Since Easter is fast drawing near, I thought an appropriate story to share with you was one I first posted nearly three years ago, as a lighthearted message for this holiday season. So please enjoy this little reprint — hope you will be amused by it!
Having a proprietary interest in the Franklin Stove, as you know, which I invented back in 1741, I have been curious about the various heating appliances, stoves, and other such devices that have come about since then, in this new, future world.
One such invention that I wanted to investigate further is this thing called a “microwave oven.” From what I have been told about it, this oven sounds like a modern day miracle, because of how quickly it is able to heat meals and beverages.
Eager to try this device for myself, I borrowed the kitchen of an acquaintance, and began experimenting. The various food or snack items – pizza, popcorn, vegetables, et cetera – seemed to cook up efficiently, as expected. Some foods, of course, required a little more fussing and finessing, because they did not heat thoroughly on the first attempt, even when I used the package directions that were supplied. They needed at least one or two additional cycles before they were truly ready to eat.
However, when it came to the other miscellaneous things that many Americans use their microwaves for, that is sometimes a different matter.
Sock it to me
I had heard that one of the personal health remedies that a number of people use is something called a “rice sock.” This is simply a clean sock, filled with uncooked rice. When heated in the microwave, the grains of rice warm most wonderfully, and the sock may then be used as a wrap around one’s neck (or other body parts), to ease the discomfort that may come with arthritis, sprained muscles, and so forth. Apparently, this has become the modern equivalent of the “hot water bottle,” which accomplished the same thing, simply by pouring heated water into a flat rubber container somewhat resembling a wine flask.
For a person such as myself, who does suffer from the various aches and pains brought on with advanced age (311 years is rather advanced, I would say!), this particular use of the microwave oven is a quite valuable and helpful one.
So, in that regard, I would have no complaints about that application, which does live up to its reputation.
Unfortunately, the next item I tried did not fare so well. And that is nobody’s fault but my own, for I was either not following directions, or I became distracted and used the wrong numbers on the controls (anyone who is familiar with my early history would know that I can be a little mathematically challenged, as I did not do well in this subject during those few years I attended school).
Here is what transpired: As I was informed that a particular marshmallow candy confection called a “Peep” could be heated in the microwave and acquire a different and more delicious state of being, I decided to begin my experiment with great haste (perhaps too hastily, as it turned out). Peeps, by the way, are manufactured by a company called Just Born, in the town of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, not too far away from my native Philadelphia.
So I went out and purchased a single package of Peeps (yellow ones, because the color seemed more attractive to me), and brought them back to my “test kitchen.”
I placed the package into the microwave, and upon pushing a few buttons, I sat back and waited for the results. This time, the microwave appeared to take a while longer than I had experienced with the other items. As I mentioned, I may not have been paying full attention, and could have accidentally pushed the wrong buttons.
Inside the oven, the Peeps kept growing and growing, to my great surprise and consternation. And in no time at all, it seems, with a great noise and commotion, the Peeps exploded!
What I was left with was a gooey, sticky mess. In hindsight, perhaps five minutes was a bit too lengthy a time for cooking these Peeps. And, as it was later explained to me by an acquaintance who is an engineer, one additional step I should have taken is removing the Peeps from their package, wrapping and all.
That experiment, as you can imagine, was not as successful as anticipated. My friend, whose kitchen I borrowed, has stated firmly and unequivocally (but politely) that I am not to be allowed in that kitchen again.
But on the positive side, the gooey yellow marshallow concoction that resulted from this adventure was the sweetest, most delectable treat I have ever tasted. (Kudos to the Peeps inventors at the Just Born company in Bethlehem!)
Such is the life of a scientist.
Your humble (and gooey) servant,
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