Turnspit Dogs Were Bred Solely To Cook Meat
The turnspit was the most important part of the kitchen throughout the Middle Ages, much like the Domino's speed dial button today. But someone had to constantly rotate the spit, a task that fell to the kitchen staff's lowliest member. But why waste a good peasant when you could make a new type of dog for the task? Yes, the Middle Ages thought of dogs like we think of robots -- the often poor, needlessly complicated solution to virtually every problem.
Henry WigsteadYup, there really was a time when the height of technology was a Flinstones gag.
Described for the first time in 1576, the turnspit dog had a long body and stout, powerful legs. It had to be small so it could fit inside a wooden wheel attached to the turnspit by a chain. As the dog ran, it rotated the iron spit, leaving the kitchen staff free to prepare other food with their unwashed hands.
Francis Butler/Library of CongressA slight glaze of hair and fleas really brings out the flavor of a spit roast.
For the next 300 years, turnspit dogs powered kitchens of all sizes, roasting the meat, pressing the fruit, or churning the butter. They would generally come in pairs so one could work while the other rested, but they weren't cherished members of the household or anything. They were basically thought of as blenders with legs. Their treatment was part of what inspired activist Henry Bergh to start the ASPCA, after he witnessed turnspit dogs employed in a Manhattan hotel in the 1850s. They did get Sundays off to attend church, but only so they could serve as foot warmers. The breed eventually became a sign of poverty, and after a mechanical spit turner was invented, died out around 1900. There is only a single specimen still around today. His name is Whiskey, and he is preserved via taxidermy at Abergavenny Museum in Wales.
Before Purses, Chatelaines Held Everything A Woman Needed
19th-century women's clothing did not have pockets. So it was exactly like modern women's clothing. But the cavernous handbag hadn't yet come into vogue, so women had nowhere to keep their many daily tools. The solution? Dangle everything from a clip like a steampunk Juggalo.
Genevieve Cummins“One does not deign to ‘Whoop whoop’ in polite company, but know that a mannered lady is always down with the clown.”