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Things You Didn’t Know About America’s 10 Best Restaurants

Things You Didn’t Know About America’s 10 Best Restaurants

These legendary restaurants have quite interesting histories

Before The French Laundry was opened by Thomas Keller, the building was home to another popular restaurant named The French Laundry.

America’s best restaurants tend to come across as monoliths, temples of gastronomy that arrived on the scene completely intact and stayed that way over the years. But these restaurants are deep down just businesses run by really talented folks, and they all have really interesting stories to tell.

Things You Didn’t Know About America’s 10 Best Restaurants (Slideshow)

We pulled the top 10 restaurants from our 2016 ranking of America’s top 101 — Jean Georges, Spago, Gabriel Kreuther, Restaurant Guy Savoy, L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon, The French Laundry, Eleven Madison Park, Daniel, Providence, and Le Bernardin — and did a deep dive into each restaurant and its history. We consulted everything from the restaurants’ websites to old write-ups, reviews, and The Daily Meal’s own editorial director Colman Andrews to track down as much information about these restaurants as possible; we bet you were unaware of most of them.

When we visit a much-lauded high-end restaurant, we tend to not go into it with more than the information necessary to enjoy the meal. If you were to dine at New York City’s Babbo, for example, you’d probably familiarize yourself with the menu ahead of time and know that it’s the flagship restaurant of chef Mario Batali. But you can dine there 10 times and still not know that from 1949 to 1993 the space was home to a beloved West Village institution named the Coach House, where James Beard ate his Christmas Eve dinner every year. The more you know about a restaurant and its context and history, the more “human” it becomes, in a way.

Read on to further your knowledge of 10 of America’s finest restaurants. And when you finally get a chance to dine at one of them (or if you’re lucky enough, to make a return visit), we bet that your appreciation for them will be deeper than just a respect for what’s coming out of the kitchen.


9 Disgusting Things You Didn't Know You've Been Eating Your Whole Life

Some processed foods are most enjoyable when consumed under a veil of ignorance.

Otto Von Bismarck, the politician who allegedly coined the phrase,“If you like laws and sausages, you should never watch either one being made,” knew this all too well.

But what about the everyday eats we assumed were safe, like bread, soda and cereal? Even if some of these foods seem innocuous, the fact that we need to pump up our snacks with additives speaks volumes about how far from 'natural' our food has become. Read below to find out what ingredients are really lurking behind those labels.

Listed under "ingredients" as: Castoreum

How we consume it: Vanilla-flavored treats

Even if castoreum, a liquid found in castor sacs near a beaver's anus, might not SOUND tasty, it is widely used as a substitute for vanilla flavoring.

Listed under "ingredients" as: L-Cysteine

How we consume it: Bagels, cakes and more.

Believe it or not, this compound made from human hair and/or duck feathers is actually used as a flavor enhancer. L-Cysteine is pretty common, so don't be surprised if you've already eaten some today.

Listed under "ingredients" as: Food coloring.

How we consumed it: Almost any artificially-dyed food

When manufacturers began making synthetic food coloring nearly 120 years ago, they relied heavily on coal tar (the byproduct of carbonized coal). Although the food industry has mostly phased out this product, the alternative isn't much better: oil.

"Although certifiable color additives have been called coal-tar colors because of their traditional origins, today they are synthesized mainly from raw materials obtained from petroleum," says the FDA website.

Listed under "ingredients" as: Propylene Glycol

How we consume it: Salad dressing

Propylene glycol is commonly used as an anti-freeze (but less toxic than ethylene glycol, a similar product), and can also be found in salad dressings as a thickening agent.

Listed under "ingredients" as: Brominated vegetable oil (BVO)

How to consume it: Citrus-flavored soda

Something called "vegetable oil" might seem unassuming in food production, but the active ingredient, bromine, is widely used as a flame retardant in furniture, and can be toxic. High levels of consumption may be tied to impaired neurological abilities and early onset puberty.

Listed under "ingredients" as: Tertiary butylhydroquinone (TBHQ)

How to consume it: Chicken nuggets

TBHQ is not just gross it can be highly dangerous, too. The synthetically-created preservative is used in everything from bubble gum to nail polish to cheese crackers. Unfortunately, the stuff is so toxic that just one gram of it could make you ill.

Listed under "ingredients" as: Silicon dioxide

How we consume it: Salts, soups and more

Silicon dioxide can be added to foods as an anti-clumping agent, and is often used to control humidity. If your soup tastes a little gritty, now you know why.

Listed under "ingredients" as: Butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT)

How we consume it: Cereal

We've all been told that antioxidants are good for us, but some are certainly better than others. BHT falls into the "others" group. This antioxidant property helps keep foods fresh for longer. So as long as you are fine with consuming the same chemical compound found in petroleum products, such as jet fuel, your bran flakes can stay crunchy for weeks!

Listed under "ingredients" as: E285

How we consume it: Caviar

Borax, the well-known home cleaning agent, can also be found as a food preservative in caviar. Although it is banned from most foods in the U.S., imported caviar preserved with E285 can still be sold here.

Clarification: The image originally associated with propylene glycol suggested that it was an anti-freeze commonly used in cars. This chemical is often found as a cooling agent in electronics.


9 Disgusting Things You Didn't Know You've Been Eating Your Whole Life

Some processed foods are most enjoyable when consumed under a veil of ignorance.

Otto Von Bismarck, the politician who allegedly coined the phrase,“If you like laws and sausages, you should never watch either one being made,” knew this all too well.

But what about the everyday eats we assumed were safe, like bread, soda and cereal? Even if some of these foods seem innocuous, the fact that we need to pump up our snacks with additives speaks volumes about how far from 'natural' our food has become. Read below to find out what ingredients are really lurking behind those labels.

Listed under "ingredients" as: Castoreum

How we consume it: Vanilla-flavored treats

Even if castoreum, a liquid found in castor sacs near a beaver's anus, might not SOUND tasty, it is widely used as a substitute for vanilla flavoring.

Listed under "ingredients" as: L-Cysteine

How we consume it: Bagels, cakes and more.

Believe it or not, this compound made from human hair and/or duck feathers is actually used as a flavor enhancer. L-Cysteine is pretty common, so don't be surprised if you've already eaten some today.

Listed under "ingredients" as: Food coloring.

How we consumed it: Almost any artificially-dyed food

When manufacturers began making synthetic food coloring nearly 120 years ago, they relied heavily on coal tar (the byproduct of carbonized coal). Although the food industry has mostly phased out this product, the alternative isn't much better: oil.

"Although certifiable color additives have been called coal-tar colors because of their traditional origins, today they are synthesized mainly from raw materials obtained from petroleum," says the FDA website.

Listed under "ingredients" as: Propylene Glycol

How we consume it: Salad dressing

Propylene glycol is commonly used as an anti-freeze (but less toxic than ethylene glycol, a similar product), and can also be found in salad dressings as a thickening agent.

Listed under "ingredients" as: Brominated vegetable oil (BVO)

How to consume it: Citrus-flavored soda

Something called "vegetable oil" might seem unassuming in food production, but the active ingredient, bromine, is widely used as a flame retardant in furniture, and can be toxic. High levels of consumption may be tied to impaired neurological abilities and early onset puberty.

Listed under "ingredients" as: Tertiary butylhydroquinone (TBHQ)

How to consume it: Chicken nuggets

TBHQ is not just gross it can be highly dangerous, too. The synthetically-created preservative is used in everything from bubble gum to nail polish to cheese crackers. Unfortunately, the stuff is so toxic that just one gram of it could make you ill.

Listed under "ingredients" as: Silicon dioxide

How we consume it: Salts, soups and more

Silicon dioxide can be added to foods as an anti-clumping agent, and is often used to control humidity. If your soup tastes a little gritty, now you know why.

Listed under "ingredients" as: Butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT)

How we consume it: Cereal

We've all been told that antioxidants are good for us, but some are certainly better than others. BHT falls into the "others" group. This antioxidant property helps keep foods fresh for longer. So as long as you are fine with consuming the same chemical compound found in petroleum products, such as jet fuel, your bran flakes can stay crunchy for weeks!

Listed under "ingredients" as: E285

How we consume it: Caviar

Borax, the well-known home cleaning agent, can also be found as a food preservative in caviar. Although it is banned from most foods in the U.S., imported caviar preserved with E285 can still be sold here.

Clarification: The image originally associated with propylene glycol suggested that it was an anti-freeze commonly used in cars. This chemical is often found as a cooling agent in electronics.


9 Disgusting Things You Didn't Know You've Been Eating Your Whole Life

Some processed foods are most enjoyable when consumed under a veil of ignorance.

Otto Von Bismarck, the politician who allegedly coined the phrase,“If you like laws and sausages, you should never watch either one being made,” knew this all too well.

But what about the everyday eats we assumed were safe, like bread, soda and cereal? Even if some of these foods seem innocuous, the fact that we need to pump up our snacks with additives speaks volumes about how far from 'natural' our food has become. Read below to find out what ingredients are really lurking behind those labels.

Listed under "ingredients" as: Castoreum

How we consume it: Vanilla-flavored treats

Even if castoreum, a liquid found in castor sacs near a beaver's anus, might not SOUND tasty, it is widely used as a substitute for vanilla flavoring.

Listed under "ingredients" as: L-Cysteine

How we consume it: Bagels, cakes and more.

Believe it or not, this compound made from human hair and/or duck feathers is actually used as a flavor enhancer. L-Cysteine is pretty common, so don't be surprised if you've already eaten some today.

Listed under "ingredients" as: Food coloring.

How we consumed it: Almost any artificially-dyed food

When manufacturers began making synthetic food coloring nearly 120 years ago, they relied heavily on coal tar (the byproduct of carbonized coal). Although the food industry has mostly phased out this product, the alternative isn't much better: oil.

"Although certifiable color additives have been called coal-tar colors because of their traditional origins, today they are synthesized mainly from raw materials obtained from petroleum," says the FDA website.

Listed under "ingredients" as: Propylene Glycol

How we consume it: Salad dressing

Propylene glycol is commonly used as an anti-freeze (but less toxic than ethylene glycol, a similar product), and can also be found in salad dressings as a thickening agent.

Listed under "ingredients" as: Brominated vegetable oil (BVO)

How to consume it: Citrus-flavored soda

Something called "vegetable oil" might seem unassuming in food production, but the active ingredient, bromine, is widely used as a flame retardant in furniture, and can be toxic. High levels of consumption may be tied to impaired neurological abilities and early onset puberty.

Listed under "ingredients" as: Tertiary butylhydroquinone (TBHQ)

How to consume it: Chicken nuggets

TBHQ is not just gross it can be highly dangerous, too. The synthetically-created preservative is used in everything from bubble gum to nail polish to cheese crackers. Unfortunately, the stuff is so toxic that just one gram of it could make you ill.

Listed under "ingredients" as: Silicon dioxide

How we consume it: Salts, soups and more

Silicon dioxide can be added to foods as an anti-clumping agent, and is often used to control humidity. If your soup tastes a little gritty, now you know why.

Listed under "ingredients" as: Butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT)

How we consume it: Cereal

We've all been told that antioxidants are good for us, but some are certainly better than others. BHT falls into the "others" group. This antioxidant property helps keep foods fresh for longer. So as long as you are fine with consuming the same chemical compound found in petroleum products, such as jet fuel, your bran flakes can stay crunchy for weeks!

Listed under "ingredients" as: E285

How we consume it: Caviar

Borax, the well-known home cleaning agent, can also be found as a food preservative in caviar. Although it is banned from most foods in the U.S., imported caviar preserved with E285 can still be sold here.

Clarification: The image originally associated with propylene glycol suggested that it was an anti-freeze commonly used in cars. This chemical is often found as a cooling agent in electronics.


9 Disgusting Things You Didn't Know You've Been Eating Your Whole Life

Some processed foods are most enjoyable when consumed under a veil of ignorance.

Otto Von Bismarck, the politician who allegedly coined the phrase,“If you like laws and sausages, you should never watch either one being made,” knew this all too well.

But what about the everyday eats we assumed were safe, like bread, soda and cereal? Even if some of these foods seem innocuous, the fact that we need to pump up our snacks with additives speaks volumes about how far from 'natural' our food has become. Read below to find out what ingredients are really lurking behind those labels.

Listed under "ingredients" as: Castoreum

How we consume it: Vanilla-flavored treats

Even if castoreum, a liquid found in castor sacs near a beaver's anus, might not SOUND tasty, it is widely used as a substitute for vanilla flavoring.

Listed under "ingredients" as: L-Cysteine

How we consume it: Bagels, cakes and more.

Believe it or not, this compound made from human hair and/or duck feathers is actually used as a flavor enhancer. L-Cysteine is pretty common, so don't be surprised if you've already eaten some today.

Listed under "ingredients" as: Food coloring.

How we consumed it: Almost any artificially-dyed food

When manufacturers began making synthetic food coloring nearly 120 years ago, they relied heavily on coal tar (the byproduct of carbonized coal). Although the food industry has mostly phased out this product, the alternative isn't much better: oil.

