Book: Finding Betty Crocker (by Susan Marks)

Oct 15, 2015

In this Food Non-Fiction podcast episode, we talk about scurvy and its Vitamin C cure. Although the cure for scurvy was discovered a long time ago, changes in the understanding of science, medicine and the human body, caused people time turn away from the tried and true cure of fresh fruits and vegetables time and time again.

We discuss the various events that brought the fresh produce cure in and out of favor.

Thanks to Looperman artists for the music:

Nerves Drums Part 1 & 2 by Lodderup

Nerves Part 1 & 2 by Lodderup

Never Again by Jawadalblooshi

Thought of You by Jawadalblooshi

Sad Piano by Danke 


Mental Floss

Jason Allen Mayberry

Article: Advancements, challenges, and prospects in the paleopathology of scurvy: Current perspectives on vitamin C deficiency in human skeletal remains

Article: Lind, Scott, Amundsen and scurvy (Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine)

Article: Scott and Scurvy (Canadian Medical Association Journal)

Article: Scurvy: Historical Review and Current Diagnostic Approach

Article: Scurvy in the Antarctic (The Lancet Vol 300, Issue 7787)

Article: Sailor's scurvy before and after James Lind - a reassessment

Article: Scurvy: Forgotten but definitely not gone

Article: Scurvy on sea and land: political economy and natural history, c. 1780 - c. 1850

Article: Scurvy: Past, present and future (European Journal of Internal Medicine)


Oct 8, 2015

In this podcast episode of Food Non-Fiction, we continue our discussion of Space Food from part 1. This episode features Dr. Louisa Preston, an astrobiologist who discusses with us how realistic the book/movie The Martian was in depicting the growth of potatoes on Mars. We also talk to Chris Patil who is part of the Mars One mission that is hoping to send human colonists to Mars. Finally, we finish our interview with astronaut Chris Hadfield who reveals his favourite space food.

Thanks to our guests Chris Hadfield, Dr. Louisa Preston and Chris Patil for the insightful interviews.

Thanks to Looperman artists for the music:

140BPM Acoustic Guitar by ferryterry
HiGuitar by EpicRecord
Going up by LarsM

Oct 5, 2015

In this Food Non-Fiction podcast episode, we begin our interview with astronaut Chris Hadfield (concluded in part 2 of the space episode). We also speak to Andy Weir, author of The Martian (film adaptation out in theatres Oct. 2, starring Matt Damon). We ask Chris Hadfield what breakfast lunch and dinner are like in space and we ask Andy Weir about how he came up with the idea for his book.

Oct 1, 2015

This Food Non-Fiction podcast episode is the story of the first ever luau. Hawaii's second king, Kamehameha II was only around 22 years old when his father died and he took the throne. With influence from his stepmother and birthmother, as well as changing beliefs sparked by Western contact, Kamehameha dined at the women's table during a feast in 1819. This was previously forbidden by kapu rules, but the king's act symbolized the end of the strict kapu system. The Hawaiian word for "feast" used to be "aha 'aina" but that word changed to "luau" after the feast of 1819 - the first Hawaiian feast where men and women dined together. Exactly when the word "luau" replaced "aha 'aina" is uncertain. Although some sources say the word "luau" was first used in 1856 in the Pacific Commercial Advisor newspaper, it was likely used before then. 

Special thanks to Chico for the interview!


A Companion to the Anthropology of American Indians (Edited by Thomas Biolsi)

The Hawaiian Luau (Food, Culture & Society: An International Journal of Multidisciplinary Research)

The Hawaiian "kapu" Abolition of 1819 (American Ethnologist Vol. 1 No. 1)

Kamehameha II: Liholiho and the Impact of Change (Julie Stewart Williams and Suelyn Ching Tune)

The Overthrow of the Kapu System In Hawaii (Stephenie Seto Levin)

Music from Looperman: Thanks!

Wiki Tiki by Ravi 


Sep 24, 2015

In this Food Non-Fiction podcast episode, we talk about marshmallows! Marshmallows used to be made with marshmallow plants (Althaea Officinalis). When marshmallows were made with marshmallow plant sap, they had some medicinal properties. They were used like lozenges, to soothe sore throats. We also talk about the first printed S'mores recipe in the 1927 Girl Scouts handbook.


