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100 votes
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What did babies eat before the advent of modern blenders?

Many babies were indeed fed mashed food, typically of cooked vegetables and fruits. While it's true that not all foods can be prepared like this, keep in mind that pre-modern families rarely have ...
Semaphore's user avatar
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96 votes

How did people wash dishes before dish detergent?

When on a month-long kayaking trip back in the USSR, we did not bring dish detergent with us, so I have a peculiar opportunity to tell the history of soap from personal experience ;-) You scrub ...
sds's user avatar
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85 votes
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Why does Japan use the same type of AC power outlet as the US?

Japanese AC power outlets were first standardised in 1926 with the publication of the "挿込型接続器標準仕様書" (lit., "Standard for a Insertable Connector"), which became JIS C 8303. At the time, Japan was ...
Semaphore's user avatar
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81 votes
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How do ancient Chinese "mirrors" such as these in the National Museum function?

They’re displaying the back of the mirrors. Here are a couple of images I found via Google that shows both sides: Chinese Museums typically exhibit the back of these mirrors, because doing so ...
Semaphore's user avatar
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51 votes
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Were there luxury restaurants in East Germany?

Yes, there was 'luxury' in gastronomical areas in East-Germany. This yes comes with a slight caveat: that was more rare than in the West and also in a 'reduced amount', often catering to international ...
LаngLаngС's user avatar
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47 votes

What did babies eat before the advent of modern blenders?

Mother's milk, overlapping with more solid food, was typically a major part of a baby's diet for much longer than we now think of in many western countries, where starting weaning at a few months and ...
Chris H's user avatar
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47 votes
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Did active frontiersmen really eat 20,000 calories a day? How does this compare to other highly-active people in recorded history?

The 10,000 calorie figure - or perhaps slightly lower - is about right as a ceiling for maintaining muscle mass over months of hard work with downtime only to sleep. Across the centuries, workers with ...
SPavel's user avatar
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44 votes
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How did people wash dishes before dish detergent?

Given the broad nature of the question, what follows is more of a (roughly chronological) potted history than a comprehensive account of dishwashing before detergents became widely available. All ...
Lars Bosteen's user avatar
42 votes

Are there any accounts of everyday life during the Black Death?

Chronicle of the Black Death There is a chronicle from the British Library which I will link to. It was written at the cathedral priory of Rochester between 1314 and 1350, and deals with everyday life ...
John Strachan's user avatar
36 votes

How did people in the desert stay cool in the past?

Homo sapiens evolved near the equator so have always had to deal with hot temperatures. There are a lot of articles about how people stayed cool in the days before air conditioning: Staying out of ...
Stuart F's user avatar
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32 votes
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What was life like for an adult Victorian chimney sweep?

Actually, by 1881 the use of children as chimney sweeps had been abolished in the UK. In 1840, the UK Parliament had passed a revised Chimney Sweeps Act which had raised the minimum age at which ...
sempaiscuba's user avatar
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32 votes

What did babies eat before the advent of modern blenders?

Methods for making fruit and vegetable purees existed long before the modern electric blender. A mechanical food mill is usable on most cooked fruits and vegetables with very good results. I don't ...
rumtscho's user avatar
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32 votes
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What is meaning of 4 letter abbreviations in Roman names like Titus Flavius T. f. T. n. Sabinus?

It stands for "Titi filius Titi nepos", meaning "son of Titus and grandson of Titus" (filius and nepos mean son and grandson, respectively). This is because the consul Titus Flavius Sabinus was the ...
Semaphore's user avatar
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30 votes
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How does this bird trap work?

It seems that this is a depiction of a variant of the profession fowler, or bird-catcher, a type of food production industry. A bird catcher is waiting in a hiding place and tries to catch birds with ...
LаngLаngС's user avatar
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28 votes
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Was FDR right that a garden hose was really $15 in 1940 (c.a. $300 today)?

