2012 was quite a year for food-related news. Outspoken child activists demanded accurately named baked goods and gender-neutral toys. Robots prepared our sushi and noodles. The importance of minimizing food waste and defining “gluten-free” made national headlines.
They made us smile. They kept us informed. They made us scratch our heads. Here are some of our favorite food articles from 2012.
1. Pay-What-You-Can Cafe
The menu at the Panera Cares Cafe in Dearborn, Mich., comes with suggested donations instead of fixed prices.
2. Zoo Animals Get Meal Fit for a King (of the Jungle)
When a blackout left Boston’s Capital Grille with 2,500 pounds of meat unfit to serve to patrons, they donated it to a local zoo.
3. Taco Bell Feeds Alaska with 10,000 Free Tacos
Residents of sleepy Bethel, Alaska, were excited when they heard a Taco Bell was opening in town. The rumor was a cruel hoax, but when Taco Bell caught wind of the false alarm and resulting disappointment, they had 10,000 tacos carried by helicopter to the center of the town.
4. Waiter Receives $5,000 Tip
A very generous couple left a $5,000 tip to the server at one of their favorite restaurants, knowing that he lost his car in a severe storm several weeks ago.
5. Restaurant Owner Helps Take Down Computer Hackers
When customers started receiving mysterious credit card charges after leaving his restaurant, Corino Banjrada decided to investigate. He discovered the culprit: a computer hacker who’s responsible for stealing nearly 45,000 credit card numbers.
1. Sink or Swim
The Martha’s Vineyard ferries were forced to reduce their maximum passenger load because people are getting bigger, and the ferries can’t handle the weight.
2. An Unusual Allergy
When a young woman came into Dr. Alan Baptist’s office complaining of migraine-like pain every time she came into contact with water, he diagnosed her with aguagenic urticaria—an allergy to water.
3. Organic Food Scammer Sentenced to Prison
Oregonian Harold Chase will serve more than two years in federal prison for selling a local grain broker 4.2 million pounds of conventional corn he misrepresented as organic.
4. New Look at Mad Cow Disease
Mad cow disease was found in a cow in California—the first detection of the disease in six years. Here, NPR breaks down the history of the disease, how cows are affected, and why the risk of human infection has decreased in recent years.
5. Manila’s Poorest Surviving on “Garbage Chicken”
In the hidden food system for Manila’s urban poor, the Philippine word “pagpag” refers to chicken pulled from the trash and sold by merchants in poverty-stricken slums.
1. Jemima Packington, Asparagus Whisperer
British mystic Jemima Packington claims to prophesy everything from royal births to Academy Award wins to the collapse of the euro—all from observing how the spears may fall.
2. The Ultimate Dine and Ditch
After ordering drinks at an upscale Australian restaurant location on the 55th floor of a 56-floor building, four businessmen leapt from the skyscraper and parachuted to the ground before speeding away in a waiting getaway car.
3. An Explanation for Unicorn Extinction
A long-lost medieval cookbook, which experts believe was compiled by Geoffrey Fule, who cooked for the Queen of England during the 14th century, includes a recipe for marinated unicorn, complete with illustrations.
4. Beer from a Beard
Craft brewery Rogue Ales is working on a beer that gets its yeast from an unlikely source: brewmaster John Maier’s beard.
5. Seasoning Salt Made From Human Tears
London’s Hoxton Street Monster Supplies is selling salt made with human tears, from tears of sorrow to those of laughter. And according to the store, each salt has a distinctly different taste.
1. The Way We Were (in 1912)
What were the 15 hottest food trends in 1912? According to this list from Buzzfeed, chop suey was high-class, breakfast got a makeover, and dinner lasted all night.
2. Here’s to the Ladies that Lunch
It wasn’t too long ago when “nice” women were expected to dine and lunch only at home. This retrospective celebrates a bygone era of the rise and fall of this high-society ritual.
3. Your Favorite Cereal Boxes, Then and Now
Check out this list of visual comparisons to see how some of your best childhood breakfast companions have aged.
4. One of America’s Earliest Celebrity Chefs
In the late 1700s, a chef named Hercules was considered the best of his time. He was revered as an “artiste” by the glitterati and socialites that ate at his table. He was even President George Washington’s chef. He was also a slave.
5. How Chicken Came to Dominate Dinner
This comprehensive look at chicken’s climb to cross-cultural culinary dominance begins 10,000 years ago in an Asian jungle.