"Although certifiable color additives have been called coal-tar colors because of their traditional origins, today they are synthesized mainly from raw materials obtained from petroleum," says the FDA website.

Listed under "ingredients" as: Propylene Glycol

How we consume it: Salad dressing

Propylene glycol is commonly used as an anti-freeze (but less toxic than ethylene glycol, a similar product), and can also be found in salad dressings as a thickening agent.

Listed under "ingredients" as: Brominated vegetable oil (BVO)

How to consume it: Citrus-flavored soda

Something called "vegetable oil" might seem unassuming in food production, but the active ingredient, bromine, is widely used as a flame retardant in furniture, and can be toxic. High levels of consumption may be tied to impaired neurological abilities and early onset puberty.

Listed under "ingredients" as: Tertiary butylhydroquinone (TBHQ)

How to consume it: Chicken nuggets

TBHQ is not just gross it can be highly dangerous, too. The synthetically-created preservative is used in everything from bubble gum to nail polish to cheese crackers. Unfortunately, the stuff is so toxic that just one gram of it could make you ill.

Listed under "ingredients" as: Silicon dioxide

How we consume it: Salts, soups and more

Silicon dioxide can be added to foods as an anti-clumping agent, and is often used to control humidity. If your soup tastes a little gritty, now you know why.

Listed under "ingredients" as: Butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT)

How we consume it: Cereal

We've all been told that antioxidants are good for us, but some are certainly better than others. BHT falls into the "others" group. This antioxidant property helps keep foods fresh for longer. So as long as you are fine with consuming the same chemical compound found in petroleum products, such as jet fuel, your bran flakes can stay crunchy for weeks!

Listed under "ingredients" as: E285

How we consume it: Caviar

Borax, the well-known home cleaning agent, can also be found as a food preservative in caviar. Although it is banned from most foods in the U.S., imported caviar preserved with E285 can still be sold here.

Clarification: The image originally associated with propylene glycol suggested that it was an anti-freeze commonly used in cars. This chemical is often found as a cooling agent in electronics.


9 Disgusting Things You Didn't Know You've Been Eating Your Whole Life

Some processed foods are most enjoyable when consumed under a veil of ignorance.

Otto Von Bismarck, the politician who allegedly coined the phrase,“If you like laws and sausages, you should never watch either one being made,” knew this all too well.

But what about the everyday eats we assumed were safe, like bread, soda and cereal? Even if some of these foods seem innocuous, the fact that we need to pump up our snacks with additives speaks volumes about how far from 'natural' our food has become. Read below to find out what ingredients are really lurking behind those labels.

Listed under "ingredients" as: Castoreum

How we consume it: Vanilla-flavored treats

Even if castoreum, a liquid found in castor sacs near a beaver's anus, might not SOUND tasty, it is widely used as a substitute for vanilla flavoring.

Listed under "ingredients" as: L-Cysteine

How we consume it: Bagels, cakes and more.

Believe it or not, this compound made from human hair and/or duck feathers is actually used as a flavor enhancer. L-Cysteine is pretty common, so don't be surprised if you've already eaten some today.

Listed under "ingredients" as: Food coloring.

How we consumed it: Almost any artificially-dyed food

When manufacturers began making synthetic food coloring nearly 120 years ago, they relied heavily on coal tar (the byproduct of carbonized coal). Although the food industry has mostly phased out this product, the alternative isn't much better: oil.

"Although certifiable color additives have been called coal-tar colors because of their traditional origins, today they are synthesized mainly from raw materials obtained from petroleum," says the FDA website.

Listed under "ingredients" as: Propylene Glycol

How we consume it: Salad dressing

Propylene glycol is commonly used as an anti-freeze (but less toxic than ethylene glycol, a similar product), and can also be found in salad dressings as a thickening agent.

Listed under "ingredients" as: Brominated vegetable oil (BVO)

How to consume it: Citrus-flavored soda

Something called "vegetable oil" might seem unassuming in food production, but the active ingredient, bromine, is widely used as a flame retardant in furniture, and can be toxic. High levels of consumption may be tied to impaired neurological abilities and early onset puberty.

Listed under "ingredients" as: Tertiary butylhydroquinone (TBHQ)

How to consume it: Chicken nuggets

TBHQ is not just gross it can be highly dangerous, too. The synthetically-created preservative is used in everything from bubble gum to nail polish to cheese crackers. Unfortunately, the stuff is so toxic that just one gram of it could make you ill.

