Sunday, 13 November 2011


I have a head full of useless information. Fascinating facts and bits of trivia. I've never been able to market it -especially since the board game was invented eons ago. I was recently in our OGS branch and saw a book that appealed to that part of my brain that hoards bits of trivia.

It is a book put together by Moorshead publications. They are the publishers of Family Chronicle Magazine, Internet Genealogy and History Magazine. This book contains bits of trivia about how some of our everyday items came to be. It is an easy read and really for someone like me, a fascinating read.

One story in particular tickled my fancy. The story of how teabags were invented. According to the authors, Thomas Sullivan of NYC, a tea merchant, decided to hand out bags of tea as a promo. Similar to Kraft handing out samples of powdered cheese and a bag of macaroni as an after thought and it becoming the staple in most kids diets, now known of course as Kraft Dinner.

Sullivan packaged a couple of spoonfuls of loose-leaf tea in hand sewn silk bags. People didn't bother to unpackage the tea, as Sullivan had anticipated they would. Instead, they threw the tea, silk bag and all, into the hot teapot and added their boiling water. The gauze acted as an infuser and the required seven minutes later the perfect cup of tea awaited.
Restaurant owners particularly liked the ease of use of the new teabag.
Seeing an opportunity for marketing a new product, Sullivan set about to better the product by changing the bag and making it a better infuser, eventually coming up with gauze. This has transcribed into what is now a paper bag.

Tetley produced the first square bag in 1953 and introduced it in Britain. Initially, tea drinkers in  Britain were wary of this new product and it took some time to catch on.

By the early 1960s, my mother and two of her sisters were settled in Southern Ontario. When they got paid, they made up "care packages" and sent them home, just as they had done when living away from home in Scotland. In one such parcel, my mum sent my Granny a box of teabags. She wrote back and thanked my mum for the parcel with the proviso, "next time, don't bother with those stupid little bags of tea. It took me forever to cut them open to take the tea out" Apparently teabags hadn't caught on for a while in the outlying centres of Scotland!

The book is available for sale through the Brant Branch OGS bookstore for $5.00

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