Guild of Food Writers

How Stuff Works

Campfire Marshmallows

Boyer Candies

Book: Rodale's Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs





Sep 16, 2015

In this Food Non-Fiction podcast episode, we tell you about ancient Egyptian honey. Did you know that honey that archaeologists have uncovered from tombs that are thousands of years old remain edible? We tell you all about beekeeping from ancient Egypt.





Ancient Origins

Book: The World History of Beekeeping and Honey Hunting

Book: Letters from the Hive: An Intimate History of Bees, Honey, and Humankind

Music from Looperman thank you to:




Sep 10, 2015

This is a Food Non-Fiction bonus episode! Lillian the host went on a BBQ boat with her friends today and recorded the experience to share. 

Thanks to Joe, the owner of Joe's BBQ Boat for the interview

Sep 9, 2015

This Food Non-Fiction podcast episode is about fruit flies. They seem to appear out of nowhere. In fact, people used to believe that small organisms like flies could be spontaneously generated from other matter, whether living or nonliving. This was called "the doctrine of spontaneous generation" or "Aristotelian abiogenesis". The concept of spontaneous generation was popular from Aristotle’s time (somewhere between 384-322 BCE) to the 1600’s. In 1668, Italian physician, Francesco Redi, conducted an experiment to disprove the doctrine of spontaneous generation. He put meat in jars, covered one jar with gauze (so that only air could get in) and left the other one open. If spontaneous generation was possible, then flies would have grown in either condition, but no maggots were seen in the covered jar.


Mother Nature Network
The Bug Squad
Book: Lords of the Fly: Drosophila Genetics and the Experimental Life
Article: Achilles and the Maggots
Article: Francesco Redi's Description of the Spontaneous Generation of Gall Flies 

Music From Looperman artists:


Sep 8, 2015

In this bonus Food Non-Fiction podcast episode, we talk about giant apes and bamboo. In a National Geographic article, we read that perhaps giant apes competed with giant pandas for bamboo. To learn more about this, we spoke to the gigantopithecus (giant ape) expert, Dr. Russel Ciochon. In an enlightening interview, the professor informed us that there is no evidence of competition between gigantopithecus and giant pandas and that gigantopithecus is more likely to have become extinct because they were large animals and could not adapt during more extreme climate change.

Researchers know what gigantopithecus ate because of phytolith ("phyto" meaning plant and "lith" meaning stone) found in gigantopithecus teeth. Our knowledge of phytolith shapes let us recognize the phytolith as coming from bamboo and durian.

Special Thanks: to Professor Russell Ciochon

References: National Geographic article


Sep 2, 2015

This Food Non-Fiction podcast episode is all about pandas and bamboo. We tackle the question - why do giant pandas only eat bamboo? The 2015 answer is that no one really knows. We also spoke to panda experts from the Toronto Zoo and Zoo Atlanta. We find out what they feed the giant pandas, when, why and how.

Aug 27, 2015

In this Food Non-Fiction podcast episode, Lillian visits Dark Table in Vancouver and Fakhri visits O'Noir in Montreal. We speak to the founder of Canada's 3 dark dining restaurants and find out how to run a restaurant in pitch black. We also had a guest, Jaycelyn Brown, keyboardist from the Juno award winning band, Said the Whale. She dined with us and this episode has been a blast!

Aug 6, 2015

This is a mini episode from Food Non-Fiction. Because Lillian is getting ready for her Master's defence! This episode is a brief look at deep fried desserts. We talk about doughnuts, deep fried ice cream and even deep fried coke!



Jul 29, 2015

This Food Non-Fiction podcast episode talks about milk cartons. We speak to patent attorney, Matt Buchanan, about the inventor of the milk carton and his patent, which was granted in 1915 in Toledo, Ohio. We then talk to Dr. Joel Best, author of "Threatened Children: Rhetoric and Concern about Child-Victims", about the history of missing children milk carton campaigns.

