Random Facts
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38 Interesting Facts About . . .

Junk Food

  1. Junk food is typically defined as foods with little nutritional value that are high in calories, fat, sugar, salt, or caffeine. Junk food can include breakfast cereals, candies, chips, cookies, French fries, gum, hamburgers, hot dogs, ice cream, sodas, and most sweet desserts.b
  2. The term “junk food” was initially used in the 1960s but was popularized during the following decade when the song “Junk Food Junkie” reached the top of the charts in 1976.h
  3. The increase of junk food is directly associated with the increase in obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, certain cancers, tooth decay, and other diseases.b
  4. In 1979, in what has become known as the “Twinkie Defense,” Daniel White said he killed San Francisco mayor George Moscone and Harvey Milk because he ate too much junk food, such as Twinkies, candy bars, and cupcakes, which caused a chemical imbalance in his brain. He was still convicted and, in 1981, Congress outlawed the “Twinkie Defense.”h
  5. Fats from junk food trigger the brain to want more food. This effect can last for several days.f
  6. More than $2 billion of candy is sold for Halloween, more than any other holiday.h
  7. junk food
    During Saturday morning cartoons, children see an average of 8 junk food ads per 10 minutes of cartoons
  8. Almost 80% of food commercials aired on Saturday morning children shows are for junk food.h
  9. Today the United States has a $23 billion candy market. Candy sales have continued to increase despite concerns with junk food and obesity.h
  10. Hostess makes 500 million Twinkies a year.e
  11. The agent that gives Twinkies their smooth feel, cellulose gum, is also used in rocket fuel to give it a slightly gelatinous feel.e
  12. Cracker Jack originated in Chicago and was the first to use toys to target junk food to children.h
  13. During the 1930s, extruded snacks were invented by an animal feed technician, Edward Wilson, whose Korn Kurls, an early precursor to Cheetos, became popular after WWII.h
  14. A Children’s Food Campaign (CFC) survey found that some baby food has as much, if not more, saturated fats and sugar as junk food.i
  15. Western diets often include snacking on junk food filled with sugar. Consequently, insulin remains high throughout the day, which can cause metabolic problems including type 2 diabetes.b Over 250 million people worldwide have type-2 diabetes, constituting more than 90 percent of global diabetes cases. Most people will eventually become disabled or die from the disease.j
  16. Doughnuts most likely originated in Germany and were brought to New York by Dutch settlers who called them olykoeks (oily cakes). The hole in the center was developed by the Pennsylvania Dutch perhaps because the shape provided easier dunking in coffee or made it easier to fry the donuts more thoroughly. Dunkin Donuts sells 6.4 million donuts per day (2.3 billion per year).h
  17. Annually, Americans buy nearly $2 billion in Easter candies, including 90 million chocolate Easter bunnies, 16 billion jellybeans, and 700 million marshmallow Peeps.h
  18. For 3,000 years, natural licorice was used as medicine to treat ulcers, sore throats, coughs, and other diseases. The first licorice “candy” was an attempt to disguise the bitter flavor of the medicine, though now most American licorice “candy” does not have licorice’s historic therapeutic qualities.h
  19. envelopes
    Corn dextrin is not only an ingredient in many junk foods, it is also the glue on envelopes and stamps
  20. Corn dextrin, a common thickener used in junk food, is also the glue on envelopes and postage stamps.e
  21. Alloxen, a byproduct of bleaching white flour which is often found in junk food, leads to diabetes in healthy experimental animals by destroying their pancreatic beta cells.e
  22. M&M’s were created by Forrest Mars (the son of the founder of Mars, Inc.) and his business partner, Bruce Murrie (the son of the president of the Hershey company). Because both their last names started with “M,” they called their new candy M&M’s. The original colors were red, yellow, green, orange, brown, and violet.h
  23. Snickers is the most popular candy bar in America, due in part to advertising that highlighted its healthful aspects. In the UK, Snickers was initially named Marathon Bar because “snickers” rhymes with “knickers,” a British colloquialism for someone’s underwear.h
  24. Mars, Inc, claims that the 3 Musketeers bar was named after its original composition: three pieces and three flavors: vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry. When the price of strawberries rose, the company dropped them as an ingredient in the chocolate bar.h
  25. The Tootsie Roll is named after its creator Leo Hirshfield’s daughter Clara, whose nickname was Tootsie. It was the first penny candy that was individually wrapped. During WWII, Tootsie Rolls were placed in soldiers’ ration kits because they could survive various weather conditions.h
  26. Young women who eat a junk food diet are at a higher risk for developing Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS).g
  27. The Twinkie derived its name after bakery manager Jimmy Dewar saw an advertisement for the “Twinkle Toe Shoe Company” on a trip to St. Louis in the 1920s. They became the best selling snack cake in the United States after WWII and have appeared in many movies such as Ghostbusters (1984), Grease (1978), and Sleepless in Seattle (1993).h
  28. “Conversation hearts” started in the 1860s, and currently the New England Confectionery Company (NECCO) produces about 8 billion Sweethearts per year, all within the six weeks before Valentine’s Day.h
  29. The creamy middle of a Twinkie is not cream at all but mostly Crisco, which is vegetable shortening.e
  30. In 1891, William Wrigley Jr. began selling soap in Chicago. To increase sales, he gave away gum to his customers. When his gum became a hit, he decided to make and sell the now popular gum, which was later included in rations for soldiers.h
  31. The most popular cookie in America is the chocolate chip cookie, which is attributed to Ruth Wakefield circa 1933.h
  32. Junk food became a part of the American diet during the 1920s, but it was through television advertising after WWII that junk food became more ubiquitous and nutritionists subsequently became concerned.h
  33. pregnant woman junk food
    Eating junk food while pregnant or breast feeding raises the risk of producing obese children
  34. Mothers who eat junk food while pregnant or breast-feeding have children who are prone to obesity throughout life. The children are also more prone to diabetes, raised cholesterol, and high blood fat.d
  35. Female cockroaches that ate junk food in a research study became fatter and took longer to reproduce than cockroaches that ate a healthier diet.h
  36. Researchers suggest that breast cancer rates in China are rising because of an increase in Western-style junk food and increasing unhealthy lifestyles.a
  37. Additives and preservatives such as common food dyes and sodium benzoate can cause children to become more hyperactive and easily distracted than usual.h
  38. Daily candy and junk food intake in children has been linked to violence later in life, though experts are not sure if it is the candy itself or the way it is given to children that creates the assocation.c
  39. Vending machines were developed in the United Kingdom in the 1880s and were used to sell gum at train stations in New York. By 1926, there was one vending machine for every 100 people in America.h
  40. Founded in 1927, 7-Eleven was once called Tote’m stores since customers “toted away” what they bought. In 1946, the name was changed to 7-Eleven to reflect its original hours of operation, 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. 7-Eleven now sells about 144 million Slurpees, 33 million gallons of fountain drinks, 100 million hot dogs, and 60 million donuts and pastries per year.h
  41. Today, Americans consume approximately 70 million “tator tots” a year. The film Napoleon Dynamite (2004) popularized them even more.h

