Category Archives: Food

President's groceries

Dear Answer Person,Does the president ever do his own grocery shopping? And if he did, how much would it cost for him to go to the grocery store with his security detail?


Nope, they don’t do anything so mundane. Except for publicity tours or when campaigning. Probably more likely for a photo op when they’re at their vacation houses rather than a regular Saturday trip to a Safeway in central Washington. The security detail gets paid a salary wherever he goes, so this or that meaningless publicity stop doesn’t matter. Politicians are always being asked what a gallon of milk costs, but I think I’d rather have them looking at things in a little more macro way.

What's gelatin made of?

Is gelatin still made with animal bones? Like when they put gelatin in children’s cereals, is that vegetarian/kosher?I guess it’s really a question of what is the least expensive if they are still using animal bones, right?

ANSWER PERSON RESPONDS: True gelatin is protein-based and rendered from the skin, cartilage, bone, etc. of animals. Yes, it is still used. There are also gelling agents sometimes called vegetable gelatins, such as pectin, derived from plants, although these are carbohydrate-based and not chemically related to animal gelatins. Kosher gelatin just has to come from the right animals.

It’s not clear whether it’s more a cost issue (it may be) or just what works best as a gelling agent for a particular appliction. The labels on food should give some indication of the derivation (e.g., pectin, carrageenan, or agar indicates vegetable derivation). If it says “gelatin,” I’d assume that it’s animal-based.

Surly fast food workers

Why are the people that work at Subway so mean?! [3344B]

The instructions you have to give them each time are so long that I’d go crazy having to concentrate on that all day.  You’re probably too picky with your order and need to simplify things.  Next time, just get a 12” on white, meatball, just sauce, and see if that doesn’t make a difference.


Is caffeine bad for you? Should I be drinking Dr. Pepper and Coke to stay awake? [3342B]

There seems to be agreement that in large quantities caffeine can be bad for you. How much is too much is debated. You can search the MedLine Plus website from the National Library of Medicine for links to reliable websites, or look for journal articles in MedLine The amount of caffeine in Coke and Dr. Pepper is far less than in coffee. How much you need to stay awake depends on how much of a dependence on caffeine you’ve built up, but your complexion and oral hygiene and weight would all probably suffer from all that sugar if you depend on soda pop for your caffeine fix.

Not a spork fan

Why are losers so fascinated by sporks? They’re not aesthetically pleasing, not do they work well at all. What is it that fascinates these people? [3339C]

The attraction certainly has nothing to do with functionality, but most college-educated people are fascinated by the absurd. Ironic humor and all that. Regarding functionality, proof that they must be inferior to forks or spoons is that at the website mentioned above they’re actually cheaper (even though you’d think that a device that substitutes for two other utensils would be pricier).

Time to answer

Crossed out: How long does it take to answer a question? 1/16/07
[Written below:] Is [Duke student name] the most sexual food? [3339A]

These days, it seems to take about a month. Well, really only a few minutes, but there’s usually a lag while I let them ripen before I answer. 2/14/2007

Likening someone to food is somewhat demeaning, don’t you think? Where’s your civility?