Urban Food Legends - Part 2: Dew Shrinks Testes, Red Bull Tumors and KFC Mutants

According to UrbanDictionary.com, an urban legend is "a frightening untrue story in which the storyteller insists is true, but has no evidence to back up." The tales below are three of the wildest, weirdest and most unfounded urban legends ever to hit the food service industry.   Mountain Dew Shrinks Testicles, Reduces Penis Size and Lowers Sperm Counts

Shrinkage is a word dreaded and feared by men the world over. In the last few years various rumors began circulating that the Pepsi Company beverage was shrinking the testicles, lowering sperm counts and reducing penis size of young males across the country.

A simple Google search will provide ample evidence that "Doing the Dew" was believed by some to be an adequate method of birth control. The likely culprit behind this rumor is Yellow No. 5 (a.k.a. tartrazine), the food coloring found in Mountain Dew that allegedly can have unfortunate effects on males when consumed in large quantities. This additive is found, in very small amounts, in a variety of beverages, candies, foods and cosmetics and has been in use since 1916.

There is one sure way Mountain Dew will cause genital shrinkage in males, however: when it is cold and poured directly on the area.

Red Bull Gives You Brain Tumors

This one reminded us of Dale Gribble's paranoid government conspiracy theories on King of the Hill. This is the basic rumor that's been circulating around the internet for the last decade:  

Check the ingredients on that can of Red Bull. Among many toxic substances, the most dangerous may be one you've never heard of: Glucuronolactone   Glucuronolactone is an artificial stimulant developed by the US Government in the 1960s and given to GIs during the Vietnam conflict to boost morale, fight fatigue and combat depression, but was banned a few years later following several deaths and hundreds of cases ranging from severe headaches to brain tumors among those prescribed the stimulant.   But that was in 1973 and Glucuronolactone has been banned in the US ever since. However, the drug never made it's way over to Europe and therefore was never banned. An article in this month's British Medical Journal highlights a growing epidemic of cases with eerily similar symptoms to the US Vietnam vets in the 1970s.   All of those of the European cases have been Red Bull drinkers. Please pass this to anyone you know that's a Red Bull drinker. Next time you get a headache from the stuff, you'll know why!
Someone was feeling pretty creative, because the whole thing is fiction. The U.S. government never manufactured the stimulant. It is a naturally occurring metabolite in the human body. The infamous British Medical Journal article has never been found, nor have any such claims of tumors been reported to the European or United States governments.

As for the headaches? Large amounts of sugar and caffeine are what give Red Bull drinkers "wings." This is true of all things in life. They just don't show those happy flying Red Bull cartoons crashing back to earth two hours later, fatigued, achy, irritable and chain smoking.   The Government Won't Allow the Meat or Genetically Engineered Animals Raised by KFC to Be Called "Chicken"

We like to refer to this one as "the legend of Frankenchicken." "Frankenchicken" came about around the same time the restaurant chain updated their image and changed their name from Kentucky Fried Chicken to KFC. The goal was to eliminate the word "fried" in an increasingly health conscious market as well as prepare the concept for a menu that would include more than just chicken in the years to come. What do you get when you add animal rights activists, opportunity, and the internet? See below:  

A recent study conducted by the University of New Hampshire uncovered some very disturbing facts:

Has anyone noticed that Kentucky Fried Chicken has changed their name to KFC? Does anyone know why? We thought it was because of the whole "FRIED" issue. It's not. The reason they are now called KFC is because they cannot use the word chicken. Why? KFC does not use real chickens. They actually use genetically manipulated organisms. These so-called "chickens" are kept alive by tubes inserted into their bodies to pump blood and nutrients throughout their structure.

They have no beaks, no feathers, and no feet. Their bone structure is dramatically depleted to get more meat out of them.

Is it just us or does this sound a little like the Matrix?   Needless to say, there was never a study conducted by the University of New Hampshire and KFC does not or has never raised or genetically engineered its own chicken. They buy their food from the same suppliers as everyone else in the restaurant industry.

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Lauren Marmaduke
Contact: Lauren Marmaduke