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Take a Literary Train Trip Through Europe (and The Man With the World's Longest Name) TEST
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Explore the Origins of French Cuisine With This 200-Year-Old Map
5 Can't-Miss Titles to Watch on Netflix This March
The Unsolved Murder That Fascinated 1840s New York (and Edgar Allan Poe)
9 Royally Interesting Facts You Might Not Know About King Cake
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George Harrison was the first ex-Beatle to simultaneously top both the singles and albums charts.

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Fast Food Chicken Isn’t 100% Chicken (Or Even Close), Investigation Finds

filed under: Food, science
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Choosing grilled chicken at a fast food joint isn’t the health-conscious choice you might think. For one thing, that piece of chicken doesn’t contain only chicken, as a CBC Marketplace investigation recently found.

The Canadian TV series sent samples of chicken from five different restaurants to a university lab in Ontario for testing, finding that all of them contained significantly less protein than you’d get in a home-cooked piece of poultry.

A piece of unseasoned chicken you buy at the store should be comprised of 100 percent chicken DNA, but tests of grilled chicken from McDonald’s, Wendy’s, A&W’s, Tim Horton’s, and Subway showed much lower levels of bird DNA. Seasoning or marinating would reduce the percentage of chicken DNA in a piece of meat, but Subway, in particular, had a particularly alarming lack of chicken in its chicken.

While all the other restaurants had average values of more than 80 percent chicken DNA, Subway’s samples showed so little chicken DNA that the researchers felt compelled to go get more samples and test them again. The oven-roasted chicken used in Subway’s sandwiches contained an average of 53.6 percent chicken DNA, while the chicken strips used in items like the Subway Sweet Onion Teriyaki sandwich had an average of 42.8 percent chicken DNA in them. Most of the rest of the DNA in the meat was actually soy.

Subway Canada responded to the investigation by saying that the company is “concerned by the alleged findings.”

“Our chicken strips and oven roasted chicken contain 1 percent or less of soy protein,” a Subway spokesman wrote in a statement to CBC. “We use this ingredient in these products as a means to help stabilize the texture and moisture.” The company said it would be looking into the issue with its chicken supplier.

The other grilled chicken options weren’t terribly healthy, either. The tests showed that even after factoring in other ingredients, the fast food options had a quarter less protein than a home-cooked piece of chicken would, and way more sodium (like, up to 10 times more). According to one food scientist CBC spoke to, this is likely because the meat isn’t simple chicken, but a “restructured” product, meaning that it’s made of smaller pieces of meat bound together with other ingredients that make it cheaper or add flavor. What looks like a simple piece of chicken has more than a dozen ingredients—the samples in the study had an average of 16 ingredients. Those ingredients included sugar, a product very few people expect when they order a chicken sandwich.

That doesn’t mean you should swear off chicken sandwiches altogether, but you can stop patting yourself on the back for ordering one instead of a burger.

[h/t CBC Marketplace]

February 28, 2017 – 3:00pm

99-Year-Old Woman Checks “Spending Time in Jail” Off Her Bucket List

When a senior looks back on his or her life to assess their triumphs and regrets, “not getting arrested” typically falls into the former category. But according to the BBC, a 99-year-old woman in the Netherlands wished she had spent time in the slammer. To help her achieve this unconventional bucket list dream, law officers let the woman, named Annie, hang out in a jail cell—with handcuffs on—at the police station in the eastern Dutch town of Nijmegen-Zuid.

Annie has her family to thank for the experience. “Her niece came to us with this request,” a police officer told the BBC. “When she was reporting a crime, she told the police officer about Annie’s ‘bucket list.'”

“You get many unusual requests with this profession,” he added. “We thought it would be nice to do something special for Annie.”

Politie Nijmegen-Zuid/Facebook

As you can see in the photos above, Annie’s brush with the law was a blast. However, she isn’t the only senior who has wondered what life is like behind bars. Last year, a 102-year-old woman named Edie Simms from St. Louis, Missouri was faux-arrested per her own bucket list request. Police teamed up with a local senior center to make Simms’s dream come true. “She was so excited that she can ride in a police car and she said, ‘Do you think you could put those handcuffs on me?'” Michael Howard, executive director of Five Star Senior Center, told KPLR. Talk about centenarians gone wild!

