Our weekly serving of off-the-menu items—a few popular favorites from the week as well as a few morsels that may have slipped your notice.
Grub Street dives into a roiling discussion surrounding the Impossible Burger, looking at why the wildly popular “burger that bleeds” is now sparking controversy for its lab-grown origins. While restaurants that sell the Impossible Burger often market it as an organic or all-natural product, the burger’s proteins and most notable ingredient that gives it its signature “bleeding” quality, heme, is produced in a lab through genetic engineering. Consumers and environmental groups alike are questioning whether a genetically modified protein is safe to eat. See Impossible Foods’ response to the article here.
The team of Dr. Charles Zuker at Columbia University has dedicated their past research to mapping the taste system of the brain. Building on their previous work, they have now discovered that the desire for sweet foods, or an aversion to bitter ones, can be controlled through the manipulation of the amygdala, the area of the brain that regulates emotions.
Although bananas are considered one of the most common fruits, their homogenous genetic structure and the imprudent system of mass-production that grows them, have placed the beloved banana in danger of extinction. Because baby banana plants sprout from the roots of adult banana plants, all bananas are genetically identical. This makes it easy for diseases to rapidly spread across the banana population. Scientists theorize that a species-endangering epidemic, such as the menacing Tropical Race 4 that has wiped out banana plantations in Ecuador and Costa Rica, may be on the horizon.
Breakfast giant IHOP introduced a radically new marketing strategy this month, changing their iconic name to IHOb. Fifteen years after its first location opened in 1958, the International House of Pancakes changed its name to the acronym IHOP, creating a short, easily-remembered brand. IHOP’s logo was last redesigned in 2015 by Studio Tilt, when its rectangular logo was simplified, and the red “frown” was turned upside down into a smile. While this acronym has become a well-known symbol of the breakfast joint, it’s possible that IHOb has recognized a new opportunity to shift its brand message. Consumers are nonetheless surprised, now wondering if the name change will bring menu adjustments with it.
Leonie Anholts used her graduate research project at Academie Artemis to build a food-based version of the classic dominos game. Her clear domino tiles show preserved ingredients like saffron and larvae, with each tile representing a recipe from her recipe book. Whoever wins the game decides what’s for dinner, based on the winning tile that is played.