FoodStuff

The stuff we eat and drink is part daily necessity and part cultural identity. Every mouthful represents millennia of human collaboration and innovation. On FoodStuff, Anney and Lauren bite into the juicy stories – and science – behind everything that nourishes us.


B-A-N-A-N-A-S. The most popular fruit in the world has driven food technology and military coups alike. It's also in danger of being wiped out. We peel back the disturbing history and science surrounding bananas.

The cupcake caused quite a culinary kerfuffle in the early 2000s. Anney and Lauren explore how cupcakes (and their cousins, muffins) became what they were then, and what they are today.

Banned for a century throughout the Western world, absinthe is officially back on the market. But was it ever dangerous in the first place? Come drink in the history and science behind the Green Fairy in this episode of FoodStuff.

Garlic has millennia of history with cultures all over the world -- but mostly as a medicine and vampire deterrent, not a food. Anney and Lauren explore how we came to eat garlic, plus whether there's any hard evidence of its supposed health benefits.

McDonald's is the biggest fast food chain in the world, but this behemoth has humble beginnings. We explore the ambitions and intrigue that made the McEmpire what it is today.

Sugar substitutes boast the ability to satisfy your sweet tooth with low or no calories. But how can such wonder-compounds exist? Are they hazardous? Can they really help you lose weight? We explore the history and science behind artificial sweeteners.

In this, the second half of our conversation about fad diets, we head into the modern era of calorie counting and curious trends spreading at broadband speeds. If you missed Part 1, maybe listen to that one first!

Since before the word 'diet', there have been fad diets. And egad, some of them were bad ideas. Anney and Lauren unearth and demystify some of history's weirdest (and longest-running) fad diets.

Jambalaya really is a melting pot of a dish, influenced by all of the native populations, settlers, and enslaved peoples of the American South. Anney and Lauren dish on the history of jambalaya.

Is red licorice really licorice? Can you overdose on licorice?? Anney and Lauren answer these and other burning licorice questions.

All around the world, people ring in the New Year with foods said to bring good fortune. Anney and Lauren talk through traditions from their own homes and beyond.

This quintessential British cheese has a history cut with myth, fraud, and war. Anney and Lauren dig in, plus explain the science and process behind making a wheel of cheddar.

Tipping at restaurants can be stressful for all parties involved. How much is enough? How much is based on actual quality of service? How did we start doing this, anyway? FoodStuff discusses the equally depressing and important answers.

Soda, pop, coke, or plain ol' carbonated water: We dive into the sometimes explosive science and history of all agua that sparkles, from natural mineral springs to soda fountains to Big Gulps.

The durian fruit is famous for its rich custardlike flavor and infamous for its staunch corpselike scent. Anney and Lauren dig into the history and science behind this stinky delicacy.

Toasting can be an art, an honor, or an excuse to drink a lot. Anney and Lauren explore, from ancient toasting traditions to how people do it around the world today. Hear hear!

That chocolate bar you're craving contains some 5000 years of history and more than a couple psychoactive substances. Learn how a tropical seed changed the world, for the good and the bad, in this episode of FoodStuff.

For a rum punch designed with escapism in mind, the mai tai has a lot of controversy swirling around it. Anney and Lauren explore. (Plus, cocktail umbrellas!)

Sufganiyot, pączki, Berliners, bismarcks, or jambusters: Whatever you call 'em, we love jelly doughnuts. Anney and Lauren explore how this treat became a part of holidays around the world.

America's favorite movie theater snack involves at least 7,000 years of history and fascinating physics. We explore everything from how popcorn pops to how it basically got the theater industry through the Great Depression.

The history and science behind vanilla is anything but bland. Anney and Lauren explore how the fruit of a rare orchid captured the world's fancy, and what lengths researchers go to to replicate the flavor.

Lembas is the one bread to rule them all from J.R.R. Tolkien's world of 'The Lord of the Rings.' We delve into the real-world inspirations and Elvish science behind lembas and other foods of Middle Earth.

This everyday utensil is a relative newcomer to the table -- eating with a fork was considered scandalous and even sinful for centuries. Anney and Lauren trace the history and potential future of the fork (aka the dinglehopper).

The turkey is a study in contradictions: majestic yet ridiculous, ridiculous yet aggressive, prized for feasts yet often poorly cooked, and definitely NOT from Turkey. We cover everything turkey, from cooking tips to snood science.

The miracle berry is a fruit that can make sour foods taste incredibly sweet. We explore the science behind flavor tripping, plus the strange, conspiracy-ridden history of the miracle berry's legality in the United States.