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Mother’s Day Presents of the Past: From Bizarre to Basic

If you want to give Mom a traditional Mother’s Day gift – get ready!! Mother’s Day gifts were as ever-changing as they were controversial. At the start, everyone from preachers to politicians protested giving Mother’s Day gifts. Gifts were too commercial. Too irreverent. No matter, Mother’s Day gift sales started surging by the early 1920s and didn’t let up. As for the kinds of gifts – flowers, maybe, but if you’re thinking chocolates (and what woman doesn’t want chocolate??) – forget it. Chocolates, as well as caramels and other edible delights were a (welcome) side note to the array of 20th century gifts.

  Mother’s Day Card 1950s

First Mother’s Day Gifts, Unexpected and a Little Strange

Early Mother’s Day gifts were more-or-less divided into selections for Mother the Elderly Saint and Mother the Sex Dynamo. The elderly saint got comfortable shoes. One ad in 1925 demanded: “See that Mother Gets a Pair of Good, Comfortable Shoes, for This Day.” Got it? Other options included knitted shawls, “Matron’s Hats,” and umbrellas that protect Mom from both sun and rain. The sexy Mom got the finest rayon or Italian silk underpants, silk hosiery, and “delectable” silk negligees. Definitely not for my mother.

           Mother’s Day Gifts, 1927

 

Mother’s Day Gifts – What Every Kid Wants Mother to Have

By the 1930s, Mother’s Day Gifts started to change. Some gave a nod and wink to the flapper-Moms, more likely found in Speakeasies than PTA meetings.                                                Said one ad for “Boneless

Mother’s Day Ad, 1935

corselettes”: “You don’t have to wear a harness to achieve the new silhouette…” No matter, gift selections for Mom became more unsexy and distressingly utilitarian. Standard among them bedspreads, tumblers, casserole dishes, enamel kettles, baking dishes, and berry sets.

Not that anyone actually believed Mom enjoyed the rigors of homemaking. Says one ad from 1935: “Mothers Save Your Youth and Charm with electrical appliances – Change your hours of drudgery into hours of freedom…” The appliances were as imaginative as they were unnecessary: Electric roasters, ventilator fans, sandwich toasters, “Beconomical” refrigerators (whatever that is), and “Premier” vacuum cleaners. All advertised with this proclamation: Makes a Wonderful Mother’s Day Gift. Should Mom be exhausted from all that work and in danger of losing her youthful charm, ads offered something mothers actually did want – face cream, perfume, and a day at the hair salon for a “permanent wave,” which, by the way, wasn’t.

From War to Post War Presents for Mom

The 1940s stood out in annals of Mother’s Day gifts as being the most meaningful. As World War II disrupted the sanctity of family life, many in the commercial world pitched in to help. They offered commemorative “War Stamp Corsages,” costume jewelry to “perk up her dresses…and HER spirits, too!”, services to help servicemen find the best and most affordable gifts for Mom, and should money be a problem, low-interest loans. Some stores in 1945 featured gifts such as “Liberation blouses,” printed with scenes of the liberated cities in Europe.

Mother’s Day Card 1960s

After the War, the usual household gifts returned…with a vengeance. Into the 1950s and 1960s, we do find perfumes and nylon hose, but also sponges and mops, dishcloths, pillowcases, waffle irons, and wastepaper baskets no mother could resist. We find Bibles, Presto pressure cookers, and steel steak knife sets. What we don’t find for Mom, although advertised for everyone else, is badminton sets, ping pong tables, and swimming pools.

By the late 1960s many gifts had become practical to a fault featuring transistor radios, bank savings accounts stuffed with $25.00, and even discounts at the dry cleaner. Advertisers proclaimed “For her happiness…” about the gift of all gifts – a colander – and the “UNBELIEVABLE BUT TRUE” cast iron Dutch oven.

Mother’s Day Gift – A Bikini 1977

Into the 1970s, we find more of the same including one item for Mom saying: “Give Mom a Fun Gift for Mother’s Day” with an illustration of a young women in tiny bikinis, bellies curvaceous yet flat, nary a suggestion of budge. For mother? A women who birthed four. Five children.  Or even just one child? In a bikini looking like that? Not a chance.

Anyway, modern gifts have changed. The #1 best-selling gift on one list is hair removal set. That aside an array of candles, journals, and even hand warmers present themselves as favorites.

As for gifts most women love most? Think chocolates. Caramels. Teas.  Aside from you, Mom still loves them most of all.