I couldn't find one from 1940, but here's a snippet from a 1950 ad for a "Koroseal garden hose"(commercial site link). They were offering a 75-foot hose for $13.20, which is certainly in the ...
T.E.D.'s user avatar
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24 votes

Why did hobos (at least stereotypically) carry their belongings in a cloth on a stick on their shoulder?

In a world where you don't have access to a backpack, and thus have to use one hand, the sensible thing to do would be to build some kind of machine to help you lift the load. Since you're broke, you'...
T.E.D.'s user avatar
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21 votes
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How did people say “I have to go to the bathroom” before the bathroom and pipes were common?

As with today, there were many different terms used in medieval times and what a little girl would have said would have depended very much on her upbringing / social background and perhaps the ...
Lars Bosteen's user avatar
21 votes

How did people in the desert stay cool in the past?

SHORT ANSWER Ancient Egyptians kept cool by using, among other things, Mud brick walls to keep houses cool Windows for cross draft Vents in the roof to help air circulate Matting for window shades ...
Lars Bosteen's user avatar
20 votes
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Did French people in 19th century not bathe every day?

This does seem to be the case. Since the story is set in Paris, we can look at some relevant info. A reference relates fear of bathing to the plague, spoken of here: The habit of bathing took ...
justCal's user avatar
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20 votes

How did people wash dishes before dish detergent?

People still often wash dishes without dish detergent. Searching for the situation in India, I found a very detailed article on the market situation: “The Cleaning Edge”, by Alokananda Chakraborty, ...
ShreevatsaR's user avatar
18 votes
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Are there any accounts of everyday life during the Black Death?

While the Joseph Byrne book you mentioned is certainly useful, many of its citations are actually from the the Early Modern period, and it usually summarizes a range of sources rather than quoting ...
Lars Bosteen's user avatar
17 votes
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Was frequent bathing for personal hygiene in medieval Europe common or not?

Short Answer In general, opportunities for bathing for personal hygiene existed in most areas of Europe for those who had the financial means, including monarchs, barons, knights, merchants, doctors, ...
Lars Bosteen's user avatar
14 votes

Did men and women feast together in early medieval East Francia?

I recently came across something that seems to contain an exact answer to this question. In 826, an exiled Danish king, Harald Klak visited the court of Louis the Pious with his wife and some ...
Semaphore's user avatar
  • 97.5k
14 votes

Are there any accounts of everyday life during the Black Death?

Giovanni Boccaccio lived through the Plague and his Decameron is set in that period. While most of the book does not speak of the Plague (it is a group of young people who have fled Florence to escape ...
SJuan76's user avatar
  • 12.4k
13 votes

Before iron was common, what did common people use for door hinges?

Apart from leather hinges that were used even when iron was common (but not so common as to be cheap), there existed the different mounting of the door. I have heard about its use from my grandfather, ...
Gangnus's user avatar
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13 votes

Were there luxury restaurants in East Germany?

In addition to @LangLangC answer, some background information. Restaurants were clasified into Preisstufen (price levels) which were clearly specified outside on the shown menu. The higher the number, ...
Mark Johnson's user avatar
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12 votes
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How common were private bathing facilities in Late Republican Rome?

This is really more of an extended comment - my impression is that it is believed to be standard for wealthier Romans to have had some kind of bathing facility at home, but specific references or ...
Semaphore's user avatar
  • 97.5k
12 votes

Are there any accounts of everyday life during the Black Death?

You can find first-hand accounts in The Black Death: natural and human disaster, by Robert S. Gottfried (Free Press, 1983). For instance, it contains this passage (p. 45): The mortality in Siena ...
José Carlos Santos's user avatar
11 votes

What are the origins of knife and fork language etiquette?

There is evidence that an opposite etiquette prevailed in the 1840-1900 time period. Night and Morning (1841, UK): she crossed her knife and fork, and pushed away her plate, in token that she ...
DavePhD's user avatar
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