Beatrice Finkelstein, a nutrition researcher at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, conducted a series of "dark-isolation studies" during the 1950s. Subjects were placed for periods of 6 to 72 hours in a totally dark, sound proof chamber furnished with a bed, chair, refrigerator, and chemical toilet.
The purpose of this was to find out how astronauts might react to being confined in a small, dark space for a prolonged period of time. And in particular how their responses to food might change.
Some of her results:
Food has had varying degrees of significance. Some subjects have spent excessive amounts of time eating, nibbling, or counting food; others have become very angry with the food or very fond of it. Here again, evidence is strong that food in a situation of stress may be used as a tool to obtain personal satisfactions.
But the stranger result was how the lack of visual input completely changed the flavor of the food:
Palatability and acceptability of food in many instances are contrary to that on the ground or in the air; e.g., brownies have enjoyed only a fair degree of acceptability whereas ordinarily they are highly acceptable; canned orange juice usually rates low in acceptability; in isolation it has moderate to high acceptability. Data also indicate that the ability to discriminate one food from another within the same food group is impaired. All meats taste alike. Subjects are unable to distinguish one canned fruit from another. White, whole wheat, and rye breads used in sandwiches are similar in taste. Thus it is quite apparent that removal of the visual cues ordinarily associated with eating interferes with the taste and enjoyment of food and therefore the acceptability of food.
1949: Ruth Brand "kicked off" National Pickle Week. And apparently that's a genuine giant pickle in the photos, not a fake one.
"Harry Conley of the Green Bay Food company, who is president of the National Pickle Packers association, officiates in Chicago at the 'kickoff' of the national pickle week campaign. Pickle week will be held May 20 to 28. Kicking the world's largest pickle is Ruth Brand, Chicago."
Lancaster Intelligencer Journal - Feb 11, 1949
But what is this about Amerigo Vespucci being a pickle dealer? I'd never heard this before.
Some research reveals that the claim traces back to a remark made by Ralph Waldo Emerson in his book English Traits:
Strange, that the New World should have no better luck,— that broad America must wear the name of a thief. Amerigo Vespucci, the pickle-dealer at Seville, who went out, in 1499, a subaltern with Hojeda, and whose highest naval rank was boatswain's mate in an expedition that never sailed, managed in this lying world to supplant Columbus, and baptize half the earth with his own dishonest name.
Smithsonian magazine investigated the claim and doesn't think it's very likely. Vespucci did work for a while as a ship chandler, and in this capacity it's possible he may have supplied some ships with pickled foods. But to go from this to calling him a pickle dealer is a bit of a stretch.
The audience, thinking it was all part of the McDowell County Line's act, cheered when Teasley — known professionally as John T — jumped from the stage and began writhing on the floor at the Blarney Stone bar in Huntington Beach. The crowd didn't know that a spilled beer had short-circuited an amplifier, sending hundreds of volts of electricity through his body.