Out of necessity, sailors began to experiment with different foods that could last a long time and ward off their horrid mouth-rotting fate. The cause of scurvy, it turned out, was a lack of vitamin C. But back in those days, vitamins hadn't been discovered yet, so deciding what kind of food would ward off death was pretty much a crapshoot. The eureka moment came in 1768, when Captain James Cook set off on the voyage in which he discovered Australia. His ship, the Endeavour, carried on board 7,860 pounds of a German delicacy known as sauerkraut.
Shown here looking as happy as anyone would be hanging around four tons of spoiled junk for years on end.
Sauerkraut is fermented cabbage -- spoilage isn't merely no big deal, it's required. So although the crew of the Endeavour quickly ran out of hot dogs to eat it with, supplies lasted the whole journey. And because it's rich in vitamin C, none of his crew came down with scurvy.
As is often the case, the West was "discovering" something that other parts of the world had known for thousands of years. For instance, South Koreans eat fermented cabbage (kimchi) with almost every meal, and it came about for the same reason: Centuries ago, someone found that the dish could be stored indefinitely and provide Vitamin C over the course of a long winter.
Picky children could sit at the table until they've cleaned their plate for months on end and still stay healthy as ever.
Once upon a time, you could even get a kimchi burger at a Korean McDonalds ...
... so you could get your daily dose of Vitamin C while thinking about your mother's tits.
Blair is on Twitter. Matthew Moffitt is a part-time novelist and comedy writer whose first novel will be published in November by EDGE science fiction and fantasy. He is also on Twitter. Special thanks to his wife for helping him on this article.
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