-- Posted October 24, 2009


a “Breast Cancer Rates Jump in China: Experts Blame Unhealthy Lifestyles, Increasing Taste for Junk Food.” MSNBC.com. Oct 31, 2007. Accessed: September 24, 2009.

b Currie, Stephen. 2008. Junk Food: Health at Risk. Ann Arbor, MI: Cherry Lake Publisher.

c “Daily Candy in Childhood Linked to Violence in Adulthood.” Bio-Medicine.org. October 2, 2009. Accessed: October 3, 2009.

d DeNoon, Daniel J. “Moms Eat Junk Food, Kids Get Fat.” WebMC.com. June 30, 2008. Accessed: September 26, 2009.

e Ettinger, Steve. 2007. Twinkie: Deconstructed. New York, NY: Hudson Press.

f “Junk Food Makes You Eat More.” Telegraph.co.uk. September 15, 2009. Accessed: September 27, 2009.

g Lee, John, David Zava, and Virginia Hopkins. 2002. What Your Doctor May Not Tell You about Breast Cancer: How Hormone Balance Can Save Your Life. New York, NY: Time Warner Book Group.

h Smith, Andrew F. 2006. Encyclopedia of Junk Food and Fast Food. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.

i “Some Baby Foods May Be Worse Than Junk Food.” MSNBC.com. May 4, 2009. Accessed: September 27, 2009.

j “Type-2 Diabetes a Massive Problem.” TheMedicalNews.net. September 24, 2007. Accessed: October 4, 2009.