Today, December 30th, is National Bicarbonate of Soda Day.
Why recognize and celebrate such an obscure “foodie” day?
Victorian-era recipes containing saleratus, pearl ash, baking soda, baking powder (and more) can be confusing… and evoke a million questions. When were each used? Which were Victorian-era developments? Which did 19th century cooks prefer?
Behind the 19th century soda fountain counter, “baristas” known as Dispensers or Soda Men, knew a tremendous amount about customer service, the making of an ever-growing list of beverages, and the care and use of operating the soda apparatus. While other trained men mixed syrups, compounded recipes for everything from soda water to flavorings to syrups, and cleaned and repaired the machines, this article focuses on the Soda Men and their key role in the success of a Victorian-American Soda Fountain. This post is filled with primary-source recipes, tips for excellent customer service, and instructions to properly pour a soda water or ice cream soda.
True sleigh rides are a thing of antiquity that most of us consider romantic. Did you consider how expensive such an outing could be? Or dangerous? No wonder a newspaper columnist of the day, in good humor, suggested an alternative.
Vintage paintings, photographs, and newspaper articles shed light on this sport, transportation, and social outing.
Nineteenth Century American Bath Houses were often businesses connected to hotels, barber shops, ladies’ hairdressers, and spas offering massages and curative measures (steam baths, medicated baths, etc.). In the Old West, such businesses advertised in the newspapers of the day, some announcing prices (compared to today’s dollar). It’s a peek into the luxury of a wet-from-head-to-toe bath when a person has no running water at home.
Old West Barber Shops used the traditional sign of the striped pole, advertised in newspapers, and usually hired men. Comparing for time passage and inflation, the low rates barbers charged then still seem ridiculously low. This is the first of many posts about Old West Barber Shops and Ladies Hair Salons.