How can you resist a warm chocolate chip cookie?
- Chocolate chip cookies are a variant of cookie, identifiable by its inclusion of chocolate pieces.
- Sugar, flour, eggs, butter, baking powder and chocolate bits are the typical ingredients used for baking chocolate chip cookies.
- The chocolate pieces of chocolate chip cookies can be replaced with white chocolate or M&Ms, while a popular combination is white chocolate with the addition of macadamia nuts; or the dough can be flavoured with chocolate or peanuts, for an interesting variant.
- Chocolate chip cookies were invented in the 1930s by Ruth Wakefield of the United States, then owner and chef of Massachusetts’ Toll House Inn restaurant, and despite various stories of the invention being an accident, it is said to have been a deliberate alteration of a butterscotch cookie recipe.
- The first recipe for chocolate chip cookies was published in the 1938 edition of Ruth Wakefield’s cookbook “Toll House Tried and True Recipes”.
- Around 1939, as chocolate chip cookies grew popular, Ruth Wakefield exchanged the rights for her cookie recipe with the Nestlé company, for a lifetime supply of their semi-sweet chocolate, and they printed her cookie recipe on their packaging.
- Shortly after obtaining rights to the chocolate chip cookie recipe, Nestlé reconfigured their semi-sweet chocolate from a bar, to small chocolate pieces purposed for cooking in the cookies, naming them ‘Toll House Semi-Sweet Morsels’.
- As of 2015, the largest biscuit ever made in the world, happens to be a chocolate chip cookie, which was baked in 2003 by the United State’s Immaculate Baking Company as a museum fundraiser, and it was approximately 31 metres (102 feet) in diameter.
- The chocolate chip cookie is the official state cookie of Massachusetts of the United States, while it was proposed that it also be the state cookie of United States’ Pennsylvania.
A garden gnome’s friendly smile may not be as it seems…
- Garden gnomes are human-like figurines based on dwarves, typically used in gardens for decorative purposes.
- ‘Garden gnomes’ are also known as ‘lawn gnomes’ or are simply called ‘gnomes’.
- The stereotypical garden gnome is a bearded-white male with a red hat, though variations exist.
- Garden gnomes have their history in statues that were placed in gardens during the Renaissance period in Europe, and in some of the 17th century statues, dwarves were depicted.
- Some of the earliest manufacturers of garden gnomes were Johann Maresch and Adolph Baehr, who became partners in about 1841 and established a factory in Germany.
- Early garden gnomes were made of clay, porcelain or wood, while modern ones are typically made of resin, plastic or ceramic; though cement, plaster and cast iron materials have also been used.
- Gnomes, and garden gnomes by extension, traditionally are symbolic of good fortune; and they were likely to be first used in gardens because they were seen as protectors and night-time helpers.
- Garden gnomes are generally painted in bright colours, and they are often depicted holding a garden tool or other object.
- As a common practical joke, or as an act of vandalism in extreme cases, garden gnomes have been stolen – ‘kidnapped’ – from gardens, and been taken on a journey and photographed at places of interest.
- Garden gnomes were popularised in Germany during the 1800s, and from there, the ornaments were distributed to England and other parts of Europe.
Apple strudels with their juicy apples and crispy pastry are mouth-watering delights.
- An apple strudel is an apple-filled pastry popularly eaten as a dessert or snack, and it is most commonly served warm, though it is also eaten cold.
- ‘Apple strudel’ is also known as ‘Apfelstrudel’, which is the German term for the dessert, while ‘strudel’ is German for ‘swirl’ or ‘whirl’.
- Apple strudels consist of a light and very thin unleavened pastry, rolled and filled with an apple mixture that commonly includes cinnamon, raisins, sugar and breadcrumbs, with the crumbs helping to soak up excess liquid during the cooking process.
- While apple strudels are the most popular strudel, other fruits and nuts may be used, and savoury strudels can also be made that can include meat, vegetables and herbs.
- Apple strudels are believed to have originated in the territory of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and they were being made by the 1800s, while various strudels were produced as early as the 1500s.
- Although it can be eaten plain, ice-cream, custard or cream are common apple strudel accompaniments, and the strudel is usually sliced into pieces to serve.
- Once apple strudel dough is kneaded and stretched out to be extremely flat and thin (so writing is visible under it), the filling is placed on the dough and then encased and wrapped by it, after which it is cooked in an oven.
- Apple strudels were the United State’s Texas’ official state pastry from 2003 to 2005, as it is thought to have been one of the first pastries cooked in the state.
- The shape of an uncut apple strudel is typically a flattened cylinder, and the pastry is crispy and golden brown when cooked.
- Due to the accessibility and quantity of apples during hard times, apple strudels were perhaps one of the earliest strudel types.
No bath is the same without a rubber duck.
- Rubber ducks are popular buoyant, duck-shaped toys that are stereotypically yellow.
- Rubber ducks are typically played with in the bathtub, especially by young children, and they have been used to encourage children to be less fearful of having a bath.
