sealPurdue Lifestyles and Education Briefs

March 2000

Bowl fever continues with Purdue's Bug Bowl

NOTE TO JOURNALISTS: Photos and b-roll of previous Bug Bowls available. Contact Jesica Webb, Purdue News Service, (765) 494-2079,

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Purdue University is making its second appearance in a bowl this year. But this bowl doesn't have anything to do with football. It's an insect bowl, and the 10th annual Purdue Bug Bowl on April 15 and 16 will be filled with as much action as a Boilermaker football game.

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In the cricket-spitting arena, insects will be flying through the air with the grace of the passes that Drew Brees threw in the New Year's Day Outback Bowl. Cricket spitting, which became part of Bug Bowl in 1997 as a truly tongue-in-cheek contest, has become a national event. CNN covered the event last year, and the Guinness Book of Records now sanctions cricket spitting as an official sport.

Contestants shouldn't expect to walk away the winner unless they've been practicing – the world record is 32 feet, 1 and 1/4 inches. Cricket spitting was so popular in past Bug Bowls that official rules and regulations have been developed. There are now four divisions: men's, women's, youth boys, and youth girls.

Another crowd pleaser, cockroach racing, could be compared to Purdue's offensive running game. It draws people in like flies and keeps them interested for the duration of the contest. Crowd members choose their favorite roach and cheer it on to victory at Purdue's "Roach Hill Downs" racecourse. Official jockeys for each roach are picked from among the young children in the audience. The roaches race for the much-envied "Old Open Can," a bronzed garbage can with a cockroach sitting on top. The names of past winners are engraved on plaques hanging from the side.

No sporting event is complete without food, so the Thomas Say Society – also known as the undergraduate entomology club – will cook up an Epicurean delight, chocolate-covered crickets. Tom Turpin, professor of entomology at Purdue and co-founder of the event, says that chocolate-covered crickets taste just like peanut-flavored candy.

"You taste the chocolate, not the cricket," Turpin says. "Insects do have kind of a nutty taste to them, so it's just like you're eating a chocolate-covered peanut."

Bug Bowl also includes a cake-decorating contest, insect crafts, an insect petting zoo, and the caterpillar canter, a six-legged race where children imitate caterpillar locomotion.

The Bug Bowl is part of Purdue's SpringFest, which draws more than 10,000 people to campus each year. All activities are free and run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days. SpringFest includes the 87th annual Horticulture Show, the 37th annual Veterinary Medicine Open House, an animal sciences open house and scores of other activities. It features departments from the Schools of Agriculture, Consumer and Family Sciences, Science, and Veterinary Medicine.

The Purdue Student Union Board also celebrates Mothers Weekend on April 15 and 16 with an Arts and Crafts Show.

CONTACTS: Turpin, (765) 494-44568,; Jennifer Franklin, (765) 494-9061

Most foodborne illnesses stem from improper cooling

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Nationally reported incidents of foodborne illness caused by E. coli bacteria have increased consumers' awareness of the importance of proper food handling and thorough cooking, but the most common cause of food-related sickness is far from common knowledge.

"Improper cooling is the No. 1 reported cause of foodborne illness in the United States," says Richard Linton, an associate professor of food safety at Purdue University. "Most people recognize the need to cook foods to a temperature above 140 degrees in order to destroy most microorganisms that might be present, but they don't realize that any leftovers have to be cooled quickly so as not to allow any surviving bacteria to grow."

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends that cooked food be cooled to the refrigeration temperature of 41 degrees Fahrenheit in less than four hours, but Linton says that's not as easy to accomplish as it sounds. He demonstrates this for his classes by preparing a big pot of chili and then measuring the amount of time it takes to cool to the recommended temperature.

"I cook the chili at 165 degrees and then let it cool to 140 degrees before placing the pot in a refrigerator that's set at 37 or 38 degrees," Linton says. "I then ask them how long they think it will take to cool down to 40 degrees. Rarely do I get a correct answer, which is between 20 and 24 hours."

Even people who have been cooking a long time may not realize the potential hazards of not cooling foods properly.

"How many people allow their Thanksgiving turkey to cool at room temperature for a couple hours before placing it in the fridge?" Linton asks. "If you've cooked it to the right temperature, you've killed all the bugs that are going to cause a problem right then. But bacteria thrives in that window between 140 and 40 degrees, and even a turkey carcass that's refrigerated immediately after it's carved is going to be in that temperature range a lot longer than four hours."

Consumers can speed up cooling time by using stainless steel containers that facilitate heat transfer; dividing food into smaller, shallower containers; slicing meat off the bone; stirring the food as it cools; or placing the container of food in an ice-water bath before putting it in the refrigerator.

CONTACT: Linton, (765) 494-6481,

Compiled by Sharon A. Bowker, (765) 494-9723;

Six-year-old Hannah Becker handles a 9-inch tropical millipede as sister Erica, 3, looks on at Purdue's 1999 Bug Bowl. Both girls are from West Lafayette. This year's Bug Bowl will be April 15-16. (Purdue News Service Photo by David Umberger)
A publication-quality photograph is available at the News Service Web site and at the ftp site. Photo ID: bugbowl2000.preview

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