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March 31, 1994|CHARLES PERRY

O Beautiful for Species of Crabs

North American waters are home to the largest variety of edible crab species in the world: snow, blue, king, Dungeness, stone, green, calico, Jonah, lady and oyster crabs. If you haven't heard of most of those names, it may be because about half the total catch is snow crabs.

Billions and Billions and Billions . . .

Tuesday, March 22, the 5 billionth can of Spam rolled off the production line. To celebrate, Hormel has published a 48-page cookbook--Spam quesadillas, Spam Hawaiian pizza, Spam jambalaya and a bunch more, including a sampling from Spam cook-offs at 56 county and state fairs. All recipes include nutritional information. Send $1 for postage and handling and a letter with your name and mailing address to the Great Taste of Spam Recipe Book Offer, P.O. Box 5000, Dept. P, Austin, Minn. 55912.

Bag News

Once and for all, on the issue of where to get those plastic bags that retard spoilage and staling of fruits and vegetables, you don't have to find a store that sells them at all. You can send $6 (includes postage) for a pack of 10 (they're reusable) to J & V Marketing, P.O. Box 189, Angwin, Calif. 94508.

Stinking Good Health

For years, people have been saying garlic is good for your blood. In the current issue of the medical journal Lipids, Dr. Yu-Yan Yeh of Penn State and research assistant Shaw-Mei Yeh describe the apparent mechanism: Garlic inhibits the liver's manufacture of triglycerides and cholesterol. (Dietary cholesterol is broken down in digestion; the cholesterol found in the blood is all synthesized in the liver.) In lab tests, garlic reduced triglycerides 30% and (particularly good news) while total cholesterol went down 15%, HDL (the "good" cholesterol) remained the same. Of course, that was in rats. The Yehs will have results of a human study this summer.

Hey, No Dribbling at the Table!

For the basketball finals season, General Mills is making a cereal called Dunk-A-Balls. They're sort of like a cross between Kix and Trix, but each wheat and corn puff has brown or red seam lines, making it look like a tiny basketball. If you think this is a brazen invitation for children to play with their food, you're right. The back of the package actually features a cut-out basketball hoop for sliding a cereal bowl under. In supermarkets for the next two or three months.

Heat 'n Eat Turns 40

Wednesday, April 6, there'll be a party at the Omaha, Neb., plant of C.A. Swanson & Sons, celebrating the 40th birthday of the TV dinner. The ancient among us may remember those first frozen dinner packages (originally, the only flavor was turkey) that were designed to look like a TV screen surrounded by wood-tone paneling; the price would be stamped on an imitation channel selector and the USDA inspection certificate was made to look a little like a volume dial. The original aluminum TV dinner tray was doomed by the microwave, but otherwise those corny cartons were the future.

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