Adapted from Modernist Cuisine’s recipe for Mac ’n’ Cheese. with thanks to Linda.

  9 ounces of water
  2 teaspoons food grade sodium citrate
10 ounces of cheese, about half white cheddar and half Manchego

  Stick blender

Grate the cheese, the finer the better, and set it aside. Coarsely-grated is okay.
Bring the water and sodium citrate to a simmer (180°F) in a 2 quart saucepan.
Turn off the heat.
Add the grated cheese a handful at a time, mixing continuously with the stick blender.

Be sure each handful of cheese is blended into the liquid before adding the next handful. Adding and blending all the cheese in should take no more than a minute or two.
Use immediately or refrigerate. It’s supposed to keep for a week, but I haven’t tried.
Cleanup can be messy, and a non-stick saucepan helps.

Velveeta® is a registered trademark of the Kraft Foods company. The specks in the picture are bits of wax from the cheese. Be more careful than I was if you care about specklessness.

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DLabelAs you know from my previous How Do You Arrange Your Cheez-Its? posts, Sunshine Cheez-Its are the perfect food. Better yet, some varieties have serving sizes — such as 14, 27, and 29 crackers — that subdivide into great combinations of perfect cubes and perfect squares.

Today’s Cheez-It variety is Scrabble Junior Cheez-It. One serving, can you believe it, is 26 letters crackers! And of course, not only can you arrange a serving into several combinations of perfect squares, you can also arrange a serving alphabetically. You can even do both at once!



A25 1

Figure 1. A serving of Scrabble Junior Cheez-Its arranged alphabetically.
26 = 25 + 1


9 1 16

Figure 2. A serving of Scrabble Junior Cheez-Its arranged as three squares.
26 = 9 + 1 + 16

9 9 4 4

Figure 3. A serving of Scrabble Junior Cheez-Its arranged as four squares of two sizes.
26 = 9 + 4 + 4 + 9

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[This will be brief and sloppy, since I should be packing, not blogging. With luck, there will be an update later this month/year/decade, but don’t hold your breath.]

Today went like this:

5:00 a.m. Wake up a good four hours before my usual wakey-uppy time, because in order to get to the Marvin Hamlisch Memorial Choir rehearsal, I had to catch the 6:21 train.

7:45 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. Rehearse for and sing at Marvin’s funeral. While it isn’t the subject of this post, highlights of the event were a) President Bill Clinton, b) John Updike’s Perfection Wasted, a sucker punch if there ever was one, and c) Terre Blair Hamlisch’s heartbreakingly stunning eulogy to her late husband.

12:45 – 2:30 p.m. Lunch at Serafina on 61st (a martini and a plate of paglia e fieno) with fellow singers Andy, Darcy, and the just-married Baninos. Disappointingly, although we were all dressed in black, no one asked “Who died?” Only in New York.

3:45 – 8:03 p.m. Procrastinate.

8:04 p.m. See Dr. Rubidium’s provocative and pithy tweet,

People, eggs are bad for you AGAIN.… … via @Jezebel #untiltheyrenot


“Your Breakfast Is Trying to Murder You: Eggs Are Almost as Bad for You as Cigarettes,” Jezebel crowed.

Well, I love me my eggs, and egg slander is up there with salt slander and sugar slander as a high crime against food. Eggs give Cheez-Its a run for the money as the perfect food, and this had to be wrong.

Here’s the hard-boiled truth. The latest research on eggs and heart disease is flawed. Eggs are not going to kill you.

Jezebel and other news outlets have jumped on Egg yolk consumption and carotid plaque, a paper recently published in the journal Atherosclerosis, which claims that a person’s carotid plaque increases exponentially with their egg yolk consumption. (This paper is referred to below as EWKY, for Eggs Will Kill You.)

Most likely there is no exponential relationship at all. But if you believe the authors’ statistics, perhaps you will believe what I can prove by an identical analysis:

The length of objects, measured in centimeters, grows exponentially with length measured in inches.

Of course, this is ridiculous. The length of an object in centimeters is exactly 2.54 times its length in inches. The relationship is linear, not exponential. After you finish reading this post, I hope you’ll realize that the egg slander in Atherosclerosis is also ridiculous.

The “exponential” dependence of plaque on egg yolk consumption is an artifact of skewed data.

I created a data set with the same distribution as the EWKY data to investigate a hypothetical relationship between inches and centimeters, using the same flawed way the authors of EWKY analyzed the relationship between egg yolk consumption and plaque.

Briefly, the authors of EWKY treated “quintile”  as a scale variable, which it is not.

Here are the histograms of my data and the EWKY data. Pretty much the same.


And here are error bar charts of my data and the EWKY data. Both appear to show a clearly non-linear relationship.

The error bar chart from EWKY is the sole justification for the claim of an exponential cigarette-like relationship to plaque:


(My error bars are much shorter because the correlation between inches and centimeters is perfect. While the relationship between egg-yolk years and plaque is not, it’s nevertheless not exponential.)

There are other statistical gaffes in EWKY, but I don’t have time to delve into them. I’ll mention the worst very quickly.

