Thursday, February 14, 2013

The CURIOSITY Shop will be suspending operations as of the 28th of February after fifteen (15) years of business in beautiful downtown Aiken.  Due to the lack-luster consumer economy and expanded competition we have decided to look at several different avenues to pursue in regards to our business.  We would like to thank our customers who have been loyal over the years for the friendship and support which we have come to cherish.
While we sincerely believe that this is not the end of The CURIOSITY Shop in Aiken but rather a new beginning.
We will be holding a sale to reduce our current inventory of merchandise in anticipation of re-evaluating our business plan.  Many store fixtures will also be up for sale.  Obviously all sales will be final.
Further, this move will afford us more time with our family and children, which has endured our work schedule over the years. 
Amy and I both feel confident that this is a good move for us to make at this time.
With Kindest Regards,
John B Heaton  &  Amy Neeley

Tuesday, February 12, 2013


Every February 14, across the United States and in other places around the world, candy, flowers and gifts are exchanged between loved ones, all in the name of St Valentine. But who is this mysterious saint, and where did these traditions come from?

The history of Valentine's Day--and the story of its patron saint--is shrouded in mystery. We do know that February has long been celebrated as a month of romance, and that St Valentine's Day, as we know it today, contains vestiges of both Christian and ancient Roman tradition. But who was Saint Valentine, and how did he become associated with this ancient rite?

Stories suggest that Valentine may have been killed for attempting to help Christians escape harsh Roman prisons, where they were often beaten and tortured. According to one legend, an imprisoned Valentine actually sent the first "valentine" greeting himself after he fell in love with a young girl--possibly his jailor's daughter--who visited him during his confinement. Before his death, it is alleged that he wrote her a letter signed "From your Valentine," an expression that is still in use today. Although the truth behind the Valentine legends is murky, the stories all emphasize his appeal as a sympathetic, heroic and--most importantly--romantic figure. By the Middle Ages, perhaps thanks to this reputation, Valentine would become one of the most popular saints in England and France.

While some believe that Valentine's Day is celebrated in the middle of February to commemorate the anniversary of Valentine's death or burial--which probably occurred around AD 270--others claim that the Christian church may have decided to place St. Valentine's feast day in the middle of February in an effort to "Christianize" the pagan celebration of Lupercalia. Celebrated at the ides of February, or February 15, Lupercalia was a fertility festival dedicated to Faunus, the Roman god of agriculture, as well as to the Roman founders Romulus and Remus.

To begin the festival, members of the Luperci, an order of Roman priests, would gather at a sacred cave where the infants Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome, were believed to have been cared for by a she-wolf or lupa. The priests would sacrifice a goat, for fertility, and a dog, for purification. They would then strip the goat's hide into strips, dip them into the sacrificial blood and take to the streets, gently slapping both women and crop fields with the goat hide. Far from being fearful, Roman women welcomed the touch of the hides because it was believed to make them more fertile in the coming year. Later in the day, according to legend, all the young women in the city would place their names in a big urn. The city's bachelors would each choose a name and become paired for the year with his chosen woman. These matches often ended in marriage.

Lupercalia survived the initial rise of Christianity and but was outlawed—as it was deemed “un-Christian”--at the end of the 5th century, when Pope Gelasius declared February 14 St Valentine's Day. It was not until much later, however, that the day became definitively associated with love. During the Middle Ages, it was commonly believed in France and England that February 14 was the beginning of birds' mating season, which added to the idea that the middle of Valentine's Day should be a day for romance.

Valentine greetings were popular as far back as the Middle Ages, though written Valentine's didn't begin to appear until after 1400. The oldest known valentine still in existence today was a poem written in 1415 by Charles, Duke of Orleans, to his wife while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London following his capture at the Battle of Agincourt. (The greeting is now part of the manuscript collection of the British Library in London, England.) Several years later, it is believed that King Henry V hired a writer named John Lydgate to compose a valentine note to Catherine of Valois.

In the 1840s, Esther A. Howland began selling the first mass-produced valentines in America. Howland, known as the “Mother of the Valentine,” made elaborate creations with real lace, ribbons and colorful pictures known as "scrap." Today, according to the Greeting Card Association, an estimated 1 billion Valentine’s Day cards are sent each year, making Valentine's Day the second largest card-sending holiday of the year. (An estimated 2.6 billion cards are sent for Christmas.) Women purchase approximately 85 percent of all valentines.


Thursday, February 7, 2013


The  Dickens  Cafe  will  be  serving
Starting  at  11:00 am
MARDI GRAS (Tuesday)
The Dickens CafĂ©  will  be  serving  up
Cochon De Lait Po Boys
Crawfish  Monica
Fat  Tuesday  Buns
King  Cakes
Starting  at  11:00 am

Wednesday, February 6, 2013


 The prevalence of type 2 diabetes is low in countries where consumption of black tea is high, suggests a mathematical analysis of data from 50 countries, published in the online journal BMJ Open.

The global prevalence of type 2 diabetes has increased six-fold over the past few decades, and the International Diabetes Federation calculates that the number of those with the disease will soar from 285 million in 2010 to 438 million in 2030.

The authors systematically mined information on black (fermented) tea consumption in 50 countries across every continent, based on 2009 sales data collected by an independent specialist market research company.

And they analysed World Health Organization data for those same countries on the prevalence of respiratory, infectious, and cardiovascular diseases, as well as cancer and diabetes.

Ireland topped the league table for black tea drinkers, at more than 2 kg/year per person, closely followed by the UK and Turkey.  At the bottom of the table were South Korea, Brazil, China, Morocco and Mexico, with very low consumption. 