 

 

The Ultimate Illustrated Satellite Wafer Q&A

Satellite Wafers AKA “Flying Saucers” and “Those Things” as in “OH – I remember those things…”  are an enigma. What are they? Who made them? Are they REALLY supposed to look like flying saucers?  Here’s a quick Q&A telling you all you need to know!

 

Who Invented Satellite Wafers?

Satellite Wafers were invented in Belgium in the 1950s by – of all things! – a communion wafer maker. Sales were down for unknown reasons, and he needed to do something new and exciting to sell his product. So, he put two communion wafers together, filled them with nonpareils (the little sprinkles on ice cream and chocolates), and created a candy shaped like a flying saucer.

But Why Make a Flying Saucer Candy?

The 1950s, when Satellite Wafers were invented, were significant for many things – beatniks, bobby socks, the Cold War, and with it…the space age. The Cold War was scary, on the one hand. Kids had to practice dropping under their seats at school should they need to hide in the event of a nuclear attack (an unlikely solution), and UFO sightings and reported kidnappings were on the rise. On the other hand, as usually happens, candy was on the rescue, providing fun renditions of serious matters…with all the necessary bang and pop! Think: Pop Rocks, made in the ’50s by a scientist; Astro Pops, made in the early 60s by two former NASA rocket scientists; fizzy candies such as Zotz; and more! Fun, tasty, and uplifting! Like a rocket ship or flying saucer.

 CIA Drawing of Satellite Above Trees, Date Unknown

 

NASA Picture of Rocket Taking Off, 1969

 

True Treats Depiction of Satellite Wafer Spotted on Unnamed Countertop, 2024

What is the Difference Between Flying Saucers and Satellite Wafers?

None.

What Do Satellite Wafers Taste Like?

Perhaps the most difficult and, yes, perplexing question to address is what do Satellite Wafers taste like? Because these ever-popular candies aren’t actually about flavor – they’re about TEXTURE. Imagine a soft, melt-in-your-mouth satin yielding to tiny, sweet morsels with satisfying crunch. Or, should you have had one, imagine communion wafers that, in mere mortal moments, become candy. OR, even better, experience what it’s like to be living during the Cold War…with all the FUN and none of the worry.

AS FOR FLAVOR: they’re light and sugary with a soft undertone of fruit. The nonpareils inside are pure sugar, too small to be cloying.

Are Satellite Wafers Still Popular?

In the U.S. Satellite Wafers are considered a popular retro candy, albeit hard-to-find (except at True Treats). In England, as well as Belgium and Ireland, their popularity is among the top 12 favorites.

 Box of Satellite Wafers

Are Satellite Wafers good for you?

Good for you? Not in the health-style of feeling good. And definitely not in the Communion Wafer sense of feeling good.  More like Satellite Wafers are fun. And fun makes you feel good. Right? There you go!

The Strange Yet Tasteful Existence of Raspberry Leaf Tea

Raspberry leaf tea has a strange and somewhat convoluted past. The tea itself is not made from the raspberry plant’s fruit, as some would expect, but the leaf. The flavor resembles a somewhat tangy green or black tea, not a sprightly raspberry flavor.  As for the color: brown-ish, not red. No matter – add a little sweetener, a touch of cream, and you have a tasty and reasonably familiar flavored drink.

 

Raspberry Leaf Tea: From Native Americans to the Civil War

             Raspberry Leaf Tea

Native Americans of the Eastern U.S. were the first to appreciate raspberry leaf tea. They simply boiled the leaves, as they did with wintergreen,

spruce, sassafras, and snowberry leaves, for a healthful and medicinal drink. Eighteenth-century colonists joined in, using raspberry leaf tea as a weapon in their boycott of British tea. According to the Boston Tea Party Museum, the Revolutionaries positioned British tea as poisonous, capable of triggering the “most frightful nervous disorders.” As for raspberry leaf tea, one Revolutionary stated: “…It’s as good as any other tea and much more wholesome in the end.”

Other sources proclaiming the use of 18th-century tea were less eliable. A 1931 newspaper ad from Sterchi’s, a furniture company, claimed that their Early American Poster Bed “commemorates the high-born South Carolina lady who put Raspberry Leaf Tea into Colonial society.”

While the link between bedposts and botanical tea is hazy, the Southern roots are not. In an interview in 1901, an elderly Georgia woman recalled putting “yellow sugar” into Red Raspberry Tea” during the Civil War. “It made raspberry leaf tea taste almost as good as Yang Hyson [sic],” she said.     Likewise, a speaker at a United Daughters of the Confederacy luncheon in 1965 proclaimed the “resourcefulness” of Southern women who drank raspberry leaf tea during the war when little else was available. With that much raspberry leaf tea in the South, it was certainly made by enslaved workers, as well.

