10 Facts About Michelin: From Tires to Culinary Triumphs

Clermont-Ferrand, France. Figures of Bibendum, also known as Michelin Tyre Man, at the L'Aventure Michelin museum
Clermont-Ferrand, France. Figures of Bibendum, also known as Michelin Tyre Man, at the L’Aventure Michelin museum
Photo by depositphotos.com

When one thinks of Michelin, images of rugged tires might first come to mind. Yet, this iconic brand boasts a fascinating history, intricately linked with the world of haute cuisine. How did a tire manufacturer evolve to become the highest authority in the culinary universe? Here are ten facts that provide a glimpse into the remarkable journey of Michelin.

1. Guarded Secrets: Michelin is so protective of its tire technology that it refrains from patenting the rubber compounds it employs. This ensures that competitors remain in the dark about their secret formulas.

2. A Starry Origin: In a clever marketing ploy in 1900, Michelin began reviewing restaurants, intending to encourage people to drive more, subsequently wearing out their tires faster. The coveted Michelin Star, which global chefs ardently aspire to, is actually an ingenious advertising strategy by the tire giant.

3. Mysterious Inspectors: Michelin goes to great lengths to preserve the anonymity of its inspectors, who are responsible for bestowing stars upon restaurants. Being an inspector demands a commitment to 275 inspection meals annually. The veil of secrecy is so profound that many top chefs have never encountered one, and inspectors are advised against revealing their profession, even to their parents.

4. Ramsay’s Starry Achievements: Holding a Michelin star is prestigious but maintaining it is a continuous challenge. Michelin demands consistent excellence, and should standards drop, restaurants risk losing their stars. In 2014, Gordon Ramsay compared losing his Michelin stars to the agony of a romantic breakup. Among Michelin-starred chefs, Ramsay shines with 16 stars, surpassed by only two chefs globally.

5. Street Food Excellence: Testament to its culinary richness, some of Singapore’s street vendors have been recognized with Michelin stars, underscoring that exceptional food isn’t confined to plush restaurants.

6. Michelin and the Law: Chef Marc Veyrat, in a historic lawsuit in 2019, contested Michelin’s decision to downgrade his restaurant to 2 stars, causing him considerable distress. His defense, humorously dubbed “cheddargate,” countered Michelin’s allegation of using English cheddar in a soufflé.

7. A Taste Resurrected: A chef, having lost his taste due to cancer treatment, eventually regained it. This health journey led him to create unique flavors that earned his Chicago restaurant three Michelin stars.

8. The True Colors of the Michelin Man: Originally, the iconic Michelin Man was white, reflecting the natural hue of rubber. It was only in 1912 that tires began to turn black, thanks to the addition of carbon chemicals, enhancing their strength and durability.

9. Michelin’s Role in WWII: During the Second World War, Michelin paused the publication of its guide. Yet, in 1944, at the behest of the Allied Forces, the 1939 edition covering France was republished, as its maps were deemed the best available.

10. Budget-friendly Michelin Experience: The world’s most affordable Michelin-starred eatery is “HK Soya Sauce Chicken, Rice & Noodle” in Singapore. Patrons can enjoy a delectable meal for a mere $1.50 (USD), making it the first street food stand to earn such a distinction.

From shaping travel journeys with resilient tires to illuminating culinary paths with its esteemed stars, Michelin’s legacy is as multifaceted as it is interesting.

Unwrapping Surprises: 10 Facts About Kraft Foods

Kraft Foods, a household name, has a history full of unexpected twists and fun facts. Here are ten tidbits that might give you a fresh perspective on this familiar brand.

Advertisement billboard displaying logo of The Kraft Foods Group, an American food manufacturing and processing conglomerate
Advertisement billboard displaying logo of The Kraft Foods Group, an American food manufacturing and processing conglomerate
Photo by depositphotos.com

1. Kraft Macaroni & Cheese, a family favorite, made its debut during the Great Depression in 1937. With the promise of serving a family of four for a mere 19 cents, it flew off the shelves. In the first year alone, 8 million boxes were sold.

2. The brand’s boxed mac and cheese gained even more popularity during World War II. Thanks to a surplus of cheese, rationing rules allowed people to purchase two boxes for a single ration point.

3. The term “American Cheese” originally referred to a type of cheddar cheese, aptly named American or Yankee Cheddar, that was exported back to England by 1790. However, when James L. Kraft patented a method for manufacturing processed cheese in 1916, the term “American Cheese” was co-opted for Kraft’s processed version.

