The MythBusters The MythBusters

MythBusters Episode 196: Food Fables

Premier Date: November 18, 2012

Chef Alton Brown joined the MythBusters in this Thanksgiving-themed episode.

It is possible to set up a holiday meal inside a car’s engine compartment and drive long enough to fully cook all of the food.


Adam, Jamie, and Alton found a large, older car that had plenty of space under the hood. They placed thermocouples throughout the engine compartment and around the exhaust to find the best sources of heat. After a 90 minute drive they measured temperatures of between 200 °F (93 °C) and 500 °F (260 °C).

Adam and Jamie worked on building food containers and insulating areas under the hood while Alton prepared a meal consisting of turkey, sides, and miniature pies for desert. They loaded all of the food items into carefully chosen spots and drove for 4 hours, stopping occasionally to check the progress and prevent over-cooking. At their destination, the trio found all of their food to be well-cooked and enjoyable.

Eating turkey makes you sleepy because it contains tryptophan.


Kari used a Whack-a-Mole game to test the response times of Tory and Grant. In their initial control test while fully alert, Tory scored 61 points and Grant scored 66 points. After taking tryptophan in capsule form, Troy scored 49 and Grant scored 60, indicating that tryptophan can make you tired.

To find out if eating turkey makes you tired, a professor of nutrition helped Kari create 3 meals for Grant and Tory to eat on 3 consecutive days. The first meal was a very large holiday meal with turkey and trimmings. Tory’s meal was 2,420 calories and Grant’s was 2,200 calories. After this meal Tory scored 47 points on the response test and Grant scored 52 points. On the second day, after a meal with the same number of calories but with protein powder in place of the turkey, Tory scored 48 points and Grant scored 42 points. On the third day, the two men ate a normally-sized meal that included turkey. Tory scored 63 points and Grant scored 67 points, both beating their control test. These results indicated that eating an excessive amount of calories in a holiday meal is what makes you tired, not the turkey.

Many unusual meats taste like chicken.


Kari bought many exotic meats from a butcher, including: peacock, snake, frog, ostrich, alligator, squab, turtle, goat, and boar. A professional chef prepared all of the meats in the same fashion as fried chicken and Kari administered a blind taste test to Grant and Tory. When attempting to identifying each meat as either chicken or not, Tory got 17 out of 20 samples correct and Grant got 11 out of 20 correct.

After Tory noted that the texture of the meat was a major clue to its identity, Kari eliminated this variable by grinding up new samples of meat and grilling patties with no additional flavoring. In this test it was even easier to tell chicken from other meats: Tory identified 18 of 20 correct and Grant got 19 of 20 correct, busting this myth.

A particular Chinese pressure vessel can be used to cook popcorn faster than any other method.


Using his own fastest technique of a foil-covered bowl over a gas burner, Alton was able to pop a batch of corn in 1 minute and 45 seconds. After setting up the Chinese pressure vessel, Adam dawned a bomb suit for protection while Jamie and Alton stood behind a ballistic shield. Adam heated the vessel until it reached a pressure of 1 megapascal and he then triggered the pressure release. The sudden release blew kernels all over the workshop, but the overall process took over 9 minutes.