Thursday, January 27, 2011
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
Monday, January 24, 2011
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
Enjoy National Popcorn day:
* Americans consume some 16 billion quarts of this whole grain, good-for-you treat. That’s 52 quarts per man, woman, and child.
* Compared to most snack foods, popcorn is low in calories. Air-popped popcorn has only 31 calories per cup. Oil-popped is only 55 per cup.
* Popcorn is a type of maize (or corn), a member of the grass family, and is scientifically known as Zea mays everta.
* Of the 6 types of maize/corn—pod, sweet, flour, dent, flint, and popcorn—only popcorn pops.
* Popcorn is a whole grain. It is made up of three components: the germ, endosperm, and pericarp (also know as the hull).
* Popcorn needs between 13.5-14% moisture to pop.
* Popcorn differs from other types of maize/corn in that is has a thicker pericarp/hull. The hull allows pressure from the heated water to build and eventually bursts open. The inside starch becomes gelatinous while being heated; when the hull bursts, the gelatinized starch spills out and cools, giving it its familiar popcorn shape.
* Most U.S. popcorn is grown in the Midwest, primarily in Indiana, Nebraska, Ohio, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky and Missouri.
* Many people believe the acres of corn they see in the Midwest during growing season could be picked and eaten for dinner, or dried and popped. In fact, those acres are typically field corn, which is used largely for livestock feed, and differs from both sweet corn and popcorn.
* The peak period for popcorn sales for home consumption is in the fall.
* Most popcorn comes in two basic shapes when it's popped: snowflake and mushroom. Snowflake is used in movie theaters and ballparks because it looks and pops bigger. Mushroom is used for candy confections because it doesn't crumble.
* Popping popcorn is one of the number one uses for microwave ovens. Most microwave ovens have a "popcorn" control button.
* "Popability" is popcorn lingo that refers to the percentage of kernels that pop.
* There is no such thing as “hull-less” popcorn. All popcorn needs a hull in order to pop. Some varieties of popcorn have been bred so the hull shatters upon popping, making it appear to be hull-less.
* How high popcorn kernels can pop? Up to 3 feet in the air.
* The world’s largest popcorn ball was created by volunteers in Sac City, Iowa in February, 2009. It weighed 5,000 lbs., stood over 8 ft. tall, and measured 28.8 ft. in circumference.
* If you made a trail of popcorn from New York City to Los Angeles, you would need more than 352,028,160 popped kernels!
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
Sunday, January 16, 2011
Stinky Gringo has kept the Amidziches afloat after Pizza Man burned down
By Joe Taschler of the Journal Sentinel
Jan. 15, 2011 |(22) Comments
Deanna and Mike Amidzich say they have been saved by their customers' willingness to get Stinky.
Their growing Stinky Gringo pre-mixed margarita and tequila brand has helped them survive financially in the aftermath of a four-alarm fire that destroyed their landmark Pizza Man business in Milwaukee a year ago this week.
"Thank God we had Stinky Gringo," Deanna Amidzich said. "I don't know what we would have done without it.
"Overnight we lost our main source of income."
The flames consumed the building that housed Pizza Man, at E. North and N. Oakland avenues. Before they realized it, their catchy, kitschy, Stinky Gringo brand - complete with mascot Mr. Stinky - was about to become a bigger part of their lives.
"It's our livelihood," Deanna Amidzich said.
She is president and owner of Stinky Gringo Inc. and is the chief cheerleader and marketer for the brand. Mike Amidzich created the Stinky Gringo recipe.
The brand has grown steadily since being introduced in 2004 and continues to develop a loyal fan base, especially in the Milwaukee area.
"The Stinky Gringo brand is one of the absolute hottest in the store," said Rick Laev, owner of Ray's Wine & Spirits in Wauwatosa. "It's also the highest proof of any pre-mixed margarita out there, and people just love that extra kick - gives it extra flavor.
"Whenever we do in-store demos for Stinky Gringo, my God, the amount of people that buy it impulsively after they've tried it is incredible," Laev added.
Nearly everything about the brand focuses on Milwaukee, Deanna Amidzich said.
The name came from a margarita party in Milwaukee more than 20 years ago in which partygoers brought their favorite margarita recipe and held a contest to see which one everyone liked best.
"Mike won," Deanna Amidzich said.
"I was a margarita geek," constantly mixing and experimenting to create the best-tasting concoction, Mike Amidzich said. He spent seven years perfecting his recipe, often mixing up batches in the basement of Pizza Man and testing them out on friends and family.
Once they made the decision to take the product to market, they held a contest - with a $2,000 grand prize - for students at the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design to create a new logo for the brand. They had 50 entries. The winner included the company mascot, Mr. Stinky.
From there, the really tough work began.
Trial by fire
"In the beginning it was hard," Deanna said. "We were cold calling, working the street, beating the pavement and trying to get them to try our product."
Then came the fire.
The fire was intentionally set and began in an adjacent business, fire investigators have said.
