…or, why capitalization is important.
I got laid off last week, and, as a not-entirely-recommended coping mechanism, I spent about 30 hours consuming nothing but Drumstick ice cream cones, sour cream and onion potato chips, and carbonated raspberry lemonade. I shudder to think of the Calorie count, let alone the calorie count…and yes, there’s a difference.
Both calories and Calories are units of energy. Like many other words, energy has a scientific definition that is distinct from its informal definition. In science, energy is the ability to do work or cause change. One change that energy can cause is an increase in temperature. A lowercase-c calorie is defined as the amount of energy required to raise the temperature of one gram of water by one degree Celsius. An uppercase-C Calorie is one thousand lowercase-c calories. Non-US nutrition labels sometimes address this discrepancy by referring to kilocalories, or kcals; the prefix kilo- means one thousand. There are one thousand calories in a Calorie or kilocalorie, just as there are one thousand meters in a kilometer and one thousand grams in a kilogram.
So why the discrepancy? *shrug* Probably because a 100,000-calorie snack pack doesn’t sell nearly as well as a 100-Calorie snack pack.