Why Do Jews Eat Potato Pancakes During Hanukkah?

YelenaYemchuk/iStock via Getty Images
YelenaYemchuk/iStock via Getty Images

Hanukkah started Tuesday night and runs the whole week, eight nights in total. During these nights, a helluva lot of latkes, or potato pancakes, are consumed. To understand why, you first have to understand the story of Hanukkah. As with most Jewish holidays, in the beginning there was a lot of suffering. (This reminds me a funny Jewish joke. The refrain during each holiday goes like this: "We suffered, we suffered, we suffered, now let's eat!") This time, it was at the hands of Antiochus IV (215 BC – 164 BC), who massacred Jews left and right during his reign, refused to let them practice their religion and sacked their temples. He also forced them to assimilate to the Hellenistic ways of the times. But a fellow named Judah Maccabee, the leader of  a religious traditionalist group, refused to assimilate and fought against the Syrian-Greeks to take back the holy temple in Jerusalem.  In 165 BC, Maccabee and his group did just that. But when they got to the eternal flame (the oil lamp that burns 24/7/365 in every temple) they found that there was only enough oil to keep the flame going for one more night. But it took them eight nights to replenish the oil and the flame, miraculously, burned until reserves were brought in.

So the potato pancakes are fried in oil, which is a reminder of this miracle. In other countries, fried donuts are more popular. But in the States, it's definitely latkes. If you've never eaten a potato pancake, you don't know what you're missing! They are delicious when fresh, with a dollop of sour cream or apple sauce on top. After the jump, you'll find my personal recipe for the best potato pancakes in the world... Happy Hanukkah to all.

  • 2 cups peeled and shredded potatoes
  • 1 tablespoon grated onion
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 cup peanut oil for frying

Place the potatoes in a cheesecloth and wring, extracting as much moisture as possible.
In a medium bowl stir the potatoes, onion, eggs, flour and salt together.
In a large heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat, heat the oil until hot. Place large spoonfuls of the potato mixture into the hot oil, pressing down on them to form 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick patties. Brown on one side, turn and brown on the other. Let drain on paper towels. Salt to taste and serve hot!

America’s 10 Most Hated Easter Candies

Peeps are all out of cluck when it comes to confectionery popularity contests.
Peeps are all out of cluck when it comes to confectionery popularity contests.
William Thomas Cain/Getty Images

Whether you celebrate Easter as a religious holiday or not, it’s an opportune time to welcome the sunny, flora-filled season of spring with a basket or two of your favorite candy. And when it comes to deciding which Easter-themed confections belong in that basket, people have pretty strong opinions.

This year, CandyStore.com surveyed more than 19,000 customers to find out which sugary treats are widely considered the worst. If you’re a traditionalist, this may come as a shock: Cadbury Creme Eggs, Peeps, and solid chocolate bunnies are the top three on the list, and generic jelly beans landed in the ninth spot. While Peeps have long been polarizing, it’s a little surprising that the other three classics have so few supporters. Based on some comments left by participants, it seems like people are just really particular about the distinctions between certain types of candy.

Generic jelly beans, for example, were deemed old and bland, but people adore gourmet jelly beans, which were the fifth most popular Easter candy. Similarly, people thought Cadbury Creme Eggs were messy and low-quality, while Cadbury Mini Eggs—which topped the list of best candies—were considered inexplicably delicious and even “addictive.” And many candy lovers prefer hollow chocolate bunnies to solid ones, which people explained were simply “too much.” One participant even likened solid bunnies to bricks.

candystore.com's worst easter candies
The pretty pastel shades of bunny corn don't seem to be fooling the large contingent of candy corn haters.
CandyStore.com

If there’s one undeniable takeaway from the list of worst candies, it’s that a large portion of the population isn’t keen on chewy marshmallow treats in general. The eighth spot went to Hot Tamales Peeps, and Brach’s Marshmallow Chicks & Rabbits—which one person christened “the zombie bunny catacomb statue candy”—sits at number six.

Take a look at the full list below, and read more enlightening (and entertaining) survey comments here.

  1. Cadbury Creme Eggs
  1. Peeps
  1. Solid chocolate bunnies
  1. Bunny Corn
  1. Marshmallow Chicks & Rabbits
  1. Chocolate crosses
  1. Twix Eggs
  1. Hot Tamales Peeps
  1. Generic jelly beans
  1. Fluffy Stuff Cotton Tails

[h/t CandyStore.com]

5 Fast Facts About the Spring Equinox

paprikaworks/iStock via Getty Images
paprikaworks/iStock via Getty Images

Spring starts on March 19—the earliest it has ever arrived in 124 years—which means that warmer weather and longer days are just around the corner. To celebrate the spring equinox, here are some facts about the event.

1. The spring equinox arrives at 11:49 p.m. Eastern Time.

The first day of spring is March 19, 2020, but the spring equinox will only be here for a brief time. At 11:49 p.m. Eastern Time, the Sun will be perfectly in line with the equator, which results in both the northern and southern hemispheres receiving equal amounts of sunlight throughout the day. After the vernal equinox has passed, days will start to become shorter for the Southern Hemisphere and longer up north.

2. The Equinox isn't the only time you can balance an egg.

You may have heard the myth that you can balance an egg on its end during the vernal equinox, and you may have even tried the experiment in school. The idea is that the extra gravitational pull from the Sun when it's over the equator helps the egg stand up straight. While it is possible to balance an egg, the trick has nothing to do with the equinox: You can make an egg stand on its end by setting it on a rough surface any day of the year.

3. Not every place gets equal night and day.

The equal night and day split between the northern and southern hemispheres isn't distributed evenly across all parts of the world. Though every region gets approximately 12 hours of sunlight the day of the vernal equinox, some places get a little more (the day is about 12 hours and 14 minutes in Fairbanks, Alaska), and some get less.

4. The word equinox means "equal night."

The word equinox literally translates to equal ("equi") and night ("nox") in Latin. The term vernal means "new and fresh," and comes from the Latin word vernus for "of spring."

5. In 2020, Spring is arriving earlier than it has in 124 years.

If March 19 seems a little early for the first day of spring, you're right. Typically, March 21 has marked the first day of spring (though it arrived on March 20 in 2019). But the 2020 vernal equinox's arrival just before midnight means that this is the earliest spring has arrived in quite a while—124 years to be exact.

According to The Farmers' Almanac, there are several factors that can affect the date of spring's arrival: the number of days in a year, a change in orientation in the Earth's elliptical orbit, and the pull of gravity from the other planets.

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER