Category Archives: Food

The Doritos Conspiracy

As I am sure many of you know, a racist white male executive at Disneyland “created” Doritos to crush the Hispanic local tortilla chip inventor (Rebecca Carranza) and drive her family business under.

The headline in Popular Mechanics magazine saluted a manufacturing triumph in Los Angeles: “Tortillas Meet the Machine Age.” It was 1950, and the El Zarape Tortilla Factory, among the first to automate the production of tortillas, had used a tortilla-making machine for three years.

Corn and flour disks poured off the conveyor belt more than 12 times faster than they could be made by hand. At first many came out “bent” or misshapen, as company President Rebecca Webb Carranza recalled decades later, and were thrown away.

For a family party in the late 1940s, Carranza cut some of the discarded tortillas into triangles and fried them. A hit with the relatives, the chips soon sold for a dime a bag at her Mexican delicatessen and factory at the corner of Jefferson Boulevard and Arlington Avenue in southwest Los Angeles.

El Zarape 1950s Tortilla Factory in Los Angeles

Ok, let’s be honest. Nobody talks about her or how Disneyland crushed her with intention.

Here’s the Disneyland side of the story just so we’re clear here about racism and appropriation of others’ ideas:

1968 Doritos bag

When Disneyland opened [in 1955], it featured a Mexican(ish) restaurant called Casa de Fritos run by the Frito company. It was on New Orleans Street, near another product-placement eatery: Aunt Jemima’s Pancake House. It at the Casa de Fritos that the beloved Dorito was invented. Yes, really. Arch West, the Frito (later Frito-Lay) marketing executive credited with the product’s creation, died in 2011 and was buried with a layer of his tasty legacy sprinkled over his ashes. The Dorito legend varies: one version has it that West discovered tasty tortilla chips at a roadside stand…

The Frito Company “Mexican(ish)” restaurant was NEXT TO AUNT JEMIMA?!

Need I say more about Disneyland executives?

So in 1964 West was running Frito’s “Mexican(ish)” amusement park feature in “Frontierland” and he “discovered” tortilla chips at someone else’s stand that had been popular in Los Angeles since the late 1940s.

He was on a family vacation in Southern California in 1964 when he first bought a grease-smeared bag of toasted tortillas at a roadside shack.

That’s a quote from the Washington Post obituary for Arch West, which apparently didn’t think twice about writing “grease-smeared” to describe Hispanic-Americans (historically a very derogatory term used by racist lynch mobs as well as California legislators who in a 1855 “Greaser Law” criminalized “Spanish and Indian blood”).

West shamelessly copied the Carranza product and gave no money or credit to the inventor, let alone the stand.

Shameless appropriation.

But wait, let’s go back a step into Frito Company history where West was an executive.

Frito was a company started by a white man who “discovered” corn chips made and sold by someone else.

In 1932, C.E. Doolin entered a small San Antonio cafe and purchased a bag of corn chips. After learning the manufacturer was eager to sell his business, he bought the recipe and started making Fritos corn chips in his mother’s kitchen.

Do you believe Doolin “bought the recipe”?

I mean did Doolin while living with his mother and selling depression-era ice cream really fork out $100 in the middle of the great depression ($1500 today) for the recipe from his former boss (contrary to the story he just happened upon a newspaper ad, or just walked into a cafe one day)?

…purchased from Gustavo Olguin, a Mexican-American restaurant owner in San Antonio, where Doolin had worked as a fry cook. Olguin’s “fritos” (the name came from the Spanish word frit, meaning fried) were small fried corn chips made from masa dough. Doolin bought the recipe, Olguin’s hand-operated potato ricer, and nineteen customer accounts for the snack, all for $100.

And what made Gustavo Olguin rush to sell his “corn chips” business, hand over all his paying customers and flee to Mexico just as chips and snack foods were becoming widely popularized?

This sounds to me almost as bad as taking some 1812 European fairy tale and putting a copyright on it, or taking some 1843 European amusement park and building a copy of it… but I digress.

Fast forward to today, the genius of Carranza’s tortilla automation machines and her invention of mass-produced tortilla chips are obscure at best for Americans, yet everyone can recognize Doritos.

Now a member of the insurrection against the US has raised a stir by supposedly wearing Doritos on his lapel.

A fabricated image was used to incorrectly accuse him of wearing a “Q hate symbol“… or is that correct, even tangentially?

The “I love Doritos” response by the accused, instead of letting a correction of a correction stand on its own, perhaps clarifies everything.

The US Coup Was 2016

I am growing very tired of Americans calling violent coups unprecedented in their country.

Hello 1873 and 1874?
Hello 1876?
Hello 1886?
Hello 1889?
Hello 1894?
Hello 1898?
Hello 1919?
Hello 1921?
Hello 1923?
Hello 1933?
Hello 1954?

Ring any bells yet, or is there a feeling of denial?

Many violent coups were perpetrated by white nationalists after civil war who were angry about losing in 1865 and angry that black and brown people gained rights; coups manifested in attacks on anti-racist Americans to prevent them from reaching or holding public office.

