The Mysterious Ingredients in Popular Food Products

Jun 4, 2015

Slim Jims contain sodium nitrites, which protect us from botulism. They could be harmful to our health… if we ate about 1,400 of them. 

In the book This Is What You Just Put in Your Mouth? Patrick Di Justo uncovers the truth behind the mysterious ingredients found in everyday products. He talks about familiar items like Easy Cheese — you know, the stuff in the can? It's been around since the 1960s and the design is ingenious. It has a little black button on the bottom that acts as a relief valve to prevent the can from bursting in the event of a fire. Pretty innovative. And speaking of innovation and fires, those wooden sticks we use to start them reached the apotheosis of matches about 100 years ago. No improvements needed. The book is full of interesting and often shocking facts about the food we eat and the products we use. It's based on the popular column Di Justo wrote for Wired called What's Inside

We also revisit a conversation with the then editor of The Onion.

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  • Patrick Di Justo – author of This is What You Just Put in Your Mouth? From Eggnog to Beef Jerky, the Surprising Secrets
  • Will Tracy – former editor of The Onion


  • “Gne Gne,” Montefiori Cocktail
  • “Chili Hot,” Us3
  • “Kalimba,” Mr. Scruff

Jonathan McNicol and Faith Middleton contributed to this show.