50 Facts About Every Candy in Your Bag

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Haul of Fame: From Reese's to Twizzlers, some candies are guaranteed to end up in your bag this Halloween. Unwrap these tidbits about a few of the most popular sugary treats.

1. OVER 200 MILLION SKITTLES ARE PRODUCED DAILY.

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The colorful treats were originally imported when they were first sold in 1979. Today, they are manufactured in the United States—by the millions.

2. MILK DUDS WERE NAMED AFTER A FLUKE.

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Instead of the symmetric candies they were intended to be, the first batch of this chocolate caramel candy came out of machinery oval-shaped. When an employee F. Hoffman & Company, the company producing the brand, called them “duds” and the name stuck.

3. THE MYSTERY FLAVOR OF DUM DUMS ISN’T A COMPLETE MYSTERY.

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The mixture for these lollipops, which often don wrappers with question marks, is created when the last of one batch of the candy is combined with the beginning of a new batch.

4. SWEDISH FISH ARE VEGAN AND VEGETARIAN-FRIENDLY.

Swedish Fish
C. C. Chapman, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

These vending machine staples—which first appeared in the U.S. in that late 1950s—fall in the “starch jellies” category, defined as firmer gummy candies that don’t contain any gelatin.

5. SOUR PATCH KIDS HAVE OUT-OF-THIS-WORLD ORIGINS.

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Initially dubbed Mars Men, these Canadian creations were inspired by the growing fascination with UFOs in the '70s. However, when they made their way to the U.S. in 1985, the name was changed to Sour Patch Kids, to reflect a more timely American obsession: Cabbage Patch Kids.

6. MIKE AND IKE ARE FICTIONAL.

Mike and Ike
Mike Mozart, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

The fruit-inspired sweets from the Just Born company aren't named after real people, according to the brand. But that hasn't stopped fans from coming up with their own theories about the inspiration behind the name. Some believe Mike and Ike is a reference to a popular vaudeville act, while others attribute it to a 1937 song “Mike and Ike (The Twins).”

7. THE “LOLLI” IN LOLLIPOP PROBABLY DOESN’T MEAN WHAT YOU THINK IT DOES.

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While many believe that the word for the handheld candy comes from ice-lollies (also known as ice pops or popsicles), which hang downward as they melt, that’s not the case. Instead, lolly is an Old English dialect term for the tongue.

8. DOVE CHOCOLATE IS THE MOST POPULAR CANDY IN CHINA.

Dove chocolate
Frazer Harrison // Staff // Getty Images

The chocolate company may be headquartered in the United States, but it scores high marks overseas. By some estimates, about 34 percent of the chocolate consumed in China is made by Dove.

9. KIT KATS WERE ORIGINALLY CREATED TO BE CONSUMED WITH TEA.

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Early marketing for the popular wafer candy focusing on selling the Kit Kat as a meal, but the company also encouraged customers to treat it as a snack. One example: a Kit Kat slogan that called the treat “the best companion to a cup of tea.”

10. CANDY CORN STARTED OUT AS “CHICKEN FEED.”

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The colors of the popular Halloween candy are inspired by the shades of actual corn kernels.

11. YOUR FAVORITE PROBABLY MAKES AN APPEARANCE IN THE GUINNESS RECORD-HOLDING LARGEST COLLECTION OF CANDY WRAPPERS.

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For more than three decades, Milan Lukich Valdivia from Tacna, Peru, amassed a total of 5065 candy wrappers from 49 countries. The collection claimed the title in 2015.

12. FRINGE LOVERS FAN OUT OVER RED VINES.

Red vines
Nik Pawlak, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

When the Fox sci-fi series—which ran from 2008 to 2013—was in danger of not having a fourth season, fans sent the studio a sweet surprise: 200 cases of Red Vines, a favorite of one of the characters on the show. And it worked. The show eventually went off the air after five seasons.

13. TOOTSIE ROLLS HELPED PERK UP WORLD WAR II SOLDIERS.

Tootsie Rolls

Treasured for their ability to withstand hot weather and stay in mint condition over time, Tootsie Rolls were seen as a small bite of “quick energy” by the U.S. military during World War II.

14. HERSHEY’S CHOCOLATE HAS LANDED ON THE MOON.

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A heat-resistant version of the chocolate bar called the Hershey’s Tropical Chocolate Bar was created in collaboration with the military. The treat, which could last up to an hour in 120 degree temperatures, was placed aboard Apollo 15 in 1971.

