Crazy-But-True Food Facts You Never Knew

The food we eat now is a whole lot different than it was 50 years ago. Preservatives, GMOs, foods that aren’t really food … it’s a wild world out there in the grocery store aisles.

But beyond just being healthy or unhealthy, a lot of the foods you eat on a regular basis have some surprising attributes. Read on to discover the craziest true facts about food that most people don’t know.

1. Mountain Dew is partly made of orange juice

Mountain Dew

Comes right after corn syrup. | Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

You probably know you shouldn’t drink soda very often. But did you know that besides high fructose corn syrup, artificial colors, and preservatives, your favorite lime yellow soda is actually made from orange juice? It’s actually third on the ingredient list.

Next: This Mexican entree was almost named after a swear word.

2. Chimichanga means ‘thingamajig’

Chimichanga

It’s essentially a curse word. | Jupiterimages/iStock/Getty Images

These deep-fried tortillas stuffed with meat, cheese, and vegetables actually hail from Tucson, not Mexico. The name is an exclamation coined in the 1950s by a cook who was trying not to curse in front of her young nieces and nephews.

Next: Lollipops are pretty disgusting.

3. Eating a lollipop is just swallowing flavored saliva

red-haired young woman with a colorful candy

Too weird. | Belyaevskiy/iStock/Getty Images

When you think about it, that’s just gross.

Next: This popular snack food only has 3 ingredients and no preservatives.

4. Fritos are made from just 3 ingredients

Still probably not a health food. | iStock/Getty Images

In today’s day and age of overpriced health food made from simple, easy-to-pronounce ingredients, you might not immediately think of Fritos as qualifying for the list. But the next time someone tries to act superior because they’re snacking on kale chips, consider this: Fritos are made from corn, corn oil, and salt. That’s it.

Next: This lawsuit set out to prove that chips weren’t really chips.

5. Pringles once filed a lawsuit to prove that they weren’t potato chips

Pringles

They lost the suit. | eskaylim/iStock/Getty Images

Unlike all the other chips on the market, Pringles come stacked in a can. But does that mean they aren’t chips at all?

Proctor & Gamble filed the lawsuit in the U.K., which claimed the company did not owe something called the value-added tax since Pringles are actually “savory snacks,” not “potato chips or similar products.”

But unfortunately for P&G, it lost the case, despite its argument that to be taxable, a product must contain enough potato to have the quality of “potatoness.” The company had to pay the $160 million in taxes to Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs.

Next: This root vegetable is mostly comprised of water.

6. Potatoes are 80% water

Two hands holding freshly harvested potatoes.

Potato juice anyone? | stocksnapper/iStock/Getty Images

Ever juice a potato? Well, you technically could. These carby beauties are only 20% solid and are mostly made of water.

Next: The real reason vegans won’t eat figs.

7. Figs sometimes contain dead wasps

Appetizing …  | iStock/Getty Images

So … does that mean they’re not vegetarian?

Figs aren’t actually fruits, they’re inverted flowers that require a special process for pollination. But these sweet flowers don’t use the wind or bees to spread their pollen — they need wasps.

Female wasps enter into male figs (which we don’t eat) and lay eggs, and then the baby wasps mate with their siblings and tunnel out. However, sometimes a female wasp accidentally attempts to enter a female fig, causing her to die, decompose, and then get eaten by anyone who chooses to chomp down on a fig.

Next: The price of peanut butter could skyrocket thanks to this scientific advancement.

8. Scientists can make diamonds out of peanut butter

Jar of peanut butter with nuts. On wooden texture.

You won’t look at your jar of Jiffy the same again. | sergoua/iStock/Getty Images

Diamonds are made from highly organized carbon that formed in the earth 1 billion to 3 billion years ago. Thanks to geologists and their experiments with high pressure and high temperature, diamonds are also being made using regular old peanut butter. So maybe now they’ll be a little cheaper.

Next: This restaurant chain bought lots of kale, but not for the reason you think.

9. Pizza Hut used to be the nation’s biggest purchaser of kale

fresh green kale

All that changed when it got trendy. | jenifoto/iStock/Getty Images

Before kale became the hot new thing, people were still frequenting the Pizza Hut salad bar, which you may remember was garnished with this leafy green vegetable. And nobody even ate it, the leaves were just used for decoration! What a waste of vitamin A.

Next: This fruit is a clone of itself.

10. Bananas are inbred

Bunch of Bananas

This is not the first “breed” of bananas; others got wiped out. | iStock/Getty Images

The bananas you know and love are all clones of one another, and are incapable of reproduction. What does this mean for you? One major disease could wipe out the entire banana population. Researchers are working on a way to diversify the genes, but in the meantime, appreciate your creepy clone bananas before they’re suddenly gone for good.

Next: Italians once feared tomatoes.

11. Tomatoes don’t come from Italy

cherry tomatoes

Pizza is a recent invention. | voloshin311/iStock/Getty Images

You may love sauce over your pasta, but don’t think for one minute that tomatoes originated in Italy. In fact, Europeans used to fear tomatoes, thinking they were poisonous.

The tomato fruit (yes, fruit) can be traced back to 700 A.D. in Mesoamerica, in the region of modern-day Mexico and South America. They didn’t become popular until the invention of pizza in Naples during the 1880s.

Next: You have more in common with this fruit than you realize.

12. Humans share 60% of our DNA with bananas

It’s pretty weird to think about. | Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images

Our bodies have 3 billion genetic building blocks and only a very tiny amount of those are unique, meaning most people are mostly alike. What’s even more surprising? We have a lot in common with the things around us, including 60% identical genes as a simple banana.

Next: This weird item gets added to shredded cheese.

13. Shredded cheese contains wood pulp

Yuck. | iStock/Getty Images

When you see the ingredient “cellulose” in grated Parmesan or shredded cheese, you’re really eating wood pulp. This filler is digestible and is recognized as safe by the FDA. It’s added to keep the cheese from clumping together.

Next: This berry isn’t a berry.

14. Strawberries aren’t berries

hulled strawberries

They aren’t real berries. | iStock/Getty Images

You may already know that tomatoes are technically a fruit. But did you hear the one about strawberries?

Berries by definition are any fleshy fruits produced by a single ovary. This means that watermelons, pumpkins, bananas, and avocados are all technically berries, but strawberries are considered accessory fruits because the surrounding flesh around the seed doesn’t come from the ovaries, but rather from the receptacle in which the ovaries are located. Talk about specific.

Next: Food tastes different on airplanes.

15. Altitude can change the way your food tastes

child eating in the airplane

Your food is salted to compensate. | Vsurkov/iStock/Getty Images

Flying changes your body chemistry, so certain flavors taste way different on a plane than they do down on the ground. Some things are saltier or sweeter, and alcohol goes right to your head.

Read more: You Didn’t Know These Disturbing Facts About Processed Food

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