Listed under "ingredients" as: Silicon dioxide

How we consume it: Salts, soups and more

Silicon dioxide can be added to foods as an anti-clumping agent, and is often used to control humidity. If your soup tastes a little gritty, now you know why.

Listed under "ingredients" as: Butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT)

How we consume it: Cereal

We've all been told that antioxidants are good for us, but some are certainly better than others. BHT falls into the "others" group. This antioxidant property helps keep foods fresh for longer. So as long as you are fine with consuming the same chemical compound found in petroleum products, such as jet fuel, your bran flakes can stay crunchy for weeks!

Listed under "ingredients" as: E285

How we consume it: Caviar

Borax, the well-known home cleaning agent, can also be found as a food preservative in caviar. Although it is banned from most foods in the U.S., imported caviar preserved with E285 can still be sold here.

Clarification: The image originally associated with propylene glycol suggested that it was an anti-freeze commonly used in cars. This chemical is often found as a cooling agent in electronics.


9 Disgusting Things You Didn't Know You've Been Eating Your Whole Life

Some processed foods are most enjoyable when consumed under a veil of ignorance.

Otto Von Bismarck, the politician who allegedly coined the phrase,“If you like laws and sausages, you should never watch either one being made,” knew this all too well.

But what about the everyday eats we assumed were safe, like bread, soda and cereal? Even if some of these foods seem innocuous, the fact that we need to pump up our snacks with additives speaks volumes about how far from 'natural' our food has become. Read below to find out what ingredients are really lurking behind those labels.

Listed under "ingredients" as: Castoreum

How we consume it: Vanilla-flavored treats

Even if castoreum, a liquid found in castor sacs near a beaver's anus, might not SOUND tasty, it is widely used as a substitute for vanilla flavoring.

Listed under "ingredients" as: L-Cysteine

How we consume it: Bagels, cakes and more.

Believe it or not, this compound made from human hair and/or duck feathers is actually used as a flavor enhancer. L-Cysteine is pretty common, so don't be surprised if you've already eaten some today.

Listed under "ingredients" as: Food coloring.

How we consumed it: Almost any artificially-dyed food

When manufacturers began making synthetic food coloring nearly 120 years ago, they relied heavily on coal tar (the byproduct of carbonized coal). Although the food industry has mostly phased out this product, the alternative isn't much better: oil.

"Although certifiable color additives have been called coal-tar colors because of their traditional origins, today they are synthesized mainly from raw materials obtained from petroleum," says the FDA website.

Listed under "ingredients" as: Propylene Glycol

How we consume it: Salad dressing

Propylene glycol is commonly used as an anti-freeze (but less toxic than ethylene glycol, a similar product), and can also be found in salad dressings as a thickening agent.

Listed under "ingredients" as: Brominated vegetable oil (BVO)

How to consume it: Citrus-flavored soda

Something called "vegetable oil" might seem unassuming in food production, but the active ingredient, bromine, is widely used as a flame retardant in furniture, and can be toxic. High levels of consumption may be tied to impaired neurological abilities and early onset puberty.

Listed under "ingredients" as: Tertiary butylhydroquinone (TBHQ)

How to consume it: Chicken nuggets

TBHQ is not just gross it can be highly dangerous, too. The synthetically-created preservative is used in everything from bubble gum to nail polish to cheese crackers. Unfortunately, the stuff is so toxic that just one gram of it could make you ill.

Listed under "ingredients" as: Silicon dioxide

How we consume it: Salts, soups and more

Silicon dioxide can be added to foods as an anti-clumping agent, and is often used to control humidity. If your soup tastes a little gritty, now you know why.

Listed under "ingredients" as: Butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT)

How we consume it: Cereal

We've all been told that antioxidants are good for us, but some are certainly better than others. BHT falls into the "others" group. This antioxidant property helps keep foods fresh for longer. So as long as you are fine with consuming the same chemical compound found in petroleum products, such as jet fuel, your bran flakes can stay crunchy for weeks!

Listed under "ingredients" as: E285

How we consume it: Caviar

Borax, the well-known home cleaning agent, can also be found as a food preservative in caviar. Although it is banned from most foods in the U.S., imported caviar preserved with E285 can still be sold here.

Clarification: The image originally associated with propylene glycol suggested that it was an anti-freeze commonly used in cars. This chemical is often found as a cooling agent in electronics.


9 Disgusting Things You Didn't Know You've Been Eating Your Whole Life

Some processed foods are most enjoyable when consumed under a veil of ignorance.

