Americans Barbecue Almost Everything

Americans love their meat, veggies and, increasingly, fruit grilled.

Around 82 percent of U.S. households own a grill or smoker, and 97 percent of owners typically use it, according to the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association. Grilling is even a “sport” involving hundreds of contests for making the best of an iconic American cuisine and cultural trademark: barbecue.

As New Orleans-based author Lolis Eric Elie mused in his book, Smokestack Lightning: Adventures in the Heart of Barbecue Country, “Barbecue alone encompasses the high- and low-brows, the sacred and the profane, the urban and the rural, the learned and the unlettered, the blacks, the browns, the yellows, the reds and the whites.”

Fire up your grills.

A Universal Trend

Following the country as a whole, more U.S. universities and colleges are banning cigarette smoking.

According to a recent survey, more than 1,000 U.S. campuses are 100 percent smoke-free – meaning all indoor and outdoor areas. The change happened quickly: The American Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation says fewer than 60 colleges were smoke-free in 2007.

The reasons: Some universities responded to a college health association’s 2009 statement against tobacco. But thanks to U.S. cities and states, which took the lead in anti-smoking laws, social norms have changed, and non-smokers now enjoy a majority of the population. By banning smoking in college, universities hope to expand that majority.

Libraries 2.0

Used to be that Americans went to libraries for books. Recently, a Pew Research Center study showed that library patrons rank access to computers and the Internet nearly as high as access to printed materials. Of library Internet users, 66 percent did research for school or work, 35 percent used social media and 16 percent took online classes.

Americans still want books, but they want technology to make getting them easier. The survey indicated patrons want online access to librarians online and automated neighborhood book kiosks. They also favored using new technology to navigate old-technology book indexes. Maybe a GPS-enabled device could find that elusive book among the endless stacks.

OK for Coca-Cola

Still guarding its “secret formula” somewhere in its Atlanta headquarters, Coca-Cola’s massive international marketing machine has established its brand as the second-most understood term in the world, following “OK,” according to the company. Makers of the mysterious syrup send it to more than 900 bottling plants around the world, where distributors add water and sweetener. Some Coca-Cola fans say they can taste a difference among the various plant-bottled versions. Company executives stand by their brand, insisting the soda tastes the same everywhere.

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