[h/t BBC]

February 28, 2017 – 2:15pm

9 Rare Flowers That Only Grow in One Place

Image credit: 

David Eickhoff via Wikimedia // CC BY 2.0

by Kirsten Howard

There are an estimated 400,000 types of flowering plant species in the world, and new species are discovered every day. But some species are far rarer than others, either due to their specialized growing needs or threats to their habitats (often both). Here are nine flowers that each grow in a relatively limited location, and are usually only glimpsed outside of that place with the help of botanists or special exotic gardens.


The deciduous tree known as the Kokia cookei (pictured above) is one of the rarest plant species in the world. When it was first discovered in the 1860s, only three trees were known to exist in the world, and those were all found in the lowlands of the western Moloka’I island of the Hawaiian Islands. The flower only lives on today due to grafts with other plants.


The Gibraltar Campion is very rare. Growing up to a foot high, the pink, white, or pale violet flowers are found only in Gibraltar. It was thought to be extinct until 1994, when some specimens were discovered at the Upper Rock Nature Reserve in Gibraltar. For now, that is the only place to see them in the wild, although you can also see the cultivated plants at the Gibraltar Botanic Gardens.


Torontofiredancer via Wikimedia // GFDL

Strongylodon macrobotrys, or jade vine as it is more commonly known, is a species of woody vine festooned with blue-green flowers that can only be found in the tropical forests of the Philippines (primarily on Luzon, Mindoro, and Catanduanes Islands). The destruction of rainforests has threatened its habitat, although the botanists at Kew Gardens in England have had success growing the plant.


US Botanic Garden via Wikimedia //Public Domain

A plant you may be familiar with, the “Corpse Flower” blooms every 2-10 years and, when it does, emits an unpleasant odor not unlike that of a rotting animal. The flower is native only to the rainforests of western Sumatra.


A species of plant in the lily family, this flower can only be found in the hills surrounding Tepoztlan, in the state of Morelos, Mexico. It can grow over a foot tall, and the dark brown and purple flowers hang from the very top.


Eric in SF via Wikimedia // CC BY-SA 3.0

Clianthus puniceus is native to New Zealand, and often referred to as “parrot’s beak” or “lobster claw” because of the distinctive shape of its showy red flowers. But it is highly endangered: Only 200 plants are known to exist, scattered around New Zealand’s North Island. Today, your best chance of seeing them is in Te Urewera National Park.


Australian Network for Plant Conservation via Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

A species of orchid known only to a few sites in the Southern Tablelands of New South Wales, Australia, Genoplesium plumosum (more commonly known as the Tallong midge-orchid) tends to be difficult to find even in the small region where it grows because it only flowers for about a month, in late summer or autumn. In 2008 there were estimated to be only around 250 plants left, due in part due to the introduction of the European rabbit to the area. You may still be able to see a few plants at Morton National Park, however.


Eric Hunt via Wikimedia // CC BY 2.5

Erica abietina is endemic to Table Mountain, which overlooks Cape Town in South Africa. It produces masses of pink and red flowers and has seven main subspecies, some of which are critically endangered.


Rafflesia arnoldii. Image credit: Tamaar via Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

A parasitic plant endemic to the northern areas of the Philippines, Rafflesia leonardi was only discovered in 2005, in the northeastern region of the island of Luzon. Also called the “corpse flower” (yes, more than one flower goes by that name) because of the stink it gives off to attract pollinators, it has become a major tourist attraction and symbol of conservation for the area. It is part of the same genus as Rafflesia arnoldii, the largest flower in the world. Yet another species in the genus, Rafflesia philippensis, grows only on a single mountain in the Philippines—Mt. Banahaw.

February 28, 2017 – 2:00pm

81-Year-Old Woman Develops Mobile Game Based on Japanese Holiday

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Masako Wakamiya via iTunes

Masako Wakamiya has found a modern way to celebrate a tradition from her Japanese heritage. At age 81, she devoted herself to learning how to code. Now, after six months of studying and with guidance from her teacher, RocketNews24 reports that Wakamiya has developed her own mobile game.

The app, titled Hinadan, is inspired by the annual Girl’s Day (Hinamatsuri) celebrations in Japan. During the days surrounding the actual holiday on March 3, dolls dressed in traditional clothing from the Heian period (794 to 1185 CE) are showcased in homes that have a young daughter. The order of the figurines is very important; for example, the first row of the stand is always occupied by the emperor and empress dolls.

To play Hinadan, players arrange 12 cartoon dolls into their proper spots on a four-level display. Some knowledge of the Japanese practice is required to win, but if players are not familiar with the holiday, the game gives them the opportunity to learn. The voiceover also provides assistance, if users find themselves struggling.