The KKK threatened that March 4, 1869 — first day of rule by avowed racist presidential candidate Horatio Seymour — would bring widespread lynchings of white Americans if the losing candidate Seymour wasn’t planted into the White House.

The KKK instead was destroyed by President Grant’s “let us have peace” platform after he won the Presidency in a landslide.

Fast forward a few decades to February 18, 1915 Woodrow Wilson was in the White House and screened the propaganda hate film called “Birth of a Nation” by his friend and former classmate (based on “The Clansman” book), calling its obvious lies “true” and giving it his blessing.

Screen capture from “Birth of a Nation”, which President Wilson used to restart the KKK and incite violence across America

This was a complete reversal from Grant’s “let us have peace” time in office. American cities erupted into fights over bans of a KKK disinformation film. Even if they allowed the spread of disinformation, cities fought over bans meant to prohibit blacks from seeing the film (isolating and enabling white-only audiences to spread disinformation faster).

That is a notable comparison to today by itself, yet even more relevant is a Wilson speech a few months after the film had been running, on July 11, 1915 at the 25th anniversary convention in DC of the Daughters of the American Revolution (“Mothers of Fascism“).

Wilson encapsulated his racist sentiments in a particular motto:

Our whole duty for the present is summed up in the motto ‘America First.’

This was captured by Souza, who wrote a 1916 march to commemorate the speech

Souza’s march “America First” as found in his complete works.

Thus in 1916 Wilson campaigns were branded with “America First” as screenings of “Birth of a Nation” expanded to restart the KKK, blacks were forced out of government and monuments to domestic terrorists were erected around the country kicking off mass murders (“1919 Red Summer“) and coups like the Tulsa 1921 massacre and Rosewood 1923 massacre.

W.E. DuBois at this time, rueful that he had been fooled and helped put a white supremacist in office, described Wilson’s method for transfer of power in America as a return to…

…cruelty, discrimination and wholesale murder.

“America First” entered service as a battle flag of white power groups who believe the enemy of America is any non-white (white power over the nation is diminished — leading to feelings of loss and guilt — by any other race gaining some).

This history of violence, the symbolism and a run of coups in America, should be treated as very important history for every citizen to know.

Perhaps more to the point the “America First” platform has always been a toxic “grievance” signal of white nationalists/isolationists:

It was used by supporters of President Woodrow Wilson during the 1916 election to defend his decision at that time to keep America out of the First World War; by Republican President Warren Harding in the 1920s to reject Wilson’s call for the United States to join the League of Nations; and by the America First Committee in September 1940 opposing President Franklin Roosevelt’s assistance to Britain in the face of Hitler’s aggression. Most recently it was used by presidential candidate and former Nixon aide Pat Buchanan in 1992, opposing George HW Bush’s decision to oust Saddam Hussein from Kuwait, and further calling for a withdrawal of all US troops from Europe.

In 2000 Trump released a statement that he wouldn’t associate with people he considered losers like Pat Buchanan, calling him a Neo-Nazi, while at the same time calling David Duke a Klansman.

…David Duke has decided to join the Reform Party to support the candidacy of Pat Buchanan. So the Reform Party now includes a Klansman, – Mr. Duke, a Neo-Nazi – Mr. Buchanan…

This probably is read most accurately as Trump saying he wouldn’t join with Nazis and KKK when they are going to lose, meaning he would be very glad to join them if guaranteed a win.

Thus in 2016 the Trump family very openly claimed the KKK/Nazi tainted “America First” banner as their platform and their soft/silent coup began.

“I like the expression,” the candidate said. “I’m ‘America First.'”

Source: Me on Twitter in January 2017, providing background to what “America First” always has meant: KKK.

Suddenly, without any real explanation, the banner of losers was being held up by “winners”.

Everyone plainly saw something was unusual in early 2017 and started to debate who supported such an odd transfer of power, who really made it happen.

Unfortunately mainstream commentators never got to the point of asking whether “America First” entering the White House could be a coup, which I called out immediately:

Source: Me on Twitter again warning it was a silent coup when I saw the empty stands and inability of “America First” leadership to gather a crowd in Washington DC. Consider as direct comparison to their success with calls for a violent crowd to arrive on January 6, 2020.

Just to be clear here about my tweet, those “932 national votes” for America First in 1996 went to a candidate named Ralph Forbes who was “former member of the American Nazi Party“.

Forbes was the same man who in the 1988 presidential election had managed the campaign for David Duke (infamous for “Nazification” methods intended to grow KKK membership in America).

Read that closely because “America First” in 1996 ran a self-avowed Nazi as their candidate and had 0% of the vote. Then twenty years later in 2016 they held a parade to empty stands in Washington DC claiming a large support base.

Want to guess why the Trump family regularly waffled when asked to denounce or distance themselves from David Duke? Sadly nobody asked them to denounce or distance themselves from “America First”!

Whereas in 2000 Trump went out of his way to label Duke a loser (as well being as a Klansman), in 2016 he tried to play around like he never heard of the guy (as horribly mis-reported by Politifact, who fell for the ruse).

