1. Jam vs. Jelly
As far as I'm concerned, the thing you spread on your toast in the morning is called jelly. If anyone has the gall to try and call it "jam," I'll immediately try to beat them up for being a nerd before realizing that I have no upper body strength and getting my ass handed to me. But even though I've always thought the only difference between the two words was how snooty they were, jelly and jam are actually two different substances.
The two spreads mainly differ in how they're prepared. Basically, the further away you get from actual fruit, the closer you get to jelly. Jelly is prepared by boiling fruit juice, with sugar and fruit pectin. It is generally then strained of any excess fruit bits that may have gotten in and left to sit. The end result is a thick translucent gel that tastes good but is actually kinda gross once you know what it is.
Conversely, jam replaces fruit juice for actual fruits which have been either crushed and pureed before being combined with the sugar and pectin. The end result is a more opaque gel that usually contains bits of fruit. Basically if you can see through it, it's jelly. If not, it's a jam. If you want to get specific, you can also throw preserves and marmalade into the mix. Preserves are jams that contain more substantial chunks of fruit inside, while marmalades are jams made from citrus fruits. This is of course all nitpicky because all of these taste and look essentially the same. Even now that I know the difference, I'm still gonna just call all of it jelly and fight anyone who doesn't.
2. Alligator vs. Crocodile
Pop quiz, hotshots: Can you look at the picture above and figure out which one is the alligator and which one is the crocodile? If you answered anything you're a flat out sucker, because those are both crocodiles. This is what an alligator looks like:
See, night and day...Alright, who am I kidding? They're basically the same thing. Both creatures are what's known as Crocodilians, which is an order of animal, that also includes a bunch of other creatures that all look pretty much the same. The only reason people don't get confused about the differences between an alligator and a gharial is because nobody knows what the fuck a gharial is. For the record, it's this weird looking fucker:
That said, the two are different in a few ways.... the differences are just not particularly interesting. For starters, Crocodile snouts are longer than alligators' while alligators tend to be wider. Furthermore, alligators teeth aren't visible when they close their mouths. Crocodiles' jaws are such that their teeth stick out when they bite down. Finally, alligators tend to be darker shade of green than crocodiles are. There's a little more than that, but since I don't particularly feel like explaining what Dermal Pressure Receptors or Lingual Salt-Glands are, I'm gonna leave it at those three. If you encounter one of these creatures in the wild, those three distinctions should be enough to tell you which kind you're looking at. That said, if you do encounter one in the wild, instead of trying to identify anything, I suggest you just run.
3. Ales vs Lagers
I am never more anxious than when presented with the beer menu from a fancy bar. Without the option of Bud Light, I'm am lost in a sea of pretentious names and deceptively enticing alcohol percentages. I usually panic and end up paying $12 for something that tastes like a grandma's asshole.
As it turns out, I'm right to be confused because, even after researching it, guessing beer taste feels like a bit of a crapshoot. In the broadest sense, there are two types of beers: Lagers and ales. Though the taste between these two are often different, it has nothing to do with what separates one from the other. That said, what actually separates them might possibly be the most boring thing in the entire world so brace yourself. You ready? Okay here it goes: It's the strain of yeast used in production.
Ale is made with what's referred to as top-fermenting yeast, while lager is made with what's called (shockingly) bottom-fermenting yeast. The two yeasts ferment at different temperatures, and generally yield different tasting drinks. Ales are usually bolder and more flavorful, encompassing everything from IPAs to stout. Meanwhile, lagers are described as having a "crisper" taste (whatever the fuck that means) and count pilsners and Oktoberfests among their ranks. That said, you could hypothetically have two beers that look and taste exactly alike, but if one was produced using ale yeast and the other was produced using lager yeast.
This is all to say that, if you're in a bar scrolling through of 15 microbrews you've never heard of, the best way to find one you like is to ask a bartender. That said, I will say this: most of the cheaper, mass produced beers like Budweiser and Coors are lagers, so if you're trying to find something like that you'll probably want to avoid ales. My advice is to look for the first pilsner you can find and pray to God it doesn't taste like shit.
4. Yam vs. Sweet Potato
Have you ever gone home for Thanksgiving and gone into the kitchen to find your mom pulling a yummy looking casserole out of the oven? Did you peer over her shoulder and smell the familiar and comforting aroma of brown sugar, marshmallows, and sweet potatoes and instantly feel like you were a kid again? Then did your mom say "Yams are ready?"
Honestly, it's not hard to spot the difference between a yam and a sweet potato. Truth is, there's a good chance you've never actually seen a yam before. True yams actually look more like standard potatoes, having both brown skin and white insides and are mostly limited to Africa. The yams that you're used to, with orangish insides, are all sweet potatoes. Unlike the other entries on the list, this is not a case of two similar things with subtle distinctions. They're two completely different things, but we've been taught to believe that the name for one applies to the other. So how did this happen?
The most common theory is that it was all about marketing. Sweet potatoes were brought into America from the Caribbean during the slave area, and in order to differentiate the new produce from regular potatoes, the boxes these things were shipped in were labeled "Yams." This came from the African word "Nyam" which means "To Eat."
The takeaway from all this? Your mom's a fucking idiot.