Federal, state and local investigators continue to pursue leads in the case. Damage from the blaze was estimated at $3 million. The building had to be demolished.
A $10,000 reward remains for information leading to the arrest of the person or people who started the fire.
Insurance covers only a portion of their fire losses, and coming out of the recession there aren't too many banks willing to lend money for a new restaurant - even one with the history and name recognition Pizza Man had, the Amidziches said.
They intend to reopen the restaurant and are working on financing.
Meanwhile, they still have Stinky Gringo.
With a background in corporate sales, Deanna Amidzich said she simply would not take no as an answer when working to establish the brand.
She said she never doubted the product's viability.
"Our only competitor, seriously, is José Cuervo," she said.
As competitors go, José Cuervo is a formidable one.
The brand is marketed by Diageo, a global beverage conglomerate based in the U.K. The company employs 20,000 people with offices in 80 countries and manufacturing facilities in the U.S., Great Britain, Ireland, Canada, Spain, Italy, Africa, Latin America, Australia, India and the Caribbean.
Stinky Gringo employs five people, and its recipe is mixed and packaged at a contract bottler in Minnesota.
"We're just a pesky fly to them," Deanna said of Diageo.
Scrappy, boozy and silly
The market is huge. Retail tequila sales in the U.S. were worth about $3 billion in 2009, said David Ozgo, chief economist for the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, a Washington trade association.
Stinky Gringo's feistiness in gaining a share of that market isn't lost on retailers who carry the brand.
"It's establishing itself pretty well," said Tim Berger, manager of the Otto's store in Brown Deer. "It's going up against Cuervo and Chi-Chi's, so it's a pretty tough nut to crack."
That Stinky Gringo is a family-owned brand also makes an impression on local retailers.
"It makes a huge difference," said Michael Greguska, co-owner of the Discount Liquor stores in Milwaukee and Waukesha. Greguska says customers are familiar enough with the brand to ask for it by name.
Deanna Amidzich says her pre-mixed margaritas have a selling point no one else's has. "Ours has the highest proof," she said. "We have the most booze in the bottle. If you figure it out price-wise, we are cheaper than anyone else based on the booze that you get."
Their tequila comes from a manufacturing plant outside Guadalajara, Mexico, she said.
Then there is the name. It's silly, yes. But people remember it as well as the company's tagline, "Get Stinky."
"The marketing of the name is just great," said Erik Truchan, marketing manager of the Cornerstone Sports Pub & Eatery in Oconomowoc.
The name can also bring some howls, especially the "gringo" part.
The company usually gets two or three complaints a year from someone offended by the name. "We're picking on ourselves," Deanna Amidzich said. "It's goofy. It's fun. It totally is the definition of Mike and I. We're fun and kind of quirky people," she said.
Gringo is not necessarily an offensive term.
"It's traditionally been considered disparaging, pejorative, etc.," said Jeff Kirsch, who teaches Spanish and Portuguese at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. "However, it can be used neutrally and it depends a lot on the context and who's saying it."
The brand has grown by double-digit percentages every year since it was introduced, the Amidziches said.
"Lately, because of how we've grown, we're actually getting referrals," Deanna Amidzich said. "People are actually calling us, which is pretty cool."
She added that she doesn't take herself too seriously, despite being one of the few women who own a liquor manufacturing company.
"I'm just a girl selling hooch," she said.
Anyone with information about the Pizza Man fire is asked to call Wisconsin's anonymous arson tip line at (800) 362-3005.
Friday, January 14, 2011
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
Tuesday, January 11, 2011
Thursday, January 6, 2011
Wednesday, January 5, 2011
Tuesday, January 4, 2011
Here is some Trivia to keep you busy...
» "Hang On Sloopy" is the official rock song of the state of Ohio.
» "Happy Birthday" was the first song to be performed in outer space, sung by the Apollo IX astronauts on March 8, 1969.
» "No Strings Attached," the pop album released by the band ’N Sync in March 2000, sold a whopping 2.41 million copies its first week, breaking a record many in the industry believed would stand for years. Less than a year earlier in May 1999, the former record had been set by the Backstreet Boys’ "Millennium," when 1.13 million copies were sold in the initial week of release.
» "Please Mr. Postman" has been a Number 1 hit on Billboard's record charts twice: the chart-topping versions were recorded by The Marvelettes in 1961 and The Carpenters in 1974.
» The Coffee Cantata was written by Johann Sebastian Bach.
» A concert promoter in Hawaii sold a thousand tickets to a Spice Girls concert. Unfortunately the concert was never scheduled. The man was arrested and told police he needed the money for a nose job and a sex change.
» A fantasia is a piece of music in which the composition follows the fancy, rather than any conventional form, of an improvisational character.
» A zarzuela is an operetta of a traditional type, with spoken dialogue and lyrical music. The word is derived from the Spanish after La Zarzuela, the royal palace near Madrid where the operetta was first performed in 1629. A zarzuela is also the name of a seafood stew.