…Trump dodged multiple questions from Tapper asking if he’d disavow the support of white supremacist and former KKK leader David Duke (he would later blame a “bad earpiece” for his noncommittal answers).

What we’re seeing now is an incompetent violent end of “slow motion, in-plain-sight attempt” at the end of a coup, not the start.

Thus I argue (and have said since that time) that we actually saw a coup in America back in 2016 and these last four years have been little more than an idiotic bumbling attempt by wannabe tinpot dictators to figure out how to close the door on democracy.

The Far Side perhaps a long time ago best illustrated the assault on the capitol:

I’ve been asked to write this into longer form so maybe I will shortly.

Related: If you’re searching for details on prior coups, they are easy to find.

For example, the horrors from a successful 1898 Coup continue to be felt to this day.

…summer of 1865, just after the Civil War, Union commanders in the battered port city of Wilmington, N.C., appointed a former Confederate general as police chief and former Confederate soldiers as policemen. The all-white force immediately set upon newly freed Black people. Men, women and children were beaten, clubbed and whipped indiscriminately… One of the most terrifying examples erupted more than a century ago, when white supremacist soldiers and police helped hunt down and kill at least 60 Black men in Wilmington in 1898.

For another example, Hawaii in 1893 (as I’ve written about here before) had a coup on behalf American sugar barons; violence was used to force a black woman out of power.

Queen Liliuokalani was of the belief that the then president of the U.S. would reinstate her as queen, however, President Grover Cleveland deceived her by promising her a reinstatement after she granted amnesty to all those who had been involved in the coup.

Republican former President George W. Bush even said “This is how election results are disputed in a banana republic—not our democratic republic”.

Yet those “banana republics” got their name as a direct result of American foreign policy on regime change! His comment sounds like “this is what we do to others, not ourselves” given the sad fact it’s why Americans love eating their banana splits.

The “delicious banana split” of America. Tastes like political oppression.

Even Bush should remember 1954 shootings or the 1978 shootings, both very recent and sad chapters in violent opposition to American transfer of power. I guess I should ask how many people today remember “the people’s mayor” Moscone?

And for those saying 2016 or 2020 wasn’t related to a coup, and offering us some very misguided analysis (e.g. Defense One has an awful hot take that they see no signs the military was involved, despite obvious and overwhelming evidence), I offer you this humorous example of what that “no true Scotsman” logical fallacy sounds like to me:


Update January 12: Now This has posted a video collection with some of the many violent incitement statements by Trump directly calling for harm to Americans.

CSIS Brief similarly reported in 2020: “Based on a CSIS data set of terrorist incidents, the most significant threat likely comes from white supremacists… right-wing attackers were most likely to cause more deaths in a given year.”

Source: CSIS 2020 Brief

Why Americans Celebrate Thanksgiving

I’ve written about Thanksgiving history here many times (2005, 2006, 2008, 2010) and this year it feels like time to write again.

It is clear that the holiday was created by President Lincoln after Civil War to bring the pro-slavery rebels back to the table with their American neighbors and family.

Don’t know if I can do the topic any more justice, however, than a 2019 New Yorker article by a historian. So here is the TL;DR

Fretting over late-nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century immigration, American mythmakers discovered that the Pilgrims, and New England as a whole, were perfectly cast as national founders: white, Protestant, democratic, and blessed with an American character centered on family, work, individualism, freedom, and faith.

The new story aligned neatly with the defeat of American Indian resistance in the West and the rising tide of celebratory regret that the anthropologist Renato Rosaldo once called “imperialist nostalgia.” Glorifying the endurance of white Pilgrim founders diverted attention from the brutality of Jim Crow and racial violence, and downplayed the foundational role of African slavery. The fable also allowed its audience to avert its eyes from the marginalization of Asian and Latinx labor populations, the racialization of Southern European and Eastern European immigrants, and the rise of eugenics. At Thanksgiving, white New England cheerfully shoved the problematic South and West off to the side, and claimed America for itself.

Shocking reversal. Lincoln brought the pro-slavery forces back to the table and they pivoted on his gesture to a false cover-story while still enacting divisive racial violence.

Fish Tanks: Defense in Depth for COVID19?

A third-grade teacher in Illinois discusses marine ecology with his students using a tank designed to be an instructional tool. Source: reef2rainforest

A buried lede in a Wired article caught my attention:

The majority of schools in the area reported higher-than-average student absenteeism due to flu symptoms. Only one school didn’t: The one with the fish tanks. “It really stood out”…

Keeping fish tanks gives new meaning to “defense in depth”.

…it’s important not to think of humidification as any sort of magical fix. You still have to wear a mask and wash your hands and stay socially distant and avoid crowded indoor spaces. “Any one of those alone is not enough,” he says. “But each one is like a card that you’re putting into a deck to stack the odds in your favor.”

I’m also reminded of an old post I wrote in 2006 called “Bluegills enlisted in the war on terror(able water)

Swarms of Decoys Disarmed Anti-Aircraft Defenses… in World War II

I probably should have put a spoiler alert in the title.

