The Joy of Fasting
Fasting was once a religious endeavor. The idea that skipping meals could lead to improved health emerged around the turn of the twentieth century.
Frontier America in a Collection of Tin Cans
For Jim Rock, tin cans were as important as shards of ancient pottery. Each can told a story of nineteenth and twentieth century life in America.
The War on White Bread
In 1890, women baked more than 80 percent of the nation’s bread at home, and it was brown, non-standardized stuff. When did it become white?
What Rum and Cokes Have to do With War
What could be more American than a sugary soda mixed with a liquor made from sugar? The origins of rum and Coke is more problematic than you might expect.
The Cookbook That Brought Chinese Food to American Kitchens
The groundbreaking 1945 cookbook, How to Cook and Eat in Chinese, that introduced Chinese cooking to white American cooks.
When Coffee Went Bananas
Abel French Spawn was not alone in marketing caffeine-free coffee substitutes like banana coffee to Mormons.
The Meaning of a Mustache
To shave or not to shave? At the start of the twentieth century, a trend away from facial hair reflected dramatic social and economic shifts.
The Caves in Which Moonshine Was Made
White County, TN, averaged more than a million and a half gallons of moonshine a year at late as the 1950s.
Character-Building With Uncomfortable Chairs
Chairs were a subject of much debate as far back as the nineteenth century, pitting health and technology against propriety and aesthetics.
How Coffee Went from a Mystical Sacrament to an Everyday Drink
The history of coffee starts in Ethiopia, where it grew wild. Locals used it as a sacrament in communal ceremonies and to keep up energy.