Ebola Virus and Chocolate

Ebola has worried many, including chocolatiers. The Ivory Coast of Africa, Côte D’Ivoire, leads the world in cocoa production. While the Ebola virus has not yet traveled there, the Ivory Coast borders Liberia and Guinea, two countries ravaged by the virus.

Some are worried that chocolate prices will surge up. The World Cocoa Foundation recently solicited donations totaling $600,000 from members to help with the Ebola virus fight and support efforts. 100% of this money will go directly to the cause. Care and prevention is key to first containing, then halting the virus.

From the World Cocoa Foundation:
"The spread of Ebola is a serious concern to WCF and our member companies, given our deep and longstanding support for the well-being of West African cocoa-growing communities. This member-led contribution reflects an ongoing strong commitment by our industry to health and humanitarian relief efforts during international crises," said Bill Guyton, president, World Cocoa Foundation. "We recognize that many rural communities in West Africa, including those where cocoa is grown, need support to find sustainable solutions to economic and social problems that may hinder their ability to tackle threats such as Ebola."


World Cocoa Foundation. Global Cocoa Sector Joins Fight Against Ebola. World Cocoa Foundation, 15 Oct. 2014. Web. 19 Oct. 2014. Press Release.

Images: Public domain.

CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta and the Chocolate-Ebola Experiment

CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta shows how easy Ebola could be transmitted as he suits up in Ebola protective gear. He uses chocolate sauce in the demonstration.

Confectionery Food Manufacturing Plant For Sale

I found this listing. It's for a custom confectionery plant in the WI region.

The experienced staff allows the new owners to come in with a self-sufficient staff. Detailed recipes to manufacture all products. 30%+ in annual growth in revenues the last four years. There are policies and procedures in place for the new owner: Their products are handcrafted in the Midwest in small batches for a unique crunch and flavor. In 2013, they Partnered with a local coffee brewer to incorporate their #1 selling coffee into the product line.
  • 1,488 square feet.
  • Not a franchise resale.
  • One story facility. Actual property is leased.
Visit BusinessBroker.net, for use the link above for info on contacting the seller.

If You Were a Sweet, Where Would You Live?

So, if you were a sweet (such as a cookie, dessert, etc), where would you live? L.V. Anderson from Slate.com FOOD answers that question with United Sweets of America: If every state had an official dessert, what would it be? (Montana gets S’mores.).

Courtesy Slate.com and Jess Fink.

With her noting that "only eight states have an official dessert," she goes on a quest to give every state a dessert. Her rules:
  1. States all have to have a different dessert. In other words, once one state has claimed a dessert, no other state can use it as theirs.
  2. "Brands are not desserts." (Anderson makes an exception with Jell-O.)
  3. And, lastly, no one state can claim the all-American apple pie or chocolate chip cookies as their own.
You'll find all your favorites here, from fried pies to brownies, and some interesting ones, too, such as pot candy (yes, candy made from Mary Jane).

So, which are the 8 "official" state desserts, and some other official state sweets and baked treats? The list is below. It's worth noting Massachusetts has its sweet on with 4 entries. I now have a goal to seek out and taste a Boston Cream Doughnut.
  • Florida - State Pie - Key Lime Pie.
  • Maine - State Dessert - Blueberry Pie; State Treat - Whoopie Pie.
  • Maryland State Dessert - Smith Island Cake.
  • Massachusetts - State Muffin - Corn Muffin; State Dessert - Boston Cream Pie; State Cookie - Chocolate Chip Cookie; State Doughnut - Boston Cream Doughnut.
  • Minnesota - State Muffin - Blueberry Muffin.
  • Missouri - State Dessert - Ice Cream.
  • New Mexico - State Cookie - Bizcochito Cookie.
  • New York - State Muffin - Apple Muffin.
  • Ohio - State Candy - Buckeyes.
  • Oklahoma - State Treat - Cornbread; State Dessert - Pecan Pie.
  • Pennsylvania - State Cookie - Chocolate Chip Cookie.
  • South Dakota - State Dessert - Kuchen; State Bread - Frybread.
  • Texas - State Bread - Pan de campo; State Pastry - (two of them) Sopaipilla and Strudel.
  • Utah - State Snack Food - Jell-O.
  • Vermont - State Pie - Apple Pie.
  • Virginia - State Muffin - Blueberry Muffin; State Dessert - Ice Cream.
  • Wisconsin - State Pastry - Kringle.
Source: Wikipedia: List of U.S. State Foods.

