102 votes
Accepted

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 ...
user avatar
  • 96.2k
97 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 ...
user avatar
  • 25.6k
84 votes
Accepted

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 ...
user avatar
  • 96.2k
80 votes
Accepted

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 ...
user avatar
  • 96.2k
50 votes
Accepted

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 ...
user avatar
  • 77.2k
48 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 ...
user avatar
  • 591
44 votes
Accepted

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 ...
user avatar
44 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 ...
user avatar
36 votes
Accepted

How did people deal with ice on the roads during the horse-and-buggy era?

Snow removal takes a lot of effort. It was easier to switch out wheeled carriages for sleighs. Sleighs work better with more snow, so that according to this article: in the 18th and 19th centuries, ...
user avatar
  • 17.9k
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 ...
user avatar
  • 608
33 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 ...
user avatar
  • 1,009
32 votes
Accepted

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 ...
user avatar
  • 76.4k
32 votes
Accepted

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 ...
user avatar
  • 96.2k
30 votes
Accepted

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 ...
user avatar
  • 77.2k
28 votes
Accepted

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 ...
user avatar
  • 110k
24 votes
Accepted

What were shoe soles made from in previous ages?

Leather was probably the most common material. The most basic transportation technology of the medieval era was the foot ... Those who did not go barefoot ... wore simple shoes. These shoes were ...
user avatar
  • 96.2k
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'...
user avatar
  • 110k
23 votes

How common was smoking in first half of the 20th century?

It certainly meshes up with my memory of the way things were in the early 70's. But my memory may be exaggerated too. (I was anti-smoking way before it was cool.) It wasn't true that everyone smoked ...
user avatar
  • 110k
21 votes
Accepted

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 ...
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 ...
user avatar
20 votes
Accepted

How common was smoking in first half of the 20th century?

By the 1970s, smoking in the USA was starting to come down from its peak in the early 1960s. (Note that this is slightly deceptive in the early years of the 20th century, when cigarettes were ...
user avatar
  • 358
20 votes
Accepted

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 ...
user avatar
  • 34.2k
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, ...
user avatar
19 votes
Accepted

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 ...
user avatar
18 votes

What were shoe soles made from in previous ages?

One kind of shoe not mentioned in the other answers are those using bast soles. "Bast" is fiber from tree bark. Bast shoes or lapti, were once worn by poorer members of Northern European cultures. ...
user avatar
  • 17.9k
17 votes

How regularly did the Romans bathe?

Your guess is correct. Bathing in Rome was one of the common daily activities. While nowadays bathing is seen as strictly private activity, bathing in Rome was a public activity. Rich Romans could ...
user avatar
  • 2,283
16 votes

How did people have access to ice in warm areas before the industrial revolution?

Never mind pre-Industrial Revolution. As late as 1910 and 1920 the most efficient way for most people in Toronto and Hamilton to get ice in the summer was for it to be harvested off of Hamilton ...
user avatar
15 votes

How common was smoking in first half of the 20th century?

Yes, most men smoked For men born in USA between 1900 and 1930, about 80+% of them had been smoking at some point; and during 1920-1950 ~70% of them were current smokers.[1] This matches other ...
user avatar
  • 1,302
15 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 ...
user avatar
  • 12.1k
14 votes
Accepted

How did people have access to ice in warm areas before the industrial revolution?

Wikipedia has a video which shows pretty much every aspect. Firstly the ice was cut from mountains or frozen lakes. Then it was transported to its destination. Obviously there is a risk of melting ...
user avatar
  • 1,107

Only top scored, non community-wiki answers of a minimum length are eligible