Debunking Food Myths

Is it impossible to eat six Saltine crackers in a row without water?

July 29, 2008 — -- Food connoisseur Ted Allen explores the link between food and science in his new television series "Food Detectives." The former "Queer Eye" host dropped by "Good Morning America" to set the record straight on some commonly held food myths by explaining some of the tests performed for his show.

Find out what happens when you swallow your gum and just how sanitary double dipping is by checking out the results of Allen's food tests below.

Does dipping a chip into dip after it has already been dipped and bitten transmit germs?

The Test: Our food techs simulate a party atmosphere at which a food tech is given three bowls of dip and a bag of chips. He dips once in the first bowl, double dips in the second bowl, and triple dips in the third bowl. Then they test all the dips for bacteria.

The Results: Yes, double dipping is as dirty as you think. Just one double dip was enough to transfer ten thousand bacteria from the food tech's mouth to the bowl of dip.

The Question: If you swallow gum will it stay in your stomach for seven years?

The Test: Food techs use two see-through prop stomachs that represent exactly the same level of digestion as our real stomachs. They drop a giant gumball into one prop stomach and food into the other. Then, it's a digestive race to the finish to see which one dissolves the first.

The Results: No, gum does not digest, but that doesn't mean it stays in your stomach for seven years. Under normal circumstances it would pass through your system in about 24 hours.

What foods can cause dangerous situations when you microwave them?

The Test: This week our techs microwave eggs, carrots, grapes, and water to show you what can happen if you aren't careful when microwaving foods.

The Results: Eggs explode if you don't puncture them, water can explode if it becomes superheated. And in certain conditions, foods like grapes can actually cause sparks.

Does baking soda really take away nasty refrigerator odors?

The Test: A food tech places his head into two refrigerators full of rotting, rancid food. One has a pound of baking soda and the other does not. He does his best to keep their heads in the refrigerators. The refrigerator that the food tech can keep his head in the longest is declared the winner.

The Result: Baking Soda does help with odors in your fridge, but activated charcoal works better. It works so well because it is extremely porous.

Is it true that it is impossible to eat six saltines in one minute?

The Test: There is a claim that it is impossible to eat six saltines in one minute without the help of drinking a beverage to wash them down. Three food techs attempt to eat six saltines in one minute. They each have a different strategy — one eats one cracker at a time, the next crumbles them up, and a third food tech makes a saltine sandwich three crackers high.

The Results: None of our food techs was able to succeed in eating six saltines in one minute, although one of them was able to eat 5. While all three food techs failing at this task doesn't prove it is impossible, it certainly shows that it is extremely difficult.

Saliva is necessary to swallow food. The saltines are extremely dry, so they soak up all of the saliva in the mouth. Just a few crackers into the challenge, there is very little saliva left to start the digestive process.