Zionsville Times Sentinel

July 3, 2013

There's always a Brazil nut on top


Zionsville Times Sentinel

---- — I was watching a rerun of “The Big Bang Theory” the other night and had one of those zoom-you-back-to-childhood moments. In this episode, Sheldon was extolling the virtues of Amy Farrah Fowler, which included the fact that she ate the Brazil nuts out of his mixed nuts so he wouldn’t have to look at them.

That line took me straight back to my childhood and reminded me how very much I detest Brazil nuts. My dad has always been a fan of nuts, with the notable exception of the lowly Brazil nut.

Dad usually had a can of Planters mixed nuts in his possession that he was willing to share, but you had to follow the rules of the can. The rules were, you had to reach into the can without looking and take a small handful of nuts. That was the easy part.

The hard part was that you had to eat every nut that you pulled out, even if you were unlucky enough to grab a Brazil nut. I was unlucky enough times to know that I do not like Brazil nuts.

I always figured Planters included Brazil nuts because they take up space and add weight, thus making less room for the more desirable and probably more expensive nuts.

Now, thanks to “The Big Bang Theory,” I know I am not alone in loathing Brazil nuts. In fact, I found a blog at scienceblogs.com that posed and answered the question: “Does anyone like Brazil nuts?”

The answer was provided through results from an actual survey of more than 600 people. Surprisingly, there are a small percentage of people who like them. For the rest of us, there is a Facebook page called “I hate Brazil nuts.”

As I continued on my Brazil nut information quest, I came across a website called boingboing.net, which has a video called “The Brazil Nut Effect.” Yep, there is a scientific name for the reason there always seems to be a Brazil nut on top of the can. The real phenomenon is called granular convection, but it is commonly called the Brazil nut effect and has been studied since about 1930. Basically, when you shake up a mix with small and large particles, the larger ones tend to gather together and move to the top. It is a pretty interesting video, if you have a few minutes to spare.

Now that I think about it, I am pretty convinced my dad knew about the Brazil nut effect, and I wasn’t just an unlucky nut picker. He used to shake the can before I put my hand in for a snack. I have decided to forgive him, but you can bet when he gets too old to open his own snack can, I am going to give it a good shake before I let him reach in.

Amy Rodriguez is a writer living in Hendricks County. You can read more of her work at rubymay1029.blogspot.com.