A New Lung-Free Recipe Will Finally Make Haggis Legal for Canadians

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iStock

When it comes to food and drink, Scotland is famous for its whiskey and infamous for its haggis. While plenty of people enjoy the dish in Scotland (particularly on Burns Night and during New Year's celebrations), authentic versions of haggis have been illegal to sell in both the U.S. and Canada for years. But just in time for cold winter nights, BBC News reports that a unique variety of the Scottish staple will allow haggis back on Canadian plates for the first time in almost 50 years.

Haggis is made of sheep’s “pluck"—the heart, liver, and lungs—minced with onion, oatmeal, spices, and suet, or hard beef or mutton fat. The savory pudding has been verboten in the U.S. since 1971, when the U.S. Department of Agriculture ruled that the lungs of livestock—a key component of the dish—couldn’t be used as a food ingredient. In the 1990s the U.S. also banned UK livestock imports to prevent the spread of mad cow disease, further distancing itself from haggis, according to Scotland Now. (The U.S. announced in 2016 that it had reached an agreement with the UK to lift the red-meat ban.)

Canada instated a similar lung-products ban in 1971, though it lifted its own embargo on red-meat imports from the UK in 2015. However, the bans on lungs in food products still stand in both countries, forcing haggis producers in Scotland to get creative with their recipes if they want to sell them in North America.

Macsween of Edinburgh, a Scottish meat wholesaler, has created a new, lung-free version of haggis to sell in Canada, according to The National Post. It contains sheep’s heart instead of lung, and is prepared in company facilities that have been pre-approved by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. “It’s as close as we can get to the original recipe using different meats, because the oats and spice mix are the same,” David Rae, Macsween’s commercial director, told the UK newspaper i.

Some food providers have criticized the move, claiming that sheep’s lungs give haggis its fluffy texture and nutty flavor. Others say that the pudding contains lots of ingredients, and that a few missing ones won’t impact its overall taste, the CBC reports.

So far, it’s unclear whether lung-free haggis will also be making its way stateside. But in Canada, the move is expected to rake in big bucks. Scotland’s food and drink exports to Canada are now worth more than $154 million, according to the Toronto Star.

There's also reason to hope that one day, Americans will be able to eat real, authentic Scottish haggis again, lungs and all. The USDA has been hinting about lifting the ban since 2015, though the regulatory change has yet to materialize.

[h/t BBC News]

Friday’s Best Amazon Deals Include Digital Projectors, Ugly Christmas Sweaters, and Speakers

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Amazon
As a recurring feature, our team combs the web and shares some amazing Amazon deals we’ve turned up. Here’s what caught our eye today, December 4. Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers, including Amazon, and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we only get commission on items you buy and don’t return, so we’re only happy if you’re happy. Good luck deal hunting!

What Are Sugar Plums?

Marten Bjork, Unsplash
Marten Bjork, Unsplash

Thanks to The Nutcracker and "'Twas the Night Before Christmas," sugar plums are a symbol of the holidays. But what are sugar plums, exactly? Like figgy pudding and yuletide, the phrase has become something people say (or sing) at Christmastime without knowing the original meaning. Before it was the subject of fairy dances and storybook dreams, a sugar plum was either a fruitless candy or a not-so-sweet euphemism.

According to The Atlantic, the sugar plums English-speakers ate from the 17th to the 19th century contained mostly sugar and no plums. They were made by pouring liquid sugar over a seed (usually a cardamom or caraway seed) or almond, allowing it to harden, and repeating the process. This candy-making technique was called panning, and it created layers of hard sugar shells. The final product was roughly the size and shape of a plum, which is how it came to be associated with the real fruit.

Before the days of candy factories, these confections could take several days to make. Their labor-intensive production made them a luxury good reserved for special occasions. This may explain how sugar plums got linked to the holidays, and why they were special enough to dance through children's heads on Christmas Eve.

The indulgent treat also became a synonym for anything desirable. This second meaning had taken on darker connotations by the 17th century. A 1608 definition from the Oxford English Dictionary describes a sugar plum as “something very pleasing or agreeable, esp. when given as a sop or bribe.” Having a "mouthful of sugar plums" wasn't necessarily a good thing, either. It meant you said sweet words that may have been insincere.

As true sugar plums have fallen out of fashion, demand for Christmas candy resembling the actual fruit has risen. You can now buy fancy candied plums and plum-flavored gummy candies for the holidays, but if you want something closer to the classic sugar plum, a Jordan almond is the more authentic choice.