If you believe what you read, drinking vinegar can cure almost anything. It can soothe you when you’re sick, it can stop you from getting sick, it can kill the toad in your stomach, it can grow a mother in your stomach. And if your house catches on fire, don’t bother with water, for vinegar is here to save the day. Or so said The New York Times...in the 1800s.
Raspberry Vinegar for Hospitals.
To the Editor of the New York Times:
Many persons have kindly sent berries and fruits to the sick soldiers in the different hospitals, the free use of which, in many cases, being deemed objectionable, it is suggested instead that those having raspberries should convert them into “raspberry vinegar,” which makes a grateful, cooling and wholesome drink for the fevered, sick and wounded.
July 22, 1862
The repute of this preparation as a prophylactic in contagious fevers is said to have arisen from the confession of four thieves, who, during the plague at Marseilles, plundered the dead bodies with perfect security, and upon being arrested, stated, on condition of their lives being spared, that the use of aromatic vinegar had preserved them from the influence of contagion. It is on this account sometimes called “Le vinaigre des quatre voleurs.” It was, however, long used before the plague of Marseilles, for it was the constant custom of Cardinal Wolsey to carry in his hand an orange deprived of its contents and filled with a sponge which had been soaked in vinegar impregnated with various spices, in order to preserve himself from infection when passing through the crowds which his splendor or office attracted. The first plague raged in 1649, whereas Wolsey died in 1531. — Pereira’s Elements of Materia Medica
May 20, 1883
Objected to Vinegar.
From Good Words.
A curious story comes to us from Greece. Briefly, it is to this effect:
There was a man who learned the languages of birds and beasts. He heard one day of a Queen who had a toad inside her, and who had obtained no relief from physicians. So he went to the palace and offered his services, which were gratefully received. On reaching the bedside of her Majesty the man began to cluck, cluck, like a frog. All to no purpose. Then he hissed like a serpent, also without eliciting a response. Next he croaked like a toad, and was at once answered by the denizen of the royal stomach.
“What are you doing there?” he asked, in toad talk.
“Just nothing at all but enjoying myself,” answered the reptile from within.
“I’m coming to visit you,” said the man.
“There’s no room for two,” answered the toad.
“Do you get plenty to eat and palatable food?” asked the man.
“Excellent—royal diet,” replied the reptile. “If the Queen would abstain from vinegar, I should be happy as a bird.”
When the man heard this, he ordered the Queen to drink three tumblers of vinegar, and thus the toad was killed.
January 9, 1896
Cider Drinker’s Bad Plight.
“Mother of Vinegar” Has Formed in His Stomach.
WEBSTER CITY, Iowa, April 6—Physicians who are in attendance upon Alonzo Merchal of Maxwell to-day gave out a strange diagnosis of his case.
Mr. Merchal is thirty-eight years of age. Before the prohibition law was effective in Iowa, he was a hard drinker, but after its enactment he stopped drinking, and for several years he was a total abstainer. Then he formed the hard cider habit, drinking from a quart to two quarts a day.
The doctors say a “mother of vinegar” has formed in his stomach, and a surgical operation will be necessary to remove it.
April 7, 1897
Fought a Fire with Vinegar.
Kokomo, Ind., Oct. 31—Water is getting to be such a scarce article in parts of Indiana that resisting fires is almost impossible, outside of the cities and larger towns. Sunday night the large farmhouse of A. S. McCormack, near Rockfield, west of Kokomo, took fire. There being no water on the place, the farmhands and neighbors fought the flames with vinegar and cider, a number of barrels of which were stored in a wagon house, and by this means they saved the adjoining buildings, though the residence was destroyed.
November 4, 1895