The Fruit of the Matter

(Image credit: Flickr user Martin LaBar)


Technically, green peppers, zucchini, cucumbers, and tomatoes are all fruits. But don't try telling that tot he U.S. Supreme Court. Per the 1893 case Nix vs. Hedden, the court decided tomatoes were veggies and therefore subject to the vegetable tariff. What was the Supreme Court's reasoning? Tomatoes have to be vegetables, because they're usually served with dinner, not dessert.


Turns out that when Mom told you not to eat apple seeds, she had good reason. From peaches to cherries, many fruit seeds contain cyanogenic glycosides, which turn into cyanide gas during digestion. In the last 50 years, at least nine people in Turkey have died of cyanide poisoning from gorging on apricots. The bitter almond, however, is the most lethal fruit. Experts estimate that eating 50 bitter almonds in one sitting will kill an average-size adult.


When Sony Music complained that Warrant's 1990 sophomore album didn't have a radio-friendly single, lead singer Jani "The Name and the Haircut Say Woman, but I Swear I'm a Guy" Lane wasted no time correcting the problem. Within 45 minutes, Lane had written that great ode to double entendres, "Cherry Pie". In a damning indictment of early 1990s taste, it quickly rose to No. 10 on the Billboard Hot 100. As of 2006, you'll be surprised to learn that Warrant is still a band. [ed note: the band is still recording, but Jani Lane is no longer a member.]


According to David Niven's book Bring on the Empty Horses, when screenwriter Charles MacArthur asked Charlie Chaplin for some advice, it went something like this:
"How, for example, could I make a fat lady, walking down Fifth Avenue, slip on a banana peel and still get a laugh?" he asked. "It's been done a million times. ...What's the best way to get a laugh? Do I show first the banana peel, then the fat lady approaching, then she slips? Or do I show the fat lady first, then the banana peel, then she slips?"

"Neither," Chaplin responded. "You show the fat lady approaching, then you show the banana peel, then you show the fat lady and the banana peel together. Then she steps over the banana peel and disappears down a manhole."


Talk about your gallows humor. In 1928, condemned killer George Appel was strapped into New York state's electric chair and asked if he had any last words. His parting remarks? "Well, gentlemen, you are about to see a baked Appel."


Actor and comedian W.C. Fields was nothing if not charming about his drinking. He once asked, "What contemptible scoundrel has stolen the cork to my lunch?" Fields was known to drink two bottles of gin a day -while in rehab. He didn't brag about his drinking on movie sets, though. Instead, he referred to the martini in his thermos as "pineapple juice." One day, someone on the set decided to play a prank. After taking a swig from his thermos, Fields shouted, "Somebody put pineapple juice in my pineapple juice!"


Before Stanley Kubrick got his hands on Anthony Burgess' A Clockwork Orange, Burgess optioned the novel's movie rights to Mick Jagger for a few hundred dollars. Jagger wanted to make the film with the Rolling Stones playing the roles of the "droogs." Fortunately for Kubrick, Burgess, and all of humanity, Jagger later dropped the idea.


The article above was published in the July - August 2006 issue of mental_floss magazine, reprinted here on Neatorama with permission.

Be sure to visit mental_floss' extremely entertaining website and blog!

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Re: "baked Apple". It's not fruit, but when the murderer James French was killed via the same method in 1966, his reported last words were "How's this for a headline? 'French Fries'!"
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'Vegetable' is a culinary term, not a scientific one. When people ask if a tomato is a fruit or vegetable, it's like asking if salt is a nutrient or a seasoning.
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