First, most of the EWKY analysis compares lifetime egg yolk consumption to plaque. Lifetime anything consumption is a proxy for age, and atherosclerosis is strongly age-dependent. Nowhere do the authors of EWKY provide convincing evidence that the relationship between egg yolk consumption and plaque is anything but an artifact of the proxy for age.

Furthermore, the authors pay no heed to the always-important question of effect size. They provide a single analysis that shows a statistically significant relationship between the non-age-proxy measurement of egg yolk consumption per week (as opposed to over a lifetime) and plaque that’s independent of age:

Screen shot 2012-08-15 at 0.02.39

The difference in plaque area between the <2 eggs/week group and the 3 or more eggs group (an arbitrary split, and ignoring the several hundred subjects who ate from 2 to 2.99 eggs/week) is about 1/20 of a standard deviation, otherwise known as squat. The fact that p < 0.0001 after adjustment for age is irrelevant, because with such a large sample, significance might appear for an even smaller effect (micro-squat).

Gotta run, gotta pack. Thanks for listening.

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[Note added 2012/07/26 4:42PM EDT: The Spider-Man designs appear on only one side of each Amazing Spider-Man Cheez-It. Crackers were arranged design-side up.]


My friendly neighborhood Shop-Rite is carrying more and more varieties of Cheez-Its lately, but it didn’t take long to decide on The Amazing Spider-Man Cheez-Its.

The top reasons? 

1. Serving size is a sum of consecutive squares.
2. Flavor is not Monterey Jack.
3. Spider-Man, Spider-Man!




Figure 1. A serving of The Amazing Spider-Man Cheez-Its arranged as a frustum.
29 = 16 + 9 + 4


The Amazing Spider-Man Cheez-It is not the perfect food, but it’s closer to it than Cheez-It BIG Monterey Jack. Spideys taste almost like the original, but they’re a little too hard and crunchy. I can’t imagine eating an entire box in one sitting.


Figure 2. The Pythagorean identity 3² + 4² = 5² was applied to the previous serving.
29 = 25 + 4

The Amazing Spider-Man Cheez-Its are slightly less uniform in size and shape than regular Cheez-Its or Cheez-Its BIG. The crackers chosen for these figures are a more uniform sample than one would expect in a random serving.


Figure 3. Another sum-of-squares serving of The Amazing Spider-Man Cheez-Its.
29 = 25 + 1 + 1 + 1 + 1

Another Steve on the internet has written more about The Amazing Spider-Man Cheez-Its, so I’ll just wrap up with two more arrangements. You should definitely head over to the other Steve’s blog when you’re done here.


Figure 4. One serving of The Amazing Spider-Man Cheez-Its. (Aztec arrangement)
29 = 9 + (1 + 9 + 1) + 9



Figure 5. A variation of Figure 4 with more symmetry.
29 = 9 + (1 + 9 + 1) + 9

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As you know from my last and first How Do You Arrange Your Cheez-Its? post, not only are Sunshine Cheez-Its the perfect food, the serving size of Cheez-Its is 27 crackers, a perfect cube.

As the name suggests, Cheez-It BIG crackers are bigger¹ than Cheez-Its, and a serving contains fewer crackers — 14 instead of 27. While 14 is not a perfect cube, it is the sum of consecutive perfect squares, which is nearly as wonderful.



Figure 1. One serving of Cheez-Its BIG arranged as a pyramid. 
14 = 9 + 4 + 1



Figure 2. One serving of Cheez-Its BIG arranged like a pyramid.
14 = 8 + 3 + 2 + 1



Figure 3. One serving of Cheez-Its BIG arranged unlike a pyramid.
14 = (2 + 3 + 2 + 3 + 2) + 2


Unfortunately, Cheez-Its BIG, the Monterey Jack variety (which I purchased by mistake) is not the perfect food, and I can only recommend it for arranging, not for snacking.



Figure 4. The author (center) ascending a Pyramid not made of Cheez-Its BIG.


¹ “Twice the Size!*”, the front of the box declares.²

² The asterisk leads to a footnote, in smaller type: “*Than Original Cheez-It® Crackers volume.” My rough measurements confirm this. One Cheez-It BIG is about 35% larger than a Cheez-It in each of its larger dimensions, and about 10% thicker.

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I’m not sure if I’ll eat all 4.7 parts, but this is my evening snack today, and I can do without any fat against the type.


One Response to “Sea Tongue Gulf One: Shut the Fat Fully”

  1. Victor Mair Says:

    Brooklyn / Joisey Chinglish

    “Shut the fat fully”

    chemical and nutrient terminology in Chinese

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More delicious reasons here.

On the other hand, there’s no reason in the latest salvo against sugar, which popped up offensively in the pages of Nature today.

It’s an opinion piece in Nature’s COMMENT section. It’s not peer-reviewed science, it’s silly, and it’s got this CHART inside that make it look all science-y if you don’t look close.


A chart of what? A chart of who the fuck knows what, that’s what.

The caption says: Global sugar supply … excluding fruit and wine.