Special Thanks to Guests:
Matt Buchanan (partner at Buchanan Nipper)
Dr. Joel Best (University of Delaware Professor of sociology and criminal justice)

Patent Blog
Dairy Antiques Website
Google Patent 1157462A
Google Patent 1123628A

Jul 15, 2015

In this podcast episode of Food Non-Fiction, we are talking about popcorn! Popcorn is made out of any variety of corn that can be popped. Corn was selectively bred from a wild grass called Teosinte, which was a very tough plant. So right from the beginning of the cultivation of corn, people were making popcorn, because corn kernels were a lot harder and popping it was one of the easiest ways to eat it. Corn spread over Central and South America because it was traded. One of the civilizations that ate popcorn was the Aztecs. They even had a word for the sound of kernels popping - "totopoca". During the Depression, popcorn was one of the few foods that actually rose in sales. This is because it became considered an affordable luxury. So vendors sold popcorn outside of theatres. Eventually, theatres started charging vendors to sell either right outside their doors or even inside the lobby. And then by around 1938, theatres started having popcorn machines inside.


New York Times



Popcorn Origins

Jul 7, 2015

In this podcast episode of Food Non-Fiction, we speak with world champion sumo wrestler, Byamba. He is 6'1'' and 350lb but he has gotten his body fat percentage down to 11%. Sumo wrestlers may look fat, but they have more fat free mass (this includes the weight of internal organs and skeletal muscle) than body builders. This means that underneath the external fat is a wall of dense muscle. We talk about chankonabe, otherwise known as sumo stew. This is the sumo wrestler's staple food. It is a healthy stew that is filled with meat and vegetable.

Special Thanks to Byamba and his manager Andrew for the fascinating interview!


Byamba website

Impressive match video

Music by:


Jun 30, 2015

In this Food Non-Fiction podcast episode, we tell the insane but true story of when Parisians ate zoo animals to survive the 1870-1871 Siege of Paris. We transport you back in time to those five months when Prussian soldiers surrounded Paris to starve the city into surrendering. The five months started in September, 1870. As the months went by, people went from eating cows, pigs and sheep to eating horses. Then they resorted to eating street rats, as well as their own pet dogs and cats. Finally, in December, the zoo put its animals up for sale and the rich bought the meat for exotic meals. The 2 elephants, Castor and Pollux were sold together for 27,000 francs. In one of the most fascinating historical meals, chef Choron created an epic Christmas dinner made of zoo animals. All this was paired with the finest wines. The very rich managed to feast in the midst of starvation.


Engines of Our Ingenuity

Defeated Flesh: Welfare, Warfare and the Making of Modern France by Bertrand Taithe

Chronicles of Old Paris: Exploring the Historic City of Light by John Baxter Translated Memoir of Balloon Pilot

The Medical Times and Gazette, Volume 2

Jun 23, 2015

In this Food Non-Fiction podcast episode, we tell the origin story of chopsticks. During a 1993-1995 excavation of Neolithic ruins in North China, archaeologists found sticks made of bone. They believe that these bone sticks are the first versions of chopsticks. Previous bone sticks were considered to be hairpins but these bone sticks were placed close to the hands, alongside other things used by the hands, such as pots and tools, whereas previous bone sticks were more polished and placed near the head at burial sites.

The first chopsticks may have only been used to cooking, but eventually it became the norm to use them to eat as well. This isn't surprising given some context. North China was dry and cold, so people ate foods that were both juicy and hot - foods like stews. They likely ate their stews while the food was still piping hot, so the time between cooking and eating was minimal. Chopsticks were used to stir the food while cooking and then people could have simply used those same chopsticks to just begin eating right away. The chopsticks norm would have been spread, because North China happened to be the political and cultural centre of China at the time.

Spoons actually came before chopsticks, but as the popular foods changed from millet porridge to the foods of dim sum (eg. dumplings), spoons became less important.

How to hold chopsticks (quoted from the book "Chopsticks: A Cultural and Culinary History")

“First, chopsticks users generally believe that the most effective and elegant way to hold the sticks is to place the lower one at the base of the thumb and secure this position by resting it between the ring and middle fingers in order to keep the stick stationary. Then the upper stick is to be held like a pencil, using the index and middle fingers for movement and the thumb for stabilization. In conveying food, the two sticks are worked together to grasp the food for transportation and delivery.


