We May Have the Ancient Romans to Thank for Hamburgers

vvmich, iStock via Getty Images
vvmich, iStock via Getty Images

Before the Whopper and the Big Mac, there was isicia omentata. Seasoned with white wine and fish sauce, the ancient Roman recipe hardly resembles fast food, but experts believe it could be history's earliest example of a hamburger, IFL Science reports.

The cookbook Apicius, which dates from the fourth or fifth century and was likely named for the famously gluttonous Roman foodie Marcus Gavius Apicius, provides a glimpse into the extravagant diets of early Rome's upper class. One of the more familiar recipes in the tome is a minced meat patty served with a bread roll—in other words, a burger in the barest sense of the term.

Isicia omentata wasn't intended to be a cheap bite for the hungry commoner like today's burgers are. The meat was flavored with ingredients like pine nuts, peppercorns, and a fermented fish sauce called garum. (Though adding seafood to your burger may seem strange today, garum wasn't that different from the Chinese fish sauce that eventually evolved into present-day ketchup.) The roll that came with it was soaked in white wine—a departure from your average sesame seed bun.

It's unclear if this dish had any influence on the modern hamburger. Many experts credit German immigrants with bringing minced meat patties from Hamburg to the United States. Known as "Hamburg steaks," those first patties were served without buns, and they were also considered gourmet cuisine. The hamburger's affordability is a relatively recent development in the food's history.

If you're interested in dining as the Romans did, you can find the recipe for isicia omentata online. Fries are optional.

[h/t IFL Science]

Celebrate the Holidays With the 2020 Harry Potter Funko Pop Advent Calendar

Funko
Funko

Though the main book series and movie franchise are long over, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter remains in the spotlight as one of the most popular properties in pop-culture. The folks at Funko definitely know this, and every year the company releases a new Advent calendar based on the popular series so fans can count down to the holidays with their favorite characters.

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Right now, you can pre-order the 2020 edition of Funko's popular Harry Potter Advent calendar, and if you do it through Amazon, you'll even get it on sale for 33 percent off, bringing the price down from $60 to just $40.

Funko Pop!/Amazon

Over the course of the holiday season, the Advent calendar allows you to count down the days until Christmas, starting on December 1, by opening one of the tiny, numbered doors on the appropriate day. Each door is filled with a surprise Pocket Pop! figurine—but outside of the trio of Harry, Hermione, and Ron, the company isn't revealing who you'll be getting just yet.

Calendars will start shipping on October 15, but if you want a head start, go to Amazon to pre-order yours at a discount.

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Paqui Tortilla Chips, the World's Spiciest Chip, Is Sold One to a Customer

Paqui
Paqui

If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to get pepper-sprayed directly in your mouth, Paqui Chips has something you can’t afford to miss. Following the success of their Carolina Reaper Madness One Chip Challenges in 2016, 2017, and 2019, the company is re-releasing the sadistic snack for 2020. Continuing their part-marketing gimmick, part-public safety effort, the Reaper chip won’t be sold in bags. You just get one chip.

That’s because Paqui dusts its chips with the Carolina Reaper Pepper, which is largely considered the world’s hottest pepper, and this year will also include a bit of Scorpion Pepper and Sichuan Peppercorns, just to give it some extra kick. To drive home the point of how hot this chip is—it’s really, extremely, punishingly hot—the chip is sold in a tiny, coffin-shaped box.

Peppers like the Carolina Reaper are loaded with capsaicin, a compound that triggers messages of heat and pain and fiery consumption; your body can respond by vomiting or having shortness of breath. While eating the chip is not the same as consuming the bare, whole pepper, it’s still going to be a very uncomfortable experience. For a profanity-filled example, you can check out this video from a previous year's #OneChipChallenge:

While the chip, which retails for $6.99, has only been sold on Paqui’s website in past years, this year it will be available at select retail stores across the country, including 7-Eleven and Kroger. The chip will hit shelves on September 22 (just beware that they sell out quickly).

The company also encourages pepper aficionados to upload photos or videos of their attempts to finish the chip using the hashtag #OneChipChallenge. If it becomes too much, try eating yogurt, honey, or milk to dampen the effects.

This story has been updated for 2020.