Today, January 24th, is the United States’ National Peanut Butter Day. On March 1st, calendars declare the day National Peanut Butter Lover’s Day.
Who first invented peanut butter? Doctors worried about elderly patients’ nutrition, right? Sometime in the nineteenth century?
Uh, no. Not exactly.
But peanut butter–an “All American” spread–was enjoyed by our Victorian-American ancestors. Read vintage articles instructing knowledgeable housewives of the many dietary uses of the peanut, vintage recipes instructing the proper making of “peanut paste”, the inclusion of pulverized peanut (paste, flour, finely chopped), and ultimately, advertised brands to buy at their grocers’ markets.
Did Victorians blame tooth decay on worms or germs?
Scientific understanding of dental decay received a huge boost in the work of Dr. Willoughby Miller, an American dentist in Germany in the late 19th century. His publication of his microbiology discoveries, Micro-Organisms of the Human Mouth, eradicated old myths and brought about “an unprecedented interest in oral hygiene”… and occurred just in time to contribute to my novella’s [Isabella’s Calico Groom] setting and characters’ development.
The history of indoor toilets (including those that flush) goes back further into history than you might expect. I share the timeline of such facilities, followed by surviving examples of Victorian indoor toilets, schematics of proper plumbing techniques of the day, and floor plans including indoor tubs and toilets. Victorians–at least late Victorians–had life pretty comfortable.
Queen Victoria reigned from age 18 to age 81; June 1837 until her death in 1901. Anything that falls within this time, whether those English-speaking countries were her subjects or not, is referred to as the Victorian Era. The United States definitely had a Victorian Era–and the sheer quantity of significant historical occurrences, inventions, developments, social happenings–is astounding. This overview sheds light on this favored backdrop (Victorian Era American West) for fiction.