Weird Science: Subway's Chicken Is Not Actually Chicken and Everybody's Peeing in the Pool

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Weird Science: Subway's Chicken Is Not Actually Chicken and Everybody's Peeing in the Pool

This Week in Weird Science: We learn that Subway’s chicken is not really chicken at all. Swimming pools contain about three garbage bins worth of urine. And your brain actually may prefer mom over dad.


Subway’s chicken is only 50 percent chicken.

Subway’s chicken is only 50 percent chicken and a whole lotta soy, so much soy that it’s nearing vegetarian.

A DNA analysis for CBC Marketplace, with the help of Trent University’s Wildlife Forensic DNA Laboratory, found that Subway’s oven roasted chicken and teriyaki chicken strips contained merely 53.6 percent and 42.8 percent chicken, respectively. To put these percentages in perspective, the same analysis saw Wendy’s Grilled Chicken average 88.5 percent chicken DNA and McDonald’s country chicken 84.9 percent.

So what on Earth is the rest of this so-called “chicken?” It’s pretty much all soy and something food scientists call “restructured products,” essentially a massive combination of mini cuts of meat bound together with preservatives to make the meat last longer and “taste” better—be it honey and garlic powder or industrial sugar and carbohydrates. These products are government approved, but they also turn something like chicken into, well, not chicken.

In a response to the study, Subway Canada told the CBC they “cannot confirm the veracity of the results of the lab testing…. Our chicken strips and oven roasted chicken contain 1% or less of soy protein,” continuing, “All of our chicken items are made from 100% white meat chicken which is marinated, oven roasted and grilled.”

Sadly, Subway, science disagrees.


Finally proof that swimming pools are full of piss.

We knew Olympians do it. A 2012 U.S. study confirmed at least 19 percent of Americans do it. Thanks to a study out of the University of Alberta, it can finally be confirmed that pretty much everybody pees in the pool, and the amount is surprising.

Environmental toxicology expert Xing-Fang Li and colleagues at the University of Alberta found a way to measure the concentration of urine in pools, and it’s all in the Ace (Acesulfame potassium). For those unfamiliar, Ace is a common artificial sweetener found in pretty much every sugary snack, from sodas to Swiss Cake Rolls, and it’s so potent—perhaps unnatural—that the human body can’t break it down, so it passes through excretion. Li and her team, in the most aptly named study “Sweetened Swimming Pools and Hot Tubs,” figured out that by measuring the concentration of Ace in a pool they could determine how much of the water was actually urine.

So how much urine is in your pool?

Well, literally all of the 31 pools and hot tubs the team tested contained urine. Based on the concentrations of Ace, the researchers calculated that a 110,000-gallon pool would contain at least seven gallons of piss, and a 220,000 gallon pool (about the size of a typical backyard pool) would contain 20 gallons of urine.

This may not seem like a lot, seeing as it’s 0.00009% of the pool water, but if you saw someone dump three garbage cans full of urine into your swimming pool, you’d probably run out screaming.

This also may not seem worrisome because urine is sterile, and, while true, the compounds in urine, including urea, ammonia, and creatinine, can become dangerous when mixed with the chemicals in the pool. They can become dangerous enough that the mixture leads to eye and respiratory irritation and even asthma in those exposed long enough.

Needless to say, stop peeing the pool—looking at you Phelps.


Your brain is wired to like one parent more than the other.

Kids who say they love mom and dad equally are dirty, filthy liars, according to a new study out of the University of Utah School of Medicine, who found that it’s fairly normal for a child’s brain cells to prefer one parent’s genes over the other’s.

The new research, which breaks the tenants of basic genetics according to a University of Utah statement, analyzed the genes that control serotonin secretions in a newborn mouse. Previously, it was thought that each gene copy—one from mom and one from dad—was treated the same. But this study found that the baby mouse could activate the inherited genes from both parents, separately. Furthermore—and even more strange—this occurrence of individual activations took place in other sites of the body, like in the liver and in muscles. And furthermore, furthermore, this shit happens in humans, too.

“We usually think of traits in terms of a whole person, or animal. We’re finding that when we look at the level of cells, genetics is much more complicated than we thought,” told Christopher Gregg, Ph.D., assistant professor of neurobiology and anatomy, to the University of Utah.

Ideally, the findings will help doctors better understand neurological disorders caused by the preferential expression of one gene copy throughout the brain, like disorders linked to autism, schizophrenia, ADHD, and bipolar disorder.

Top photo by tano_d’ere

Tommy Burson is a travel writer, part-time hitchhiker, and he’s currently trying to imitate Where in the World is Carmen San Diego but with more sunscreen and jorts.