When perusing the great wealth of delicious holiday recipes online, sometimes you can come across some pretty interesting stuff, like an article from Hella Wella about why we eat what we do around the holidays! Some of the highlights:
Turns out that wealthy Brits brought us eggnog. The normal folks couldn’t afford fresh milk or eggs, of course; but those who could would add spices like cinnamon and nutmeg to their eggnog, and throw in some brandy or sherry to prevent it from going bad too quickly. American colonists decided cheaper rum was a better choice!
Gingerbread has roots all the way back to the 11th century! Elizabeth the First reportedly came up with the concept of gingerbread “men,” presenting guests with cookies created in their likenesses. It is said that perhaps the classic, grisly tale of Hansel and Gretel originated the concept of houses.
Surprisingly, when fruitcakes came into existence, they were considered very rare and expensive, and only given around the holidays because of the trouble it took to find the ingredients! During the middle ages, dried fruits and nuts were imported and cost much more than other ingredients. People actually hoped for fruitcake – imagine that!
So many theories about the origins of candy canes are floating around, it’s hard to pick one. However, the most popular seems to be the story of a German choirmaster in the 1600s who was having trouble keeping his child actors quiet during a Nativity performance. To shut them up, he offered them white sticks of sugar carved into a shape similar to the shepherds’ staffs.
So the next time you’re enjoying holiday treats with your friends, regale them with your knowledge of how those treats came to be!