Top 5 Scariest Foods in the Restaurant Industry This Halloween

Regardless of where you live, you probably think that people eat some pretty strange foods, and whether they gross you out or you want to try them is totally subjective. But there are also some foods that are objectively odd — not necessarily because people want to eat them, but because of what happens if you eat them, the pomp involved with serving them, or the danger that they represent. These are the foods for people who like to roll the dice and the craps table just isn't enough. The adrenaline junkies. The power foodies. Or — as some may say — the downright crazy.

5. Cashew Nuts

Cashew Nut

These aren't your grocery store cashews. Despite how plentiful they are around the world, a cashew in the shell is an edible nightmare with disastrous results. This is because cashews are closely related to poison ivy and poison sumac, giving it the same annoying, itchy effects. Like poison ivy, the symptoms of the cashew's irritants take time to show up. Unlike poison ivy, the effects begin inside your body at places you can't scratch or treat. Basically, if you thought poison ivy on your ankle was bad, just wait until it's in your throat.

This is also the reason cashews are roasted — the roasting process drastically reduces the levels of chemicals and the chances someone will have an allergic reaction to practically zero. Just don't take a cashew-picking trip anytime soon.

4. Hàkarl

Hakarl

Hàkarl is an Icelandic seafood dish of sleeper shark, an animal that smells so heinous it's actually better known as "rotten shark." Not unlike free-form jazz, hàkarl has been described as an acquired taste because it is known to leave a lingering, unpleasant flavor in one's mouth. It actually tastes like ammonia — and there's a reason for that. This particular shark doesn't have intestines or a bladder, which is pretty wild on two levels. First, almost every animal that's ever lived has had both. Second, this means that this fish had to figure out another way to get rid of body waste. And it did.

Through its skin.

Even though you've already connected the dots, that all means that this shark's skin, which you eat, has essentially been soaked in urine for that shark's entire life. So that smell? And that aftertaste? It ain't the sauce.

This dish also happens to be the origin of the relatively unknown fisherman slogan, "You can take the shark out of the urine, but you can't cook the urine out of the shark."

3. Sannakji

Live Hangul Octopus

Sannakji is a raw seafood platter served in the Koreas. The entire plate consists of sesame, sesame oil, and the squirming body (or sometimes just the tentacles) of a live hangul octopus. Its murky-gray appearance — not to mention the twisting, writhing limbs — is enough to set off a whole range of culinary red flags, even for the tourist who prides herself on stomaching authentic cuisine.

On top of making calamari look boring, sannakji can also be pretty dangerous. The octopus's tentacles still have active suction cups, allowing them to pucker up to the side of your throat and cause a wormy, slippery choking hazard that will take at least a dozen shots of soju to detach, much less forget.

But fatalities are non-existent, so you can be the first person in your group of friends who has a unique (albeit uncomfortable) story about choking on a live octopus. That's got to be worth something, right?

2. Raw Cobra

Sometimes called "Cobra Gold," eating a live king cobra is a step above eating a live octopus not just because cobras sometimes kill people for fun, but also because of the ceremony that goes with the meal. It starts with you picking out the cobra you want to eat, presumably so you can smugly look it straight in its beady little eyes. Then you sit down and the waiters bring your chosen snake to the table with vodka, knives, and a funnel.

Raw Cobra

If you have a bad feeling about the rest of this, it's probably because nothing good has ever come from a situation that has involved vodka, knives, and a funnel.

Anyway, then one of the waiters lobs the cobra's head off, places the fangs in a glass, and drains the venom — which, amazingly, is harmless unless directly injected into your veins (travel tip: don't do that). The waiters then toss the funnel onto the glass and bleed the cobra's body dry. To top it all off, they splash a little bit (or a lot, depending on your need) of vodka to make the world's most confusing and least popular cocktail.

But don't shoot it back yet — the pièce de résistance is receiving the snake's still-beating heart on your plate. Hold your nose, swallow it (don't bite), and chase it with the shot of blood-venom-vodka. And that funny feeling in your throat? That's the heartbeat. But don't get too nauseous. You still have a whole snake to eat.

Somewhere, something is proud of you.

1. Butter

Just kidding — we could all use a breather after that last one.

1. Fugu

Fugu

Fugu is a world-famous Japanese dish that has been popularized by its ability to straight-up murder the people who eat it. While non-toxic species exist, authentic fugu (or pufferfish) is brimming with tetrodotoxin, a neurotoxin that is 1200 times more potent than cyanide, a chemical that is literally only known for its ability to kill things.