The book "Chopsticks: A Cultural and Culinary History" by Professor Q. Edward Wang

Special thanks to Professor Wang for granting us an interview!

Jun 16, 2015

In this podcast episode of Food Non-Fiction, we talk about the baker's dozen. When someone says "a baker's dozen" they mean 13. But why is it 13 when a dozen is actually 12? The history of "a baker's dozen" goes back to medieval England. In 1266, King Henry III revived an old statute called the "Assize of Bread and Ale", which set the price of bread in relation to the price of wheat. To make sure that even the poorest of citizens could buy bread (because it was a staple food), bread was priced at a quarter penny, a half penny or a penny. In years when wheat prices went up, the loaves got smaller, but you could still always buy bread for a quarter penny. The Worshipful Company of Bakers was the name of the baker's guild - one of the oldest guild in England. They were given the power to enforce the Assize of Bread and Ale and would punish bakers that sold underweight bread. In order to make sure they wouldn't be punished for selling underweight bread, bakers gave customers extra bread. Extra slices were called "inbreads" and extra loaves were called "vantage loaves".


The Worshipful Company of Bakers
Phrase Origins
Bakers in the Middle Ages

Jun 9, 2015

This Food Non-Fiction podcast episode is about the founding foodie, Thomas Jefferson. More specifically, we talk about his gardens at Monticello. Jefferson collected crops from all over the known world in his time. He planted a huge variety of fruits and vegetables and helped to spread the seeds. The south-facing design of the Monticello gardens allowed him to plant crops from cold to tropical climates as the location captured a lot of sunlight and tempered the cold winters. Jefferson enjoyed salads and even grew sesame seeds so that he could make salad dressing oil out of them. The Monticello gardens are indeed amazing, but they would not have existed without the work of slaves. In this episode we talk about 2 people who were kept as slaves and worked at Monticello. The first is James Hemings and the second is Edith Fossett - both were trained as French chefs and cooked amazing meals.

Thomas Jefferson's ice cream recipe (typed out)
Thomas Jefferson's ice cream recipe (handwritten original)


Jun 2, 2015

This Food Non-Fiction podcast episode is all about mangos! This is our first listener requested episode so thank you Spencer! Looking at fossils, we can trace the appearance of the first mangos to around 30 million years ago in Northeast India, Myanmar and Bangladesh. Looking at old Hindu writings found in Southeast Asia and India, we can trace mango cultivation (for domestic use) back to 4000 B.C.E.  so that’s 6,000 years ago. Buddhist monks were amongst the first to cultivate the fruit and it is said that Buddha himself often meditated under the shade of a mango tree. Looking at historical records, we can see how the fruit spread. Mangos were spread over the world by traveling with people. They needed to travel with humans because their seeds are so big that they can’t be dispersed by animals eating them and pooping out or otherwise discarding the seeds further away / and the seeds definitely can’t travel by blowing in the wind. 

One mango is around 135 calories and will hold most of your daily recommended vitamin C as well as almost a third of your daily recommended Vitamin A. Actually the vitamin content changes depending on ripeness - when the mango is less ripe/more green, its vitamin C content is at its highest and when it is more ripe, its Vitamin A content is at its highest. Mangos contain over 20 different vitamins and minerals and are a great source of fiber. 

Health Benefits
Mangos nutrients support a healthy immune function, normal blood pressure, good vision and strong bones. There are studies that also claim added protection from certain cancers as well as stroke.

Their natural tenderizing properties make mangos a great ingredient to marinate meat in.

Refrigerate mangos when they’re perfectly ripe. If you haven’t cut them, they’ll stay good for around five days. If you’ve peeled and chopped them, keep them in the freezer in an airtight container. They can last about 6 months like that.

- Check firmness. Push against the mango’s skin and look for something in between squishy and hard.
- You should also be able to smell its fruity aroma on the stem end. 

