I’m Annie Rauwerda, and I started @depthsofwikipedia on Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok to highlight my favorite Wikipedia rabbit holes. I partnered with Bullish Studio to round up bizarre trivia about a new topic each week.
This week's topic: salads! In this newsletter, we're taking a look at some of the weirdest-of-the-weird salads and salad-themed facts roaming the internet.
But before I get into it, I'm doing a comedy show next week at Caveat in Manhattan!! I'll be with a bunch of cool performers. Buy tickets here! They're $18.
I’m sorry, but candle salad? Is this not extremely phallic? Was this a big joke?
Supposedly, this salad was popular from the 1920s to the 1960s. The Betty Crocker children's cookbook called it “better than a real candle, because you can eat it." Did nobody have a dirty mind back then?
I also am wondering how one would go about eating this. Would I use a fork? My... fingers? I have so many questions!!!
Another Midwestern salad that Wikipedia calls “a potluck and party staple in Minnesota,” is Snickers salad. The dish contains Snickers bars, Granny Smith apples, and whipped topping. Variations can include mayo, crushed pineapple, sour cream, grapes, and more. Fruit salad, yummy yummy!
In the mood for a more historical salad? Try the Watergate salad, a dish loosely tied to one of the largest scandals in US political history. The salad contains pistachio pudding, canned pineapple, Cool Whip, and marshmallows. One theory of its etymology even involves a cake version of the salad.... which poses the question: Is a salad really a salad if it has a cake version? I digress. The cake version of the salad has frosting that covers up any mistakes — much like the Nixon administration covered up its illegal break-in of the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Washington, D.C., Watergate Office Building.
Another theory: The salad was created at the Watergate Hotel which shares a building.
Yet another theory: A Chicago food editor used the title because she just wanted people to read her column.
An odd tidbit: Helen Keller published a recipe in 1922 called the “Golden Gate Salad” that shares many similar ingredients — except pistachio pudding.
Okay, let’s get out of the Midwest and look at some other salad facts.
“Salad Days” — as washed-up hipsters may recall — is also the title of Mac Demarco’s second album which was released in 2014. And speaking of, DeMarco’s birth name is actually Vernor Winfield McBriare Smith IV. Quite formal!
There are also some darker stories in the realm of salads.
In 1984, a cult spread salmonella on salad bars at restaurants in Oregon. They hoped to incapacitate the local population so that their candidates would win the local elections. It was the first and largest bioterrorist attack in US history. Of those impacted by the attack, 751 people got salmonellosis, and 45 were hospitalized. Thankfully, no one died.
Salad... by the numbers:
1992: The first year ranch topped the list of best-selling salad dressings. Its position hasn’t budged.
40,000: How many dollars American Airlines saved in 1987 by eliminating one olive from their salads.
33%: The increase in spinach consumption after Popeye came out in the 1930s.
Salad fast facts:
Before the 2010s kale craze, the largest buyer of kale in the US was Pizza Hut, and they only used it as garnish around their salad bar.
If you wear cowboy clothes, you could say you’re... "Ranch dressing." It was invented in 1954 by a plumber who opened a dude ranch called Hidden Valley Ranch in Santa Barbara.
Tumbleweeds aren’t native to America! Despite being a hallmark of the Wild West! They arrived through a contaminated flax shipment from Russia and are reportedly very tasty as boiled vegetables or in salads.
In German, there’s a word for tangled cables under a desk: Kabelsalat (cable salad). Another German “salad” is this horrifying Bavarian salad. Just click it!
Caesar salads are allegedly named after a chef operating in Mexico named Caesar Cardini, not Julius Caesar. Perhaps the salad better named for Julius Caesar is a chopped salad.
Elvis Presley's hit song "Polk Salad Annie" actually refers to "sallet," which means cooked greens, but record companies used the word "salad" instead. Thinking that you can eat polk salad (uncooked pokeweed) has led to a number of poisonings.
Etymology Corner: The word “salad” may come from the word “salt.” “Herba salata” (salted greens) was an ancient Roman dish of salt-dipped romaine lettuce.
A quirky scientific study shows that people will pay more for a salad that looks like a painting.
Cobb salad’s ingredients can be remembered using the mnemonic EAT COBB: eggs, avocado, tomato, chicken, onion, bacon and blue cheese. This is vital information!!!!
Jell-O once came in vegetable flavors like “celery” and “mixed vegetable.”
The photos people left on an online “recipe” for ice cubes, hahaha. The newsletter "Garbage Day" dove very, very deep into Ozy Media this week. FiveThirtyEight's ultimate Halloween candy power ranking. Garfield minus Garfield. Checkboxland, where everything is made of HTML checkbox elements. A Wikipedia volunteer made an interactive webpage comparing the heights of tall things, all for strangers to enjoy. Youtube channel of hip hop lo-fi beats exclusively set to Simpsons scenes. US Social Security Administration estimates I’ll live to 85.8, which I found out from this calculator. Essay about how politicians keep writing (bad) children's books.
Instagram loved Joe Biden (The Onion)
Semantic satiation — when a repeated word loses all meaning
Tiktok liked "Telling the bees"
The most-liked post of the week on both Instagram and Twitter:
I’m Coming Out (song) https://t.co/hbnWQW1qfg
— Depths of Wikipedia (@depthsofwiki)
Oct 3, 2021
That's all for today! As always, feel free to forward this to a friend and send your thoughts to [email protected]. I really like your emails!