The Oreo cookie turned 100 years old Tuesday. The simple, cream-filled confection has outlasted countless other baked goods. Why have Oreos been so popular for so long?
Marketing muscle, among other things. The early history of the Oreo suggests that the size and power of the National Biscuit Co. (now Nabisco) played a major role in the cookie’s dominance. The Oreo brand did not enjoy a first-mover advantage in the market for chocolate cream sandwich cookies. The Sunshine Baking Co. had begun selling the Hydrox sometime between 1908 and 1910, beating Oreos to store shelves by at least a couple of years. Sunshine was smart to commercialize the chocolate sandwich cookie, which had been a popular homemade treat in the United States since the mid-1800s, but the company never had much of a chance against National Biscuit—the Standard Oil of biscuit makers. The country’s largest bakeries joined to form the cookie monster in 1898, and the company modernized the production and packaging of baked goods. (Prior to that, most cookies and crackers were sold out of barrels at local shops, hence the name “cracker barrel.”) National Biscuit was soon selling half of America’s cookies and crackers, mostly out of its New York factory in the building now known as Chelsea Market. When the company launched Oreo in 1912, it had already succeeded with the Lorna Doone shortbread cookie. A major ad campaign quickly saw Oreo pass Hydrox, and it’s now widely regarded as the best-selling cookie of all time, although the Explainer is unaware of reliable data to verify the claim. In 1982, consumers spent 10 percent of their cookie dollars on Oreos, according to the 1985 Guinness Book of World Records.
There’s more to Oreo’s longevity than marketing, of course. National Biscuit also released the Mother Goose Biscuit (“a rich, high class biscuit bearing impressions of the Mother Goose legends,” according to company marketing materials) and the Veronese Biscuit (“a delicious, hard sweet biscuit of beautiful design and high quality”) with similar ad campaigns in 1912, but neither took off like Oreo. In a 1981 article titled “Creative Eating: The Oreo Syndrome,” folk historian Elizabeth Mosby Adler argues that part of the sandwich cookie’s appeal is that it allows people to bring their own personal style to eating. Like fried eggs, layer cake, and corn on the cob, the Oreo lets consumers make choices—they can gobble it whole, disassemble it, eat the best part first or save it for last. In contrast, there’s really only one way to eat a chocolate-chip cookie. Eating an Oreo can also be an addictive kind of challenge. It’s not easy to separate the wafers while leaving the frosting intact or to peel the frosting away in a single slab. Of course, if you fail, you can just try, try again. Eating an Oreo lets non-cooks participate in the creative aspect of food.
The Phrase Finder “An archive of the meanings and origins of thousands of phrases, sayings, idioms and expressions.”
Approximately 1.2 million cases of breast cancer are diagnosed around the world each year. About 75% are found in women over age 50. – Provided by RandomHistory.com
A pill that makes alcoholics want to drink less has been developed by scientists for the first time, a conference has been told.
The drug is thought to work by blocking mechanisms in the brain that give alcoholics enjoyment from drink and so helps them fight the urge to drink too much.
It only needed to be taken when people were going out where they might be tempted to drink alcohol.
Alcoholics taking the drug and having counselling more than halved the amount of alcohol they drank per day and binged on fewer days.
The findings were presented at the European Psychiatric Association (EPA) congress in Prague.
The drug, developed by Lundbeck pharmaceutical company, called nalmefene is not licensed yet and is currently going through clinical trials.
There are other drugs on the market that make addicts ill if they drink any alcohol at all but this is thought to be the first aimed at reducing the amount of alcohol consumed.
Moon Might Be To Blame for Titanic Disaster
It is a widely known fact that a collision with an iceberg caused the sinking of the RMS Titanic in 1912, but scientists now believe that the Moon may share some of the blame for the disaster. Months earlier, the Moon made its closest approach to Earth in 1,400 years just one day after the Earth made its closest approach to the Sun in a year. This may have produced unusually high tides that allowed many large icebergs to break free of Greenland and make their way into the ship’s path. More …
GROWING CONCERN More dingo attacks have been reported in recent years.