Otto Von Bismarck, the politician who allegedly coined the phrase,“If you like laws and sausages, you should never watch either one being made,” knew this all too well.

But what about the everyday eats we assumed were safe, like bread, soda and cereal? Even if some of these foods seem innocuous, the fact that we need to pump up our snacks with additives speaks volumes about how far from 'natural' our food has become. Read below to find out what ingredients are really lurking behind those labels.

Listed under "ingredients" as: Castoreum

How we consume it: Vanilla-flavored treats

Even if castoreum, a liquid found in castor sacs near a beaver's anus, might not SOUND tasty, it is widely used as a substitute for vanilla flavoring.

Listed under "ingredients" as: L-Cysteine

How we consume it: Bagels, cakes and more.

Believe it or not, this compound made from human hair and/or duck feathers is actually used as a flavor enhancer. L-Cysteine is pretty common, so don't be surprised if you've already eaten some today.

Listed under "ingredients" as: Food coloring.

How we consumed it: Almost any artificially-dyed food

When manufacturers began making synthetic food coloring nearly 120 years ago, they relied heavily on coal tar (the byproduct of carbonized coal). Although the food industry has mostly phased out this product, the alternative isn't much better: oil.

"Although certifiable color additives have been called coal-tar colors because of their traditional origins, today they are synthesized mainly from raw materials obtained from petroleum," says the FDA website.

Listed under "ingredients" as: Propylene Glycol

How we consume it: Salad dressing

Propylene glycol is commonly used as an anti-freeze (but less toxic than ethylene glycol, a similar product), and can also be found in salad dressings as a thickening agent.

Listed under "ingredients" as: Brominated vegetable oil (BVO)

How to consume it: Citrus-flavored soda

Something called "vegetable oil" might seem unassuming in food production, but the active ingredient, bromine, is widely used as a flame retardant in furniture, and can be toxic. High levels of consumption may be tied to impaired neurological abilities and early onset puberty.

Listed under "ingredients" as: Tertiary butylhydroquinone (TBHQ)

How to consume it: Chicken nuggets

TBHQ is not just gross it can be highly dangerous, too. The synthetically-created preservative is used in everything from bubble gum to nail polish to cheese crackers. Unfortunately, the stuff is so toxic that just one gram of it could make you ill.

Listed under "ingredients" as: Silicon dioxide

How we consume it: Salts, soups and more

Silicon dioxide can be added to foods as an anti-clumping agent, and is often used to control humidity. If your soup tastes a little gritty, now you know why.

Listed under "ingredients" as: Butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT)

How we consume it: Cereal

We've all been told that antioxidants are good for us, but some are certainly better than others. BHT falls into the "others" group. This antioxidant property helps keep foods fresh for longer. So as long as you are fine with consuming the same chemical compound found in petroleum products, such as jet fuel, your bran flakes can stay crunchy for weeks!

Listed under "ingredients" as: E285

How we consume it: Caviar

Borax, the well-known home cleaning agent, can also be found as a food preservative in caviar. Although it is banned from most foods in the U.S., imported caviar preserved with E285 can still be sold here.

Clarification: The image originally associated with propylene glycol suggested that it was an anti-freeze commonly used in cars. This chemical is often found as a cooling agent in electronics.


9 Disgusting Things You Didn't Know You've Been Eating Your Whole Life

Some processed foods are most enjoyable when consumed under a veil of ignorance.

Otto Von Bismarck, the politician who allegedly coined the phrase,“If you like laws and sausages, you should never watch either one being made,” knew this all too well.

But what about the everyday eats we assumed were safe, like bread, soda and cereal? Even if some of these foods seem innocuous, the fact that we need to pump up our snacks with additives speaks volumes about how far from 'natural' our food has become. Read below to find out what ingredients are really lurking behind those labels.

Listed under "ingredients" as: Castoreum

How we consume it: Vanilla-flavored treats

Even if castoreum, a liquid found in castor sacs near a beaver's anus, might not SOUND tasty, it is widely used as a substitute for vanilla flavoring.

Listed under "ingredients" as: L-Cysteine

How we consume it: Bagels, cakes and more.

Believe it or not, this compound made from human hair and/or duck feathers is actually used as a flavor enhancer. L-Cysteine is pretty common, so don't be surprised if you've already eaten some today.

Listed under "ingredients" as: Food coloring.

