7 Dumb Food Myths the Internet Thinks Are True

7 Dumb Food Myths the Internet Thinks Are True

Is it us, or was most of the information on the internet created purely as an experiment to see how gullible people are?

There's probably no better example than the outlandish and, quite frankly, idiotic food "facts" that get spread around. To listen to these people, half the stuff in your refrigerator is a dangerous substance that was originally designed as a chemical weapon.

Coca-Cola Will Melt Your Stomach

This rumor names Coca-Cola, but presumably applies to Pepsi, RC, Dr. Pepper, all of those drinks that you always thought were just harmless caramel-flavored CO2 and high fructose corn syrup. That is, until this email came along with horrifying factoids like:

"You can put a T-bone steak in a bowl of Coke and it will be gone in two days.

The active ingredient in Coke is phosphoric acid. Its pH is 2.8. It will dissolve a nail in about 4 days. Phosphoric acid also leaches calcium from bones and is a major contributor to the rising increase in osteoporosis.

To carry Coca-Cola syrup (the concentrate) the commercial truck must use the Hazardous material place cards reserved for Highly corrosive materials."

We get it! It's an acid! An acid so powerful it can eat your bones! Fuck!

The Facts

There are so many Coke rumors that Snopes has an entire section of their site dedicated to them. Yes, Coke does contain an acid. So does a whole lot of what you eat and drink (orange juice is more acidic, for instance). The key is that the acids are diluted enough that they won't eat a hole through your innards. Products that do that tend to sell poorly.

Now it's true the trucks carrying the concentrated syrup used to make Coke do have the Corrosive Chemicals signs on them, but that's because they're dealing with the concentrated components, not the Coke itself. Using that as proof Coke is poison is like saying you can't drink whiskey because it's flammable. That's what makes it good.

Red Bull Gives You Wings, and By Wings, We Mean a Brain Tumor

If an innocent Coke can eat a hole in your guts, who the hell knows what Red Bull can do, right? Well, if this email (that may or may not have been forwarded to you by your mom) is to be believed, it can give you a brain tumor:

"Ever wondered what's in a can of Red Bull Energy drink? The small print lists a host of ingredients and among them is an artificially manufactured stimulant developed in the early 60's by the American Government.

Glucuronolactone was first used in the Vietnam conflict to boost morale amongst GI's who were suffering from stress and fatigue, but was banned after a few years following several deaths and hundreds of cases involving anything from severe migraines to brain tumors in personnel prescribed the stimulant.

An article in this month's edition of the British Medical Journal has highlighted a growing number of cases reported by Doctors and Surgeons involving the very same side effects from the 70s. All of the patients examined were regular drinkers of RedBull and it is believed that the safety of Glucuronolactone is currently under review in at least three major European countries."

The Facts

Every word of that is a lie. Really, every single word. Well, maybe except the part about Red Bull containing glucuronolactone.

The chemical was not invented by the government (it occurs naturally in the body). The whole Vietnam story is a lie, the British Medical Journal article does not exist and the FDA doesn't have shit about glucuronolactone being dangerous.

Now, there was this one kid who drank three Red Bulls in a row and then died some hours later, which caused some countries to ban the product. Though this means that the brain tumor theory is out (unless he magically grew a tumor so huge that it gave him a heart attack--but we're pretty sure they would have mentioned that).

As for glucuronolactone, a can of Red Bull does contain 600 mg of the stuff, which is 250 times a person's normal intake. What are the effects? Nobody knows. The reason there are so many rumors about it is that there have been almost no studies into what it actually does. We don't even know if it actually gives you energy.

Maybe this is what Red Bull is for.

The same can be said for the other key ingredient, taurine. In some cases it even acts like a sedative.

So how does a can of Red Bull give you that burst of energy? Check out the amount of sugar and caffeine on the label. If you want a reason not to drink it, why not that?

MSG Burns Your Brain Cells

Monosodium glutamate--or MSG--is a common food additive. You probably can't pick up a can of soup, TV dinner or bag of Chinese takeout that doesn't include MSG.

