Historical Food Facts 

The natives of the Caribbean Islands use allspice along with salt to preserve meat.  They call this preserved meat “boucan.”  Pirates who plied the waters of the Caribbean ate a lot of this preserved meat, hence they came to be called “boucaneers.” Posted 8/01/2010

During the Middle Ages you could buy 7 oxen with 1 pound of nutmeg. Posted 11/15/2010

Gingerbread was first made on the ancient Greek island of Rhodes and was spread throughout Europe by Roman soldiers. Posted 11/15/2011

Kellogg introduced Rice Krispies in 1928. Posted 2/01/2012

During the Middle Ages anyone caught adulterating saffron was burned at the stake. Posted 9/01/2012

General Mills introduced Cheerios in 1941. Posted 4/15/2013

Up until the mid-1800s, marshmallow candy was used medicinally. Doctors extracted juice from the roots of the marsh-mallow plant and cooked it with egg whites and sugar, then whipped it into a foamy meringue. This hardened, and the resulting candy soothed children's sore throats. Eventually, advanced manufacturing processes replaced the root juice with gelatin, which eliminated any healing properties. Posted 1/15/2014

The Chinese were the first to import cloves, and no one could approach the Chinese emperor without first chewing cloves to clear his breath. Posted 1/01/2015

In ancient times mustard seeds symbolized fiery potential.  In 330 BC, Darius, king of Persia, challenged Alexander the Great, king of Macedonia to battle.  Darius presented Alexander with a sack of countless sesame seeds, each seed representing a Persian soldier.  Alexander’s response was a much-smaller sack of mustard seed.  His soldiers, though fewer in number, were too hot to tangle with. Posted 8/01/2015

Frying was the most common way to prepare tomatoes before it was discovered in the early 19th century that tomatoes were good for sauces, soups, salads, and “ketchups.” Posted 8/01/2016

In the U.S., smoothies first became popular in the 1920s and '30s after the advent of the electric countertop blender. Posted 7/15/2017

Tabasco sauce, which is made with red, ripe peppers that are ground and soaked in vinegar and left to ferment in oak casks for 3 years, was first made in Louisiana by a bankrupt Confederate banker as a way to make money. Posted 7/15/2018

The first record of coriander is on an Egyptian medical papyrus from 1552 B.C.E. Posted 8/15/2019

The saffron crocus only blooms for 2 weeks in September when the stamen, which is also known as filaments or threads, is harvested. Posted 9/15/2010

One tablespoon of paprika equals four lemons’ worth of vitamin C. Posted 1/15/2011

During the Middle Ages, one lb. of pepper could pay an English laborer for 2 weeks of work, bribe an official, or secure a bride.  It was a very good dowry. Posted 4/01/2012

Saffron, cinnamon, and coriander were major components in ancient Greek medicine. Posted 5/01/2012

General Mills introduced Cheerios in 1941. Posted 4/15/2013

The term "milkshake" was first used in print in 1885, and referred to an alcoholic whiskey drink that has been described as a "sturdy, healthful eggnog type of drink, with eggs, whiskey, etc., served as a tonic as well as a treat." Posted 7/15/2013

Ginger was the 1st Oriental spice to be transplanted in the New World, and ginger cookies had become so much a part of American food that by the time of the American Revolution, they formed part of the Continental Army’s rations. Posted 7/01/2014

The Aztecs had something like chili powder, but the modern mixture was invented in the U.S., in the 1860s by an immigrant Englishman trying to create a substitute for curry powder. Posted 2/15/2015

Turkeys were first introduced to England in the 1520s and were rare specimens until the reign of Elizabeth I, when their value as a roasting bird was widely recognized and their popularity suddenly increased. Poste 11/15/2015

Wild rice is the only native North American grain.  It is native to the lake regions of the upper Midwest and is not really a rice.  It is more closely related to wheat, even though it is grown in the water.  Wild rice was originally used by the settlers for the stuffing of wild game and as a substitute for regular rice. Posted 11/15/2016

The Pharisees, of the Holy Lands, paid their tithes in mint, dill, and cumin seeds. Posted 14/15/2018

The Aztecs and the Incas raised the ancestors of modern bronze turkeys as well as Muscovy ducks, the only native waterfowl that was domestically raised. Posted 11/15/2018

Saffron comes from the orange stamen of the purple crocus flower. The plant has only one flower with 6 petals, with only three stamens per flower. It takes 80,000 flowers to produce 5 lbs. of stamen, which yields 1 lb. of dried saffron threads. Posted 10/01/2021