The article says: “In many parts of the world, people are consuming an average of more than 500 calories per day from added sugar alone (see ‘The global sugar glut’).”

I say: Global sugar supply and added sugar consumption are two different things. Which is it, supply or consumption? Which is it, all sugar or just added sugar? According to the sideways writing, the chart or its data came from the FAO, but a frenetic half-hour and scores of searches at their web site (without a break for gummies) yielded no answer.

Incidentally, why on a map that appears to provide by-country data is Hawai’i shaded a different color than Alaska and the Lower 48? Would a map of per capita calorie consumption or production — whether of all food or just added food, not only of sugar or just added sugar — look any different? Is 500 calories of who the fuck knows what a lot of who the fuck knows what, or at least enough to justify regulating who the fuck knows what?

Pity the children and the bears.

One Response to “12 Reasons Not To Regulate Sugar”

  1. terri Says:

    yea! for the bears!
    yea! for you!
    yea! for happiness in my world!
    and yea! for sugar too!

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See also:
How Do You Arrange Your Cheez-Its? [#2]
How Do You Arrange Your Cheez-Its? [#3]


Sunshine Cheez-Its are the perfect food, but did you know that the serving size of Cheez-Its is 27 crackers, a perfect cube?

Although individual Cheez-Its are not themselves cubes, or even exactly square, the possibilities are still endless.

Here are two of mine. What are yours?


Figure 1. One serving of Cheez-Its arranged cubically.
27 = 3
× 3 × 3


Figure 2. One serving of Cheez-Its arranged non-cubically.
27 = (9+4) + 1 + (9+4)

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I’m a serial comma guy, and so is my good friend Andy. Unfortunately for Andy, serial commas are verboten at his workplace, and this requires him “to violate a fundamental law of that which is right and good.” (I might have said “right, good, and just.”)

Hoping to assuage his hardship, I whipped up a batch of cereal commas for him as a birthday gift. He’ll have to decide whether or not he can risk sneaking some into work.


Shown: eight cereal commas in various sizes. Four were made with Rice Krispies and Fruity Pebbles, and four were made with Rice Krispies, Cocoa Krispies, and Alpha Bits. Also shown are two pieces of the Ateco Plain Comma Cutter Set with which they were cut [full set below].

Please note that the Ateco cutters are backwards. Instead of cutting comma shapes, they cut reversed comma shapes. Although their rolled edges prevented me from using them upside-down without injury, it was not difficult to turn the treats over after cutting. The treat at center left in the photo is unturned.

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The Soda Police are getting noisier lately, but their concern for public health is a subterfuge. When it comes down to brass tacks (and I doubt brass’s slight lead content is going to kill you when used judiciously in plumbing, by the way), the S.P. don’t care most about the public health or about overweight kids at risk for diabetes and heart disease. They’re hell-bent on demonizing soda, especially soda made by Big Food and sold by the Big Chain Store and Restaurant Corporation.

Demon or not, it probably won’t hurt Americans to drink less soda on average than we do now. It will definitely help the environment if we drink less of anything that comes in individual single-use containers — even water — if there’s an environmentally friendly alternative already in place.

Here’s a simple two-part proposal to bring back running water.

BBRW Part 1. Require public water fountains everywhere.

Schools, parks, subway stations, airports, shopping centers, offices, stores, and more. We already require a lot of things, sensible and otherwise, so the means is in place. Require enough of them so no one has to wait in line. These water fountains (bubblers in Wisconsin and parts of New England) should have good water pressure, and they should be designed so they can fill up a bottle, too — or there should be some faucets for that. Simply making it possible to fill a personal water bottle in an airport — and yes, you can carry one through security so long as it’s empty — will reduce heart disease.

No flow restrictors, either; use spring-loaded knobs to conserve. (I’m not going to say a word about those infrared hand-wavy travesties.) Restrictors belong in kitchens and showers, if anywhere. It doesn’t need to take ten minutes to deliver half a cup of water. ADA compliant, but otherwise basic and solid. Call me nostalgic, but I like porcelain-coated cast iron.

Room-temperature, pure water is already available from every municipal water system. Only a little effort makes it ubiquitous. (If you’re afraid it will give you cancer, carry your own personal PET-free container full of home-purified water.)

BBRW Part 2. Require water to be available everywhere soda is available, for less.

If a restaurant offers a meal that includes soda, require it to offer the same meal with the same size tap water for less money. Less by at least half the restaurant’s own à la carte price for the included soda. Except during water emergencies, require restaurants to offer tap water when patrons are seated.


Stop the endless debates over soda vs. fruit juice, sugar versus high-fructose corn syrup, artificially-sweetened beverages vs. sugary ones, and aspartame vs. stevia extract. Bring back running water.

One Response to “Bring Back Running Water”

  1. Jenne Says:

    Right on, Dr. Kass! as a mommy (read: permanent entourage) of a 2 year old, I’m astonished how many public-funded places either don’t have water fountains, or have faulty ones. And getting a cup of water from a retail establishment often involves complicated gyrations, as the standard is selling you a bottle of water.
    Bring back the water fountain, and have a tap on it for cups/bottles! Yes!

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