Sugar Plums

A sugar plum has nothing to do with actual plums.  They are called plums because they might be roughly the shape and size of one.  A sugar plum consists of layers of sugar hardened around a center of seeds, nuts or spices.  In fact, the sugar coated almonds known as Jordan almonds could be considered sugar plums.  Traditionally, sugar plums were made in a very tedious and time consuming way.  One batch might take days to layer all of that sugar.  This meant that they were a candy only for the rich, assuring their legacy as a ‘real treat’.

Sugar plum came to mean many things in the English language.  If your mouth is full of sugar plums it means that you speak sweet but perhaps false words.  To stuff another’s mouth with sugar plums is to bribe them.  Plum became British slang for one-hundred pounds.  Someone who was rich could also be called a plum.

Of course, now with machines that do everything, candies that would have once been considered sugar plums are very affordable.  Yet, the phrase still lives on meaning something delectable and desirable.

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Ten Gallon Hat

Is a ten-gallon hat called so because it is so big that it can hold ten gallons of water?  Nope!  Ten gallon actually comes from Spanish and means having a braid.  A ten-gallon hat originally meant a hat that had a braid around it, but because of the association English speakers make with the liquid measurement, people now think of it as a really big cowboy hat.

Quote of the week

Papa, potatoes, poultry, prunes and prism, are all very good words for the lips.

Charles Dickens

Butterscotch

Alas, my friends, you will not find scotch in butterscotch.  Scotch the drink has a completely different etymological root than the scotch in butterscotch.  Scotch the drink gets its name from Scotland and is their version of whiskey.  Scotch from butterscotch means to score or to mark and comes from the practice of marking the butterscotch to break it apart into bite sized candies later.  

I don’t give a….damn?

In any language there are many ways to say “I couldn’t care less”.  In Spanish a few of them relate to food items:

No me importa un pepino (I don’t give a cucumber)

No me importa un cacahuate (I don’t give a peanut)

No me importa un comino (I don’t give a cummin seed)

hmmm…ok!  What ever makes you happy!

Pumpernickel

I will never buy pumpernickel again.  I can’t even order ‘moons over my hammy’ at Denny’s because of the embarrassing sound of those words.  And today I learned that pumpernickel translates to ‘flatulent nick‘.

Pumper is an old German word for a fart and nickel is German for ‘nick’.  Old Nick is often used as a nickname for the devil so the actual translation should be something like ‘devil fart’.  It earned its name because it is hard to digest.

I know you don’t believe me so look it up yourself.

Humpty Dumpty

Humpy Dumpty wasn’t always an egg perched precariously on a wall. Humpty Dumpty actually was first a drink of brandy boiled with ale back in the eighteenth century.

Later it became slang for a clumsy person (most likely intoxicated from Humpty Dumpty)

Only then did it end up in the rhyme, yet notice the rhyme never states that Humpty is an egg. That has been inferred by artists. He is now forever in our memory as a forlorn egg in pants.

There are two kinds of people in the world: those who love chocolate, and communists.

Leslie Moak Murray

PAM

PAM cooking spray is an acronym.  No, not potential aerosol menace.  PAM stands for Product of Arthur Meyerhoff who was the co-inventor of the spray.  Meyerhoff was a successful advertising agency executive and inventor.  Perhaps the most noteworthy part of his career, however, was owning the All-American Girls Professional Baseball Teams (remember A League of Their Own?)

Arthur Meyerhoff passed away at the age of 91 in 1986.

Winter Wheat vs. Spring Wheat

If you think you harvest winter wheat in winter and spring wheat in spring you’d be completely wrong.  Winter wheat is actually planted in winter and spring wheat is planted in spring.  That means that winter wheat is harvested in spring and spring wheat is harvested in late fall/ early winter.  Winter wheat is hardier than spring wheat which gives it a higher protein (gluten) content.  That means it is good for making breads and other yeast leavened things.  Spring wheat has less protein content and is used in cake and pastry flours to make more delicate baked goods.

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