Stories tagged cicadas

Jul
25
2006

Marshmallows: Image courtesy Neil T.
Marshmallows: Image courtesy Neil T.
Q. What are marshmallows made of?

A. When I got this question I thought of “cow hooves” because that is what I was always told, and thought here’s an opportunity to resolve that marshmallows are not made of cow hooves. It turns out, that while it’s not just hooves, hooves are a part of one ingredient of marshmallows: gelatin. According to KraftFoods.com (makers of Jet Puffed Marshmallows), marshmallows contain: corn syrup, sugar, dextrose, food starch - modified (corn), water, gelatin, tetrasodium pyrophosphate artificial and natural flavor, and artificial color (blue 1). There are links to some of the less familiar stuff, but gelatin is the most interesting ingredient as far as I am concerned. Gelatin is produced through the prolonged boiling of animal skin, connective tissue, hooves or bones. But marshmallows are not the only place where you’ll find gelatin – jelly, gummy candies, Jell-o, ice cream, margarine, cream cheese, and many other foods also contain gelatin. So, if eating hooves weirds you out, you can relax, you’ve probably eaten several already and not even known it.

Q: What do cicadas eat?

A: Sap from plants. The cicada's mouth parts are covered by a long thin sheath called a labium. The labium contains four needle-like stylets which are used to pierce the plant and then act as straws that the cicada used to suck the sap from the plant. If you are into cicadas and want to learn more, Cicada Mania is the place for you!

Q: How come there are no Native American artifacts in the Science Museum of Minnesota?

A: There are lots, actually. Like most museums, we display only 1-3% of our permanent collections, which number 1.75 million objects. Our anthropology collections span the globe, but our one of our strengths is in Native American material culture from the Upper Midwest. Currently in the museum, you can see a small exhibit detailing the Prairie Island Dakota community with a bison robe, star quilt and contemporary artwork by Francis Yellow and another on Native American archaeology of the area on level 5 in the Mississippi River Gallery. In addition, the museum is working on an Ethnobotany project with Paul Red Elk (Lakota) in the Big Back Yard where we are germinating indigenously cultivated seeds in a three sisters garden, some which are over 900 years old. The Science Museum has been involved in archaeological field investigations since the 1950s. The majority of these collections have been from sites in Minnesota and include 100,000 documented specimens from over 200 recorded prehistoric archaeological sites. Currently, SMM’s archaeology research initiative focuses on Red Wing Archaeology.