Friday, April 07, 2017

A brief history of instant coffee

An entertaining and educational article at NPR about instant coffee, and how important it was in World War 1 (and 2).

Included is this detail, about coffee in the American Civil War.  (I have posted before on that topic, so I knew it was an important provision then, but this additional detail is pretty amusing.):
"Some Union soldiers got rifles with a mechanical grinder with a hand crank built into the buttstock," he told NPR. "They'd fill a hallowed space within the carbine's stock with coffee beans, grind it up, dump it out and cook coffee that way."
Fast forward, and the article even explains the (likely) reason it got the name "Joe":
In 1943, just before his death, Washington sold the company. (In 1961, the George Washington coffee brand was discontinued.) By then, World War II was raging, and American GIs were calling their coffee by a different name: Joe.

One legend behind the origins of the new moniker is that it referred to Josephus Daniels, secretary of the Navy from 1913 to 1921 under Woodrow Wilson, who banned alcohol onboard ships, making coffee the strongest drink in the mess. Snopes, though, fact-checked that claim and called it false.

Yet "Joe" very likely does originate in the military. "The American soldier became so closely identified with his coffee that G.I. Joe gave his name to the brew," according to Pendergrast.
Oddly, it had never occurred to me before to look up how the "Joe" moniker had arisen...

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