Exhibit: An Arafat Snack Attack

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Arafat Snack #

An Arafat Snack Attack

The streets of Cairo have seen plenty of demonstrations for the Palestinian cause, but now they have taken on a new flavor. An enterprising Egyptian snack company has introduced an unlikely hit — Yasser Arafat cheesy poofs.

The snack is called Abu Ammar, the Palestinian leader’s nom de guerre. The bag pictures Arafat in his trademark black-and-white kaffiyeh and green military uniform, looking a bit more portly than usual (maybe too many cheesy poofs). “Hand in hand, we are building our future. The more you buy, the more you build,” the bag reads. Al Jawhara, the Cairo company that manufactures the snacks, is aiming them primarily at kids. And Al Jawhara executive Mahmoud Farid says that the company hopes “to introduce the Palestinian issue to the largest amount of people possible.”

Each bag of Abu Ammar costs around 5 cents and approximately 2 percent of the proceeds are donated to the Palestinians through the Egyptian Red Crescent. So far, thousands of dollars have been donated, Farid says, although charity is not the only reason for the snack’s appeal. Cairo shopkeeper Said Hegazy says,”Some people buy these because of Palestine. Some people buy them because they taste so good.” — Sarah Gauch

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Nevada Plate #

The Glow-Me State

When the leaders of the Nevada Test Site Historical Foundation were fundraising for a planned museum, they hit upon the idea of a specialty license plate. Not only would they get $25 of each plate’s annual fee, but the tags would also commemorate Nevada’s role in the Cold War. So they held a public competition to design the plate, which realtor Rick Bibbero won with what he calls “an honest depiction of what happened out there. It wasn’t children hugging puppies and people planting daisies.”

But honesty and politics don’t make good bedfellows. In April, when Bibbero’s mushroom-cloud design became public, India and Pakistan were talking nuclear annihilation and Nevada was Þghting tooth and nail to keep Congress from turning Yucca Mountain into a permanent storage facility for the nation’s nuclear refuse. The plate became politically radioactive when proponents of the nuclear-storage facility seized on the design. Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.) brandished the design on the House ßoor and proclaimed, “Nevada can again fulfill [its] nuclear legacy.” Following this, the state’s DMV director Ginny Lewis killed the plate — a first for Nevada — and called for one that “more clearly represents the preservation of history.”

That leaves the foundation with a problem, says vice president Robert Agonia, who notes that most of the original entries used a mushroom cloud to depict the state’s nuclear history, although “one had Miss Atomic Bomb of 1951, a blond bombshell.” — Mat Honan

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Caffeine Soap #

A Clean Buzz

Forget about wrinkle remedies and fruity essences — Jeff Costic thinks he knows what our Starbucks-crazed culture wants in its soap: caffeine. In June, 11 years after dreaming up the idea, Costic finally shipped 3,000 bars of Shower Shock, a peppermint-scented glycerin soap that promises 250 milligrams of caffeine per sudsy “serving” — more than double the 100 milligrams in the average cup of coffee.

For $6.99 a bar, caffeine addicts can get a reported “quick caffeine high, a little tingling feeling in the head,” in about three to Þve minutes. Marketed to tech nerds, who are notorious for relying on Jolt Cola and java to fuel marathon programming sessions, the translucent bars offer “an alternative way to get caffeine,” says Willie Vadnais, co-founder of distributor ThinkGeek.com. “It gets into the bloodstream quicker through the skin.”

While no empirical studies have been conducted on Costic’s creation, there’s ample evidence that caffeine is easily absorbed transdermally, although usually with creams or patches. And this way you get all the caffeine with none of the fat of a Caramel Macchiato. — Jennifer Huang

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It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

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Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

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