While researching dentistry in 1890 for an accurate setting for my title, Isabella’s Calico Groom, I was quite surprised by how advanced and “modern” (by today’s standards) dentistry was. Significant advances in dentistry had occurred in the previous decades, making dentistry truly “modern” compared to patients’ previous experiences. The sheer quantity and magnitude of improvements in dentistry qualify dentists of the 1890s to claim “Modern Dentistry” in their advertisements.
If you had to guess, would you suppose that petroleum jelly (specifically, Vaseline brand) was a nineteenth century “invention”? Too late? Too early? Pick a year, any year. Then open this article. Prepare to be amazed!
At the Turn of the 20th Century (year 1900), the Soda Fountain was a safe and socially acceptable place for men and women to meet. Courting couples could enjoy a little semi-private time tucked in the back of the drug store sipping one Coca-Cola from two straws. Come see a vintage article written about why soda fountains foster romance, and how the Soda Men must safeguard themselves against falling for lonely maiden customers. Soda Fountains remained a courtship and dating icon from the late nineteenth century through the 1950s and beyond. What was the draw?
Potato Chips are an American (and world-wide) favorite. Invented by accident–or should we say “accidentally-on-purpose”?–these potato crisps first graced the table of an elite resort in 1853 in upstate New York. News of the “invention” spread far and fast, and quickly became part of every homemaker’s repertoire, available on grocer’s shelves, served in restaurants, peddled by salesmen, and inspired further inventions.
Our Victorian American ancestors were inventive people. They needed a solution for perishable food in the worst of summer’s heat (and beyond). They came up with a remarkably well-insulated icebox (officially called a refrigerator far earlier than you might guess), designed to be a beautiful piece of furniture and functional. Some iceboxes went so far as to serve the melted ice water by silver tap. This article contains Victorian instructions for care and cleaning of 19th century refrigerators, advertisements, a crime committed with an industrial-sized (believe it or not: a walk-in) refrigerator, current images of antique iceboxes (both family size and commercial size), the icebox’s impact on beer, and so much more.