Volume 91, Issue 59

Wednesday, January 14, 1998



Cliff peels back the mystery of the onion

Cliff's mailbag is a weekly column which attempts to answer the myriad of questions inquiring Western students are going out of their minds trying to figure out. From Western questions, to science questions, to inane trivial nonsense – intrepid Cliff will ferret out the answer...or DIE TRYING!!! Send questions to UCC, Room 263 c/o Cliff or email gaznews@julian.uwo.ca.

It has been a while, my faithful chums, but Cliff has returned like dinner on New Year's Eve. X-mas hit Cliff with the power of a bad smell in a small room. But, he is back and kicking butt! The mail strike put the wind out of his sails for a while but brutha', is he home.

Cliff feels it necessary to point out once again that no matter how vapid, any question will be answered. All in due time. You see, Cliff's information-gathering tendrils are stretched in so many directions that even he has trouble keeping track of them. However, Cliff's organization (of over 100 members) has everything under control.

Why do onions make you cry? – Shorty Spice

A good question. The only thing that makes Cliff cry more than onions is the ending of Beaches – that and the bird flu blues. Cliff contacted a whole whack of people to get the answer to this query. Most of them, coincidentally, were from Walla Walla county. Unfortunately, Walla Walla produces sweet onions, which, a nameless southern belle has told Cliff, "don't make your eyes water or anythin'."

Next Cliff called 1-800-227-ONION, an actual number he found in a Walla Walla directory. No answer. So Cliff went onto the National Onion Association's homepage (www.onions-usa.org/) which, aside from having some beautiful onion porn, offered nothing.

Dilemma! Cliff thought: "If these onion chumps can't help me, I'll go to the cooks!" So he did. Cliff called Nancy Heidenreich, the coordinator of the food and nutrition program at Centennial College in Scarborough.

Ms. Heidenreich was very helpful and told Cliff, "Onions contain an organic chemical from the sulph-oxide family and enzymes which interact when the tissue is cut to form thioproponal sulphoxide and related chemicals." Thio-whatever is a volatile chemical that causes the bitter taste and the odor. It also reacts with your eyes to cause tears – like Old Yeller.

NEXT TIME: Pennies!!!

To Contact The News Department: gaznews@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright The Gazette 1998