Category - blogging

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Mad Science: Rye Whiskey-Flavored Pigs
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Presidential Drinking Habits
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SideBlog: Chainsaws Make For Efficient, Dangerous Bottle Openers
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Breakthrough Science! You Can’t Drink Through Your Feet

Mad Science: Rye Whiskey-Flavored Pigs

Sizzling Bacon
Now, imagine it tastes of good rye whiskey….

Whatever troubles Templeton Rye may have concerning its labels and marketing strategies, I for one rather like the product. And were there any remaining doubts that the minds behind it were not filled with creativity, this story should put them to rest. Every time we think we’ve reached Peak Bacon in the meme department, someone comes along to top it. In the cocktail world, bacon fat-washing has been the leader in the clubhouse for so long, it is practically ho-hum now. But if making your whiskey taste like bacon is fun, thought the people at Templeton, how awesome would it be to make your bacon taste like whiskey?

Rye. Flavored. Pig.

The idea is fairly simple: If you feed your pigs on spent rye mash, and they will grow up to possess a flavor hearkening to the spicy undertones of the whiskey that mash was used to make. It makes a sort of brilliant sense; after all, you are what you eat, right? Popular Mechanics has a fun little writeup on how Templeton put this to the test. On first read, you’d think that these 50 mash-fed porkers (now gleefully consumed) were the culinary equivalent to the Alfa-Romeo 4c. But alas, PM leans more to the Popular in its moniker than the Mechanics in this article.

The sad truth is in there, though. “‘There’s no way for anyone to take a bite of the pork and taste that it has 20 percent Templeton mash in the feed,’ says Top Chef winner Stephanie Izard, who cooked one of the pigs for a themed dinner at her Little Goat Diner, in Chicago.”

So no whiskey-flavored pork loin just yet, cocktail folk. You may return to your regularly-scheduled fat washing until further notice.

Presidential Drinking Habits

Obama gives a thumbs-up as he celebrates St. Patrick's Day in Washington
The New York Post has just published a nifty little piece of scholarship by Mark Will-Weber entitled “A Complete List of Every President’s Favorite Drink”. I was just going to link it in the SideBlog, but there is enough stuff here to share some highlights without stealing so much you won’t read the original. Some of this I already knew, but most I did not. It is a fun and quick read.

It is an illuminating historical fact that of America’s Founding Fathers, only Washington died wealthy. In fact, virtually all the rest died broke. Perhaps some of the reason for this is because, while Washington was the continent’s biggest liquor producer, he never drank it, preferring the odd porter instead. In contrast, Jefferson bankrupted himself on expensive wine, and James Monroe spent the White House furniture budget on 100 cases of French wine and Champagne.

Martin Van Buren was a heavy drinker, who liked a New York-made Genever variant called Scheidam. Anyone ever heard of this stuff?

We had some bad presidents in the lead-up to the Civil War, and their drinking habits are in keeping with that. Millard Fillmore was a near teetotaler, and with a name like that to tote around, a sane man would need an occasional belt. He was followed by Franklin Pierce, who died of cirrhosis, and James Buchanan, who drank Iberia dry.

The Rutherford B. Hayes White House staff would resort to spiking the punch because his wife was a Prohibitionist, but she caught on and substituted their rum with artificial flavoring behind their backs. If you merged a period costume film with Porky’s, you get a Hayes state dinner, I guess.

Read the entry for Grover Cleveland. No really, read it. I can’t steal it.

William McKinley had an official campaign cocktail. An Official. Campaign. Cocktail.

Harry Truman started most days with a shot of bourbon and a massage. The only man to ever nuke anyone didn’t play around.

Finally, if LBJ had been president when MADD was founded… they would not have gotten along. For why, and plenty of other good stuff, click the link.

SideBlog: Chainsaws Make For Efficient, Dangerous Bottle Openers

Chainsaws make for efficient, if dangerous, bottle openers. Five bottles at a time!