The rumors probably started with some people complaining of headaches after eating at Chinese restaurants. From there the story mutated into, "MSG BURNS YOUR BRAIN-CELLS! RUN!!!!" Now the story even gets repeated on health websites:

"Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is a dangerous food ingredient compound known as an excitotoxin. Excitotoxins are proteins which make brain cells fire their impulses rapidly when they make contact with it. The cells become so hyper-excited that they continue to fire until the cell is exhausted, and subsequently die.

Monosodium glutamate isn't just sensed by the taste buds in our tongues, it also triggers and excites the neurons in the brain. Free glutamic acid is able to reach the brain where it can injure and kill the neurons.

This acid doesn't cause a problem in anyone when it is a part of whole, natural, God created unprocessed food. It becomes a problem when man separates it through a chemical process in a laboratory."

The Facts

Have you noticed how all of these rumors seem to assume there's just nobody at all looking out for food safety? They make it sound like they could replace the filling in Ding Dongs with baboon semen and we'd have no defense if not for the dedicated email forwarders of the world.

Look at that little guy.

Fortunately in the real world, countries have agencies like The Food and Drug Administration to test these things. And no, MSG won't eat your brain, or cause any other long-term illnesses. Not unless you eat a wheelbarrow of the stuff every day, at which point you would have other problems.

Now, to be fair, it does appear that some people do have a sensitivity to MSG and may feel like shit for a few hours after eating a lot of it. And you will eat a lot of it. Another side effect is obesity, because MSG actually stimulates the appetite (or blocks the brain chemicals that tell you to stop eating). So, like Coca-Cola, it won't kill you but will force you to buy bigger pants.

Cold Water After a Meal will Give You Cancer... Or a Heart Attack...

Cold water? Seriously? Yep, if you believe every dumbassed thing you read.

The theory goes, we've all seen how grease solidifies when it cools, such as in your drains. Well, your intestines are exactly like drains, right? So drinking cold water after a fatty meal will make that shit solidify in your guts! Oh, no!

Your heart, every time you drink cold water. Probably.

"For those who like to drink cold water, this article is applicable to you. It is nice to have a cup of cold drink after a meal. However, the cold water will solidify the oily stuff that you have just consumed.

A cardiologist says if everyone who gets this mail sends it to 10 people, you can be sure that we'll save at least one life. Once this "sludge" reacts with the acid, it will break down and be absorbed by the intestine faster than the solid food. It will line the intestine. Very soon, this will turn into fats and lead to cancer. It is best to drink hot soup or warm water after a meal. A serious note about heart attacks: You should know that not every heart attack symptom is going to be the left arm hurting. Be aware of intense pain in the jaw line. Nausea and intense sweating are also common symptoms."

The Facts


Here's a good general tip: If the person giving you medical advice seems to easily confuse cancer and heart attacks, as this person does in their second paragraph up there, they might not know what they're talking about.

"Get the paddles, he's having a cancer!"

As for the "cold water will solidify grease in your guts" thing, do we even need to explain this? After all, between your mouth and your intestines is a little-known organ called the "stomach." Even if you eat half a dozen Snow Cones after every meal, it's all going to land in your stomach and reach body temperature within a few minutes. Even if you stuff them up your ass you'll be fine (trust us).

Twinkies Are Not Real Food, They Last Forever

The whole "Twinkies can last up to 20 years on the shelf because they're not food" thing has been around for years. It was a staple with 80s comedians, along with the unsatisfactory nature of airline peanuts.

This book recounts the full tale, including a whole big back story on how the manufacturer hasn't had to manufacture Twinkies in years, because they have a huge warehouse full of them somewhere.

Actual Twinkie warehouse.

The Facts

Twinkies do last a bit longer than your average cakes filled with cream: a whole month. What? Were you expecting us to tell you they really are industrially refined additives shaped to look and taste like food, that never get stale? Hell, if anyone actually had access to that kind of technology, the world would probably be in their hands.

Instead, we just fry the little suckers.

Nope, check the label and you'll see the ingredients (in order of quantity) are flour, sugar, corn syrup, water, shortening, and eggs. Sounds a whole lot like a regular ol' cake. That's because it is.

Now, on top of the above ingredients, you've got two dozen additives meant to keep the cakes moist long beyond the week or so you'd get out of a cake you made fresh. We could go on and on about how unhealthy those yellow bastards are, but come on. You didn't think they were fucking celery stalks.