You can watch Wakamiya run through the game below.

Hinamatsuri displays are set up at the end of February and taken down the day after the official festival on March 3. To observe the event outside of Japan, you can download Hinadan for free from Apple’s app store.

[h/t RocketNews24]

February 28, 2017 – 1:45pm

Xbox One to Offer ‘Netflix for Games’

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In a move that might remind gamers of Sony’s Playstation Now online subscription service, Microsoft has announced that Xbox One users will soon be able to browse and borrow from a library of more than 100 games, Engadget reports. It’s called the Xbox Game Pass, and it promises to kill more of your time than ever before.

The Pass works like this: Owners of the Xbox One console pay $10 a month to access a rotating catalog of back titles from the Xbox 360 and the One. If you see a title you like, you can download and install it on the One, eliminating any potential internet lag issues. (Playstation Now is a streaming service.) If you really like a title, you’ll have the option of buying it at a 20 percent discount.

The move has been seen by some video game analysts as an attempt to bolster sales of the Xbox One, which have been lagging behind Sony’s Playstation 4 console. Microsoft hasn’t announced which titles will be included, but listed publishers such as 2K, Bandai Namco, Capcom, and THQ as participating developers, with Halo 5 and NBA 2K16 being teased on their landing page. The Xbox Game Pass will be available to Xbox Insiders shortly, with a full rollout expected this spring.

[h/t Engadget]

February 28, 2017 – 1:30pm

A Margaritaville-Themed Retirement Community is Coming to Florida

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Seniors who dream of spending retirement like they’re living in a Jimmy Buffett song are in luck. As Curbed reports, construction on a Margaritaville-themed senior housing development in Daytona Beach, Florida is currently underway.

Latitude Margaritaville will offer many of the same amenities as a typical Florida retirement complex. Residents of the community’s 6900 homes will have access to a gym, a pool, arts and education programs, a beach shuttle, and a 200,000-square-foot shopping center.

According to the Margaritaville blog, the facility will also channel the brand’s “authentic, ‘no worries,’ tropical vibe.” Indoor and outdoor dining spaces will serve food and drinks from the Margaritaville restaurant chain and a bandshell in the village’s center will host live entertainment. (The blog doesn’t state whether Florida resident Jimmy Buffett will be stopping by for performances.) In total, the development project is expected to cost $1 billion.

Furnished model homes will be ready by early 2018, and the retail space is scheduled to open this fall. Younger Buffett fans looking for their own immersive Margaritaville experience won’t need to venture far outside Daytona Beach to find one. The first phase of Margaritaville Resort Orlando, complete with vacation homes, a wellness center, and a water park, will launch at the end of this year.

[h/t Curbed]

February 28, 2017 – 1:00pm

Introducing a New Phone That’s the Size of a Credit Card

Image credit: 

Talkase, courtesy of Facebook

In today’s Internet-obsessed age, some mobile users need a digital detox, but they still want a phone that’s both functional and stylish. Enter the Talkase T3, a sleek, credit card-sized device that Mashable spotted at last weekend’s Mobile World Congress tech show in Barcelona, Spain.

The Talkase T3 is a new, improved version of a mini GSM phone that its maker successfully funded on Kickstarter in 2014. Its design is akin to a retro calculator, with large, square buttons and a rectangular digital screen. The Talkase T3’s main selling point, however, is its size: It’s slim enough to slip into a wallet, making it a great on-the-go device. Plus, it’s cheap, retailing for just $33.

That being said, if you purchase the Talkase T3, you’ll be forsaking a lot of features that, by now, are standard on most cell phones. A so-called “dumbphone,” the device lacks a camera, and it doesn’t have apps or games. And while there’s a built-in hotspot feature that allows you to turn its 3G connection into a Wi-Fi hotspot, it’s definitely not ideal for hours of Internet surfing. But if you’re looking for just the basics—i.e. calling, messaging, an alarm clock, and a music player—the phone’s minimalism might just be the thing for you. The tradeoff? Even though you’ll sacrifice bells and whistles with the Talkase T3, you’ll score an incredible battery life: 72 hours from only one charge.

[h/t Mashable]

February 28, 2017 – 12:30pm

In preparation for a state visit by…

In preparation for a state visit by Nicolae Ceausescu, Elizabeth II ordered the guest rooms of Buckingham Palace be stripped of valuables for fears that they’d be stolen. She later described the visit as the worst three days of her life. 00