Thirty-two years ago, 9-week old Azaria Chamberlain disappeared from a campsite in the Australian outback, and her mother’s claim that a dingo took the child caused a storm of public outrage and disbelief.
The saga reached far beyond Australia when it inspired “Cry in the Dark,” a 1988 movie starring Meryl Streep. And as popular culture transmuted tragedy into morbid comedy, a misquote from the movie, “A dingo ate my baby!,” caught on, popping up in “Seinfeld,” “The Simpsons” and other shows.
The reason the whole story became so well known, of course, was that in reality it has remained unclear whether the dingo did it. And over the ensuing decades, the human drama and the figure of the dingo, Australia’s enigmatic wild dog, have become entangled. Like the wolf in America, the dingo is a symbol that may mean one thing to hunters or sheep ranchers and another to scientists and nature lovers.
At around 8:30 in the morning on Wednesday, January 11, while much of Tehran was snarled in its usual rush-hour traffic, a motorcyclist drew alongside a gray Peugeot and affixed a magnetic bomb to its exterior. The ensuing blast killed the car’s thirty-two-year-old passenger, Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan, a professor of chemistry and the deputy director of Iran’s premiere uranium enrichment facility. The assassin disappeared into traffic, and Roshan became the fifth Iranian nuclear scientist to die in violent or mysterious circumstances since 2007.
The attack was, in a sense, fairly typical of the covert war being waged against Iran’s nuclear program, a campaign that has included computer sabotage as well as the serial assassination of Iranian scientists. Even the manner of the killing was routine; Roshan was the third scientist to die from a magnet bomb slapped onto his car during a commute. But the timing of the chemist’s death—amid a series of diplomatic events that came fast and furious in January and February, each further complicating relations with Iran—had the effect of dramatizing how close this covert war may be to becoming an overt one.
On New Year’s Eve, eleven days before the bombing that killed Roshan, President Barack Obama enacted a new round of sanctions that essentially blacklisted Iran’s central bank by penalizing anyone who does business with it, a move designed to cripple the Islamic Republic’s ability to sell oil overseas. Iran responded by threatening to militarily shut down the Strait of Hormuz, the narrow shipping lane out of the Persian Gulf through which 20 percent of the world’s oil trade passes. On January 8, three days before the attack on Roshan, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta appeared on Face the Nation and reinforced America’s commitment to keep Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. Just in December, Panetta had emphasized the damaging consequences that war with Iran would bring, but now he stressed that Iranian development of a nuclear weapon would cross a “red line.” When the European Union announced its own sanctions of the Iranian central bank in late January, Iran redoubled its threat to block shipping lanes in the Strait of Hormuz. Panetta called this another “red line” that would provoke a military response from the U.S. February brought more posturing from Iran, along with two assassination attempts against Israelis living in New Delhi and Tbilisi that were widely attributed to Tehran.
Alexander Graham Bell Awarded US Patent for Telephone (This Day in 1876)
Originally an audiologist, professor, and teacher of the deaf, Bell became interested in the idea of transmitting sound waves by wire when he misread a thesis by a German physicist. He mistakenly believed that the thesis implied such a transmission was possible. It did not, but Bell’s idea was sound. Later, he described his mistranslation as a “valuable blunder.” Three days after receiving a patent for his device, he spoke the first sentence ever transmitted by telephone. What was it? More…
Women with access to contraception earn 8% more, and other fun facts about the pill.
The Indianapolis Colts will reportedly end their 14-year relationship with Peyton Manning tomorrow. Actually today.
As democratic movements spread in the Middle East, governments are cracking down, and that means big business for the companies who help them do it.
Reliance means vulnerability, and the activists and citizen journalists of the Arab uprisings rely heavily on the Internet and mobile technology. They use text messaging to coordinate protests, for example, or social media sites to upload the photos and videos that then make it into mainstream global media. In the first protests in Tunisia, because traditional journalists could not get access, citizen journalists filled in, using YouTube and the live-streaming platform UStream to give the world — including, for example, the Egyptians and Syrians who later began revolts of their own — a window into the events there.