Margarine is Actually Plastic

Margarine is kind of like Velveeta Cheese: everybody has it in their kitchen, but what is it? Let's ask the crazy people:

"Margarine was originally manufactured to fatten turkeys. When it killed the turkeys, the people who had put all the money into the research wanted a payback so they put their heads together to figure out what to do with this product to get their money back. It was a white substance with no food appeal so they added the yellow coloring and sold it to people to use in place of butter.

Triple risk of coronary heart disease.

Increases the risk of cancers up to five fold.

Decreases immune response.

And here's the most disturbing fact.... HERE IS THE PART THAT IS! VERY INTERESTING!

Margarine is but ONE MOLECULE away from being PLASTIC."

The Facts

We would love to know how they came up with that turkey story (maybe they misunderstood the whole "Butterball" thing?). Margarine is just made from vegetable oil (or some other kind of plant or animal fat) and was invented as a cheaper substitute for butter in 19th Century France.

It's true that margarine is white until they add yellow coloring to it. But guess what, that cheese on your hamburger wasn't orange until they added an orange dye to it. Who gives a shit?

Great. Now we're starving.

Far more ridiculous is the capitalized-so-you-know-it's-true statement, "MARGARINE IS ONE MOLECULE AWAY FROM PLASTIC."

Not only is that not right, that's not even wrong. It's a meaningless statement. Saying something is "one molecule away" from plastic is like saying a farm is one letter away from a fart. Water is "one molecule away" from being explosive hydrogen gas.

This whole thing smells of lies spread by the dairy industry.

Canola Oil is RAPE OIL

Quick: Where does canola oil come from? Don't know? Well the internet has some shocking news for you, buddy:

"Here are just a few facts everyone should know before buying anything containing canola. Canola is not the name of a natural plant but a made-up word, from the words "Canada" and "oil". Canola is a genetically engineered plant developed in Canada from the Rapeseed Plant, which is part of the mustard family of plants. According to AgriAlternatives, The Online Innovation, and Technology Magazine for Farmers, 'By nature, these rapeseed oils, which have long been used to produce oils for industrial purposes, are... toxic to humans and other animals.'


It is an industrial oil. It is not a food. Rape oil, it seems, causes emphysema, respiratory distress, anemia, constipation, irritability, and blindness in animals and humans.

There's more, but to conclude: rape oil was the source of the chemical warfare agent mustard gas, which was banned after blistering the lungs and skins of hundred of thousands of soldiers and civilians during W.W.I."

The Facts

Whoa! Holy shit! We love the way the writer crammed in every scary word they could think of: rape, war, cancer, emphysema, respiratory distress, anemia, constipation, irritability, blindness, Canada.

Well to start, congratulations to the canola oil marketing people, who realized at some point that the oil from rapeseed--or Rape Oil--probably needed another name to succeed with housewives. Thus: Canola Oil.

"....Why don't we change the name?"

Probably our favorite part of this story is where they quote the magazine saying canola oils "are ... toxic to humans." We're thinking the words they omitted for the ellipses there were, "obviously" and "not."

The story goes on for much longer than our excerpt up there, and climaxes with this scene straight out of direct-to-DVD horror movie:

"My daughter and her girls were telling jokes. Stephanie hit her mom's arm with the back of a butter knife in a gesture, 'Oh mom' not hard enough to hurt. My daughters arm split open like it was rotten. She called me to ask what could have caused it. I said, 'I'll bet anything that you are using Canola oil'. Sure enough, there was a big gallon jug in the pantry."

Another canola-related death.

Damn! You'd think we would have heard about something like that! Unless it's just the rantings of an anonymous crazy person!

Fortunately, not only is this not true, but canola oil is healthier than most other cooking oils. This will not help you if your arm ever "splits open like it is rotten." In that case you likely have that flesh-eating bacteria and you might as well eat whatever the hell you want.

Check out Dan O'Brien's latest column, where he shows you Why You Don't Steal from Cracked. Or,if you're tired of reading, and just want to watch Sarah Palin get interviewed while a turkey is slaughtered by a mad man, check out our Top Picks, where we bring you the best links from around the web and The Mirth Canal.

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