In a continuing effort to keep my loyal readers, both of you, informed and entertained (and to keep my wife out of my hair) I offer the following question: Yaever wonder how something came into being? Take for instance profanity, because this is a no brainer.
Here’s the scenario. Oog, the cave man hunter, is out on the plains one day plying his chosen profession, that of hunting wooly mammoths. He spots something off in the distance that is very strange to him. It is a white puffy substance rising slowly into the air and there is a faint glow coming from the base of the puffy stuff. He cautiously approaches, circles the strange object several times, then moves in closer. As he nears the site, he coughs several times, covers his nose and mouth, shields his face from the heat and pokes it with his spear. It doesn’t move. He thinks “It must be dead, so I’ll just get closer and touch it.” Of course, he doesn’t use the English language since it will not be invented for another couple hundred millennia, so he grunts the words.
Then after a few minutes of investigation, he touches it with the forefinger of his right hand. “Oh sh**!”, he screams and thus profanity was invented. (Okay, you come up with a better explanation.)
So, with Oog and the origin of profanity in mind, I went off on a hunting expedition of my own to try and discover how some things we use every day came into being. What follows is the best that I could come up with. Enjoy.
Peanut butter is not a relatively new foodstuff. Oddly enough its origins can be traced back a couple of hundred years to the Aztec Indians of South America. One website credits the Incas with its origination (who are you going to believe, me or some internet website?). Peanuts are native to the tropics of the Americas and the Aztecs ground them into a paste called “Quxetoal” which some archeologists have translated into the English word “Skippy”. This fact could not be verified, so you’ll just have to take my word for it. Again, I ask you, would I lie to you?
The food we know today was first patented in 1884 by a Canadian, Marcellus Gilmore Edson of Quebec. Other well known names associated with it are George Washington Carver and Dr. John Kellogg of “Tony the Tiger” fame which one website credits with inventing it. Mr. Carver is however, is credited with making peanuts a major agricultural crop in the American south in the early 1900s.
It can be bought in any grocery store or over the internet in various forms, e.g. creamy, chunky, natural, pre-mixed with jelly for the naturally lazy couch potato or even gourmet flavored varieties. Or for the adventurous among you, the internet abounds with recipes for making your own natural concoction. As a matter of fact, this posting is the result of my having made my own recently.
Truthfully though, for me, I like peanut butter and jelly flavored bread. All I have to do is open one package and not even dirty a knife.
My question is how did someone come up with the idea to distill the gooey black stuff that Jed Clampett discovered on his property while shootin’ at some food? I mean did someone invent the automobile and then decide that they needed a fuel to power it, so they drilled for oil? Have you ever been to an oil refinery and seen the complex system of pipes and tanks and stuff used in its conversion from Black Gold to premium unleaded? Rube Goldberg would have to be subdued and dressed in a coat that buckles in the back trying to figure that configuration out!
Well, wonder no more. Actually it was a by-product of a process used to break down crude into kerosene used in lighting street lamps and homes and thrown away in the mid 1800’s because there was no practical use for it. By 1892 the first internal combustion engines were developed and a use found for the previously “useless” stuff.
One bit of information that I discovered in my extensive research is that it was once used to rid the human head of “head lice”. Its use was discontinued for that purpose when a middle school kid in West Snakeshead, Oklahoma arrived (head full of gasoline and dead lice) at school one day and joined a few of his friends in the boy’s lavatory between first and second periods to take a few hits from a Lucky Strike pilfered from one of their parents. He got rid of the lice alright. He wore the same toupee that he bought six weeks later and wore all of his life when he was laid out in Barker’s funeral home sixty-five years later.
It was also used in residential stoves, and as a grease remover.
I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream! As much as I would like to take credit for this rousing chant, I can’t. Hmmm, chant, can’t, chant, can’t. I’m a poet and don’t know it! As the link shows, it comes from a 1925 song (I defy you to claim it’s was a hit) from Fred Waring and the Pennsylvanians.
But ice cream itself according to that ever trusted source, Wikipedia, goes back to the ancient Persians who gathered snow and poured grape-juice concentrate over it as a treat, much like our sno-cones of today. The Chinese are credited with inventing a device similar to the ice cream making machines in use today. Why not. They make everything else and sell it to us!
The term ice cream is relative meaning as soon as you open up a container, a bunch of free loading relatives show up, bowls and spoons at the ready! Not really, but I thought it was funny. Depending what part of the world you are in, it can go by different names: Gelato, Frozen Yogurt, Frozen Custard and Sorbet. However, I think we can all agree, no matter what it’s called, it means the same thing . . . an expensive frozen confection that has a tendency to make us fat. One way I like to make it is to take snow and pour condensed milk over it.
As with peanut butter, ice cream does not have to be purchased commercially, it can be made at home. I’m of the generation that remembers hand-made ice cream using a hand cranked ice cream freezer. If you were born after 1970 ask your mom or dad and they’ll describe the thrill (no really) of having participated in the process. You’ll find dozens of recipes on the internet.
Well boys and girls, ladies and germs, that’s all for today. I’m sure that many of you are asleep at this point so I won’t keep you any longer. I’m sure that I’ll have more inspirational moments in the weeks and months to come, so don’t despair.
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