Top Food Myths Finally Debunked

We have been eating food a long time — since the dawn of mankind, as a matter of fact. Through the years, we’ve created a whole boatload of food myths, many of which simply are not true. Here are some of the longest-lasting — and definitively untrue — food-based myths out there.

1. The 5-Second Rule

As much as you want something to be true, doesn’t actually make it true. This goes double for proponents of the "five-second rule," which dictates that it is fine to eat that slice of pizza you dropped on the floor, so long as it was on the ground for less than five seconds. We're not saying that you shouldn’t eat it — go ahead, but just know that science is not on your side.

2. Poppy Seed Bagels Are Laced with Drugs

Sure, heroin is derived from the humble poppy seed, but you’d have to eat a whole lot of them to test positive for it in a drug test. This means that bagel or muffin you ate this morning is not going to make you lose out on that dream job. You’d have to eat about 15 bagels to fail a drug test.

3. Twinkies Never Go Bad

Conventional wisdom (and zombie movies) indicate that Twinkies simply never go bad, thanks to some kind of amalgam of mystery chemicals. This is not true — their shelf life is just 25 days. That’s hardly enough time to survive the apocalypse.

4. Gum Stays in Your Stomach for 7 Years

Swallowing a piece of gum is one of the biggest no-noes of childhood, with many a playground lunatic asserting that gum stays in your stomach for seven long and lonely years. Guess what? That isn’t true. It’ll pass through your system in just a few days.

5. Pop Rocks and Soda Equals Instant Death

Another long-standing childhood rumor is that eating a bag of fizzy candy Pop Rocks and drinking a tall, refreshing glass of soda will make your stomach explode and kill you. Well, good news, worrywarts: These two products don’t interact at all, so go to town.

6. Red M&M's Cause Cancer

The story goes that red M&M’s caused cancer, thanks to a coloring agent called Red Dye No. 2. While Russian scientists did discover that the dye caused cancer in rats, red M&M’s never actually contained any of the stuff. Mars candy company discontinued the color anyway, just to sate public outcry.

7. Eating Before Bed Stops a Hangover

Many people swear by the “fact” that stuffing your gullet with fatty foods right before bed stops a hangover before it even begins. There is no evidence to support this, unfortunately. The food must be in your stomach before you start drinking for it to have any hangover-stopping effect. Eating before bed when you are drunk, however, is still really awesome and makes food taste better. That is fact.

8. Absinthe Makes You Hallucinate

Absinthe manufacturers have long traded on the urban myth that the stuff makes you hallucinate. While it can be ludicrously high in alcohol, it is no more likely to make you hallucinate than vodka, whiskey or any other spirit. Of course, it can make you intoxicated, so there’s always that.

9. Microwaving Food Kills Nutrients

Even the term "nuking" denotes the health-destroying capabilities of microwave ovens. But unless we're talking about the occasional nutrient like sulforaphane (found in broccoli), that is simply not true. Microwaving your dinner actually keeps most of its nutrients intact. The taste, however, is another story.

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