Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Leaning Tower of Pizza

An average annual Kansas wheat harvest of 360 million bushels would make 23.5 BILLION large pizza crusts.

Yep, that's right ... 23,500,000,000 - with all those zeros.

A stack of 23.5 billion pizza boxes would be more than 740,000 miles high. That's three times the distance between the Earth and the moon.

That's a lot of pizza. But even a pizza box stack reaching toward the ceiling of the Pride of Kansas Building at the Kansas State Fair created a conversation starter.

And that's what Kansas Wheat was hoping to do. They wanted to start a conversation with people to tell them about the importance of wheat.

Randy was one of the wheat spokespersons at the booth last Friday. He's on the Kansas Association of Wheat Growers board, one arm of Kansas Wheat. The other is the Kansas Wheat Commission.

He handed out 2010 Kansas Wheat Commission recipe books to the masses. (A side note: Our son, Brent, helped layout and design the recipe books the past two years as a summer intern at Kansas Wheat.)

If you know Randy, you would guess that his favorite part was talking to kids who came by the booth.

At one stop, they could spin a Wheel-of-Fortune-like wheel. If they answered a wheat question correctly, they got a prize. Actually, I think they got a prize either way.

One prize they could choose was a Twizzlers licorice stick. I'll bet you didn't know that flour is the second item listed in the ingredient list. (Neither did I until I visited the Kansas Wheat booth!)

This little visitor also learned what a bushel of wheat looks like and how much it weighs (approximately 60 pounds.) She also knows that one bushel of wheat provides enough flour to produce about 42, 1.5-pound loaves of bread. One bushel of Kansas wheat also produces enough flour to make 67 Pizza Hut large pizza crusts (that's how high the stack was in the Pride of Kansas Building!)

I'm not sure what prize this little girl won, but I think when she left the booth, she knew a little more about Kansas wheat.

People could also choose a postcard with a little packet of wheat attached so they could grow their own little crop in an empty yogurt container or drinking cup.

One little boy kept coming back for more and more postcards. He told Randy he needed more so he could plant his own field of wheat. He was obviously a future farmer in the making.

Besides providing a Field of Dreams for one little boy, the postcards also shared these wheat facts:
  • Wheat is the most consumed grain in America. It feeds people, animals and the economy around the globe.
  • Wheat is grown annually in 42 of the 50 United States on 63.5 million acres of land.
  • On average, Kansas farmers produce one-fifth of all the wheat grown in the U.S. That's more than any other state and why Kansas is called "The Wheat State."
  • Americans eat nearly 138 pounds of wheat flour each year in baked goods, cereals, breads, crackers, pasta and tortillas.
Here is a recipe from this year's Kansas Wheat recipe book. I haven't tried these muffins yet, but Cindy Falk of the Kansas Wheat staff does test all the recipes. Enjoy!

Cracked Wheat Muffins
1 cup cracked wheat
1 cup skim milk
1 large egg, beaten
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup honey or 1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup raisins or dried cranberries (opt.)

In a medium bowl, mix cracked wheat and milk. Cover; place in the refrigerator to soak overnight. Remove from refrigerator. Let sit 15 to 20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line 12 muffin cups with paper baking cups or spray with nonstick cooking spray.

In small bowl, whisk together egg, oil and honey. Whisk into cracked wheat mixture.

In medium bowl, stir together flour, baking powder and salt. Stir cracked wheat mixture into flour mixture; stir just until dry ingredients are moistened.

Fill muffin cups 2/3 full. Bake 23 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm.

Variation: Presoak 1/2 cup raisins or dried cranberries in 1/2 cup water 5 minutes. Drain well. Add raisins or cranberries in with wet ingredients.

Yield: 12 muffins. Each muffin (without raisins or cranberries): About 167 calories, 4 g protein, 26 g carbohydrate, 2 g dietary fiber, 5 g total fat (1 g saturated fat), 15 mg cholesterol, 31 mcg folate, 1 mg iron, 174 mg sodium.

If you want to learn more about Kansas Wheat, check out their website.


  1. That makes Twizzlers fall into the bread/grain category!! I need to go get some!!

  2. Appreciate your educational presence @KansasStateFair! Pleased you are telling your story. See you next year.