Useful References

Mango Food Nutrition
Fruits Production Statistics
History and Production

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May 26, 2015

This Food Non-Fiction podcast episode tells the history of food trucks. The forerunners to food trucks are the chuckwagons of the cowboy cattle drives and the pushcarts of busy cities. Chuckwagons were invented by Charles Goodnight in 1866 to feed cowboys during long cattle drives that sometimes lasted for months. Chuckwagon cooks were called "cookies" and they would wake up bright and early to stoke a fire with firewood from the chuckwagon and prepare food with surfaces and supplies provided by the chuckwagon. Pushcarts have been around for ages and have a fascinating history of clashes with law enforcement. Since the 1600's New York has passed several laws to try and manage pushcart vendors and the current food truck laws are reminiscent of the pushcart laws. The food truck laws in New York haven't been changed since 1965 and the NYC Food Truck Association is pushing for changes to make the laws more modern. We interviewed 2 food truck owners in Durham - Saltbox Seafood Joint and Tootie. They gave us on insight on the business of food trucks.

Chuckwagon Cooking Recipes:

Chuckwagon recipes blog page

Legends of America recipes

Chronicle of the Old West recipes

American Chuckwagon cooking


Saltbox Seafood Joint (Facebook Page)



NYC Food Truck Association

NYC Food Truck Regulations

Food Truck Startup 101 (in Toronto)

Food Truck Startup Infographic (for Toronto)

Cattle Drives after Civil War

Encyclopedia - cattle drives

Pushcart/Street Vendor History

Street Vendor History

New York Times - The Food Cart Business Stinks

Book: Street Foods

Book: Start Your Own Food Truck Business

May 18, 2015

This podcast episode takes a look at the trending food alternatives - Soylent and Ambronite. These 2 liquid meal replacements were both created in 2013, one in the US and the other in Finland. Soylent is a sort of futuristic food - its formula is open source - and the aim is to be as cheap and efficient as possible. Ambronite also aims to be as efficient as possible but its ingredients don't compromise quality for price.


William the Conqueror's Diet
Rob Rhinhart's blog
Meghan Telpner's Soylent Criticism
Soylent's Ingredients

May 10, 2015

This episode starts with the true story of Ryan Shilling and the huge food fight in his UK school, Jarrow, in the town of Jarrow. We then piece together the history of food fights, starting with the creation of the pie-in-face gag from the Vaudeville era to the first pieing scenes in silent films to our modern day idea of food fights in schools. Next, we tell you about the world's greatest food fight - La Tomatina in Bunol, Spain. We interviewed Rafael Perez, the organizer of the event.

Special thanks to our interviewees:

Thank you Ryan Shilling!
Thank you Rafael Perez!

Promised Links:

3 Stooges Pie Fight 
Telegraph article on the Colombian La Tomatina 
La Tomatina-esque events in the US

Other References Used:
La Tomatina
Colorado Tomato War
The Salt Blog history of food fights
Evolution of Pieing
Web Urbanist list of food fights

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May 3, 2015

In "Save the Salmon Part 2" we explain why environmentalists talk about the drastic loss in salmon populations even though salmon seems to be abundant in grocery stores and sushi restaurants. We talk about the differences between wild and farmed salmon. This episode also discusses the pros and cons in the debate on using farmed salmon as a way to provide salmon to the masses and alleviate the fishing of wild salmon. Should you be buying farmed or wild salmon? Which one are you getting at restaurants? How do you know what the best choice in salmon is? We cover all this in this super informative and thought-provoking episode.

Special thanks to the amazing musician, Jetty Rae, for letting us use her music. Click here to visit her webpage.

More special thanks to our incredible interviewees:

Laurel Marcus of Fish Friendly Farming
Dana Stolzman of the Salmonid Restoration Federation
Kari Burr of the Fishery Foundation of California
Scott Greacen of Friends of the Eel River
Ron Reed of the Karuk Tribe and the Department of Natural Resources

How to Choose Sustainable Salmon:

Sea Choice
Seafood Watch

Other Resources used include:

David Suzuki's page on salmon farming
Surface Mining and Reclamation Act of 1975
NPR Salt blog article

Apr 24, 2015

This episode is a timely look at California's drought and how it has affected salmon runs. Specifically, we look at the Chinook salmon, also called the King salmon. These salmon can grow to be the size of a small person - up to 58 inches (4.8 feet) in length and up to 129 pounds. You don't find them in regular sushi places, because they're a more high-end species of salmon. They have the highest fat content of any salmon and that makes them delicious! 