Breakthrough Science! You Can’t Drink Through Your Feet

Copyright: nobilior / 123RF Stock Photo
Feet—You drink with the other end, people!
Source

To follow me on this, you will need to accept two fairly unbelievable things:

  1. There are people in Denmark who spread around the urban myth that if you soak your feet in booze, you will get drunk.
  2. There are scientists in Denmark who a few years back had so much free time that they conducted a scientific study to determine this myth’s validity, then wrote up their findings and published them.

The world is full of urban myths. (Once upon a time, when we were less urban, we called them old wives’ tales. But now we call them urban myths, because most folks live in cities, and punk kids have outstripped old wives in the too much time on their hands and wild speculation departments.) Often, urban myths spread from their nation of origin to other cities around the world, with hipsters as the primary vector, I believe. The pedal dipsomania myth seems to have remained isolated in Denmark.

This isolation could be a subject of some study as well. I suspect a possible result would be a recommendation to skew national IQ tables to decrease all recorded IQs of Danes by ten.

Heck, while we’re at it, let’s dock everybody from Norway, Sweden, and Finland by five, just for being fellow Scandinavians.

Sorry he did that drive-by to friends, Tiare, but this is about Science™.

Anyway, I think I’m far enough into this post that I won’t spoil things by revealing that they found that no, you cannot get drunk through your feet.

So how did Doctors Hansen, Færch, and Kristensen determine this breakthrough discovery? First, they experimented on themselves, in the grand, selfless humanitarian tradition of Jonas Salk. Our scientific heroes/guinea pigs performed their test by sitting around for three hours with their bare feet soaking in a tub of Slovakian vodka. The primary metric was BAC:

…Blood samples were taken to the laboratory for immediate analysis by the study nurse (and) measured as soon as possible in case of rapid and potentially fatal increases….

Selfless risk-takers in the name of science they may have been, but I’m glad they made sure to be as safe as possible. (Though to be fair, they appear to have been pretty cavalier about the far greater possibility of laughter-induced herniation in the nurse when he or she was told of the protocol for this experiment.)

But wait, this was a rigorous study! A single measurement of drunkenness was insufficient for our intrepid trio. Perhaps this foot-ingested intoxication is undetectable in the bloodstream.

Hey, that makes as much sense as claiming that “toe chugging” will get you drunk in the first place!

The additional metrics were a mix of factual observation and self-evaluation, to wit: Self-confidence, the urge to talk, and spontaneous hugs. The results are represented in the following chart:
Vodka Through the Feet Results
Alas, in these measures as well, the mysterious foot-ingested, bloodstream-avoiding intoxicating effects were essentially invisible.

2011-10-busted
“But I do question how it is that we haven’t done a show segment on this yet….”

The discussion section of the paper outlines some conclusions of various degrees of usefulness, ranging from “Driving or leading a vessel with boots full of vodka seems to be safe”, to “Importantly, students experimenting with transcutaneous alcohol absorption should move on to more relevant activities.”

When you translate that last one from Faculty to English, you get “Go out to a bar, have a drink, and meet some people. You will never get laid sitting around a lab with your bare feet soaking in booze. And if your wise-ass roommate has filled your shoes with Aquavit, don’t worry. It’s still safe to drive.”
My Faculty is a bit rusty, so I just copy and pasted that directly from Google Translate….

I do want to note that this study, while new to me, is Old™. I got it from Seriously Science’s Flashback Friday. I’ll leave you with an expansion on the scary thought with which they finish their introduction. I’m not sure about the development-to-market time-frame in the infused spirits industry, but if anyone in the vodka biz reads this piece, we could be seeing this ad any damn day now….

Pinnacle Fødder Vodka
Sorry Pinnacle, but you deserve this for making me live in the same world as Cupcake-flavored vodka.

(Seriously, in all honesty these scientists are geniuses. They richly deserved an igNobel Prize for this. They were clearly angling for one, and it is a crime that they lost out to the guys who studied why some patients literally explode during colonoscopies.

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