Thursday, August 22, 2013

Today's dose of scurvy-fighting citrus history

contributed by Kristin M. Zosa Puleo, Museum Event and Program Coordinator

I'm going to go ahead and venture to guess that if you've ever worked in a bar, sat at a bar, or concocted your own beverage in which one of the main ingredients was lime juice, this bottle (above) looks quite familiar to you. Heck, even if you've never used the stuff before, you've probably seen it in your grocery store's beverage aisle (note: this company also makes grenadine, which makes for a mean Shirley Temple).

So where is this blog posting going you ask?

As you may know, we here at the museum are in the midst of a comprehensive collections inventory. For the past three months, I've had the pleasure of going through newspaper clippings, advertisements, prints, and engravings, which, for the most part, date from the mid-1800's through the mid 1900's. I've been finding some interesting material, some of which you may have seen if you follow us on Facebook and/or Twitter (and if you don't follow us, and you subscribe to such social media, then you should click on the above links and "like" or "follow" us). Earlier this week, I came across this advertisement, from the September 19, 1883 edition of a British newspaper called The Graphic:

Of course, this prompted me to hit up Google for some information. What I came across was rather interesting, so the point of this blog post is to share the wealth with you all. Enjoy!

L. Rose & Company was founded by Lauchlin Rose in Leith, Edinburgh in 1865. In 1867, Rose patented a method to preserve citrus juice and prevent fermentation without the use of alcohol. According to the Merchant Shipping Act of 1867, all ships of the Royal Navy and the Merchant Navy were required to provide a daily lime ration to sailors to prevent scurvy (fun fact: this is why British sailors are known as "limeys"). Prior to Rose's innovation, rum was used to preserve the lime juice. Needless to say, the sailors were not particularly happy about losing their rum; nevertheless, Rose's West Indian Lime Juice became a staple on board.

So there you go, Rose's Lime Juice was drunk by sailors, sans alcohol, to prevent scurvy. Think of that the next time you're whipping up a tasty margarita or gimlet! And while you're at it, share this random factoid with your friends while concocting said beverages, because who doesn't love to be that person?