Properly prepared with a special knife, fugu can be a delicious experience for tourists and locals alike. And the odds that it will be properly prepared are very high, considering the Japanese government actually licenses chefs who are bold enough to take on the challenge of cutting the poison out of a poison fish, which — come to think of it — could also be a helpful technique for taking the urine out of a urine shark.

But every once in a while, someone is dealt a bad hand. A minor error in preparation means the toxin remains in the fish's meat, and if it's eaten, it results in a full-body shutdown of someone's internal sodium channel proteins, which gradually paralyzes every muscle in their body while leaving them fully conscious to experience the horror first-hand. If detected immediately, the symptoms of tetrodotoxin can be counteracted with forced respiration, among other medical procedures. But if it goes on for too long, the victim eventually suffocates to death.

Ordering fugu is balancing your life on the tightrope of potential disaster, and if you get hit with a slight breeze, it can all be over. If you decide to take the gamble, you (and your loved ones) better cross your fingers for double zeroes.

Posted in: Holidays | By Christopher Zook

Top 10 Foods that will Help Fight the Flu this Fall

hot tea

Image Credit: WebMD

The changing color of leaves, hay stacks, and pumpkin patches are just some of the things that represent the autumn season. What also symbolizes fall (that many people forget) is the emergence of cold and flu season. Even though many of us can’t control where we go, who we socialize with, or what we touch, we can regulate the types of food we put into our bodies. If you find yourself feeling sick or sluggish this fall, take a look at these top 10 foods that will boost your immune system and help fight infections.

hot tea

Image Credit: Inspired Taste

1. Butternut Squash-These super foods taste best when in season from October to November, and contain large amounts of anti-inflammatory benefits. Not only do they aid in healthy eyes and skin, but they also prevent cells in our bodies from becoming inflamed, which can lead to illness. Butternut squash is a simple dish to prepare, even for someone who is feeling low on energy! Simply chop into pieces, coat with olive oil, and roast in the oven until tender.

Bigelow Green Tea with Lemon - 28 / Box

2. Green Tea- Originally consumed by the Chinese over 4,000 years ago, green tea is a natural remedy when trying to soothe a sore throat. It also helps stabilize energy levels by regulating blood sugar levels, which helps to increase energy in someone who is sick. A 2011 Japanese study found that when catechin, a common vitamin found in green tea was taken for five months, participants were 75% more likely to not catch the flu.

hot tea

Image Credit: Budget Bytes

3. Tuna- Eating foods high in protein, like fish and meat, can help compensate for the lack of natural sunlight we receive during the winter months since these foods contain high amounts of Vitamin D. Not sure how to prepare tuna? This fish can easily be shredded and mixed into salads, added to sandwich melts, and marinated, grilled, or baked when cooking tuna steaks.

hot tea

Image Credit: Livestrong

4. Berries-When our bodies become stressed and overworked, we become less able to fight off infections and repair damaged cells. Vitamin C, which is found in berries, can prevent stress from overwhelming our bodies by boosting your immune system. To eat, simply rinse off raspberries, blueberries, or strawberries, and chop into bite-sized pieces for fruit salads, blend them into fruit smoothies, or serve them with a side of fresh whipped cream as a dessert.

Castella 1 Qt. Chopped Garlic in Water 12 / Case

5. Garlic- Not only can you ward off vampires this fall, but garlic will also protect you against the common cold or flu bug. Garlic, along with many of the other ingredients found on this list, is packed full of antioxidants which can stimulate your immune system to work harder. Chop or press fresh bulbs of garlic, and then saute with olive oil for dishes where you want to add a pungent flavor.

hot tea

Image Credit: Eating Well

6. Beets- As a natural cleanser for the body, beets help eliminate toxins by purifying our bloodstream and liver. This can be especially important when struck with the flu, since having a faster way to rid the body of harmful viruses is crucial to feeling better. Beets can also help ease mental health, especially during the winter months, since they contain tryptophan which helps ease the mind. There are many ways to gain the health benefits that beets provide, such as juicing them to make natural fruit and vegetable juice blends, eating them raw in fresh salads, or thinly slicing them and incorporating them into slaws.

hot tea

Image Credit: healthdiaries.com

7. Ginger- If you find yourself trying to treat the common flu symptoms of nausea and body aches, ginger may be the relief you need. Ginger root is often used to reduce nausea in pregnant women, but it's anti-inflammatory benefits can also help those who have a cold or the flu. It's also believed that ginger is a natural pain reliever, which can contribute to easing the aches and pains many experience. Luckily for patients fighting the flu, it doesn't take much to gain the benefits that ginger provides since it's so concentrated. Try adding sliced ginger into your favorite hot tea, or use a zester to grate ginger into fine pieces for sauces and soups.

