11.10.16: Butter, Funfetti, Gadgets, & (King) Lear

Nov 10, 2016

A long stressful election season is behind us. The dark is coming earlier. Thanksgiving is around the corner. Maybe it's time to talk about something that unites us in pleasure: food.  On today’s show, a cultural history of one food that makes everything a little bit better: butter.

Plus, the resurgence of rainbow sprinkles. Whether you call them jimmies, funfetti or unicorn food, those brightly colored sugary bits that top cupcakes, cookies & ice cream sundaes, are having a bit of a moment. We’ll talk to a food writer from the New York Times about the current funfetti explosion.

And we’ll look at some of the craziest, most innovative home gadgets of 2016. 

Listen to the full show: 

Pop Sci's Gadget Picks

Imagine a hammer that looks like a hammer, works like a hammer, but weighs a lot less. Or a battery that can change voltage depending on which power tool you're using. Or an air purifier that doesn't just collect airborne particles, but destroys them. Those are just a few of the top ten household innovations of 2016 according to Popular Science - they've gathered the year's "Best of What's New" for the 29th year and we're getting the details on some of the must-have gadgets straight from the source.

Kevin Gray  is Executive Editor for Popular Science.

Related: The Best of What's New

Butter: A Rich History

Picture this: you're at the supermarket ready to check "butter" off your shopping list. You head to the dairy aisle, and see a few brands, Land o’ Lakes, Organic Valley, perhaps Kerry Gold—for those special occasions—and of course butter substitutes. No big decisions to face there, right? Food writer and pastry chef Elaine Khosrova argues that butter is much more nuanced than the grocery shelves may lead us to believe, both in flavor and history. Her new book Butter: A Rich History tells the story of this humble kitchen staple, from the ancient butter bogs of Ireland, through the butter-margarine wars, to the present.

The Rise of Funfetti

Here in the Northeast you may know them as "jimmies" others fondly refer to them as "funfetti", "rainbow sprinkles", or "unicorn food". Those brightly colored sugar candy pieces that coat cupcakes, sugar cookies, ice cream sundaes, and in Australia—inexplicably, toast—seem out of place in a world that currently embraces the natural and the organic, and eschews the artificial. But turning food into a festive rainbow explosion has become decidedly highbrow.

Julia Moskin is a New York Times dining reporter and she looked into the current funfetti explosion for the food section.

Related: The Funfetti Explosion

Make your own funfetti explosion cake! Here's the recipe: Rainbow Sprinkle Cake

Lear

You won't find elaborate sets, costumes, or super titles at the Seven Stages Shakespeare Company's adaptation of “King Lear”. The new production at the Millspace in Newmarket is unfussy, a little gritty, and not what you think of as theater—apparent the moment you walk into the bright room, where music is thumping, and the actors are warming up, right there in front of you.

Even the play's title is stripped down to just "Lear".  Seven Stages looks at the tragedy of a once-proud King, diminished by age and his penchant for flattery, through the lens of Alzheimer's disease.

Dan Beaulieu is co-founder and artistic director of Seven Stages Shakespeare Company and the director of "Lear".