It’s an average weeknight and you’re trying to get dinner on the table. Spaghetti is relatively quick and easy to make, so you grab your pot and pull the noodles out of the pantry. You put the water on to boil, and decide it would be easier to cook the noodles if you broke them in half first. (You’re using a normal-sized sauce pot after all, not a giant stock pot.) You bend a handful of noodles to snap them in half, but as they break, they send tiny broken noodle bits shooting all over your kitchen.
I’m guessing that scene feels a bit familiar? It certainly does to me, since I feel like I’ve lived through it dozens of times. But I never knew there was anything I could do about it until very recently! And in case you’re wondering, no, the solution is NOT to simply keep your spaghetti noodles whole. I think there are some good reasons to prefer shorter noodles, like the fact that they fit better in pots and they’re often easier to eat. So how do you break spaghetti in half without creating a mess of tiny noodle bits? The secret is in the twist!
How Science Solved The Spaghetti Problem
The spaghetti problem was confounding enough to attract the attention of researchers at MIT. They conducted a thorough study on the matter, and concluded that the most effective way to get a clean break was to twist the spaghetti and THEN bend it. According to an article from MIT News, “…they found that by first twisting the spaghetti at almost 360 degrees, then slowly bringing the two [ends] together to bend it, the stick snapped exactly in two.”
How Does It Work In Real Life?
After reading that article about the MIT study, I was curious to see how it would work in “real life.” After all, the MIT researchers were working with individual pieces of spaghetti. But I don’t know of any busy parent who would have the patience to snap each piece of spaghetti individually before cooking them! I thought that if I could achieve similar results using several noodles at once, that this would be a hack worth sharing.
So I grabbed about a dozen spaghetti noodles from the kitchen and gave it a try. I twisted and bent them, just like they did in the study. And to my surprise, it worked pretty well! I still ended up with a couple of broken noodle bits, but that’s far fewer than I would have had if I’d just bent them as usual!
The best part about this hack is that it only takes about a second to do. So even if you were cooking spaghetti for a large crowd, it would still take under a minute to divide the uncooked noodles up into smaller batches and use the twist-and-bend method to break them.
The fact that this hack eliminates the need for me to sweep my whole kitchen after cooking makes it more than worthwhile, in my opinion! :-)
I owe a big “thank you!” to the researchers at MIT for taking the time to solve the spaghetti problem! It may not change the world, but has made my life (and hopefully yours) just a little bit easier!