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.
Cocaine, together with its significant benefits and significant addiction potential, was discovered in the late 19th century (1884 to 1885). Dentists were quick to put cocaine to work for their patients to numb previously excruciating dental work. Citations from vintage publications illustrate the importance of this discovery, attitudes that surrounded cocaine’s use in dentistry and medicine, and the ease with which patients (and parents) accepted the use.