You may have seen the infamous episode of the popular sitcom, Seinfeld where George “double dips” at a social gathering – basically scooping dip onto his chip, taking a bite, and then placing that same chip back in the bowl for another serving. Someone sees this and tells him that double dipping is like “putting your whole mouth in the dip”. The scene is often referenced and has become part of pop-culture lure, but is there any truth to this notion? Are “double dippers” really spreading germs by committing this offense?
The topic was so intriguing, that it prompted students at Clemson University to conduct an investigation about the potential dangers of double dipping. By comparing how much bacteria is transferred into dip from unbitten versus bitten crackers, the students were able to draw some interesting conclusions. First the dip was tested after the unbitten cracker was used. The results found no detectable bacteria present in the dip after that cracker was used. Next the dip was tested after the bitten, or double dipped cracker was submerged. Here the results were much different. Once subjected to double dipping, as many as 1,000 bacteria were detected in the dip.
What does this mean? There are thousands of different types of bacteria living in our mouths, and some of them transmit viruses like the flu. While Seinfeld made the term double dipping popular, perhaps the most infamous double dipper of all time was cook 19th century cook Mary Mallon, better known as Typhoid Mary. She was thought to have spread typhoid to many New England families as she tasted the food she was preparing for them.
Keeping that in mind, there is still a concern over transmitting bacteria via the double dip. So the next time you are at a party and you notice someone double dipping, you might want to avoid partaking in the dip and chips.
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