The dowdy-surreal machinery of Ruth Griswold's The Experimental Study of Foods (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1962) continues to delight me. Here is a description of what might be called the penetrometer and shortometer's kooky younger brother, the one who does Jerry Lewis imitations and squirts milk out his nose:
An instrument called a recording strain-gauge denture tenderometer being developed at Massachusetts Institute of Technology may prove satisfactory for a wider range of foods that some of the other instruments. This apparatus is fitted with human dentures mechanically arranged to simulate the frequency and motions of chewing. These motions are more complex than the simple operations of shearing, pressing, or puncturing performed by some of the other instruments. The strain-gauge tenderometer has been used for apples, potatoes, peas, pears, peaches, and bread.Griswold alas provides no photograph of the strain-gauge denture tenderometer, and 1950s journal articles mentioning this item relegate it to endnotes. Below, a pocket-sized strain-gauge denture tenderometer (out of its leak-proof carrying case). Those other instruments, they're just boring.
By Glen Baxter
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