15. ACROSS THE COUNTRY, REESE’S REIGN SUPREME.

Kim Jones, Flickr // CC BY-ND 2.0

By some estimates, Reese’s cups earn the number one spot among Halloween candy brands. In fact, Hershey sells more than $500 million worth of Reese’s annually.

16. IN GERMANY, KIDS SCORE FREE HARIBO GUMMIES ONCE A YEAR.

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The HARIBO candy factory is located in Bonn, western Germany.
PATRIK STOLLARZ / Staff // Getty Images

Every October, a tradition that started in the 1930s continues: Kids can visit the Haribo headquarters to trade in acorns and chestnuts for free gummy treats.

17. YOU PROBABLY REACH FOR MIKE AND IKE AT THE MOVIES.

Mike & Ike
Alex Guerrero, Flickr // CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0

The candy brand is the best-selling non-chocolate candy at movie theaters—and has commanded that spot for years.

18. CHOCOLATE SHOULD BE STORED AT ROOM TEMPERATURE.

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Experts warn that storing your sweet stuff in the fridge will lead to condensation. “Water is the enemy of chocolate,” Andrew Black of MAST Chocolate—the New York-based bean-to-bar chocolate makers—told Mental Floss.

19. AT THE NEW JERSEY FACTORY, 2 BILLION M&M’S ARE PRODUCED EVERY EIGHT HOURS.

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That means that 69,000 of the mini chocolates are manufactured every second.

20. HERSHEY'S KISSES STARTED OUT AS A LABOR OF LOVE.

Hershey's Kisses
Lori & Todd, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

In 1907, when the drop-sized chocolate candies were first introduced, workers wrapped each one by hand.

21. HARIBO TREATS DELIGHT IN DENMARK.

Haribo gummies
PATRIK STOLLARZ / Staff // Getty Images

The company, notorious for their gummy bears, is the most popular candy brand among Danes. But residents of Denmark are known for having a sweet tooth in general. Compared to the average European, each Danish citizen eats twice as much sweets, at an average of 18 pounds annually.

22. MILKY WAYS DIDN'T ALWAYS INCLUDE CARAMEL.

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Amy the Nurse, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

It’s hard to believe that the candy bar’s most well-known feature wasn't always there, but the original ingredients included eggs, sugar, and air.

23. YOU WON’T FIND FIZZL’D FRUITS SKITTLES.

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You might be able to “taste the rainbow” by way of six flavor sets of Skittles, but the Fizzl’d Fruits isn't one of them. The powder-covered Skittles were discontinued in 2012.

24. MILK CHOCOLATE WAS CREATED BY THE SWISS.

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After attempting to combine milk with chocolate for eight years, Switzerland-based confectioner Daniel Peter finally discovered the necessary ingredient to make the combo work in 1870: condensed milk, made by his neighbor Henri Nestlé.

25. PEZ CANDIES PACK IN A LOT OF PRESSURE.

Pez candy
Dave Lawler, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

3000 pounds, to be exact. That’s what it takes to turn the raw ingredients of the sugary treat into Pez candy.

26. CARAMEL AND BUTTERSCOTCH ARE SIMILAR BUT NOT THE SAME.

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Caramel hard candies
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Both mixtures include melted sugar, vanilla, and butter. But while caramel is based in white granulated sugar, butterscotch uses brown sugar instead.

27. BEING ABLE TO HOLD A PEZ DISPENSER WITH ONE HAND WAS A DESIGN GOAL.

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The flip-top dispenser has a very deliberate design. According to the original patent, the one-hand opening was “important not only for persons having only one hand but also persons who often have only one hand free (for example motor-vehicle drivers), or whose occupation causes their hands to become smeared with dirt.”

28. REESE’S PIECES WEREN’T ALWAYS REESE’S PIECES.

Reese's Pieces
Ravi Shah, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

Hershey debuted the bite-sized peanut butter cups in 1978 with the name PBs before they were eventually renamed Reese's Pieces.

29. THERE’S A REASON HARIBO’S GUMMIES ARE BEAR-SHAPED.

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Founder Hans Riegel was inspired by the festivals in his home country of Germany and the dancing bears beloved by children at those celebrations.

30. EVERY YEAR ABOUT ONE MILLION MILES OF TWIZZLERS ARE PRODUCED.

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That’s nearly 76 times the length of the Great Wall of China.

