Last year, there were so many explosions in China involving restaurants specializing in hot pot dishes that 100 people were killed, 38 of them in Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province alone. As if that wasn't bad enough, now China's Ministry of Internal Trade has been appealing to hot pot restaurants in Hubei, Yunnan and Sichuan provinces to stop adding the shells of opium poppy pods, which contain small amounts of opium, to their dishes. The restaurants are presumably hoping to soothe their customers, not actually addict them.
The Twinkie Papers
This year, the 66th anniversary of the Twinkie, the Hostess Cake company proudly informs us that it takes 45 seconds for a Twinkie to explode in a microwave oven.
Think about that a minute. What other pastry gives out such a figure? What other food company of any sort would be confident that we'd want to know? There's something about the Twinkie, something surely connected with the folk belief that it has a shelf life of 100 years, that makes us curious exactly how destructible it is.
The most elaborate investigation appears to have been conducted by students at Rice University who dropped Twinkies from sixth-story windows, fried them with electrodes and so on--including zapping them in microwaves, of course. They're not the first to do this--Jane and Michael Stern published a similar study in Spy magazine about five years ago--but if you're curious, their results are presented, in appropriate pseudo-academic style, on the Internet athttp://www.rice.edu/%7Egouge/twinkies.html