Special thanks to our guest, Kari Burr, a biologist from the Fishery Foundation of California.

Apr 18, 2015

This episode covers Benjamin Franklin’s love of food. Benjamin Franklin was a very conscientious eater. At around the age of 16, he became a vegetarian for ethical and frugal reasons, but began eating meat again soon after, while traveling by ship from Boston to New York. He popularised Parmesan cheese in America and introduced soybeans, tofu, and rhubarb to the colonies.

Milk Punch Recipe (recipe written by Benjamin Franklin himself)
Benton Brothers Fine Cheese (cheese experts/shop in Vancouver, BC)
Special thanks to Brent Bellerive, General Manager at Benton Brothers, for letting us interview him!
Benjamin Franklin Book of Recipes
Tori Avey
Thomas Tryon quotes
International Vegetarian Union

Apr 9, 2015

Intro 0:00

John lying to his Mom 0:17

Undercover Restaurant Reviewers 0:29

Michelin Guide Restaurant Reviewers 1:31

How the Michelin Guide began 2:14

Current use of the Michelin Guide 3:52

Michelin stars and symbols 4:10

Bib Gourmand 5:18

Mystery of the process 5:41

Anonymous Michelin Server 5:49

    Preparing for a Michelin Reviewer 5:59

    Characteristics of a Michelin Reviewer 6:12

Controversies around Michelin Guide 6:55

    Pascal Remy "The Inspector Spills the Beans" 7:01

    Bias for French Cuisine 8:04

    Lax standards for Japanese restaurants 8:39

    Secretive nature of the inspectors 8:58

New Yorker interview with Inspector M. 9:25

Inspector background requirements 9:56

Michelin Guide Social Media Attempts 10:32

    Famously Anonymous 10:43

    Twitter 11:20

Michelin Guide Locations 11:52

Honor of the Michelin Star 12:18

Chefs that do not want the Michelin Star 12:37

Anonymous Michelin Server 12:49

    Excitement of being reviewed 12:49

    Backslide in interest 13:08

Pressure of expectations 13:33

Star stats 14:29

Digital Age vs. Guide books 15:04

Anonymous Michelin Server: Zagat vs. Michelin 15:15

Michelin Guide earnings and losses 15:29

Future of Michelin Guide to 15:48

Final words- contact us at 16:00

Other References Used:

Financial Times
New Yorker "Death of a Chef"
The Telegraph

Apr 2, 2015

Intro 0:00 

Recap of last episode 0:12

The ick factor 0:49

Six Foods story 1:27

Chirps 1:46

Harvard Innovation Lab pitch competition with mealworm tacos 3:12

Cricket flour 4:30

Massachusetts Innovation Nights 6:20

Ofbug (Kathryn Redford) 9:46

What to feed insects 12:20

Partnering with UBC’s Entomology & Toxicology Lab 13:10

Canadian law on insects as food 14:24

How Kathryn farms insects 15:20

David George Gordon (The Bug Chef) 17:43

What factors affect how an insect tastes 18:59

Backyard insects & pesticides 21:02

Final words - contact us at 22:42


Mar 25, 2015

Intro 0:00

Eating insects as a hot topic 00:26

Edible Insects - Future Prospects for Food and Feed Security 00:48

Time Magazine names insects one of the top food trends of 2015 1:40

FDA allows insect fragments in food 2:19

Theories on why we don't eat insects 3:02

BBC Documentary "Can Eating Insects Save the World" 5:13

Founders of Six Foods 6:07 

Insect nutrition 7:06

The Bug Chef explains ECI 8:02

Contact us at 9:33



Mar 13, 2015

Hello from Food Non-Fiction. This episode introduces the hosts of this podcast, Lillian Yang and Fakhri Shafai. Through this podcast, we will take you on a food journey through history and around the world. We can't wait to entertain you with stories about food - its creators, its venues, its composition and more - using interviews, storytelling and discussion.