Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

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A quiz on the history of sandwiches

August in National Panini month, honoring the lightly grilled, trendy sandwich that Americans have come to love over that past few decades. Instead of just focusing on just one sandwich though, we would like to present the entirety of the sandwich universe.

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What are you drinking?

By Jonathan Kroberger
Today is International Beer Day and there’s nothing we like to talk about more than a few good brews. Between the Oxford Companion to Beer, America Walks into a Bar, Beer: Tap into the Art and Science of Brewing, The Economics of Beer, and several episodes of The Oxford Comment, OUP employees have managed to imbibe a little expertise in the area.

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An ice cream quiz

By Audrey Ingerson and Stephanie Rothaug
We’ve all heard of the classics: vanilla, chocolate, rocky road, mint chocolate chip. But what about the crazier end of the spectrum? Flavors like cherry blossom, chocolate marshmallow, chorizo caramel, sea salt, chai tea, or cinnamon toast.

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Cinco de Mayo and the insurgent taco

On the fifth of May, many in the US and Mexico will celebrate Cinco de Mayo, the commemoration of Mexico’s victory over the French at the Battle of the Puebla in 1862. In this excerpt from Planet Taco: A Global History of Mexican Food, Jeffrey Pilcher looks at Cinco de Mayo and the first written instance of the word “taco.”

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Alcohol advertising, by any other name…

By Steve Pratt and Emma Croager
Most adults won’t be familiar with the music video You Make Me Feel by Cobra Starship, as it has much greater appeal to young people. There is little doubt however that the overwhelming majority of adults would quickly identify the product placement in the video. The commercial intent of the product placement in this example is self-evident.

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A quiz on Prohibition

How much do you know about the era of Prohibition, when gangsters rose to power and bathtub gin became a staple? 2013 marks the 80th anniversary of the repeal of the wildly unpopular 18th amendment, initiated on 17 February 1933 when the Blaine Act passed the United States Senate. To celebrate, test your knowledge with this quiz below, filled with tidbits of 1920s trivia gleaned from The Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America: Second Edition.

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Comfort food

By Georgia Mierswa
This Valentine’s Day-themed tech post was supposed to be just that—a way to show that all that sexy metadata powering the Oxford Index’s sleek exterior has a sweet, romantic side, just like the rest of the population at this time of year. I’d bounce readers from a description of romantic comedies to Romeo and Juliet to the three-act opera Elegy for Young Lovers, and then change the Index’s featured homepage title to something on the art of love to complete the heart shaped, red-ribboned picture.

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Quiz on the word origins of food and drink

Did you know that ‘croissant’ literally means ‘crescent’ or that oranges are native to China? Do you realize that the word ‘pie’ has been around for seven hundred years in English or that ‘toast’ comes from the Latin word for ‘scorch’? John Ayto explores the word origins of food and drink in The Diner’s Dictionary. We’ve made a little quiz based on the book. Are you hungry for it?

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Christmas beers

By Garrett Oliver
For those of us who celebrate Christmas, this time of year is resplendent with sights, songs, and smells that bring the holiday instantly to mind. Most of us who grew up with a real Christmas tree in the house are instantly transported by the smell of a freshly cut fir tree. For others, it’s the smell of pies baking. For the ancients, it was frankincense and myrrh. For me… it’s latex paint. Wait, I can explain!

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Christmas dinner with the Cratchits

“There never was such a goose. Bob said he didn’t believe there ever was such a goose cooked. Its tenderness and flavour, size and cheapness, were the themes of universal admiration. Eked out by apple-sauce and mashed potatoes, it was a sufficient dinner for the whole family; indeed, as Mrs Cratchit said with great delight (surveying one small atom of bone upon the dish), they hadn’t ate it all particular, were steeped in sage and onion to the eyebrows!”

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Roast Goose, the Mrs Beeton way

With Christmas approaching, we are looking towards the food we’ll share on the day itself. If you’re looking for ideas, who better to consult that Mrs Isabella Beeton herself, who authored the seminal Household Management at just 22 years old. Below is her sage advice on that classic Christmas meat, roast goose.

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Kosher beers for Hanukkah

By Garrett Oliver
I always knew that my family was a little different, but it wasn’t until my mid-teens that I realized exactly how weird we were. An African-American family living in the suburban greenery of Hollis, Queens, at the outskirts of New York City, we thought little of the fact that my father’s big hobby was hunting game birds. With dogs, no less. Often on horseback. Around the holidays, my Aunt Emma made wonderful chopped liver, and in the springtime, our table was often festooned with matzoh bread.

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Life in a brewery

What kind of crazy things happen at a brewery bar? What is some of the interesting stuff you can do with beer? What’s proper beer etiquette? If you don’t like beer, what beer should you try? How do you become a brewer? How do you break into the brewing industry? Interviews with the Eric Peck, Brooklyn Brewery Tour Guide and Bartender, and Tom Price, Brooklyn Brewery Brewer and Lab Manager, reveal life inside a brewery.

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Pomegranates: did you know…

November is National Pomegranate Month and we thought it’d be interesting to highlight the fascinating history of this fruit. Here are some fun facts from The Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America, Second Edition, edited by Andrew F. Smith. Plus, the “Pomegranates” entry in the Encyclopedia by David Karp.

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Ten things you didn’t know about Thanksgiving

With Thanksgiving quickly approaching in the United States, we thought that it would be interesting to highlight 10 fun facts on the holiday from the newly released The Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America, Second Edition. Additionally, you will find an interview with Editor in Chief Andrew Smith dispelling common myths associated with the origin of Thanksgiving.

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Inside a brewery

Garrett Oliver, editor of The Oxford Companion to Beer, takes us behind the scenes of the brewing process inside the Brooklyn Brewery’s Refermentation Room, and his favorite room in the brewery — the Barrel Room. He is brewmaster of the Brooklyn Brewery and the foremost authority on beer in the United States.

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