Meet your guest blogger (again)

May 14, 2009 • 8:07 am

by Greg Mayer

Jerry is off gallivanting again, so I’ll be filling in for a few days till his return next week. Jerry’s main motivation when he visits me is food, especially kringle and Kewpee burgers, so I thought I’d introduce myself by posting a picture taken by Jerry of me cutting a kringle we are about to share.

Racine kringle
Me cutting a kringle in my office (photo by Jerry).

A kringle is a Danish pastry introduced to Racine, Wisconsin, by Danish immigrants (of which there were a lot), and made by a handful of bakeries.  Cognoscenti argue over whether the best kringle is O&H, Larsen’s, Bendtsen’s, or Lehmann’s. You can’t get genuine kringle in many places outside Racine: as close as Madison all you’ll find is some ersatz thing resembling bread with icing on it. Next time Jerry visits, I’ve promised him a Ron’s burger too. If you didn’t catch Jerry’s introduction of me last time, it’s here.

10 thoughts on “Meet your guest blogger (again)

  1. Greg, You may be interested, if you don’t already know, that a domain in a number of the proteases in the blood coagulation cascade (Behe’s once-darling topic before displacement by the flagellum) is referred to as the kringle domain. Much of the early work on characterizing these proteins, ~1960/70’s, was done in Denmark. I don’t know who named them, but it may well have been Staffan Magnusson, who, like all good Danes, liked to eat! If the sequences are displayed two-dimensionally with all the disulfides in place, they resemble pretzels – the shape of a true kringle (ref. Wikipedia), which are studded with coarse sugar and are likely to contain marzipan. From the linx you posted, it seems that what the folks in Racine enjoy are strudels and not real kringles.

    Anyway, back to the biochemistry, a good place to find 2D representations of the clotting Factors, in case anyone’s interested, is in the wonderful 4-vol opus magnum, The Metabolic and Molecular Bases of Inherited Disease, available at least in any medical school library, or for around $550 if you’d like your own set.

    1. Or, if you just search Kringle Domain, you get a nice Wikipedia page on the coagulation factors, but without the 2D diagrams mentioned above.

      1. Coincidentally (see the next post on Darwin and Dawkins for another coincidence), one of my colleagues, Gary Wood, whose office is just across the hall, is a biochemist who works on coagulation. The kringle domain occurs in prothrombin and proteins involved in fibrinolysis. He thinks it was named by Magnusson, but in the 30 seconds I gave him to find out who named it, he could not find the original paper in his office, but only a citation to Magnusson’s 1975 paper, which seems to be the original. BTW, Gary is Scandinavian, but found out about the food-kringles only after getting here.

        On the food-kringle front, Racine kringles are descended with modification from Danish kringles, with the change from pretzel-shaped to oval occurring for adaptive reasons in the 1950s. From the NY Times article linked to in the original post: “According to Eric Olesen of the O & H Danish Bakery, Danish-Americans streamlined kringle into an oval in the 1950’s to do away with the doughy overlap at the pretzel twist. ‘This way, everyone gets a bite of filling and no one gets too much dough,’ he said. In Denmark, kringles are still pretzel-shaped, and typically almond-paste-flavored, according to Ellen Pittman of the Danish Embassy in Washington.”


  2. Hi Greg and welcome back: that kringle looks good enough to eat 🙂

    With your return comes the welcome repair of the title, Why Evolution is True in my RSS feeds.

  3. There are several places in Madison that sell a kick-ass kringle. Lane’s Bakery on Park St. and Scotts in Middleton to name two.

    mmmmmmmm, kringle……

  4. I was surprised when I saw the photo, but even surpriseder when I learnt that it was indeed what it looked like.

    The shape’s a bit boring, though.

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