A statistical approach, called principal component analysis (PCA), was used to tease out the key contribution of black tea on each of the health indicators selected at the population level.

This showed an impact for black tea on rates of diabetes, but not on any of the other health indicators studied.

The link was confirmed with further statistical analysis, which pointed to a strong linear association between low rates of diabetes in countries where consumption of black tea is high.

The authors acknowledge several caveats to their findings, however.

They caution that the quality and consistency of data among all 50 countries are likely to vary, as will the criteria used to diagnose diabetes. And what may seem positive at the population level may not work as well as the individual level.

They also point out that various factors are likely to have contributed to the dramatic rise in diabetes prevalence, and that a link between black tea consumption and the prevalence of the disease does not imply that one is caused by the other.

But their findings do back those of previous research, they say.

“These original study results are consistent with previous biological, physiological, and ecological studies conducted on the potential of [black tea] on diabetes and obesity”…and they provide “valuable additional scientific information at the global level,” they write.

In recent years, a great deal of interest has focused on the health benefits of green tea, which contains simple flavonoids called catechins, thought to have anti-inflammatory properties, say the authors.

But the fermentation process, which turns green tea black, induces a range of complex flavonoids, including theaflavins and thearubigins, to which several potential health benefits have been attributed, they add.


Friday, February 1, 2013

Demystifying FDA and USDA Terms

There are plenty of terms floating around the foodservice industry lately — natural, organic, sustainable and local, among others. It can be difficult to determine which words mean what or which are even regulated. Sysco wants to ensure you’re ordering the right products for your needs, so we’re defining key terms and noting their differences to make sure your decisions are the right ones for your business.

The term “natural” is often used to describe a range of products, from produce to cereals to ice cream, but what does it actually mean? According to the FDA, “natural” has no actual definition as it applies to food products. The USDA, however, indicates meat, poultry and egg products labeled as “natural” must be minimally processed and contain no artificial ingredients. That said, the “natural” label does not include any standards regarding farm practices, and there are no standards or regulations for the labeling of natural food products that do not contain meat or eggs. Sysco offers the Sysco Natural line of products, which includes a wide variety of fresh commodity and value-added produce and beverages that are wholesome, high-quality and minimally processed.

For “fresh,” the FDA does have regulations in place, stating the term can only be used for foods that are raw and preservative-free. Terms like “fresh frozen” or “frozen fresh” mean the food was quickly frozen while still otherwise fresh, to preserve nutrients. Sysco frozen products are processed in this manner to ensure the freshest, most flavorful produce. 

According to the USDA’s National Organic Program (NOP), “organic” is a labeling term that indicates the food or other agricultural product has been produced through USDA-approved methods. These stringent methods integrate cultural, biological and mechanical practices that foster resource management, promote ecological balance and conserve biodiversity. Synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, irradiation and genetic engineering may not be used. That means “organic” products must be free of hormones, pesticides, fertilizers and antibiotics. The NOP standards are annually verified by USDA-approved certification bodies. Products must contain 100 percent organically produced ingredients in order to feature the “100% Organic” label. Foods that contain at least 95 percent organic ingredients may only feature the “Organic” label. Finally, products containing at least 70 percent organic ingredients may be described as “Made with Organic Ingredients,” but cannot be labeled “Organic.”

"Sustainable agriculture" was addressed by Congress in the 1990 Farm Bill.

Under that law, the term sustainable agriculture was defined as “an integrated system of plant and animal production practices having a site-specific application that will, over the long term:
  • satisfy human food and fiber needs;
  • enhance environmental quality and the natural resource base upon which the agricultural economy depends;
  • make the most efficient use of nonrenewable and on-farm resources and integrate, where appropriate, natural biological cycles and controls;
  • sustain the economic viability of farm operations; and
  • enhance the quality of life for farmers and society as a whole.”
In summary, “natural” products have no artificial ingredients; “fresh” products are raw or unprocessed; “organic” products are free of hormones, pesticides, fertilizers and antibiotics; and “sustainable” products have been grown with minimal impact on the surrounding water, environment and wildlife. Keep these definitions in mind and note the various differences the next time you’re selecting products for your consumption!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013


Scientists from the UK have discovered that green tea compounds called catechins may help protect the skin against sunburn and the long-term effects of UV damage. The study was performed on 14 healthy human subjects with fair skin and involved taking green tea catechin supplements for 12 weeks. The dose was roughly equivalent to two cups of green tea. The effects of the supplements were tested before and after supplementation by exposing buttock skin to UV rays and quantifying the level of sunburn. The results demonstrate that catechins may contribute to skin protection against sunburn inflammation and potentially longer-term damage caused by UV rays, and may therefore be a complement for sunscreen.


Minto Island Growers, a small-scale farm cultivating and selling vegetables and plants, is ready to take on a rather unconventional challenge: tea production. The first step was to identify which varieties of tea bushes were most suitable for the local climate, a process that took over twenty years. Now that the farm has a half-acre dedicated to tea, its sights are set on the next stage: harvesting and processing the leaves on-site on a larger scale. The company has already reported a high level of interest from nearby tea bars, food stores and tea companies, all thirsty for home-grown produce. Despite mixed assessments from horticulturalists, Minto Island Growers will devote more land to this project in 2013, with additional two to three acres allocated to tea plants. The growers also applied for a federal grant to help cover the costs of processing, packaging and marketing their tea. They remain upbeat about their prospects based on positive feedback from their customer base.

Friday, January 25, 2013

20%  TO  50%

BATH & BODY   20%
BOOKS   45%
FLAGS   20%
FOOD   25%
PATAK   10%
SPORTS   25%
TEA WARE   20%
WALL  ART   25%

(i.e., beverages are not on sale, etc.)