AUBURN, AL - Written by Jacque Kochak
Benjamin Franklin wanted the national bird to be the turkey instead of the eagle, because he thought eagles were afflicted by bad moral character.
That's just one of the fun facts you'll learn from a new holiday app available for iPhones, tablets and androids through the iTunes store and the Google Play store. The one-of-a-kind multimedia app, a collaboration between the Auburn University Food Systems Institute and Suffolk County Community College in New York, brings together a wealth of useful and fun information for the upcoming holidays.
The Food Systems Institute exists to promote collaborations between different colleges and schools within Auburn University and between Auburn and other colleges and universities. The opportunity to collaborate with a community college which offers a culinary arts program was too good to pass up, says food institute director Pat Curtis.
"Our purpose with this free app is to create a comprehensive resource for you to enjoy, learn and use," Curtis said. "It is full of useful information from faculty at both schools. I think people will be surprised at just how much fun this publication has turned out to be."
The app includes written articles about food safety and planning a feast as well as information about and recipes for favorite holiday foods. Contributors include the Alabama Cooperative Extension System and the Alabama Agricultural Experiment Stations as well as food institute staff and others. Suffolk County Community College contributes fun, informative videos on various topics.
The community college's “Pilgrim” Richard Freilich, for example, gives new meaning to the phrase "talking turkey" with his witty presentation of "turkey facts." Freilich is the culinary arts program director.
"Never aggravate a turkey," he advises in the video. "Turkeys can run at speeds of 20 miles an hour and burst into flight at speeds of 50 to 55 miles an hour in a matter of seconds."
The book includes such miscellanea as how to make pumpkin pie tarts in a dorm room and an explanation of why some people say "stuffing" while others say "dressing." Jodi Levin, director of the community college's dietetic technician program, details the many unexpected health benefits of pumpkin and highlights three healthy pumpkin dishes, including a dish that teams trendy quinoa with butternut squash and roasted pumpkin seeds - which, by the way, are very nutritious and called "pepitas" by culinarians.
"We wanted this book to be not only fun but useful," Curtis said. "If you're not confident about using a meat thermometer to make sure your turkey is done, we've included a video to show you how."
This is the second year Auburn's Food Systems Institute has created a holiday publication for the public. Last year's was an iBook focusing on Thanksgiving. This app expands that content considerably.
Curtis says the food institute has chosen to create multimedia digital publications rather than traditional print publications because digital publications are one of the few effective ways to reach "Millennials" — those young people who have grown up surrounded by technology and the Internet. They consume content across all platforms and all screens, whenever and wherever they want, and can be difficult to reach with traditional media.
"You won't find anything else out there like this app," Curtis said. "We didn't just upload PDFs—we created a complete multimedia experience."
To download the app, go to the
, or search for Holiday Celebrations. The app's content is available at