For all of the good this technology has done, activists are also beginning to understand the harm it can do. As Evgeny Morozov wrote in The Net Delusion, his book on the Internet’s darker sides, “Denying that greater information flows, combined with advanced technologies … can result in the overall strengthening of authoritarian regimes is a dangerous path to take, if only because it numbs us to potential regulatory interventions and the need to rein in our own Western corporate excesses.”
Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana, is a hub of oil and fishing industries on the Gulf of Mexico. The hamlets along its waterways rise in elevation and affluence as they increase in distance from the coast. Trailers, aluminum foil in their windows to beat back the sun, give way to communities screened by oak and cypress trees. One of the loveliest neighborhoods is Bayou Black. There are thoroughbreds on lawns there, and an alligator farm. The week’s sole rush hour begins Saturday before dawn, when fathers and sons leave home to fish and hunt. Later that morning, the shell-pink great house of a nineteenth-century sugarcane plantation opens for tours. The gift shop, in what the docents call “the servants’ quarters,” sells books with such titles as “Myths of American Slavery” and “Slaves by Choice.” Hurricane Katrina only grazed this house and its environs, pulling shingles off roofs and whipping the moss from the trees. After the levees of New Orleans broke and poor blacks fled, Bayou Black was only sixty miles down one of the few open highways from the city.
When an emergency shelter in Houma, the parish seat, filled quickly, several members of a Catholic church in Bayou Black asked local officials if they could open the basketball court of their recreation center to refugees. Earlier in the summer, the pressing social issue at the gym had involved the casings of sunflower seeds: a sign at the entrance read “What Goes in Your Mouth You Must Swallow Not Spit Back Out on the Bleachers.” On the evening of September 3rd, though, a gunshot victim, a four-hundred-pound woman, and a man with a broken spine arrived at the gym simultaneously, joining two hundred other evacuees. The only medical expertise on hand belonged to an eighteen-year-old lawn cutter who had once passed a lifeguard course. “He could have told me his back was broken before I moved him,” the teen-ager later complained. A Cajun woman named Roxie Bergeron had put aside her duties as a Catholic youth-group leader to organize the volunteers. “None of us knows what we are doing,” she said. “This is Shelter 101.” Other white residents were more conflicted than Bergeron about giving refuge to former New Orleanians. Shrimpers, boat captains, offshore oil workers, and the personal-injury lawyers attendant on these trades wanted the gym available for themselves and their families, should another hurricane hit.
A thirty-year-old black businessman named Gary Harrell managed the night shift at the shelter. He had a shaved head, Pentecostal leanings, and subscriptions to the Atlantic Monthly and the Economist; he’d grown up down the street. “There are a hundred thousand people in this parish, but we think we’re Magnolia, Mississippi,” he said. “The whole identity and appeal of this place is as a not-New Orleans. So what’s happening now is something that never crossed people’s minds, except in nightmares: that New Orleans would be coming to them.”
Russia helps Iran prepare for possible attack
The Russians have upgraded their Jabal Al Harrah electronic and surveillance station south of Damascus opposite Israel’s Sea of Galilee, adding resources especially tailored to give Tehran early warning of an oncoming US or Israeli attack, DEBKAfile’s US military sources report.
Before it was boosted by extra advanced technology and manpower, the station covered civilian and military movements in northern Israel up to Tel Aviv, northern Jordan and western Iraq. Today, its range extends to all parts of Israel and Jordan, the Gulf of Aqaba and northern Saudi Arabia.
Part two of Moscow’s project for extending the range of its Middle East ears and eyes consisted of upgrading the Russian-equipped Syrian radar stationed on Lebanon’s Mount Sannine and connecting it to the Jabal Al Harrah facility in Syria. Russian technicians have completed this project too. Russia is now able to additionally track US and Israeli naval and aerial movements in the Eastern Mediterranean up to and including Cyprus and Greece.