A brand new 2020 report from the British Royal Air Force (RAF) warns that they were able to use a swarm of “affordable off-the-shelf decoy to wreak havoc on enemy integrated air defense systems.”

“During the demonstration, a number of Callen Lenz drones were equipped with a modified Leonardo BriteCloud decoy, allowing each drone to individually deliver a highly-sophisticated jamming effect,” according to Leonardo’s press release. “They were tested against ground-based radar systems representing the enemy air defence emplacement. A powerful demonstration was given, with the swarm of BriteCloud-equipped drones overwhelming the threat radar systems with electronic noise.”

You may be wondering if this is the first successful test by an air force of affordable off-the-shelf decoys wreaking havoc on air defense systems.

To answer that quickly, I present to you an account of decoys in a 1946 report called “Paper Bullets” from the United States Office of War Information.

A Mitchell bomber crew, which had been bombing Italian rail communications carried a couple of bundles of leaflets and some wine bottles every time they went out to bomb. Questioned by a psychological warfare officer, who failed to find this particular plane on his schedule, one member of the crew replied: “This is psychological warfare, Mac. Before we hit the target we take a fake bomb run over the nearest flak crew and throw these bottles and the leaflets out. They whistle just like bombs and the flak crew takes cover. Then we go on and bomb as per schedule.”

Set aside the point that maybe the crew was joking and they came up with a funny story to hide the fact that they were alcoholics or at least drank a lot of wine while flying as some form of self-medication.

John Belushi stars in the movie “1941” directed by Steven Spielberg

The idea of dropping whistling bomb decoys over air defense units makes a lot of sense, and wine bottles might disintegrate or disappear enough to avoid suspicion of decoys.

Here’s the full report as a PDF on archive.org:

Another perspective from history on “drones” (human pilots seen as disposable) overwhelming air defenses is here:

RAND’s first attempt to model a nuclear strategy ignored so many key variables that it nonsensically called for deploying a fleet of aging turboprop bombers that carried no bombs because the United States did not have enough fissile material to arm them; the goal was simply to overwhelm Soviet air defenses, with no regard for the lives of the pilots.

In related news, DefenseOne asked readers earlier this year “Should the US Have a Secretary For Influence Operations” and Military.com has just published the headline “‘Data Is the Ammunition’: Inside the Pentagon’s New Strategy to Dominate Future Battlefields“.

Looking back again, the 1946 Paper Bullets view of the world ends with these questions:

We are very well aware that the right words properly put together, delivered at the right spot at the right moment, can capture and kill. Why not use words and ideas as an instrument of peace, rather than as an instrument of death? A longing for peace is deep in the hearts of all decent peoples everywhere. There are good arguments for those who insist the best way to maintain the peace is to maintain a war machine to police the world and to keep the peace by force. Why not, then, the establishment of a U.S. Department of Information on the same status as the War Department and the Navy Department? Why not a U.S. Department of Information to police the world with words of truth?

We’ve come a long way from swarms being empty wine bottles, yet it seems also we haven’t moved very far along at all.

And I have to wonder if veterans talking about dropping bottles from planes is the kind of story-telling that inspired the iconic opening scene in The Gods Must be Crazy…

Chocolate Chip Cookie History and The Myth of “Butter Drop Do”

The traditional drop cake (also called drop biscuit) was a popular historic treat in America copied from Europe. However, somehow in America the act of baking a common and popular British drop cake with common and popular chocolate turned into a fancy narrative about how chocolate chip cookies had just been “invented” by a woman in 1938.

Is the invention story true? Are they even American?

Let’s start by scanning through the typical drop cake recipes that can easily be found in the first recipe book publications in English:

  • 1883: Ice-cream and Cakes: A New Collection
  • 1875: Cookery from Experience: A Practical Guide for Housekeepers
  • 1855: The Practical American Cook Book
  • 1824: A New System of Domestic Cookery
  • 1792: The London Art of Cookery
  • 1765: The art of cookery, made plain and easy

Now let’s see the results of such recipes. Thanks to a modern baker who experimented with a 1846 “Miss Beecher’s Domestic Recipe Book” version of drop cake, here we have a picture.

Source: FourPoundsFlour, Sarah T.

Raisins added would have meant this would be a fruit drop cake (or a fruit drop biscuit). There were many variations possible and encouraged based on different ingredients such as rye, nuts, butter or even chocolate.

Here’s an even better photo to show drop cakes. It’s from a modern food historian who references the 1824 “A New System of Domestic Cookery” recipe for something called a rout cake (rout is from French route, which used to mean a small party or social event).

Source: A Taste of History with Joyce White

That photo really looks like a bunch of chocolate chip cookies, right? This food historian even says that herself by explaining “…[traditional English] rout cakes are usually a drop biscuit (cookie)…”.

Cakes are cookies. Got it.

This illustrates quickly how England has for a very long time had “tea cakes with currants”, which also were called biscuits (cookies), and so when you look at them with American eyes you would rightfully think you are seeing chocolate chip cookies. But they’re little cakes in Britain.

More to the point, the American word cookie was derived from the Dutch word koek, which means… wait for it… cake, which also turns into the word koekje (little cake):

Dutcheen koekje van eigen deeg krijgen = a little cake of your own dough (literal) = a taste of your own medicine (figurative)

So the words cake, biscuit and cookie all can refer to basically the same thing, depending on what flavor of English you are using at the time.

Expanding now on the above 1855 recipe book reference, we also see exactly what is involved in baking a drop cake/koekje/cookie:

DROP CAKES: Take three eggs, leaving out one white. Beat them in a pint bowl, just enough. Then fill the bowl even full of milk and stir in enough flour to make a thick, but not stiff batter. Bake in earthen cups, in a quick oven. This is an excellent recipe, and the just enough beating for eggs can only be determined by experience.

DROP CAKES. Take one quart of flour; five eggs; three fourths of a pint of milk and one fourth of cream, with a large spoonful of sifted sugar; a tea-spoon of salt. Mix these well together. If the cream should be sour, add a little saleratus. If all milk is used, melt a dessert-spoonful of butter in the milk. To be baked in cups, in the oven, thirty to forty minutes.

I used the word “exactly” to introduce this recipe because I found it so amusing to read the phrase “just enough” in baking instructions.

Imagine a whole recipe book that says use just enough the right ingredients, mix just enough and then bake just enough. Done. That would be funny, as that’s the exact opposite of how the very exact science of modern baking works.

Bakers are like chemists, with extremely precise planning and actions.

And finally just to set some context for how common it became in America to eat the once-aristocratic drop cakes, here’s the 1897 supper menu in the “General Dining Hall Bill of Fare” from the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers:

Source: Report of Inspection of State Soldiers and Sailors’ Homes for Year Ending June 30, 1897, by National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers

Back to the question of chocolate chip cookies versus drop cake, and given all the current worry about disinformation, a story researched on Mental Floss explains that a myth has been created around someone making “Butter Drop Do” and inventing cookies because she accidentally used a “wrong” type of chocolate.

The traditional tale holds that Toll House Inn owner Ruth Wakefield invented the cookie when she ran out of baker’s chocolate, a necessary ingredient for her popular Butter Drop Do cookies (which she often paired with ice cream—these cookies were never meant to be the main event), and tried to substitute some chopped up semi-sweet chocolate instead. The chocolate was originally in the form of a Nestle bar that was a gift from Andrew Nestle himself—talk about an unlikely origin story! The semi-sweet chunks didn’t melt like baker’s chocolate, however, and though they kept their general shape (you know, chunky), they softened up for maximum tastiness. (There’s a whole other story that imagines that Wakefield ran out of nuts for a recipe, replacing them with the chocolate chunks.)

There are three problems with this story.

One, saying “butter drop do cookies” is like saying butter cake do little cakes. That’s hard on the ears. I mean “butter drop do” seems to be some kind of a misprint or a badly scanned script.

This very uniquely named recipe can be found under a cakes category in the 1796 American Cookery book (and don’t forget many drop cake recipe books in England pre-dated this one by decades).

Butter drop do .

No. 3. Rub one quarter of a pound butter, one pound sugar, sprinkled with mace, into one pound and a quarter flour, add four eggs, one glass rose water, bake as No. 1.

The butter drop cake (do?) here appears to be an import of English aristocratic food traditions, which I’ve written about before (e.g. eggnog). But what’s really interesting is this American Cookery book in 1796 is how actual cookie recipes can be found and are completely different from the drop cake (do?) one:

Cookies.

One pound sugar boiled slowly in half pint water, scum well and cool, add two tea spoons pearl ash dissolved in milk, then two and half pounds flour, rub in 4 ounces butter, and two large spoons of finely powdered coriander seed, wet with above; make roles half an inch thick and cut to the shape you please; bake fifteen or twenty minutes in a slack oven–good three weeks.

And that recipe using pearl ash (early version of baking powder) is followed by “Another Christmas Cookey”. So if someone was knowingly following the butter drop cake (do?) recipe instead, they also knew it was explicitly not called a cookie by the author.

Someone needs to explain why the chocolate chip cookie “inventor” was very carefully following a specific cake/koekje recipe instead of a cookie one yet called her “invention” a cookie.

Two, chocolate chips in a drop cake appear almost exactly like drop cakes have looked for a century, with chips or chunks of sweets added. How inventive is it really to use the popular chocolate in the popular cake and call it a cookie?

Three, as Mental Floss points out, the baker knew exactly what she was doing when she put chocolate in her drop cakes and there was nothing accidental.

The problem with the classic Toll House myth is that it doesn’t mention that Wakefield was an experienced and trained cook—one not likely to simply run out of things, let accidents happen in her kitchen, or randomly try something out just to see if it would end up with a tasty result. As author Carolyn Wyman posits in her Great American Chocolate Chip Cookie Book, Wakefield most likely knew exactly what she was doing…

She was doing what had been done many times before, adding a sweet flavor to a drop cake, but she somehow then confusingly marketed it a chocolate chip cookie. I mean she came up with a recipe sure, but did she really invent something extraordinary?