Scientifically and Mathematically Speaking - What's the Best Way to Cut a Cake?

Is there a perfect way to cut a cake? I explore.
Image courtesy jeremyfoo, Flickr via CC license.

We all know how to cut a cake, right? Even Wilton gives diagrams on how to cut a cake in every conceivable shape there is, including the most common round shape (below).
Cake Cutting Diagram for Round Cakes - via Wilton.
But, is there a best way to cut a cake, for example to so that everyone has the 'best' piece or that each slice is fresh, not 'dry'? For these questions, leave it to mathematicians to come up with these answers.

Cutting a Cake to Prevent Dry Surfaces

First, we look to Sir Francis Galton. A few years before he was knighted he had his humorous answer for the dilemma of cutting a cake in a way "so as to leave a minimum of exposed surface to become dry" in Nature, 1906. He wanted the best way to take a small cake for two and have it 'fresh' for 3 days, meaning no dry exposed areas. Each day, a third of the cake was removed and served to two people. I posted Galton's Cutting a Round Cake on Scientific Principles on Old School Pastry for you to read.

Today, we use plastic wrap. Galton' answer in 1906:
  • Take a cake 5 inches across, and make two cuts down the middle to remove the center slice. Cut that center slice in half, and serve two people. Press the remaining halves together, secure with a rubber band (I'm assuming he only consumed fondant-covered or stiff royal icing-coverd cakes? Rubber bands don't work too well with buttercream.).
  • Next day, make two cuts to remove the center piece again, and serve two people. Push the remainder halves together, securing like the day before.
  • Final day, you are left with 4 small pieces. Divide in half and serve the same two people two portions each, and there you have 3 servings of cake for 2 people, each having a slice that has no dry edges.
Not very practical in today's world, with an endless supply of plastic containers large enough to hold a cake, or cellophane or foil doing the job of keeping the cake fresh nicely. Scroll to the very bottom to see how Numberphile.com has demonstrated this technique. But what if you wanted the best way to cut a cake, based on equability, 'envy-freeness', or efficiency?

Cutting a Cake so Everyone Gets a "Perfect" Slice

Steven J. Brams, Michael A. Jones, and Christian Klamer from the American Mathematical Society, together published Better Ways to Cut a Cake in the December 2006 issue of Notices, Volume 53, Issue 11. It is described as:
  • A mathematical cake, as viewed by n persons participating in its division, is modeled by their n (covert) value functions on the unit interval. Each participant can cut the cake at a point by a vertical line at that point, and each is assumed to make their cut so as to maximize the value of the minimum size piece they might receive. The authors explore algorithms that allow this division to be fair to all.
I loved this, and the paper perfectly illustrates why I love algebra - you can find any answer with it. They based their cake cutting algorithms on the assumption that every person is "risk-adverse: He or she will never choose a strategy that may yield a more valuable piece of cake if it entails the possibility of getting less than a maximum piece." This is especially true in the case of kids cutting their own pieces. I would know; I have three.

Their research led them to search the answer to satisfy these three key features.
  1. The first is envy-freeness - where every person thinks they are getting the best piece so they don't envy the next person's slice.
  2. The second is efficiency - where there is no other cut that is better.
  3. And the last is equability - where every person thinks that each cut is the same as, or just as good as, the next person's.
It will always remain a challenge to cut a cake so that everyone has that perceived 'perfect slice of cake,' especially when multiple people are vying for it. But even the authors admit "there may be no envy-free division that is also equitable." I guess even in cake cutting, tough choices have to be made. The paper discusses proportional equability, and in some parts base their assumptions that the people involved are being truthful in the equitable procedure, and is a pleasing pastry/mathematical read all around.

Below: Galton's Example via Numberphile.



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