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7 surprising facts about one of America's favorite vegetables for National Broccoli Day

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(BPT) - Did you know broccoli is actually a cluster of unopened flowers? The popular green vegetable consists of tightly packed clusters of flower buds, all attached to a central stalk. Harvested before it blooms into flowers, broccoli is enjoyed for its tender texture and unique flavor. So when you're eating broccoli, you're basically munching on baby flower buds!

This is just one of many surprising facts about broccoli you may not know. In honor of National Broccoli Day (March 22), Mann Packing Company, the innovator behind Broccolini® baby broccoli, is spotlighting one of America's favorite veggies with these fun broccoli facts and trends.

1. Broccoli can be turned into beer

While it might sound odd, some breweries have experimented with broccoli as an ingredient in beer production. The process involves using broccoli as part of the brewing mash, where the sugars are extracted to ferment into alcohol. This unique approach adds a distinctive flavor to the beer, offering a creative twist to traditional brewing methods.

2. The heaviest broccoli ever weighed 35 pounds!

The Guinness Book of World Records notes that the heaviest broccoli ever recorded weighed a whopping 35 pounds. This remarkable feat was achieved by John and Mary Evans in the United States in 1993. Do you think they had a tough time getting their kids to eat their vegetables?

3. James Bond films were produced by a Broccoli

Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson are producers of the famous James Bond films, continuing the legacy of their father, Albert R. "Cubby" Broccoli, who co-founded the hit spy movie franchise. Interestingly, the Broccoli family claims the iconic green vegetable is actually named after them! (Spoiler alert: It's not.)

4. Broccoli is ideal for the Mediterranean diet — because it was born there

Veggies like broccoli are key to following the health-conscious Mediterranean diet, with its emphasis on plant-based foods like vegetables, fruits, nuts and legumes. This seems fitting, since the broccoli you know and love was developed over many centuries of seed cultivation, with its origins in wild cabbage plants growing in the Mediterranean region.

Today, California holds the crown as the primary producer of broccoli in the U.S. thanks to its temperate climate, contributing 90% of the nation's production. The U.S. ranks third globally in broccoli production after China and India, producing approximately 1.3 million tons annually.

5. Broccoli was once infused with bubblegum flavor

In 2014, a notable U.S. fast-food chain experimented with a quirky experiment that aimed to encourage vegetable consumption among children by infusing broccoli with bubblegum flavoring.

Food scientists blended strawberry, banana and cherry flavors that approximated the taste of bubblegum to add to broccoli, but somehow the novelty of this concept just didn't catch on with kids.

6. The 'Broccoli Cut' hairstyle is trending with Gen Z

Have you seen this hairstyle? While also referred to as the "bird's nest cut," the "wet mop" or the "zoomer perm," one of the most popular do's among Gen Z that's all over social media is most commonly called the "broccoli cut." Why? Because it features a high fade on the sides and back, with a full head of curly hair on top.

7. Not all baby broccoli is Broccolini®

While baby broccoli is trending in restaurants, it's often misnamed as "broccolini" on their menus. The term "Broccolini®" is actually a registered trademark of Mann Packing Co., Inc. of Gonzales, California — referring to the company's proprietary type of baby broccoli, the first of its kind in the world — developed with an exclusive seed that produces long, tender, edible stems you can't get anywhere else.

Broccolini® baby broccoli is a natural hybrid of broccoli and Chinese kale (gai lan), which debuted in 1998 as a new vegetable grown exclusively by Mann Packing Company after an eight-year development period. With a flavor sweeter and milder than regular broccoli, Broccolini® baby broccoli is 100% edible — from flower to stem — making it a great choice for taste as well as reduced food waste.

Learn more about broccoli, Broccolini® baby broccoli and other tasty produce, including availability and recipe inspiration, at VeggiesMadeEasy.com.