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10 Foods That Aren't What They Sound Like

January 27, 2014

Kerry Acker

Of all the misleading, downright baffling food names out there, these are our 10 worst offenders:

1. Head Cheese: We love cheese—hard, soft, washed rind, goat, cow, pasteurized, unpasteurized—but if you ever try to sneak this stuff (cold sliced gelatinous sausage made from parts of a cow’s or pig’s head) onto my cheese plate, there will be hell to pay. 

See more: 15 Surprising Foods to Keep in Your Freezer

2. Pork Butt: This little piggy part is most certainly not Porky’s posterior, but the upper part of his shoulder blade. Boston butt, pork blade roast, Boston roast—whatever you call it, we love pork butt, and we cannot lie.

3. Egg Cream:
 There’s neither egg nor cream in this soda fountain favorite that’s been around since the 1930s, but the head that forms on the top of the drink—whose only ingredients are chocolate syrup, milk, and seltzer—does resemble frothy, beaten egg whites. 

4. Geoduck: If you want to impress (baffle?) your friends, throw this word into the mix at your next cocktail party. Pronounced “Goo-ey duck,” the briny creature (a soft-shell clam with an enormous siphon) is definitely not winged—though it is decidedly daffy-looking. 

See more: 5 Rules For Healthy Comfort Food

5. Welsh Rarebit:
 Sounds like a bunny (“rarebit” is apparently an incorrect usage of “rabbit”), yet tastes just like haute, beery cheese on toast. (According to the Telegraph, “Welsh,” too, might be misleading, and a jab from the British: In the 1700s, when the dish was becoming increasingly popular, the word “Welsh” implied something fake.) 

6. Sweetbreads: One of the world’s meanest pranks: Hold some of these behind your back while asking your child if he’d like some “sweet breads.” Watch the happy, anticipant nodding melt into a world of pain while you present the delicacy—the mild-flavored thymus glands of a calf, lamb, or young hog—to the tot. (PS: Never actually do this.) Why “sweetbreads”? The etymological history is not entirely clear, though “bread” may come from the old English “bræd,” meaning “flesh.” 

7. Bubble & Squeak: A twee bubble gum brand? Bath gel? Nope. Try mashed potatoes fried with chopped cabbage (and, traditionally, boiled beef). The Food Lovers’ Companion notes that the British dish may have been named for the sounds the mixture makes as it cooks; we note that a side of spuds has never sounded more adorable. 

8. Mountain Oysters/Fries: Want fries with that? Depending on where you are—at Oklahoma City’s Cattlemen’s, for example—perhaps not. “Lamb fries” (served at Cattlemen’s) are lamb testicles, “short fries” are turkey testicles, and “Rocky Mountain oysters” (a.k.a. mountain oysters or prairie oysters) are the testicles of either a lamb, boar, or calf. 

9. Mincemeat: Though cooked lean beef was once included in this filling of chopped nuts, dried fruit, and spices, most mincemeat pies and tarts omit the meat component these days. (That said, some mincemeat recipes do call for beef suet.) 

10. Spotted Dick. A traditional English steamed pudding dessert (“Spotted” refers to the raisins that dot the pudding). That is all. 

Did we miss any head-scratchers?

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