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9 Food Urban Legends and the Story Behind Them

There were quite a few scary stories our parents told us about food growing up. Legends like swallowing your gum would cause it to stay in your stomach for seven years or eating a lemon seed would cause a tree to grow inside your body had us freaked out.

As we grew older, we discovered more food urban legends. We kept Mentos and Coke as far apart as we could from each other, for fear of a sugary explosion. 

With all the food legends and superstitions plaguing us in the corner of our minds, let’s take a look at the history behind some of the most popular ones out there. 

Pop Rocks & Soda Death

They say if you combine Pop Rocks with soda, the chemical reaction will cause an explosion in your stomach. In fact, the legend says that “Little Mikey” from the LIFE cereal commercials way back when, died because of the lethal combination. Turns out this was false, and that Mikey himself grew up to be a pretty well-adjusted member of society. 

Carrots Help You See In The Dark

Growing up, we’ve always been told to eat more carrots as they would help us see better in the dark and improve our vision in general. Unfortunately, while carrots are good for your eyes, they don't really improve your vision or grant you night vision. That legend was created by the British Ministry of Information in WWII to get people to grow more carrots for the Royal Air Force so they could spot German bombers better. While carrots do contain Vitamin A, essential for the general well-being of your sight, you won’t suddenly see better after putting down more carrots. 

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Gum In Your Stomach for Seven Years

Fortunately, for those who have the tendency to swallow their gum, the myth of it staying in the pit of your stomach simply isn’t true. While the origin is a bit unclear, many know the saying every time the piece of gum almost slips down their throat. 

Like with most foods you eat, gum will simply poop itself out not too long after you swallow it. Still, you probably shouldn’t just swallow a bunch of gum as it could eventually lead to intestinal blockage. 

Mentos And Soda Killed Two Kids

There was a rumor years back that a mixture of Mentos mint candies and Coca-Cola were responsible for the deaths of two kids after they consumed the two products at once. This was proven false as there was little, if any, concrete details surrounding the alleged ordeal. As we’ve seen with many science videos, combining the two creates a pretty volatile reaction. Definitely do not try to knock down a bunch of Mentos and chug some Coke. Combining the two in your body can still cause some damage to your digestive system. 

McDonald’s Burgers Break Down

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We’ve seen many videos and stories of McDonald’s burgers and fries standing the test of time, looking nearly the same as if it came straight from the drive-thru. The legend that McDonald’s burgers don’t rot is, actually pretty true. The explanation behind this phenomenon is that thanks to the low amount of moisture in the product, the chances of microbes causing rot is reduced drastically. Not that you should be eating 20-year-old McDonald’s burgers though. 

Graham Crackers Curb Sexual Appetite

It was long rumored that Graham Crackers were invented to curb sexual appetite. Turns out it’s actually true. Nineteenth Century Minister Sylvester Graham deduced meats, booze, and foods high in fat led to stronger sexual urges. His solution: introducing bland foods to curb sex drives. Clearly this was simply some misguided science as there is no concrete evidence to back that nutty claim up.

Washing Raw Chicken Before Cooking

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It’s Sunday night and you’re about to prepare a family feast for your loved ones. You pull out the raw chicken from the fridge and turn on the sink, ready to wash it. Turns out you’d be doing yourself a disservice. The myth behind washing raw chicken before preparing is actually false, and all it actually does is spread the germs around your sink and kitchen. Cooking the meat is the only surefire way to kill the bacteria, then thoroughly washing your hands afterwards. Personally, we believe that frying chicken is the best way to get rid of all those bacteria. 

McDonald’s Milkshakes Made with Animal Fat

The term Animal Fat associated with McDonald’s Milkshakes confused customers, leaving them to wonder if the creamy beverage was made from fat from animals like the pig. McDonald’s themselves state that “Animal Fat” was a term that was used to describe fats derived from meat products. None of these fats, however, were included in the milkshakes. 

The Five-Second Rule

Often, we drop food on the ground only to pick it up instantaneously claiming it falls under the “5-second rule.” No, that rule actually does not apply to everything. In fact, all food will be contaminated instantly once it hits the floor. The level of that contamination, however, depends on the surface it falls on and the water content of the food. A French fry hitting the surface of a table will have a lower contamination level than an ice cream cone hitting a dirt road, even if the latter was for less than five seconds.