31. THERE IS A DUM DUMS LOLLIPOP MASCOT.

Dum Dums
Sarah Browning, Flickr // CC BY-NC 2.0

Conceptualized in 1966, the Drum Man travels across the country, waving with his white-gloved hands and spreading the word about Dum Dums.

32. STARBURSTS ARE AVAILABLE IN ALL-PINK SETS.

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But you’ll probably have to hit eBay to find them. The limited edition strawberry-only packs were released for a short run in April 2017.

33. THE JOLLY RANCHER NAME HAS SWEET INTENTIONS.

Jolly Ranchers
Dave Kirkman, Flickr // CC BY-ND 2.0

According to the company, the name Jolly Rancher was chosen for these bright-colored treats “to suggest a hospitable, western company.”

34. LAFFY TAFFY AND RUNTS WERE BOTH LAUNCHED BY A CLASSIC FILM.

Laffy Taffys
Jasmin Fine, Flickr // CC BY-ND 2.0

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (which was financed by Quaker Oats) brought both attention and sales to the sweet treats featured on-screen.

35. TODAY'S SNICKERS ARE SLIGHTLY SLIMMER.

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In 2013, candy empire Mars Inc. put all of their chocolate products on a diet, promising to only sell sweets that were 250 calories or less. That meant fans had to say goodbye to king-sized versions of their favorite treats and also that the regular-sized, 280-calorie Snickers bar got a makeover.

36. IN CANADA, SMARTIES ARE KNOWN AS ROCKETS.

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The treats (which pack in 25 calories per roll) are produced 24 hours a day in New Jersey and Ontario, but they have different names in each location. 

37. CHEWING GUM CAN HELP PREVENT SONGS FROM GETTING STUCK IN YOUR HEAD.

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Gum can do more than occupy your mouth, it can also help occupy your mind. According to scientists from the U.K.'s University of Redding, chowing down on the sticky substance helps to temporarily degrade your short-term memory, making it easier to shake off a tune that you can't stop thinking about.

38. BUTTERFINGER COMMERCIALS INTRODUCED MANY PEOPLE TO THE SIMPSONS CHARACTERS.

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The iconic TV family didn't make their first appearance on the silver screen when The Simpsons premiered on Fox in 1989. The characters actually started on the comedy variety series The Tracey Ullman Show and likely picked up their biggest audience when they starred in Butterfinger commercials in 1988.

39. ALL OF THE SUGAR IN YOUR HERSHEY'S TREAT WILL BE SUSTAINABLY SOURCED BY 2020.

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In May 2016, the company announced plans to establish "rigorous standards to ensure sugar has been responsibly grown and harvested." There are also plans to sustainably source 100 percent of its cocoa by the deadline as well, up from 50 percent in 2016.

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The fruit leather-inspired snack got a shout-out from the popular sitcom in 2000.

40. JELLY BELLY'S VOMIT-FLAVORED JELLY BEAN WAS BORN WHILE TRYING TO MAKE A PIZZA-FLAVORED VARIETY.

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While the process for created a unconventional Jelly Belly flavor is elaborate and thorough, sometimes there are happy accidents.

41. MILKY WAY BARS STARTED OUT SUPERSIZED.

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The original Milky Way treats weighed more than 3 ounces, compared to the just over 1.8 ounces that they are today. The reasoning: Mars Company founder Forrest Mars thought his treats would quite literally overshadow their Hershey bar competitors. He once said, “People walked up to the candy counter and they’d see this flat little Hershey bar for a nickel and right next to it, a giant Milky Way. Guess which one they’d pick?”

42. IN THE LATE 1980S, THERE WAS A NERDS CEREAL.

A 1986 commercial introduced fans of the sugary treat to Nerds cereal, which featured two flavors in one box and spouts on each side. After disappointing sales, the product was removed from shelves.

43. COWS MAY LIKE CANDY AS MUCH AS WE DO.

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For years, companies have been selling off their defective sweets (like Skittles, gummy worms, and dried fruit) to farms. With increasing prices for corn feed and other traditional cattle food, these treats are a cheaper alternative to fill the animals' starchy sugar needs.

44. BUTTERFINGERS WERE THE FOLLOW-UP TO BABY RUTH CANDY BARS.

Both chocolate bars are products of Curtiss Candy, a company that was once one of the largest candy competitors in the business.

