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Many of YouTube’s Most Popular Kitchen Hacks Are Hoaxes, and Some Are Also Dangerous

Plus, Kit Kat unveils a new birthday cake flavor, and more news to start your day

A hand holding a spoon above a saucepan on a stove.
Some kitchen “hacks” may work, but a lot of the ones promoted in viral clickbait do not.
Photo: VanoVasaio/Shutterstock

BBC debunks “the fake news of the baking world”

You’ve seen them populating your Facebook feed or popping up on YouTube: those viral videos of “food hacks” and “kitchen tricks” that seem to promise transformative results from suspiciously easy steps. Unsurprisingly, those tricks — flan from a milk carton! jelly from gummy bears! popcorn from an ear of corn! — do not actually work, technology reporter Chris Fox reveals in a video for BBC in which he debunks several viral food hacks.

Fox also cites the work of food scientist Ann Reardon, who exposes food hoaxes on her own YouTube channel. “It’s the fake news of the baking world,” says Reardon. The reason it works, according to the food scientist, is that clickbait still has a huge advantage in the algorithm-ruled worlds of YouTube and Facebook.

But the viral hacks aren’t just harmless wastes of time — as both Fox and Reardon warn, some of the suggestions offered in videos from the likes of 5-Minute Crafts and So Yummy are actually dangerous, and could result in real harm if someone attempted to, say, consume bleached strawberries (yes, really) or pour molten caramel on a spinning whisk. In 2019, a woman was sent to the hospital after she allegedly tried a recipe that instructed her to microwave eggs, which exploded in her face. As Greg Morabito wrote for Eater: “Recipe testing is [...] a process that requires extra time and resources, and many viral food hacks and ‘how to’ tutorials don’t need to actually be cookable to become wildly popular on the internet, anyway.” It’s always better to view videos telling you to make an egg bigger than before with a healthy sense of skepticism!

And in other news…

  • Kit Kat’s newest limited-edition flavor is birthday cake. [The Takeout]
  • Chicago-based grocery delivery pioneer Peapod is shutting down operations in the Midwest. [Chicago Tribune]
  • Researchers at Ghent University in Belgium are experimenting with baking desserts made with larvae fat as a butter substitute. [Vice]
  • A new bill introduced by Senators Cory Booker and John Cornyn would fund nutrition education in unhealthier school districts. [Modern Farmer]
  • The Dairy Farmers of America, a farmer-owned cooperative, have put in a bid to buy a substantial part of Dean Foods, the country’s largest (and now bankrupt) milk processor. [CNN]
  • Many of the oldest companies in countries around the world — particularly in Europe — are bars, restaurants, and other food and drink companies. [Fast Company]

All AM Intel Coverage [E]