Why Nuke Peeps, Who Was General Tso, and What Decadent Drink Will Starbucks Devise Next?

by in News, April 11th, 2014

General Tso ChickenPeeps — Puffed: If microwaving Peeps — those sugar-covered marshmallow birdies that show up in stores every spring — and watching them do their “best Bruce Banner-meets-Jabba the Hutt impression” is something you’ve never done, the food scientists behind the site Decoding Delicious want you to know you’re missing out. “It’s the closest thing you’ll get to a toasted marshmallow without a bonfire,” they write, adding that it’s also “totally fun to watch” and a good way to make stale Peeps “palatable” again. But why do marshmallows puff when you nuke ‘em? Because they are “basically thousands of minuscule air bubbles surrounded by thin walls of gelatin and sugar syrup,” Decoding Delicious explains. “When microwaved, the water molecules in that syrup begin to vibrate and heat up. They quickly turn to steam and fill the air pockets in the marshmallow, causing them to expand.” It works for kosher marshmallows, too, by the way, so those who celebrate Passover need not miss out on the marshmallow-puffing fun. Learn more ways to put Peeps to work by checking out videos of Whoopeeps and homemade Easter chocolate bowls, and save the leftovers for Easter Candy Bark. [Decoding Delicious]

Tso Intriguing: A feature-length documentary set to screen at the Tribeca Film Festival this month looks to answer two age-old food questions: Who was General Tso? And why are so many people eating his chicken? For The Search for General Tso, director Ian Cheney traveled to Hunan and Shanghai hoping to discover how the sticky-sweet, crispy-tender dish became such an American staple, appearing on the menu of virtually every Chinese restaurant in the United States. “Did he love chicken?” one of the people Ian spoke with asks in a trailer for the film. “We don’t know. Nobody knows.” Ah, a mystery. Check out the film’s website here. [Food Republic]

Not Your Average Cup of Joe: As if a regular Chocolate or Caramel Frappuccino weren’t decadent enough, Starbucks coffee shops in Japan will introduce two new limited-time-only flavor twists on its faithful Frappuccino: The Fresh Banana and Chocolate Cream Frappuccino blends together a Chocolate Frappuccino and a whole banana, and it is topped with whipped cream, chocolate brownie crumbles and chocolate sauce. The Fresh Banana and Caramel Cream Frappuccino blends together a Caramel Frappuccino and a whole banana, and the drink is topped with whipped cream, white chocolate brownie crumbles and caramel sauce. According to Brand Eating, the blended beverages will be served “with an extra-wide straw” so customers won’t have to miss any bigger brownie crumbles or banana bits. Such a relief. [Brand Eating]

In Other Food News … On Wednesday night, the City Council in Irwindale, Calif., declared the factory that makes Sriracha hot sauce a public nuisance and gave Huy Fong Foods, Inc., 90 days to resolve the issues that had some nearby residents complaining about spicy odors emanating from the plant. [Associated Press] With Americans embracing freshly made food over frozen, the American Frozen Food Institute is about to launch a “multiyear, multimillion dollar” campaign to repair the industry’s image, including national TV ads as well as social media and in-store promotions. [Associated Press] The recent decision by McDonald’s to pull out of Crimea sparked speculation that Burger King would take the opportunity to move in, but Burger King now says that’s not happening. “Neither Burger King Worldwide, nor any of its franchisees, have plans to open Burger King restaurants in Crimea,” Burger King spokesperson Bryson Thornton told NPR. [NPR]

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