Thursday, August 15, 2013

Quote of the day, regarding commercial chemical purity

A favorite childhood novel of mine was Louisa May Alcott's "Little Men", the relatively unknown companion to "Little Women". A quote that I think about occasionally regarding business and the purity of chemicals:
Jack Ford's peculiar pastime was buying and selling; and he bid fair to follow in the footsteps of his uncle, a country merchant, who sold a little of every thing and made money fast. Jack had seen the sugar sanded, the molasses watered, the butter mixed with lard, and things of that kind, and labored under the delusion that it was all a proper part of the business. His stock in trade was of a different sort, but he made as much as he could out of every worm he sold, and always got the best of the bargain when he traded with the boys for string, knives, fish-hooks, or whatever the article might be. The boys who all had nicknames, called him "Skinflint," but Jack did not care as long as the old tobacco-pouch in which he kept his money grew heavier and heavier.
Occasionally, when dealing with commercial chemical purveyors, I get the sense that they also labor under the delusion that such things are a proper part of the business.

(I wonder how people knew when their butter was mixed with lard, back then?) 


  1. CoulombicExplosionAugust 15, 2013 at 11:12 AM

    Smoke point perhaps? Via wikipedia, 250-300F for butter compared to 370F for lard. That's probably noticeable even without a thermometer. Also, its arguably a benefit of fortifying the butter with lard.

  2. "Sugar sanded"? As in sand mixed in? And I thought some of the adulterants mentioned in "The Jungle" were bad.

    1. Yes, I assume so. A great (and unfortunate) way to teach kids about dissolution for purification...


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