The (Unexpected) Medicinal Powers of Raspberry Leaf Tea

Regardless of who was drinking it, raspberry leaf tea was considered a cure. A cure for what depends on who you ask. Today, the tea is thought to help women cope with everything from menstruation to menopause not to mention getting pregnant, being pregnant, and giving birth. Proving the point goes back decades. One article in 1956, entitled “Raspberry Leaf Tea Subject of Big Test” confirms that a group of British researchers were testing the tea on a subject group of expectant mothers. Today, articles boldly tout the women-raspberry leaf tea connection, quoting scientific studies and chemical breakdowns.

That hasn’t always been the case. Raspberry leaf tea was a more-or-less panacea for a cast of ailments, although women’s health was not among them. In the 1850s it was considered a mild astringent good, used internally and externally, a treatment for inflammation of the bowels, fever, and diarrhea… in horses a remedy for upset stomach, aka “summer complaint,” in infants. One publication of 1912, a nurse proclaimed that raspberry leaf tea was a general remedy – i.e. good for everything. As for the flavor: “Raspberry leaf tea with half cream is excellent…”

Raspberry Leaf Tea on mid-1900s cup and saucer with True Treats Jar

By the mid-1900s, the interest in raspberry leaf tea all but petered out only to rise again in the 1960s with the natural foods/hippie/anti-establishment movement. Now raspberry leaf tea, the medicine, the beverage of war, the Southern sipping tea, was a protector of women’s health and a stalwart of healthy food. Raspberry leaf tea was recommended to cap a tasty dinner of “wild foods” such as buttered cattail shoots, acorn bread, and marsh marigold flower pickles, along with gum made of spruce resin. Similarly, it was the closing drink at a  1960s “survival meal” where nine men feasted on goats’ beard, wild and prickly lettuce, and goose foot.  The men were actually Boy Scout Leaders whose mission was to teach boys (not in attendance) how to use their initiative and be resourceful. Sound familiar?

 Raspberry Leaf Tea Today

Raspberry leaf tea was then – as it remains today – an old-time tea. This can be good news or bad news, depending. Most shops selling tinctures, herbal remedies, and botanicals seem to have raspberry leaf tea on hand. Native American tea companies carry it, as well, advertising it as “traditional.”  A variety of medical Websites and whole foods advisors tout the tea for its culinary and curative value. Occasionally, a voice of descent rises from the crowd, but not because of the tea itself. One, in the 1960s, was in response to the suggestion that raspberry leaf tea was “an idea” for maiden aunts. The objection came from an actual “maiden aunt” stating that she was a “swinger” who much preferred “turquoise bracelets and Swedish glass to raspberry leaf tea.”

 

Want to taste for yourself? Just follow the recipes right here – with serving suggestions!

Love Raspberries? Try our pure raspberry sugar -just raspberries and sugar sprinkled on ice cream, toast, cookies, name it.   A Native American fruit with a European American Sugar. Two cultures. One sprinkle.

 

 

 

 

 

 

From the True Treats Recipe Box: How to Make Raspberry Leaf Tea

Raspberry Leaf Tea?  

An unexpected pleasure known to cure everything from stomach aches to painful pregnancies. Tastes a lot like black or green tea, with a brownish hue. Making raspberry leaf tea is the same as most other botanical teas. Here’s what you do:

  • Add one tea bag – or a teaspoon-tablespoon of raspberry leaves to taste
  • Pour in boiling water
  • Let steep for up to 15 minutes. The longer, the stronger.

Yes – you can refrigerate the tea and drink it later over ice. Blends perfectly with iced mint tea.

 

Additions

Whether you love raspberry leaf tea as is or want to dress up the taste, here are some popular add-ons.

  • Mint Tea
  • Honey with or without lemon
  • Lemon with or without honey
  • Coconut milk (About ¼ cup per serving)
  • Light cream or milk to taste
  • Amber Beet Sugar Crystals
  • White or Brown Sugar Chunks
  • Fresh orange juice
Amber Beet Sugar
Perfect Sweetener for Raspberry Leaf Tea

 

In the mood for something a little stronger? Raspberry Leaf Tea Could Be a Must at Your Next Cocktail Party!

Add to mint juleps, tequila sunrise, screwdrivers, or anything else that deserves a bit more folly in the fun.

 

 

           Cocktail Dress, 1937 

 

Make Your Own Alice in Wonderland MAD Tea Party

At any rate I’ll never go THERE again!’ said Alice as she picked her way through the wood. ‘It’s the stupidest tea–party I ever was at in all my life!’ – “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.”