45. SOUR PATCH KIDS ARE TONGUE-ACTIVATED.

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The ingredient list for Sour Patch Kids includes citric and tartaric acids, both full of protons that allow our tongues to recognize the sour flavor. When you pop a Sour Patch Kid into your mouth, those ingredients mix with saliva and the protons increase, upping the sour flavor.

46. ACROSS THE WORLD, NOT ALL KIT KATS ARE CREATED EQUAL.

Kit Kat Switzerland Singles
Kit Kat Singles are sold in Switzerland.
FABRICE COFFRINI / Staff // Getty Images

The number of “fingers” varies from country to country. Aussie Kit Kat fans can enjoy a 12-finger block, while those in the Middle East are used to Kit Kats sold with three fingers.

47. MARS BARS ARE AVAILABLE IN A SPREADABLE FORM.

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The Mars bounty spread mimics the flavors of the candy bar, including coconut flakes.

48. HEATH BARS WERE ORIGINALLY MARKETED AS A HEALTHY TREAT.

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The candy—a combination of butter, sugar, almonds, and milk chocolate— was once thought to pep a person up.

49. THE CREATORS OF AIRHEADS REPORTEDLY ONCE TRIED TO DO THE IMPOSSIBLE: MAKE A SUCCESSFUL GRAPE ICE CREAM.

Airheads
Special, Flickr // CC BY-NC 2.0

Unfortunately, it wasn't successful. Just like similar products from other companies that have made the attempt, including Ben & Jerry's, Airheads’s grape flavor didn't fly off the shelves. Though it’s possible to make the ice cream flavor on a large scale, there’s a reason it will probably never become more popular.

50. OCTOBER 28 IS A BIG DAY FOR CANDY CORN.

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The official National Candy Corn day might be October 30, but according to sales, it’s unofficially on October 28, the day when the largest amount of the tri-colored candy is sold.

Everything You Need to Know About Activated Charcoal

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Activated charcoal is everywhere. Touted in alternative health circles as a versatile treatment for almost anything that ails you, its proponents claim that it clears up your acne, treats inflammation caused by "toxic mold," draws out the venom from a snake bite, eases a hangover, halts your farts, removes "toxins" from your body, and brightens your pearly whites.

But there's little to no evidence for these claims. Though charcoal has a very long history as a folk remedy—ancient Egyptians used it as a treatment for "odorous vapors from putrefying wounds"—for the past century or so, its medical use has primarily been in emergency rooms to treat overdose and poisoning cases. In most cases there just aren't any clinical studies to test its efficacy for any other use. Not only that, but experts who spoke with Mental Floss caution that these treatments might come with added risks, too.

WHAT IS "ACTIVATED CHARCOAL"?

Activated charcoal isn't quite the same thing as the briquettes you use in your grill. Though they're both made of residue left from burning carbon-rich organic materials like wood, peat, or coconut shells, activated charcoal is oxygenated, which makes it far more porous. To activate the charcoal, manufacturers use steam or hot air to erode its internal surface [PDF], which increases the outside surface area along with its adsorption rate—the capacity to bind materials to a surface. Because of those adsorption abilities, charcoal has earned a reputation as a kind of bodily super-cleanser.

When you ingest activated charcoal, it works as a "gastrointestinal decontaminant," attracting various chemicals from your stomach and digestive tract, and then eliminating them from the body. That's why it's so helpful in cases of poisoning or drug overdose: It adsorbs the dangerous substance so it doesn't enter your bloodstream, then simply passes right on through—and out of—your system.

FROM E.R. TO GOOP

Activated charcoal had been popular in certain health food circles for years when, in late 2014, Gwyneth Paltrow's website Goop featured a "charcoal lemonade" sold by a Californian juice bar on a list of the best juice cleanses for "a good old-fashioned detox." Today, the substance can be found in everything from facial masks and odor-dampening comforters to a wide range of food and drink: Chefs are using activated charcoal to create pitch-black cakes, cocktails, pizza crust, and ice cream that's taking Instagram by storm.

The tiny bit of activated charcoal in the occasional cocktail probably won't do any damage—but it's not a good idea to take the substance on a regular basis, according to Rachele Pojednic, a professor of nutrition at Simmons College. "When you ingest it, you can't target what it's going to interact with," she says, "so if you’re on certain medications, you need to be really careful."