Diced Carrots - (6) #10 Cans / Case

8. Carrots- Did you know that carrots play an excellent role in protecting not only our immune systems, but also our skin? Beta-carotene, found in carrots, helps in the production of healthy cells in our immune systems, and will turn into Vitamin A aiding in healthy skin. Our skin is the first line of defense against bacteria and viruses, and having a healthy barrier can prevent you from becoming sick in the future. To gain these healthy vitamins, eat carrots raw and serve with dips, or dice carrots up and add them to hearty soups and stews.

Hand Held Orange Squeezer

9. Oranges- Everyone knows the old saying, "An apple a day keeps the doctor away," but the same can also be said regarding oranges! Citrus fruits like oranges, lemons, and limes contain high amounts of Vitamin C, which can dramatically shorten the time you're sick if eaten quite frequently. Did you know that eating just one orange will give you 100% of the recommended daily allowance of Vitamin C your body needs to stay healthy? The next time you feel like you could use a kick start, try making your own fresh orange juice with a handheld orange squeezer or citrus juicer.

CAC OC-12-C Brown and Ivory 12 oz. Onion Soup Crock / Bowl - 24 / Case

10. Broth- Drinking clear beverages like water, juice, or hot tea will help keep your body hydrated when sick. Broth is another great choice since this liquid not only provides a soothing effect for sore throats, but also contains little fiber content so the absorption of vitamins can be instantly ingested. Look for broths high in sodium, since salt helps draw fluids into the body, which will keep your system hydrated when fighting off the flu, cold, or other viruses.

Posted in: Health & Wellness | By Molly

October 2014 WebstaurantStore Coupon Code Update

October is here and everyone is getting in the spirit. Soups and pumpkin spice drinks are being featured on menus, pies are being baked, caterers are in full swing with Fall wedding season, and some restaurant owners are even getting creative with their signage. This month's coupon code brings you many things that will fit the season. But we have also added a box in the bottom of our coupon code post so that you can get coupon codes emailed to you every week! Don't forget to sign up!

Use Coupon Code: OCTSALE
Posted in: Coffee Shop Supplies | By Steven Ziegler

California Bans Single Use Plastic Bags

Governor Jerry Brown of California signed a state-wide plastic bag ban that would take effect on July 1, 2015. The bill would initially target grocery stores before gradually including other businesses, such as pharmacies and liquor stores in 2016. It also stipulates that Californians pay 10 cents for every reusable plastic or recycled paper bag they use, which will be available for purchase at grocery stores.

Under the new law, "acceptable bags" are defined as paper bags or plastic bags made for at least 125 uses with a content of 25% recycled plastic. As the law persists, the amount of recycled plastics per bag will increase to 40%.

Major proponents of the law include Californians Against Waste, a non-profit environmental advocacy group headquartered in Sacramento, which backs the bill because it clearly shows manufacturers that they are responsible for the use of their product from start to finish, Executive Director Mark Murray said.

"The more the public sees the policy, the more they like it," Murray said in an interview with the Sacramento Bee on Sept. 30. "Once it's implemented in your community, your support for it grows."

Opponents of the bill include the American Progressive Bag Alliance, which is dedicated to combating plastic bag bans and fees. The organization has gone on record as criticizing the bill for its potential negative impact on jobs and describing the new bag fee as a "cash grab" for grocery stores around the state. Lee Califf, executive director of the APBA, has begun collecting signatures to reverse the bill.

"If this law were to go into effect, it would jeopardize thousands of California manufacturing jobs, hurt the environment, and fleece consumers for billions so grocery store shareholders and their union partners can line their pockets," he told media on Sept. 30.

California is the first state to sign an ordinance eliminating single use plastic bags state-wide, but the second state to actually ban them. Before California, every county in Hawaii had independently chosen to ban plastic bags, eliminating them throughout the state.

Posted in: News | By Christopher Zook

Los Angeles Mayor Proposes Minimum Wage Increase

Following the California minimum wage increase, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has proposed a gradual, city-wide wage increase for its residents, LA Times reported Sept. 5. And while the proposal is gaining steam among both civic and labor leaders, many are critical that it doesn't go far enough.