How we consumed it: Almost any artificially-dyed food

When manufacturers began making synthetic food coloring nearly 120 years ago, they relied heavily on coal tar (the byproduct of carbonized coal). Although the food industry has mostly phased out this product, the alternative isn't much better: oil.

"Although certifiable color additives have been called coal-tar colors because of their traditional origins, today they are synthesized mainly from raw materials obtained from petroleum," says the FDA website.

Listed under "ingredients" as: Propylene Glycol

How we consume it: Salad dressing

Propylene glycol is commonly used as an anti-freeze (but less toxic than ethylene glycol, a similar product), and can also be found in salad dressings as a thickening agent.

Listed under "ingredients" as: Brominated vegetable oil (BVO)

How to consume it: Citrus-flavored soda

Something called "vegetable oil" might seem unassuming in food production, but the active ingredient, bromine, is widely used as a flame retardant in furniture, and can be toxic. High levels of consumption may be tied to impaired neurological abilities and early onset puberty.

Listed under "ingredients" as: Tertiary butylhydroquinone (TBHQ)

How to consume it: Chicken nuggets

TBHQ is not just gross it can be highly dangerous, too. The synthetically-created preservative is used in everything from bubble gum to nail polish to cheese crackers. Unfortunately, the stuff is so toxic that just one gram of it could make you ill.

Listed under "ingredients" as: Silicon dioxide

How we consume it: Salts, soups and more

Silicon dioxide can be added to foods as an anti-clumping agent, and is often used to control humidity. If your soup tastes a little gritty, now you know why.

Listed under "ingredients" as: Butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT)

How we consume it: Cereal

We've all been told that antioxidants are good for us, but some are certainly better than others. BHT falls into the "others" group. This antioxidant property helps keep foods fresh for longer. So as long as you are fine with consuming the same chemical compound found in petroleum products, such as jet fuel, your bran flakes can stay crunchy for weeks!

Listed under "ingredients" as: E285

How we consume it: Caviar

Borax, the well-known home cleaning agent, can also be found as a food preservative in caviar. Although it is banned from most foods in the U.S., imported caviar preserved with E285 can still be sold here.

Clarification: The image originally associated with propylene glycol suggested that it was an anti-freeze commonly used in cars. This chemical is often found as a cooling agent in electronics.


9 Disgusting Things You Didn't Know You've Been Eating Your Whole Life

Some processed foods are most enjoyable when consumed under a veil of ignorance.

Otto Von Bismarck, the politician who allegedly coined the phrase,“If you like laws and sausages, you should never watch either one being made,” knew this all too well.

But what about the everyday eats we assumed were safe, like bread, soda and cereal? Even if some of these foods seem innocuous, the fact that we need to pump up our snacks with additives speaks volumes about how far from 'natural' our food has become. Read below to find out what ingredients are really lurking behind those labels.

Listed under "ingredients" as: Castoreum

How we consume it: Vanilla-flavored treats

Even if castoreum, a liquid found in castor sacs near a beaver's anus, might not SOUND tasty, it is widely used as a substitute for vanilla flavoring.

Listed under "ingredients" as: L-Cysteine

How we consume it: Bagels, cakes and more.

Believe it or not, this compound made from human hair and/or duck feathers is actually used as a flavor enhancer. L-Cysteine is pretty common, so don't be surprised if you've already eaten some today.

Listed under "ingredients" as: Food coloring.

How we consumed it: Almost any artificially-dyed food

When manufacturers began making synthetic food coloring nearly 120 years ago, they relied heavily on coal tar (the byproduct of carbonized coal). Although the food industry has mostly phased out this product, the alternative isn't much better: oil.

"Although certifiable color additives have been called coal-tar colors because of their traditional origins, today they are synthesized mainly from raw materials obtained from petroleum," says the FDA website.

Listed under "ingredients" as: Propylene Glycol

How we consume it: Salad dressing

Propylene glycol is commonly used as an anti-freeze (but less toxic than ethylene glycol, a similar product), and can also be found in salad dressings as a thickening agent.

Listed under "ingredients" as: Brominated vegetable oil (BVO)

How to consume it: Citrus-flavored soda

Something called "vegetable oil" might seem unassuming in food production, but the active ingredient, bromine, is widely used as a flame retardant in furniture, and can be toxic. High levels of consumption may be tied to impaired neurological abilities and early onset puberty.

Listed under "ingredients" as: Tertiary butylhydroquinone (TBHQ)

How to consume it: Chicken nuggets

TBHQ is not just gross it can be highly dangerous, too. The synthetically-created preservative is used in everything from bubble gum to nail polish to cheese crackers. Unfortunately, the stuff is so toxic that just one gram of it could make you ill.