4. Grey Poupon mustard, a Kraft product in the U.S., owes its moniker to Maurice Grey and Auguste Poupon, the French partners who began producing the condiment in 1866.

5. Canadians hold a particular fondness for Kraft Dinner (Mac and Cheese). It has the distinction of being the most popular grocery item in the country and is considered a national dish.

6. Kraft Foods has ingeniously repurposed old mines in Springfield, MO, creating an expansive underground truck warehouse known as Kraft Caves.

7. Kraft Singles, often considered a staple for sandwiches, are not technically classified as “cheese.” Instead, they must be marketed as a “cheese product.”

8. A crucial factor in James L. Kraft‘s success in building his empire was his innovative approach to cheese packaging, making it easy to slice.

9. Kraft Foods was a subsidiary of Altria, formerly known as Philip Morris, the cigarette company, from 1988 to 2007.

10. In the UK, Kraft’s famous Mac & Cheese carries a warning label regarding possible effects on children’s behavior. This warning is due to the so-called “Southampton Six,” a group of food colorants associated with hyperactivity in children. Parents are alerted to the possible behavioral impacts, which is an important consideration for many families.

Six Fascinating Facts About Walmart

Walmart, a name synonymous with affordable retail and a staple of American consumerism, hides a trove of intriguing and sometimes peculiar stories behind its creation and operation.

Mendoza, Argentina - January, 2020: Shopping cart on a parking lot in front of main entrance to Walmart supermarket outdoor on the street with no people. Big Walmart logo on blue background behind.
Photo by depositphotos.com

1. Sam Walton, the founder of Walmart, embarked on his retail journey with a unique vision — to vend American-manufactured goods at the cost of foreign imports. This innovative strategy enabled Walton to provide an array of quality products at competitive prices, propelling Walmart to become a household name across the United States.

2. Walmart’s attempt to venture into the German market in the early 21st century didn’t quite end in a success story. Cultural misalignments, like the company’s insistence on enforced greetings and smiles from staff, along with some peculiar team-building activities, seemingly disconcerted the German populace. Consequently, Walmart couldn’t secure a foothold in Germany, leading to its withdrawal.

3. A rather unsettling fact is associated with Walmart’s employment practices from years past. The company came under scrutiny for taking out life insurance policies on its employees, benefiting from the payouts upon their demise. This controversial practice, grimly termed “Dead Peasant Insurance,” led to quite an uproar.

4. In the United States, Walmart’s reach is truly phenomenal. With 90% of the nation’s residents dwelling within a mere 10-mile radius of a Walmart outlet, its omnipresence is undeniable. However, this omnipresence doesn’t extend to New York City, where staunch opposition from local unions and politicians has kept the retail giant at bay.

5. Sam Walton, during the 1950s, would perform an aerial survey of his stores using a helicopter. This unusual method allowed him to count the parked cars and evaluate the performance of his stores.

6. In 2004, a landmark event occurred in Jonquière, Quebec, where Walmart employees took the initiative to unionize their local store. However, their success was short-lived. A mere five months later, Walmart pulled down the shutters on this outlet. The official statement cited dissatisfaction with the “business plan” put forth by the store, an event that sparked much speculation and debate.

The Formation of Ace Hardware: A Tribute to WWI Heroes

The Ace Hardware Corporation, presently known as the largest hardware retail cooperative on the globe and the biggest non-grocery retail cooperative in America, was established in 1924. This happened when three innovative individuals joined their hardware stores in Chicago, forming what they called “Ace Stores”, a name inspired by the ace fighter pilots of World War I.

Hormel Foods’ Unique Terminology: Unwanted Emails over Spam

Employees at Hormel Foods, the company known for producing canned SPAM, are encouraged to call spam emails “unwanted emails.”

Back in the 1930s, who would’ve thought that the name of a canned meat product could stir up such a fuss in the realm of the internet? Hormel Foods, famous for creating SPAM, got a raw deal during the internet surge of the 90s. The term “spam” unfortunately took on a whole new meaning – spam emails.

But, get this: the naming of these annoying, unsolicited emails didn’t emerge from the internet era. It actually comes from a 1970 Monty Python sketch. Yes, you heard it right! This sketch, which features a couple struggling to order a SPAM-free breakfast from a SPAM-saturated menu, unwittingly gave birth to the term. The relentless repetition of the word in the sketch echoed the irritating repetition of unwanted messages online.

It’s totally understandable, then, that Hormel Foods isn’t thrilled about their product’s name being synonymous with the aggravating emails that flood our inboxes. Not exactly the best kind of publicity, right?