Garcetti's plan raises minimum wage to $13.25 by 2017. This places Los Angeles on a long list of states and cities that have chosen to set minimum wage above the federally-mandated $7.25, including California ($9.00) and San Diego ($11.50 by 2017), respectively.

Michael Reich, an economist from UC Berkeley, told the LA Times on Sept. 12 that Los Angeles restaurants could be one of the most affected industries by the wage hike. However, the primary change would be in a reduction of job vacancies, as opposed to a reduction in existing jobs, that gives employees a greater incentive to work harder and reduce absenteeism, he said. Through a series of recent studies, Reich asserted that minimum wage increases have a minimal effect on employment or hours in general, including restaurants.

In fact, a minimum wage increase could wind up helping the restaurant industry by giving people more money to spend as a whole, believing a sizable portion of that would be spent at restaurants, bars, and other foodservice businesses. This belief is based on spending statistics of different income demographics that reveal the lowest-earning demographics in America typically spend the most.

However, UC Berkeley economists have also entertained a number of possible scenarios of the wage increase according to the LA Times on Sept. 1, one of which includes the restaurant industry losing as many as 560 jobs per year. Currently, there is no way to tell which outcome is more accurate.

The Los Angeles Workers Assembly, a propelling force behind the $15 minimum wage, has stated that it is pleased the city's government has noticed their appeal, but the ending wage is still not enough to keep workers out of poverty. They added that $15 is the minimum wage necessary to successfully supply a Los Angeles resident with their "basic human needs."

Other organizations, such as the Hotel Association of Los Angeles, have argued that the mayor's plan and wage is much more sustainable than a sudden jump. This comes after workers at large hotels have begun a push for a minimum wage increase to $15.37. While HALA supports higher wages, they've said that hotels are "significantly different" and require another approach.

Los Angeles has considered minimum wage increases before, asserting through historical evidence and inflation calculations that the minimum wage in 2013 ($7.50) was worth 31% less than minimum wage in 1968 ($1.60). This means that since 1968, the actual value of minimum wage, adjusted for inflation, has decreased in purchasing power by 31 cents on the dollar in the face of a rising cost of living.

According to statistics from a 2013 study, an increase to $15 minimum wage would result in a boost of over $7 billion in earnings among those currently earning less than that in the city, which would be a major boon to the city-wide economy.

Posted in: News | By Christopher Zook

Apple Pay: How the New iPhone 6 Will Make Your Fast Food Even Faster

One of the world’s most innovative technological pioneers and the current leading influencer on smartphones, Apple, announced last week the release of the highly anticipated iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. Along with the expected announcement came about two new products from Apple, the new Apple Watch and groundbreaking mobile payment system, Apple Pay.

Apple Pay Tim Cook

Image Credit: cryptocoinnews.com

The announcement, led by Apple CEO Time Cook, sent iPhone lovers into overdrive with excitement over its groundbreaking mobile payment platform, which hopes to replace the traditional wallet by providing customers with an easier and faster way to pay for items such as clothes, convenience items, and even food. Apple hopes to make wallets a thing-of-the-past by eliminating the need for customers to reach into their wallets and go searching for their credit cards at the checkout counter.

Apple Watch Apple Pay

Image Credit: ibtimes.com

Apple Pay has teamed up with America’s major credit card companies who represent 80% of all credit card volume in the US, along with major banks like Capital One, Chase, Wells Fargo, and Bank of America. Apple plans to incorporate this payment system into over 200,000 merchant locations including McDonalds, Panera, Walgreens, and Wholefoods who are already on board, with other giants like Chipotle Mexican Grill expected to commit later next year.

Users of the new iPhone 6 and Apple Watch will simply add a credit card to their account by taking a picture of their credit card with their phone’s camera, or by the user’s existing iTunes account. When paying for purchases in-store, customers will simply hold their iPhone up to a reader and confirm the purchase with a single touch with the phone’s fingerprint scan, providing a secure and private way to pay.

Apple Pay

Image Credit: businessinsider.com

So what does all this hype mean for the foodservice industry? It’s likely that Apple’s initial venture into mobile payment might set the standard for the future in the checkout line. This one-touch checkout allows customers to pay for items without having to enter in their credit card information, billing address, shipping address, or need for a person at the register, and surprisingly will make purchases more secure than ever before. Fast food restaurants, like McDonalds, will not only be adding Apple Pay to its registers inside, but also to its drive-thru’s as well. This tap-to-pay technology is expected to speed up lines at checkout making fast food even faster. Only time will tell if this new and enhanced user experience will lead to making wallets a thing of the past once it launches in the United States in October.