Listed under "ingredients" as: Silicon dioxide

How we consume it: Salts, soups and more

Silicon dioxide can be added to foods as an anti-clumping agent, and is often used to control humidity. If your soup tastes a little gritty, now you know why.

Listed under "ingredients" as: Butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT)

How we consume it: Cereal

We've all been told that antioxidants are good for us, but some are certainly better than others. BHT falls into the "others" group. This antioxidant property helps keep foods fresh for longer. So as long as you are fine with consuming the same chemical compound found in petroleum products, such as jet fuel, your bran flakes can stay crunchy for weeks!

Listed under "ingredients" as: E285

How we consume it: Caviar

Borax, the well-known home cleaning agent, can also be found as a food preservative in caviar. Although it is banned from most foods in the U.S., imported caviar preserved with E285 can still be sold here.

Clarification: The image originally associated with propylene glycol suggested that it was an anti-freeze commonly used in cars. This chemical is often found as a cooling agent in electronics.


9 Disgusting Things You Didn't Know You've Been Eating Your Whole Life

Some processed foods are most enjoyable when consumed under a veil of ignorance.

Otto Von Bismarck, the politician who allegedly coined the phrase,“If you like laws and sausages, you should never watch either one being made,” knew this all too well.

But what about the everyday eats we assumed were safe, like bread, soda and cereal? Even if some of these foods seem innocuous, the fact that we need to pump up our snacks with additives speaks volumes about how far from 'natural' our food has become. Read below to find out what ingredients are really lurking behind those labels.

Listed under "ingredients" as: Castoreum

How we consume it: Vanilla-flavored treats

Even if castoreum, a liquid found in castor sacs near a beaver's anus, might not SOUND tasty, it is widely used as a substitute for vanilla flavoring.

Listed under "ingredients" as: L-Cysteine

How we consume it: Bagels, cakes and more.

Believe it or not, this compound made from human hair and/or duck feathers is actually used as a flavor enhancer. L-Cysteine is pretty common, so don't be surprised if you've already eaten some today.

Listed under "ingredients" as: Food coloring.

How we consumed it: Almost any artificially-dyed food

When manufacturers began making synthetic food coloring nearly 120 years ago, they relied heavily on coal tar (the byproduct of carbonized coal). Although the food industry has mostly phased out this product, the alternative isn't much better: oil.

"Although certifiable color additives have been called coal-tar colors because of their traditional origins, today they are synthesized mainly from raw materials obtained from petroleum," says the FDA website.

Listed under "ingredients" as: Propylene Glycol

How we consume it: Salad dressing

Propylene glycol is commonly used as an anti-freeze (but less toxic than ethylene glycol, a similar product), and can also be found in salad dressings as a thickening agent.

Listed under "ingredients" as: Brominated vegetable oil (BVO)

How to consume it: Citrus-flavored soda

Something called "vegetable oil" might seem unassuming in food production, but the active ingredient, bromine, is widely used as a flame retardant in furniture, and can be toxic. High levels of consumption may be tied to impaired neurological abilities and early onset puberty.

Listed under "ingredients" as: Tertiary butylhydroquinone (TBHQ)

How to consume it: Chicken nuggets

TBHQ is not just gross it can be highly dangerous, too. The synthetically-created preservative is used in everything from bubble gum to nail polish to cheese crackers. Unfortunately, the stuff is so toxic that just one gram of it could make you ill.

Listed under "ingredients" as: Silicon dioxide

How we consume it: Salts, soups and more

Silicon dioxide can be added to foods as an anti-clumping agent, and is often used to control humidity. If your soup tastes a little gritty, now you know why.

Listed under "ingredients" as: Butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT)

How we consume it: Cereal

We've all been told that antioxidants are good for us, but some are certainly better than others. BHT falls into the "others" group. This antioxidant property helps keep foods fresh for longer. So as long as you are fine with consuming the same chemical compound found in petroleum products, such as jet fuel, your bran flakes can stay crunchy for weeks!

Listed under "ingredients" as: E285

How we consume it: Caviar

Borax, the well-known home cleaning agent, can also be found as a food preservative in caviar. Although it is banned from most foods in the U.S., imported caviar preserved with E285 can still be sold here.

Clarification: The image originally associated with propylene glycol suggested that it was an anti-freeze commonly used in cars. This chemical is often found as a cooling agent in electronics.


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