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The 12 Biggest Food News Stories of 2012: The Year In Twinkies, Go-Go Juice and Guy Fieri

From eating like cavemen to redneck sketti, we're taking a look back at some of the biggest food happenings of 2012.

12. Singapore Serves Mashed Potatoes...From A Vending Machine?

The internet was abuzz when a photo of a mashed potato vending machine surfaced. Eventually, the viral picture was traced to a 7-Eleven in Singapore, where a rep confirms the Maggi-based machines are "quite popular." For just $1, you can get a healthy squirt of instant mashed potatoes and some questionable-looking chicken gravy.

We're all in.

11. Now Trending: Cavemen, Paleo Diet Popularized

The newest fad to hit the diet scene this year claims to combat modern illnesses like obesity, diabetes and heart disease by returning to a pre-civilization, hunter-gatherer style diet. That means more grass-fed pasture raised meats, fish, fruit and vegetables and no grains, legumes, dairy, refined sugar, refined salt or processed oils.

As the diet, first popularized in the 1970s, gained traction this year, so did the questions over its actual health benefits. In other caveman news, Year One is still a really shitty movie.

10. The Distinction of Twinkies...Maybe

Last month, Hostess Brands, the company behind such beloved treats as Twinkies, Ho Hos, and Wonder Bread, announced it was taking the initial steps to closing down operations for good.

First came the public outcry, then, the Twinkie hoarding. We even came up with a list of Twinkie alternatives for those that just couldn't get by without them.

But wait! Not so fast... News outlets are now reporting that major retailers like Wal-Mart and Kroger are interested in buying the company. This means Hostess treats could be resurrected just in time for Easter. On the third day, the Twinkie rose again...

9. Presidential Election Food Polls

This year's hottest news item was the Presidential election. But there was no need to watch the election results to see who won; you could just follow the Edible Polls. From red and blue cheeses at the Park Hyatt in D.C., to the 7-Eleven Coffee Cup Challenge, everybody was trying to predict the upcoming election. And it seems they were mostly right -- both challenges favored blue.

8. Jamie Oliver And The Pink Slime Social Media Firestorm (By the way, this my new band name.)

Pink slime is the lean finely textured beef and boneless lean beef trimmings that is used as a filler in ground beef products. In April 2011, Jamie Oliver criticized the use of pink slime in food supply and school lunches in an episode of Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution.

In March of this year, ABC News brought it back into the limelight by running a series of controversial reports on the product's safety and health issues. As a result, there was a social media uproar, along with a couple of ongoing defamation lawsuits against ABC, Jamie Oliver, Diane Sawyer and more.

7. Go Go Juice Enters Our Vocabulary

Honey Boo Boo Child and her family of self-proclaimed rednecks warmed our hearts and simultaneously scared the shit out of us first on Toddler's and Tiara's and then with the premiere season of TLC's Here Comes Honey Boo Boo.

While most of the family's crazy antics are harmless, we can't say the same for pumping a six-year-old with Pixie Sticks and Go Go Juice -- a mixture of Mountain Dew and Red Bull -- before pageants. The move sparked outrage among the public and allegations of child abuse.

6. Gestation Stalls To Be Phased Out By Major Chains

In the latest victory for animal rights organizations, McDonald's, Burger King, Wendy's, and Subway are among the companies pledging to eliminate pork gestation crates, which confine animals during the breeding and birthing process. U.S. branches of McDonald's are vowing to undertake a 10-yr phase out plan. In addition, Dunkin Donuts and several other companies have committed to use cage-free eggs.

5. Paula Deen Reveals She's A Diabetic...And A Hyprocrite

Although Paula Deen was diagnosed with type-2 diabetes years ago, she waited until January to go public. Coincidentally, she also happened to have just lined up a lucrative diabetes drug endorsement deal with Novo Nordisk .

The queen of butter was widely criticized for the move and labeled a hypocrite for promoting fattening, sugar-laden foods (like her kinda-sounds-gross-but-I-kinda-wanna-try chocolate cheese fudge) while hiding the disease.

4. Everyone's Loco For Doritos Locos

Taco Bell understands its fan base. This year, the company launched Doritos Locos Tacos, their basic beef taco, but with a nacho-cheese-flavored Doritos shell. And of course, it sold in record-breaking numbers, becoming the chain's most popular product with other 100 million sold in just 10 weeks.

Even our own Christine Uticone couldn't resist reviewing them.

3. Guy Fieri's Restaurant Destroyed In The Press; Pete Wells' Review Goes Viral

New York Times dining critic Pete Wells gave Guy Fieri's newest restaurant, Guy's American Kitchen and Bar, a scathing review, starting off the piece by asking him, "have you eaten at your new restaurant in Times Square?"

The review, written entirely in question-form, is kind of hilarious.

"When you saw the burger described as "Guy's Pat LaFrieda custom blend, all-natural Creekstone Farm Black Angus beef patty, LTOP (lettuce, tomato, onion + pickle), SMC (super-melty-cheese) and a slathering of Donkey Sauce on garlic-buttered brioche," did your mind touch the void for a minute?...Were you struck by how very far from awesome the Awesome Pretzel Chicken Tenders are?"

Coincidentally, Guy didn't think it was very funny, claiming the critic had "another agenda" when he wrote his review. Despite the public bashing, it turns out irony-seeking diners are flocking to Times Square to get a taste of Flavor Town.

2. Foie Gras Banned In California

This year, the foie gras controversy continued as California banned the use of the product, the creation of which involves the force-feeding of birds to deposit large amounts of fat in the liver of ducks and geese, in July.

Suppliers immediately halted shipment to the state, the biggest market for foie gras in the U.S., but several restaurants continued to serve the dish, stocking up on the product pre-ban and asserting that foie gras can be made humanely.

1. Chick-Fil-A Vs. Gay Rights

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In the biggest clusterfuckup of the year, Chick-Fil-A COO Dan Cathy made a series of public comments opposing same-sex marriage, spawning wide-spread public reaction and media coverage. Cathy's comments, along with the outing of the company's millions in donations to political organizations that oppose LGBT rights, prompted protests, boycotts, and counter-rallies across the country. Not surprisingly, even Sarah Palin got in on the action, right here in the Woodlands. Chick-Fil-A has since pledged to re-evaluate anti-gay funding and stay away from political commentary.

Thanks 2012, it was...interesting. Here's to less hate, an equal amount of controversy and more mashed potatoes in 2013.

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