- A ‘rubber duck’ is also known as a ‘rubber duckie’ and ‘rubber ducky’; and in 2013, the duck was included in the Toy Hall of Fame.
- The rubber duck originated in the late 1800s, and was originally made of the newly available hard rubber, and as they were intended as a toy to chew on, they were not hollow, so they were not buoyant.
- Since the 1950s, flexible PVC (polyvinyl chloride) plastic has been used to make rubber ducks, and they are usually relatively soft and squeezable, sometimes making a squeaky noise; and many variations to the common simple-shaped yellow ducks have since been produced.
- Sesame Street’s Ernie popularised the rubber duck in 1970, when he first sang a song about his own ‘Rubber Duckie’, the Muppet’s favourite toy, and the song became a hit and had significant impact on some aspects of western culture.
- The modern style of the rubber duck is believed to be based upon one that was patented in 1949 by Peter Ganine, a Russian-American artist, and it is said that at least fifty million ducks of his design were sold.
- Rubber ducks are collected by a small population of people, and the largest collection, as of 2011, that was recognised by the Guinness World Records, included 5631 unique ducks, and these were owned by Charlotte Lee of the United States.
- The largest floating rubber duck in the world, as of 2016, made its debut in 2014, and it was created from inflatable vinyl with a steel pontoon for a base; was 18.6 metres (61 feet) in height; and owned by American Craig Samborski; though other giant rubber ducks exist or have existed and have been placed in harbours and other waterways around the world – an idea originally birthed and designed by artist Florentijn Hofman from the Netherlands.
- Rubber duck derbies are events held around the globe, often as fundraisers, consisting of thousands, or as many as a hundred thousand ducks set afloat in the race, and the first to cross the finish line is designated the winner.
Meyer L, Rubber Ducks and Their Significance in Contemporary American Culture, 2006, Celebri Ducks, http://www.celebriducks.com/pdf/rubber_duck_history.pdf
A bobbling bobblehead catches your eye.
- Bobbleheads are novelty toys, usually consisting of a figurine with a bouncy or wobbly head.
- A ‘bobblehead’ is also called a ‘bobbing head’, ‘wobbler’, ‘nodder’, ‘nodding doll’ and ‘nodding head’.
- Typically, bobbleheads have a body with a head attached to a spring, which bobs or wiggles when it is touched or moved, and sometimes the head is disproportionate to the body.
- Depictions of people are most commonly made into bobbleheads, the majority of which are important figures, such as politicians, musicians or sportsmen, while custom designs and animals are also available.
- Bobbleheads are believed to have originated in China, and they first arrived in Europe around the 1760s; while a depiction of two Chinese ones can be seen in the background of the 1765 painting Queen Charlotte in Her Dressing Room by Johann Zoffany.
- Original bobblehead designs from China portrayed Chinese people in a lifelike manner, while early European designs of the 1800s included animal forms, as well as humans.
- Bobbleheads have been made from porcelain and other ceramics, metal, wood, resin, clay, paper-mâché, and plastic, while cheaper materials and processes, have allowed for mass production of the toys.
- Over the past century, a wide variety of bobbleheads have become available, many of which have become valued collectible items, with sporting team ones reaching significant popularity in certain decades.
- Bobbleheads are commonly distributed for promotional purposes, especially in the United States, often as free merchandise, especially to encourage support for sporting teams.
- As of April 2016, the largest bobblehead officially recognised by the Guinness World Records was 4.69 metres (15.4 feet) in height, and it was a depiction of a St Bernard dog; the mascot of the Applied Underwriters insurance company, in the United States’ Orlando.
Éclairs are the favourite pastry of many French children.
- Éclairs are a sweet pastry bakery item, particularly popular in French cuisine, and they are shaped somewhat like a hot dog bun.
- Éclairs are made of a light dough stuffed with cream or a flavoured custard, and then glazed or iced on top.
- The fillings of an éclair come in a variety of flavours, such as chocolate, vanilla, fruit, nut, coffee and rum.
- The literal translation of ‘éclair’ from French, is ‘lightning’, which is thought to refer to the speed of which it is eaten, or the shine of the glaze.
- Éclair dough is typically made by partially cooking a mixture of butter, flour and water in a saucepan and eggs are added soon after; and then they dough is piped onto a tray and baked in an oven, and is later filled with filling.
- The invention of éclairs is often attributed to Marie-Antoine Carême, a popular chef of the royals of the time, in the early 1800s in France.
- In the United States, the 22nd of June is recognised as the National Day of the Chocolate Éclair each year.
- The term ‘éclair’ was first documented in the English language in reference to a bread-based item, in an 1861 edition of the Vanity Fair magazine.
- Traditionally, most éclairs are sweet, though savoury variants have been made in more recent times, while the recipe for the dough has remained relatively unchanged since its creation.
- ‘Éclairs’ were first known as ‘pain à la duchesse’ or ‘petite duchesse’, French terms meaning ‘bread duchess’ and ‘little duchess’ respectively.