Carrots are known for their high levels of fiber, potassium, and vitamins A, C, and K, and for the fact that they go great with hummus and salsa, and are deliciously versatile in cake, soups, and juice. However, these roots also have a rich history that extends far beyond their nutritional benefits. In the spirit of Easter, we’re bringing you 15 fun facts about Peter Rabbit’s favorite food that’ll have you saying, “What’s up, Doc?”
1. Mel Blanc, the voice of Bugs Bunny, hated carrots.
2. Carrots were originally white or purple. The Dutch eventually bred the orange variety to represent the color of the royal house of The Netherlands. Carrots were also originally grown for medicinal purposes. In fact, the word “carrot” was first coined in an English book of herbs written in 1538. Medieval European doctors often prescribed carrots to cure everything from animal bites to syphilis. They slowly transitioned onto the European plate when the orange, sweeter variety was developed by the Dutch during the 17th century.
3. Holtville, CA is the self-proclaimed “Carrot Capital of the World” and holds an annual carrot festival. This 10-day event features a Carrot Cookery Contest, parade, 5K run, live music, and a midway carnival.
4. Americans eat an average of 10.6 pounds of fresh carrots each year. That’s 10,866 carrots over an average lifetime.
5. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the world’s longest carrot measured 20 feet, 5.86 inches.
6. Vegan pastry chef and former 2013 Cupcake Wars competitor Amy Loch is featured on the Food Network website for her unique Vegan Brussel Carrot Curry Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting and Maple Curry Reduction.
7. China is the world’s largest producer of carrots, with a record of almost 17 million tons of carrots per year. The United States ranks as number four on this list, producing 1.3 million tons, annually. However, Grimmway Farms, located in Bakersfield, CA, is the largest single source carrot producer in the world. Grimmway cranks out an estimated 10 million pounds of carrots and carrot products per day.
8. In 1872, an opera titled Le Roi Carotte (King Carrot) premiered in Paris. Although the production was more than six hours long, it became a success and recorded just under 200 performances. This elaborate satire of the Franco-Prussian War was recently staged at the Lyon Opera (France) in 2015, though the show was condensed to three-and-a-half hours.
9. Carotenemia, or the slight yellowing of the skin, is a real condition caused by the overconsumption of carrots and other carotene-rich foods. Thankfully, one can regain normal skin pigmentation by abstaining from these foods.
10. Baby carrots are manufactured. They are cut from a unique breed of carrot to create their signature uniformity. Of the five standard baby carrot sizes, the smallest are called “carroteenies.”
11. The darker the color of the carrot, the sweeter the taste.
12. The ancient Greeks believed carrots could arouse amorous feelings, based on their physical resemblance to a certain reproductive body part.
13. The myth that carrots improve night vision originated during World War II as a British propaganda campaign to befuddle German fighter pilots. The British had developed an advanced radar that allowed them to target German planes at night, but to keep this technology a secret, the Ministry of Information attributed their pilot’s sharp eyes to the consumption of carrots.
14. Carrots have seeds. The seeds are part of the green stems that grow above the ground, which most people discard. If left to grow, these stems will flower and produce seeds.
Tanya Flink is an Orange County-based vegan, foodie, and certified Master Personal Trainer with a mild obsession for carrots.
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