Why Engineers Don’t Write Recipe Books


Not too long ago, I stumbled across an email that I had printed several years ago. It was something that was posted to an email list to which I belong. As for why I made a hardcopy of this particular email, well, I think that will become quite clear by the time you finish reading this.

I think this is one of those things that has made more than a few rounds of the Internet. I have no idea who originally wrote this, and I suspect no one else does, either.

Instructions: Sit back, read, and enjoy.

Why Engineers Don’t Write Recipe Books



1. 532.35 cm3 Gluten
2. 4.9 cm3 NaHCO3
3. 4.9 cm3 Refined Halite
4. 236.6 cm3 Partially Hydrogenated Tallow Triglyceride
5. 177.45 cm3 Crystalline C12H22O11
6. 177.45 cm3 Unrefined C12H22O11
7. 4.9 cm3 Methyl Ether Of Protocatechuic Aldehyde
8. 2 Calcium Carbonate-Encapsulated Avian Albumen-Coated Protein
9. 473.2 cm3 Theobroma Cacao
10. 236.6 cm3 De-Encapsulated Legume Meats (sieve size #10)


1. To a 2-liter jacketed round reactor vessel (reactor #1) with an overall heat transfer coefficient of about 100 BTU/F-ft2-hr, add ingredients 1, 2, and 3 with constant agitation.

2. In a second 2-liter reactor vessel (reactor #2) with a radial flow impeller operating at 100 rpm, add ingredients 4, 5, 6, and 7 until the mixture is homogenous.

3. De-encapsulate ingredient 8, and add to reactor #2, followed by three equal volumes of the homogeneous mixture in reactor #1. Additionally, add ingredients 9 and 10 slowly, with constant agitation. Care must be taken at this point in the reaction to control any temperature rise that may be the result of an exothermic reaction.

4. Using a screw extrude attached to a #4 nodulizer, place the mixture piecemeal on a 316SS sheet (300 x 600 mm). Heat in a 460K oven for a period of time that is in agreement with Frank & Johnston’s first order rate expression (see JACOS, 21,55), or until golden brown.

5. Once the reaction is complete, place the sheet on a 25C heat transfer table, allowing the product to come to equilibrium.

In all fairness, I should state that my dad is a retired engineer, and I have never — repeat, NEVER — known him to transcribe a recipe in this fashion. I should also state that I made a slight modification to the recipe, in step #3. As it originally appeared in the email, ingredient 8 was not removed from its calcium carbonate encapsulation, and I realized that any engineer worth his slide rule would be certain to specify that ingredient 8 be de-encapsulated prior to adding to reactor #2.



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