Food for thought: is the chocolate chip cookie really just Americans copying unhealthy European habits (i.e. tipping) to play new world aristocrats instead of truly making something new and better?

What about the chocolate chip itself? Wasn’t that at least novel as a replacement for the more traditional small pieces of sweet fruit? Not really. The chocolate bar, which precipitated the chips, has been credited in 1847 to a British company started by Joseph Storrs Fry.

Thus it seems strange to say that an American putting a British innovation (chocolate bar chips) into a British innovation (drop cake/biscuit/cookie) is an American invention, as much as it is Americans copying and trying to be more like the British.

The earliest recipe I’ve found that might explain chocolate chip cookies is from 1912 (20 years before claims of invention) in “The Twentieth Century Book for the Progressive Baker, Confectioner, Ornamenter and Ice Cream Maker: The Most Up-to-date and Practical Book of Its Kind” by Fritz Ludwig Gienandt.

Source: Twentieth Century Book for the Progressive Baker, Confectioner, Ornamenter and Ice Cream Maker, by Fritz Ludwig Gienandt

Amazon Caught Selling Toxic Bottled Water

Amazon basically operates like the mob by seeking markets where regulation or justice is too weak to stop it from taking payments for unethical business practices.

It allegedly will muscle into markets as an engine of exploitation, which measures margin in the amount of harms it can get away with. Some say this is “natural” in the sense that it fits a pattern of American history:

Inequality in America was not born of the market’s invisible hand. It was not some unavoidable destiny. It was created by the hands and sustained effort of people who engineered benefits for themselves, to the detriment of everyone else.

Thus it somewhat predictably has been accused of building “successful growth” on fake and unsafe services and products that damage or kill, with no accountability to itself for the widespread harms carried by others.

Moreover, such ill-gotten profits seem intentional as they are concentrated into the hands of one man who spends a very small percentage on attempts to fix harms. Just a few examples:

  • “Amazon has a counterfeit book problem. But it isn’t really a problem for Amazon itself…”
  • “Amazon has a history of allowing media that contains dubious scientific claims on its platform…”
  • “The Amazon fraud epidemic…”
  • “Inside Amazon’s Fake Review Economy…”
  • “Amazon’s Enforcement Failures Leave Open a Back Door to Banned Goods… Sold and Shipped by Amazon Itself
  • “Amazon gives extremists and neo-Nazis banned from other platforms unprecedented access to a mainstream audience — and even promotes [dangerous and violent hate].”
  • “Amazon’s gigantic, decentralized, next-day delivery network brought chaos, exploitation, and danger to communities across America.”
  • “While the scale and severity may vary, a single theme often unites each newsworthy incident: An unsecured Amazon…”
  • “Amazon executive Joy Covey was killed [while riding her bike by a] van delivering Amazon packages….”

Here’s a deeper look into one case (pun not intended) that has been going on for a while now, where we can see flagrant violation of health for profits.

Consumer Reports in 2020 has called out Amazon’s “Starkey” brand water bottled in Idaho because it violates safe standards that limit contaminants in water.

The bottled water, sold in most Whole Foods stores and on Amazon.com, was the only brand of the 45 tested by Consumer Reports scientists between February and May of this year that exceeded 3 parts per billion (ppb)…. Last year, CR tests found Starkey Spring Water exceeded the federal level…

Amazon was the ONLY brand of 45 tested to fail the arsenic test. Many had untraceable amounts, which is great when you look at how dangerous arsenic is to human health.

Arsenic means “disaster for almost every part of the human body”

Note that the report points out it also failed last year.

And before that?

FDA told Whole Foods that tests had found levels as high as 12 ppb, which resulted in recalls of the water in 2016 and 2017… legal to sell in a bottle across the U.S., but it would be illegal if it came out of the tap…

Recalled in 2016 and 2017, failed tests in 2019 and 2020. Why is this water, which would be illegal to sell if it came from a tap, still being bottled and sold by Amazon?

Amazon explains on their Starkey information site in 2020 that trying to make this water safer would impact Amazon profits, so they’re not doing it.

Arsenic levels above 5 ppb and up to 10 ppb are present… it does contain low levels of arsenic. The standard balances the current understanding of arsenic’s possible health effects against the costs of removing arsenic from drinking water.

Possible health effects “balanced” is how they refer to not making their water safe for consumption.

Possible health effects?

Let it sink in how incredibly vague and misleading Amazon is being on a scientific topic of arsenic in order to say they won’t protect consumers from known harms. They should not be allowed to just casually blow off the harms as “possible health effects”.

Again, Amazon is the only brand of 45 to fail this test. Other brands have untraceable amounts. Nearly 50 competing brands are able to “balance” the correct way by investing in controls for their products to be safe. Why doesn’t Amazon?

Starkey clearly states in their safety report they have decided not to invest in removing arsenic to safe levels, because they believe they can get away with it.