Some have never been on board with the stuff, including the FDA and the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, which recently started enforcing in restaurants a long-standing ban on activated charcoal. The agency—following FDA guidelines—considers it an "adulterated food."

IN CASE OF POISONING …

Aside from treatment for an overdose or poisoning, you don't need to take anything to "detox" your body: not a supplement, not a juice, not a soup. Nothing. That's what your liver is for.

"There's really no data to show that [activated charcoal] is going to do anything other than remove some pretty high-level ingested toxins" like the ones found in cases of poisoning or overdose, Pojednic says.

It's also dubious that activated charcoal can cure a hangover, as some alternative health practitioners recommend. "You feel a hangover because you're really dehydrated," she tells Mental Floss. "There's nothing in your system that needs to be extracted." While you might feel better after taking it, Pojednic says that's most likely because your hangover went away over time.

There are some risks associated with ingesting activated charcoal, too. Thanks to its adsorption abilities, charcoal can also take out all of the good chemicals in your system, including nutrients and the active ingredients in certain medications (like antidepressants) if taken around the same time.

BRUSH YOUR TEETH BLACK?

One of the most common products you'll find activated charcoal in is toothpaste; its advocates claim it whitens teeth. About a year ago, John Brooks, DDS, a dentist and researcher at the University of Maryland School of Dentistry, found himself getting questions from clinicians and students wondering what to tell their patients about activated charcoal toothpaste. He and two other professors reviewed the scientific literature and found that there's little evidence to support the claims of charcoal toothpastes because they haven't been tested. Brooks tells Mental Floss, "None of these charcoal toothpastes have undergone the rigors of scientific testing."

And, again, there are potential risks. While it's possible these toothpastes could whiten your teeth in the short term, they're so highly abrasive that they're likely to remove the enamel from your teeth too, which means your teeth won't stay white for long. Brooks also worries about patients regularly swishing known carcinogens—like silica and bentonite clay, which some charcoal toothpastes contain—around in their mouths. Moreover, he says, charcoal could potentially interfere with beneficial toothpaste ingredients, like fluoride.

IN THEORY, IT COULD HELP YOUR SKIN

The one cosmetic benefit of activated charcoal might be found in skincare products—maybe. As chemist Michelle Wong writes, "There isn't any good data on whether or not it works, but theoretically, it could work." It's possible activated charcoal's adsorption abilities could reach into your pores, pulling out the dirt and oils that get trapped there. But these products have not been rigorously tested, so we can't be certain about their efficacy. Wong also points out that activated charcoal typically takes several hours to have an effect, whereas most charcoal skincare products are applied for mere minutes.

The activated charcoal trend seems to be holding strong, despite the lack of evidence for its health claims. So eat that pitch-black ice cream every once in a while if you like, but don't count on it to improve your health.

Does Washing Your Fruits and Vegetables Really Do Anything?

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Washing produce is one of those habits that some people follow religiously and others shrug off altogether. If you're someone who struggles to find the motivation to cook in the first place, you might fall into the latter group. But cleaning your fruits and vegetables at home isn't just an outdated precaution: As Popular Mechanics reports, a thorough rinse could mean the difference between a meal that nourishes you and one that leaves you sick.

Produce is one common carrier of norovirus—a foodborne viral infection that triggers such symptoms as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. There's no way to know whether your lettuce is contaminated with harmful bacteria before it hits your plate, but cleaning it with plain tap water does make it safer to eat. According to USA Today, rinsing produce is effective enough to remove 90 percent of the pathogens left on it by the growing, harvesting, and shipping process. Rinsing is also a good way to remove any of the visible matter you don't want eat, such as grit and soil.

Cleaning your fruits and vegetables is definitely an improvement over eating them straight from your crisper drawer, but be warned that this isn't a foolproof way to avoid food poisoning. Water won't remove all the microbes living on the surface of your food, and even an extremely thorough rinse isn't enough to make produce contaminated with potentially deadly bacteria like E. coli safe to eat. But that doesn't mean the risk outweighs the benefits of including produce in your diet.

If you have a pile of veggies that need to be prepared for dinner, the best way to make them safer for consumption is to rinse them under cold water and rub them in a bowl of water, starting with the cleanest items and progressing to the produce that's more soiled. Give all the food a final rinse before moving it to the cutting board. Peeling the outside of your produce and cooking it when possible is another effective way to kill or remove stubborn bacteria.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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