The twelve days of Christmas are upon us, but that doesn't mean you can't ask questions! The elves at HowStuffWorks gift-wrapped the best answers. Here are some of the stories you may have missed this week.
Every pet owner wants their furry friend to be healthy, but what should we be feeding our dogs? The answer isn't so simple. Nutritionists know some of the minimum amounts of nutrients dogs need, but they aren't sure how to strike the right balance. If you think the ingredient list on your pet's food will tell you everything you need to know, you'd be wrong. Often the list is nothing more than a marketing ploy because it doesn't tell you anything about the quality of the ingredients or their proportions. You're better off looking for companies that produce pet food in plants that they own.
When the news was announced that Amazon acquired Whole Foods, many were left scratching their heads and wondering why Amazon is not considered a monopoly. The short answer is that it doesn't fit the definition that the courts and Federal Trade Commission use. Generally, companies can grow as much as they want as long as prices are affordable, and consumers don't suffer. However, Amazon's business model is unprecedented and may represent a new form of monopoly in the digital age. John Rossman, a former Amazon executive, sees the company's behavior as "coopetition," a mix of cooperation and competition, where third parties compete with, partner with and are clients of Amazon. Policy makers simply don't know enough about "coopetition" to overhaul the antitrust laws. Yet.
The holidays are synonymous with sweets, especially candy. In the latest episode of Stuff You Missed in History Class, Holly and Tracy uncover the historical roots of our favorite holiday treats. For instance, candy canes are a seasonal staple and have been around for centuries, but no one knows for sure where they were first concocted. Legend has it that, in the 1600s, a German choir master gave them to children to keep them quiet during church. The white peppermint candy cane represented the purity of Christ, and its shape was reminiscent of a shepherd's hook. Molding the candy by hand was risky because the hooks often broke, but in the 1920s, the mass production of candy canes improved quality control.