Tuesday 24 July 2012

Sex, Bombs and Burgers: A Book Review

When I have some rare down-time between relentlessly exploring London's growing burger scene by seeking out the Best Burgers in London, and creating my burger-themed recipes (like my recent homemade American Burger Cheese), I like to read. Not for me stories of pirates and treasure, nor international intrigue and mystery, nor anything by E.L.James. 

No, I like to read books about burgers.

Sex, Bombs and Burgers: How War, Porn and Fast Food Created Technology as We Know it* sees Peter Nowak, a technology writer for many publications around the world, and former science and technology reporter for CBC News Online, take us on a brilliantly researched canter through three multi-billion dollar industries that have given us most of the major technological advances of the last 60 years...pornography, the military, and the fast-food industry.

As we all know, adoption of technology has been the cornerstone of the ubiquitous fast-food chain - but did you know, for instance, that McDonalds was the first fast-food chain to open a research lab in 1957 - to master the French Fry. The subsequent research resulted in the adoption of a hydrometer by all suppliers to McDonalds, in order to ensure the potatoes they were supplying had at least 21% solids...below which the French Fry wouldn't fry properly...and the discovery of flash-freezing for McDonalds hamburger patties allowed the company to reduce the number of meat suppliers from 175 to just 5, ensuring quality was controlled over a large geographic area.
Other aspects of the book cover: the great leaps commercialised NASA technology has given to a wealth of products, for example the microwave oven; and Teflon.

There's also a lot about porn. All sorts of pornography leading on from the surplus of second world war news film directors spurring a rise in user-generated pornography; and in slightly terrifying insight into the use of robotics to produce an army of sex robots....but I won't spoil it, you'll have to read it!

This is a well-researched, well-written, and informative book about the source of much of our consumer technology, and in-spite of a predominantly American bias, us Brits get a good mention, and I'd thoroughly recommend this as an interesting and enjoyable read. Oh, and the bright yellow cover with the word 'Sex' on it makes for a great tube game of 'who's trying to check out what I'm reading'...
You can buy it here on Amazon*.

*Links to the book on Amazon

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