Amazon also clearly promotes this unsafe product with “bottled in Idaho” as if that’s a helpful reference, yet does not include anywhere Idaho Department of Environmental Quality water contamination warnings:

Arsenic is a problem in some parts of Idaho.

“Some parts” is a reference to the area of Idaho (southwestern corner) where Starkey water is sourced.

Map of Idaho arsenic detected in water. Scientists put anything above green (0-5 ug/l) as unsafe. Red is the most dangerous level.

In fact, that red area that shows up on the Idaho contaminant map stands out as being worst levels in the entire US.

US map of arsenic concentrations reveals Idaho as one of the most contaminated.

In summary, Amazon is selling water from the most arsenic contaminated region of the US, putting it into harmful single-use plastic bottles, and continues to sell it despite years of public safety test failures.

Buyer beware.

Interactive Map of U.S. Supply-Chain Vulnerabilities

Years ago I wrote about the secret history that lurks behind a famous American dessert.

Nobody else, at least to my knowledge, has been thinking and writing about the supply-chain vulnerability management required for America to promote itself as home of the banana split.

Now there’s an interactive map of supply-chain vulnerabilities, which seems like it would be ideal for speeding up research and illustrating stories like the one I wrote.

FEW-View™ is an online educational tool that helps U.S. residents and community leaders visualize their supply chains with an emphasis on food, energy, and water. This tool lets you see the hidden connections and benchmark your supply chain’s sustainability, security, and resilience.

FEW-View™ is developed by scientists at Northern Arizona University and at the Decision Theater® at Arizona State University. FEW-View™ is an initiative of the FEWSION™ project, a collaboration between scientists at over a dozen universities (https://fewsion.us/team/).

FEWSION™ was founded in 2016 by a grant from the INFEWS basic research program of the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The opinions expressed are those of the researchers, and not necessarily the funding agencies.

However, there are two problems I see already with the map. First, it doesn’t go backward in time. The illustrations would be far more useful if I could pivot through 1880 to 1980. Second, the interactive maps allow you to break out a booze category but I have yet to find a way to filter on bananas and pineapples let alone ingredients for three flavors of ice cream.

This Day in History: 1862 Largest Mass Execution in American History

Minnesota’s concentration camp of 1862 was setup to abuse and kill the Native American elderly, women and children. Source: Minnesota Historical Society
For some in America the “Holiday” weeks of December are an extremely painful time of American history.

The state of Minnesota, for example, was founded on deception and violence to steal land from Native Americans and culminated this month in 1862.

The Minnesota Historical Society (MNHS) explains how the encroaching U.S. sparked an intense war with Native Americans that ended in an unfair trial with a very large number of unjust executions:

The trials of the Dakota were conducted unfairly in a variety of ways. The evidence was sparse, the tribunal was biased, the defendants were unrepresented in unfamiliar proceedings conducted in a foreign language, and authority for convening the tribunal was lacking. More fundamentally, neither the Military Commission nor the reviewing authorities recognized that they were dealing with the aftermath of a war fought with a sovereign nation and that the men who surrendered were entitled to treatment in accordance with that status.

MNHS also relates how Dakota leaders have been recorded as clearly humane and civilized in their rationalizations of self-defense, yet received barbaric treatment by the white nationalist militants they fought against:

You have deceived me. You told me that if we followed the advice of General Sibley, and gave ourselves up to the whites, all would be well; no innocent man would be injured. I have not killed, wounded or injured a white man, or any white persons. I have not participated in the plunder of their property; and yet to-day I am set apart for execution, and must die in a few days, while men who are guilty will remain in prison. My wife is your daughter, my children are your grandchildren. I leave them all in your care and under your protection. Do not let them suffer; and when my children are grown up, let them know that their father died because he followed the advice of his chief, and without having the blood of a white man to answer for to the Great Spirit.

Those of the Dakota men who had fought in the war already had retreated for winter, or had been killed and very few captured. The U.S. military decided it wasn’t staffed to pursue the warriors.

In other words the only Dakota people brought into custody by the U.S. military were elderly, women, and children; nearly 2,000 people who had nothing to do with the war were seduced with a promise of care and then death-marched for days into a concentration camp to be abused and die.

They lost everything. They lost their lands. They lost all their annuities that were owed them from the treaties. These are people who were guilty of nothing.

Just as many of the Dakota were very obviously peaceful and kind people at the time, some whites did try to take the opposite and moral stand, to account for white settler crimes against humanity:

Henry Whipple, traveled to Washington to meet with Lincoln; he explained to the president that Dakota grievances stemmed in large part from the greed, corruption, and deceit of government agents, traders, and other whites. Lincoln took what he called “the rascality of this Indian business” into consideration and granted clemency to most of those sentenced to die.

This appeal for sanity was far from being sufficient to curtail what the Minnesota Governor proclaimed in his public platform of genocide: “The Sioux Indians of Minnesota must be exterminated…“.