Posted in: Convenience Store | By Molly

Pumpkin Spice: America's Flavor Craze Continues Again This Fall

Pumpkin Coffee

Image Credit: healthfulpursuit.com

It’s not just the holiday season that seems to be sneaking up on us earlier and earlier each year, but now it’s fall thanks to America’s current love, and slight obsession, with everything pumpkin spice flavored. Long before Labor Day, which is the unofficial end of summer, marketing campaigns from major food and beverage companies have already been in full swing advertising pumpkin spice related products. The anticipation over the emergence of this seasonal favorite has led consumers to start asking for it earlier this year than ever before, even though it will stick around a good five months throughout the fall and winter seasons. The pumpkin spice hysteria can be seen, smelled, tasted, and touched in an overabundance of products including everything from coffee and cupcakes, to cocktails and even candles.

Sierra Club Volunteer Site

Image Credit: foodbeast.com

The first major retailer to lead the way with the pumpkin phenomenon was Starbucks when they launched their immensely popular “Pumpkin Spice Latte” back in 2004. It even has its own hashtag, #PSL, and can be seen invading Instagram and social media platforms as consumers show off their beloved beverages. For the past 11 years, this trend has only grown and strengthened, and now you can see pumpkin spice everywhere and in most everything. Pumpkin flavored ice cream, oatmeal, donuts, bagels, marshmallows, cream cheese, coffee, syrup, beer, tea, and soy milk are just a handful of products now circulating supermarkets and cafés promoting this fall classic.

Sierra Club Volunteer Site

Image Credit: keepcalm-o-matic.co.uk

How exactly did an orange gourd become so popular? Many believe its admiration stems from what it represents. The arrival of pumpkin spice means football season is upon us, as well as the changing color of leaves, crisper temperatures, and fall-themed social events like pumpkin carving and apple picking, as well as being able to soon enjoy other autumnal treats like pumpkin pie, apple pie, and hot cider. Restaurant and convenience store chains such as McDonalds, Dunkin’ Donuts, Krispy Kreme, and Sheetz, as well as local mom-and-pop eateries have been noted as featuring some type of pumpkin spice item on their menus to keep up with the competition. Not to mention the long list of breweries who will feature pumpkin related beers this fall.

Top 10 Pumpkin Spice flavored items to try this Fall:

1/2 Gallon DaVinci Gourmet Pumpkin Pie Flavoring Sauce
  1. Cappuccino
  2. Cupcakes
  3. Whoopie Pies
  4. Smoothies
  5. Pancakes
  6. Vodka
  7. Beer
  8. Syrup
  9. Marshmallows
  10. Bagels

Get inspired by WebstaurantStore’s Pinterest board Pumpkin Spice Everything! for even more recipes and pumpkin spice inspiration.

Webstaurant Store Pumpkin Spice Everything Pin Board
Posted in: Coffee Shop Supplies | By Molly

September 2014 WebstaurantStore Coupon Code Update

September is here and the kids have returned to school, county fairs and farmers markets are in full swing, and football is back. The return of football not only means I get to welcome back my favorite sport, but also one of my favorite food events: the Tailgate Party. It seems that all of my friends have some delicious recipe that they bring to the party every year. To help you find your own signature tailgating recipe, we have created a Tailgate Recipe Pinterest Board to give you some ideas.

We have some great sale items to help you get your Autumn started off on the right foot. Eco-friendly coffee cups and lids,a small snack bar-sized convection oven, and our ever-popular Silver Visions flatware, these sale items and others will help you stay on budget this season.

Use Coupon Code: SEPTSALE
Posted in: Disposables | By Steven Ziegler

Webstaurant Warriors Volunteer to Help Fight Cancer

The Pennsylvania branch of WebstaurantStore.com rallied together once again to form their annual Relay for Life team, dubbed "The Webstaurant Warriors." The team saw its best-ever turnout in 2014, with 53 employees, family, and friends joining the team and working to raise money. Many employees who could not participate in this year's Relay event were still active in fundraising, both on their own and through fun office events such as a "change wars" that created department competition, and a raffle full of great prizes that everyone was vying for!

Between the fundraising efforts of everyone involved, and a very generous matching donation from the Clark Associates Charitable Foundation, the Webstaurant Warriors raised a total of $14,929 for the American Cancer Society! To cap off their efforts, the team attended the official Relay for Life of Lancaster, PA in June.

Posted in: Company Information | By Emily Gertenbach
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