Monday, January 21, 2008

English Muffins

#349 English Muffins

Sam Thomas was a genius. He hasn't been around for a long time, but you know him, even if you don't know you know him.

He's the guy who either invented or stole the idea for the English muffin.

Thomas arrived in New York from England around 1880 and immediately started baking. Some say the thing's been around since maybe 1710 or so, but everyone associates the name Thomas' with English muffins. And even if he did borrow the basic idea, he should be credited with breaking the laws of physics.

That's because a 12 ounce pack of six muffins can (and usually does) produce 40 pounds of crumbs. No one but Thomas knows how that happens. But it happens in millions of toasters across America every day.

Maybe it's biology, not physics. English muffins may reproduce at a rate that would turn Peter Rabbit (or Bugs Bunny) green with envy. But biologists don't know whether all those crumbs are embryonic muffins or new matter, like, say, positrons.

When you buy the package, it weighs 12 ounces.

If you leave the package standing for a couple of months, it may weigh a little more, because eventually the bread molds and mold has weight. But just a LITTLE weight. When you pick it up to throw it way, it doesn't feel any heavier than the day you bought it.

But if you do what most of us do, you open the package within a day or so of its purchase. And that's when the new matter starts to form, or the embryos spread.

Cut one to put in the toaster and all of a sudden you have an acre of crumbs. (How you cut it makes a difference. If you use a knife, you only get three quarters of an acre. If you stab the edges with a fork -- as the packager recommends -- you get the full acre.)

We've consulted with two or three science guys and they agree that this form of creation does not generally work with other items, such as bananas, inner tubes or your kids. bad idea. Here at the Wessays Secret Mountain Laboratory, we tried it with a hard roll and got a fair result, and with an apple and just got wet, but no crumbs.

You open the muffin, the muffin doesn't seem to get heavier -- and certainly doesn't seem to get lighter. But there they are. A million crumbs. On the counter top, on the floor, in the sink.

You toast the thing and it STILL doesn't much change size. But there's a whole new set of crumbs on the bottom of the toaster. They weren't there before. They are there NOW. The only thing we can tell for sure is once you eat the main muffin, it stops making news matter (or emitting embryos.)

We need to know two things: (1) how does this process work, and (2) how can we build cars and furnaces that run on English muffin crumbs. It's an amazingly prolific form of self renewing fuel, if we can only figure out how to harness it.

I'm Wes Richards. My opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.®
©2008 WJR

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