Surprising Secrets of America's Favorite Snacks

Surprising Secrets of America's Favorite Snacks
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Surprising Secrets of America's Favorite Snacks

How much do you know about how you favorite snacks came to be? Check out this slideshow to discover the shocking secrets of popcorn, potato chips and more sweet and salty eats.

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During colonial times, housewives served popcorn with sugar and cream for breakfast. We can’t imagine how the puffed grain would hold up in milk without turning into a soggy mess.

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Cotton Candy

Who knew that the cotton candy machine was co-invented by a dentist (let alone the President of the Tennessee State Dental Association)! William James Morrison and candy maker John C. Wharton dreamt up the spun sugar confection machine in 1897.

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Ice Cream Sundae

In the 1890s, several cities including Evanston, IL, passed religious laws banning the consumption of ice cream sodas on Sundays. Soda fountains served ice cream with syrup topping instead– hence, the sundae was born.

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Potato Chips

The story goes that in 1853 restaurant cook George Crum created the thinly sliced snack out of spite for a picky restaurant patron who had repeatedly sent back his fried potatoes for being too thick and soggy. On the contrary, the guest thought the paper-thin snack was a big hit, and "Saratoga Chips" became a regular item on the menu and spread in popularity.

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Twinkies to plead insanity? During the 1979 Harvey Milk murder trial, the defense claimed Dan White suffered from severe depression with supporting evidence that the normally health conscious White had uncharacteristically started a junk food habit. The press coined it the “Twinkie defense”.

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Imagine keeping the popsicle a secret for more than 17 years! Eleven-year old Frank Epperson discovered the ice pop by accident when he left a cup of powdered soda and water with a stirring stick inside on his porch overnight one cold night in 1905, but he waited until 1922 to debut this beloved treat to the public.

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Corn Flakes

Physician John Harvey Kellogg owned a successful health spa advocating a strict diet of vegetables, fruits, nuts and grains, and his brother Will Keith Kellogg helped him run the business. In 1894, the Kelloggs began experimenting with softer bread substitutes when a patient broke her dentures eating Zwieback toast. By accident, a batch of cooked wheat was left out overnight and turned into wheat flakes in the morning. John served the flakes with salt and called them "Granose", but business savvy Will saw the market potential for sweetened flakes and subsequently left the spa to found Kellogg Toasted Flake Company.

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Captain Gregory Hanson claimed to come up with the idea to make a hole in the middle of a doughnut to fry them evenly, but the popular tall tale version is much more exciting: while sailing his ship during a nasty storm in 1847, the captain needed to use both hands to steer and pierced the fried dough buns on his rudder.

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Tater Tots

Tater tots were the brainchild of Ore-Ida company founders and brothers Francis “Neef” and Golden Grigg, who re-purposed potato scraps meant for cattle feed into these fried morsels. Neef tested 15 pounds of tots at the national potato convention by bribing the head cook at the hotel where the event took place to fry up and serve samples, and the tots were quickly gobbled up.

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Peanut Butter

Peanut butter was introduced in the 1890s as a health food for the upper class. Physicians recommended the consumption of the protein-rich paste for the toothless.

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Craving a snack? We can help you kick the boring popcorn routine, amp up homemade ice pops and make potato chips in your microwave. Read on to discover easy and fun recipes to recreate your favorite snacks at home.

Cheesy Popcorn

Easy toppings like freshly grated cheese can take your popcorn up a notch.

Get the Recipe: Cheesy Popcorn

Cotton Candy

It takes a bit of finesse to whip up your own homemade cotton candy. If you're feeling ambitious, take a crack at it with this recipe.

Get the Recipe: Cotton Candy

Microwave Potato Chips

Skip the deep fryer mess and make potato chips at home with this quick and healthy alternative. Zap them in the microwave for crispy, delicious results.

Get the Recipe: Microwave Potato Chips

S'Mores Cupcakes

While nothing can replace this fluff-filled sponge cake treat, this recipe for S'mores cupcakes might curb your craving for something sweet and creamy.

Get the Recipe: S'Mores Cupcakes

Cucumber-Lime Pops with Gin

This boozy version of the cucumber and lime flavored ice pop is for grown-ups only but can be made kid-friendly by omitting the gin. The gelatin keeps it from melting too fast.

Get the Recipe: Cucumber-Lime Pops with Gin

Oven-Fried Fish & Chips

The crispy crust on this baked, breaded fish is made from ground cornflakes. Try using the breakfast cereal to bread other snack favorites like chicken fingers and even french toast.

Get the Recipe: Oven-Fried Fish & Chips

Cadbury Egg Doughnuts

With Cadbury Creme Eggs in season, we think it's seasonally appropriate to try these fun donuts. The pizza dough makes prep easy!

Get the Recipe: Cadbury Egg Doughnuts

Breakfast Hash Browns

Make a homemade version of tater tots with this delicious recipe for breakfast hash browns, the ultimate comfort food.

Get the Recipe: Breakfast Hash Browns

Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

Peanut butter is perfect to use in recipes or just for snacking out of the jar. Add chopped peanut butter cups to chocolate chip cookie batter for an indulgent treat.

Get the Recipe: Peanut Butter Cup Cookies


How much do you know about our nation's favorite snack foods? Which sugary confection was popularized by a dentist, and what is the tall tale behind the holes in a doughnuts? Discover the surprising history behind popcorn, potato chips and more sweet and salty eats.

Check out our slideshow above to discover the unusual history behind some of our favorite things to eat.

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