Minnesota History Magazine further relates that a prominent leader of the Dakota people a year later was murdered by white settlers who simply noticed him eating wild raspberries and decided on that basis alone to illegally hunt, kill, decapitate and scalp a human:

Even if a state of war had existed in 1863, the Lamsons’ action could not be defended as legal. They were mere civilians, who under international law have no right to take up arms against the enemy and who will be
hanged summarily if they do. The ordinary law of murder would apply to them. […] If killing in reliance upon the adjutant general’s orders would be murder under the law in force in 1863, obviously killing before any orders were issued would be an even stronger case of murder. Thus Little Crow was tendered a posthumous apology. One must reach the conclusion that in strict law the Lamsons were provocateurs and murderers.

Shot on sight without any questions. Think about that. Little Crow was a man nationally recognized and celebrated, a hero of America who had negotiated the Treaties of Traverse des Sioux and Mendota in 1851.

Yet he was illegally shot dead on sight without question because… he was not white.

Back to the start of this blog it also was Little Crow who had negotiated a band of Dakota from their massive 25 million acre territory into a tiny (20 mile by 70 mile) reservation.

There were many tens of thousands of Native Americans said to be in the region at the time, although soon they were vastly outnumbered and under constant threat.

In 1850, the white population of what would soon be the state of Minnesota stood at about 6,000 people. The Indian population was eight times that, with nearly 50,000 Dakota, Ojibwe, Winnebago and Menominee living in the territory. But within two decades, as immigrant settlers poured in, the white population would mushroom to more than 450,000.

In other words, by the war of 1862 (and after he was coerced into an even worse treaty in 1858), Little Crow was known as the Dakota leader who had taken a principled and fair stand to protect his followers against his former trading partner U.S. General Sibley.

The U.S. government allegedly had offered the Dakota only a few cents per acre for their entire ceded territory space in treaties, and gave promises of annuity payments and food supplies.

Yet while the Dakota land was taken away, those agreed upon payments and food never arrived.

It was this context behind the fact that white settlers flooded the area historically inhabited by Dakota, backing the Dakota into a corner and literally starving them out.

Congress passes the Homestead Act, a law signed by President Abraham Lincoln on May 20, 1862, offering millions of acres of free land to settlers who stay on the land for five years. The act brings 75,000 people to Minnesota over three years. To qualify for 160 free acres, settlers have to live on it for five years, farm and build a permanent dwelling. Those able to spend the money can buy the 160 acres at $1.25 an acre after living on it for six months.

The federal government was effectively buying land for cheap and then selling 160 acre parcels of it at either $200 (20X the cost) or for five years of farming and construction.

Since the tiny allocated reservation space for the Dakota wasn’t producing any food, and the U.S. government was intentionally withholding payments and supplies to survive on, huge numbers of Dakota faced a starvation-level situation. No wonder they demanded quick restitution.

On top of that white settlers illegally had been violating the agreement by encroaching into even the tiny Dakota reservation area.

The Dakota faced no choice but to reassert rights to their money, food and land that they already had negotiated.

Tension grew from the U.S. refusing to help, withholding food and money from the now trapped Dakota population in an attempt to “force conformance to white ideals” of a “Christian” lifestyle.

While Dakota parents watched their children starve to death, pork and grain filled the Lower Sioux Agency’s new stone warehouse, a large square building of flat, irregularly shaped stones harvested from the river bottoms. […] “So far as I’m concerned, if they are hungry, let them eat grass or their own dung,” [warehouse owner] Myrick said.

The U.S. strategically reneged on agreements and intentionally starved Dakota populations into desperation, before ultimately using attempts at self-defense as justification for mass unjust executions and murder. This was followed by Minnesota settlers banishing the native population entirely from their own historic territory under penalty of death into concentration camps, offering rewards to anyone who could trap and kill the Native Americans (Minnesota’s government offered a reward up to $200 — roughly $4000 in 2019 terms — for non-white human scalps).

At a higher level the race in 1862 to settle territory inhabited and owned by Native Americans had been complicated the year before by militant southern states starting a Civil War to violently force expansion of slavery into any new states. Thus, just as John Brown’s attempt to incite abolition got him executed in 1859 as a “traitor” to America, the Dakota people fighting for freedom from tyranny three years after in 1862 were unjustly tried by Minnesota settlers and executed on December 26.

Old John Brown's body lies moldering in the grave,
While weep the sons of bondage whom he ventured all to save;
But tho he lost his life while struggling for the slave,
His soul is marching on.

John Brown was a hero, undaunted, true and brave,
And Kansas knows his valor when he fought her rights to save;
Now, tho the grass grows green above his grave,
His soul is marching on.

He captured Harper's Ferry, with his nineteen men so few,
And frightened "Old Virginny" till she trembled thru and thru;
They hung him for a traitor, they themselves the traitor crew,
But his soul is marching on.
John Brown witnessed far too many Americans being murdered under the tyranny of expansionist slavery when he said there was no choice but fighting back, calling for wider armed defense and predicting war. Curry’s impressive mural called “Tragic Prelude” that depicts Brown’s conviction against tyranny can be seen in the Kansas State Capitol.