Original Title Page                                               Alice’s Adventure in Wonderland,1865

 

 

The Mad Tea Party in Lewis Carroll’s book, “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,” was perplexing. Alice was offered wine although they had none. The tea party was “stupid” (that’s what Alice called it) but it became a popular tea party theme. And, stupid as it was, The Mad Tea Party spurned Disney’s basically unrelated recreation in its theme parks and movies.

Why a Tea Party? 

19th Century Afternoon Tea for the Wealthy – Frédéric Soulacroix

 The Madhatter Tea Party, 1924

The stage was set for tea parties in 1840. It seems Anna Maria Russell, the Duchess of Bedford, England was getting peckish in the long, food-less span between early breakfast and 8:00 dinner, as was the custom at the time. So, she started taking tea and light fare in her boudoir mid-afternoon. Before you knew it, Anna was inviting friends to her house for afternoon tea. The event took off among others in high society, set in elegant rooms, with fine China, hot tea, and small sandwiches.

Among the highest of society was Anna’s good friend Queen Victoria, who enjoyed the tea parties so much, she started holding her own. Victoria, ever the trendsetter, instantly made tea a tradition. The middle class soon joined in with their own tea parties – inexpensive, easy to prepare, and a great way to create a social gathering with relatively little mess to clean up in the end.

Here’s another possibility: Common folk, aka workers, no longer went home for lunch. Industry was chugging along and they worked in factories and other industrial settings for long hours, often without breaks. So, these workers carried small lunches, often leftovers from dinner, they could eat by hand. Did Anna and Victoria follow the lead of the “lower classes”? Who knows? But the upper crust and the masses who supported them were eating at the same time and for the same reason. They were hungry mid-day.

                     The Madhatter Tea Party, 1924

What Kind of Tea Did They Drink?

The Tea Party in Lewis Carroll’s book was certainly black tea, common throughout Great Britian. But the British did drink botanical teas, as well, such as chamomile and rose petal. Earl Grey tea is another British favorite – essentially black teas with additions such as lavender or orange peels.

Host Your Own Authentic Mad Tea Party

So, what was served at the original party? And how do you create a more-or-less accurate rendition? In the story, Lewis Carroll’s characters enjoyed tea and toast with butter, common fare, not exactly scintillating.  They also discussed treacle (although they didn’t serve it), which is a British relative of molasses, and wine, of course, which was likewise not served. Of course, that arrangement might be rather boring, not to mention unsatisfying.

So, here’s what you do:

Serve treats from the actual book “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”:

  • Buttered Toast: Sounds boring, right? But it was common tea party fare in the U.K. and the U.S. Why not butter, sprinkle on sugar and cinnamon, and cut into triangles or easy-to-hold squares. Your guests – no matter how old or old fashioned – will love it!
  • Treacle: In candy or toffee form, or use molasses, instead, such as molasses pulls or molasses drops. You may even want to serve molasses syrup to slather on toast.
  • Lemonade: This option goes particularly well in warm weather and especially for kids. Make your own or use the modern powdered variety. Some even comes with real crystalized lemon!
  • Wine: Mentioned, by not served in the book. Still, a tea party standard from the get-go. And yes, you can serve wine first then follow with tea. Perfectly appropriate.
  • Chocolate: At the time, most chocolate was gritty. In 1879, chocolatier Rudolf Lindt (of Lindt Chocolate fame) invented a “conching” machine to make chocolate silky smooth, as we know it today. As “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” was published in 1865, chocolate wasn’t actually smooth. No worries. At the time other editions appeared, chocolate was silky smooth.
  • Biscuits, cookies, or cakes: The possibilities are practically limitless. Shortbread dates back to 16th century Scotland. Use those and no one will consider you too modern.
Alice’s Tea Party Robinson Carrol,1907

Then — fill in with other pleasures of 19th century tea parties… Sandwiches? Yes! Cucumber sandwiches, buttered bread, the variety is endless.  Think the table is bare? Add mixed nuts and an assortment of olives and cheese which are filling and traditional at tea parties. But remember, afternoon tea was light and breezy so keep it simple.

To be truly loyal to the original: Dispense with adherence to all things polite and be perfectly frank and rude, if you feel like it. Then, afterward, explain to the kids that behavior is actually not ok in real life.

DON’T STRESS: Why not get a True Treats® Alice in Wonderland Edible Book? Comes with the marvelous treats Alice ate throughout the book and a keepsake card describing each item…all tucked in a closable book-shaped box.