The Air Force’s secretive X-37B space plane gets more mysterious by the day. Designed to spend up to nine months on unspecified errands in Earth’s orbit, the second copy of the Boeing-made craft, known as Orbital Test Vehicle 2, has now been in space for a year and two days — and is still going strong. The endurance milestone is unqualified good news for America’s space force at a time when its funding and future missions are in doubt.
There’s just one thing. We still don’t know exactly what the 30-foot-long X-37B is doing up there.
Since the launch of Orbital Test Vehicle 1 in April 2010, the Air Force has insisted that the X-37 program is a purely scientific endeavor. But analysts say the spacefaring craft, which launches into orbit atop a rocket but glides back to Earth like an airplane, is capable of much more than that. It could be an orbital spy — in essence, a more maneuverable satellite. Or it could be used to tamper with enemy satellites.
With its pickup-truck-size payload bay, the estimated billion-dollar craft could even haul small batches of supplies to the International Space Station. In October, Boeing program manager Art Grantz proposed to build an enlarged X-37C model that could also carry astronauts to the station, filling a gap left by the retired NASA Space Shuttle.
Mark Mattson knows a lot about mice and rats. He’s fed them; he’s bred them; he’s cut their heads open with a scalpel. Over a brilliant 25-year career in neuroscience—one that’s made him a Laboratory Chief at the National Institute on Aging, a professor of neuroscience at Johns Hopkins, a consultant to Alzheimer’s nonprofits, and a leading scholar of degenerative brain conditions—Mattson has completed more than 500 original, peer-reviewed studies, using something on the order of 20,000 laboratory rodents. He’s investigated the progression and prevention of age-related diseases in rats and mice of every kind: black ones and brown ones; agoutis and albinos; juveniles and adults; males and females. Still, he never quite noticed how fat they were—how bloated and sedentary and sickly—until a Tuesday afternoon in February 2007. That’s the day it occurred to him, while giving a lecture at Emory University in Atlanta, that his animals were nothing less (and nothing more) than lazy little butterballs. His animals and everyone else’s, too.
Mattson was lecturing on a research program that he’d been conducting since 1995, on whether a strict diet can help ward off brain damage and disease. He’d generated some dramatic data to back up the theory: If you put a rat on a limited feeding schedule—depriving it of food every other day—and then blocked off one of its cerebral arteries to induce a stroke, its brain damage would be greatly reduced. The same held for mice that had been engineered to develop something like Parkinson’s disease: Take away their food, and their brains stayed healthier.
Seven equations that rule your world
THE alarm rings. You glance at the clock. The time is 6.30 am. You haven’t even got out of bed, and already at least six mathematical equations have influenced your life. The memory chip that stores the time in your clock couldn’t have been devised without a key equation in quantum mechanics. Its time was set by a radio signal that we would never have dreamed of inventing were it not for James Clerk Maxwell’s four equations of electromagnetism. And the signal itself travels according to what is known as the wave equation.
We are afloat on a hidden ocean of equations. They are at work in transport, the financial system, health and crime prevention and detection, communications, food, water, heating and lighting. Step into the shower and you benefit from equations used to regulate the water supply. Your breakfast cereal comes from crops that were bred with the help of statistical equations. Drive to work and your car’s aerodynamic design is in part down to the Navier-Stokes equations that describe how air flows over and around it. Switching on its satnav involves quantum physics again, plus Newton’s laws of motion and gravity, which helped launch the geopositioning satellites and set their orbits. It also uses random number generator equations for timing signals, trigonometric equations to compute location, and special and general relativity for precise tracking of the satellites’ motion under the Earth’s gravity.
Without equations, most of our technology would never have been invented. Of course, important inventions such as fire and the wheel came about without any mathematical knowledge. Yet without equations we would be stuck in a medieval world.
Originally posted 2012-03-07 11:29:34. Republished by Blog Post Promoter