WTF Fun Fact 13040 – The Oldest Toothpaste

We tend to think of ancient people as having horrible tooth decay. In fact, it’s often referred to went talking about their shorter lifespans. But it turns out that toothpaste (and teeth cleaning generally) is an ancient concept. The oldest toothpaste comes from Egypt.

Ancient toothpaste

Dental hygiene has always been of relative importance. People who lived thousands of years ago may not have had twice-yearly dental cleanings, but they did have bristled toothbrushes and toothpaste.

According to Open Culture (cited below): “not only did ancient people use toothbrushes, but it is believed that ‘Egyptians… started using a paste to clean their teeth around 5000 BC,’ even before toothbrushes were invented.”

The world’s oldest toothpaste recipe

According to The Telegraph, in 2003, the oldest toothpaste formula (so far) was found at a Viennese museum. It dates from the 4th century AD. The Egyptian papyrus (which is written in Greek) “describes a ‘powder for white and perfect teeth’ that, when mixed with saliva, makes a ‘clean tooth paste.'”

It requires:
1 drachma of rock salt (about one-hundredth of an ounce)
2 drachmas of mint
1 drachma of dried iris flower
20 grains of pepper

The ingredients are to be crushed and mixed together.

Dental hygiene surprises

Rock salt, mint, and pepper are probably not a recipe for the most pleasant experience for your gums, but it would be refreshing.

Once we get into the middle ages, we start to see things like charms and amulets used for dental health – so at least ancient Egyptian toothpaste would remove some germs.

Dental health care is also described in Gilbertus Anglicus’ 13th-century Compendium of Medicine. It advises rubbing teeth with a cloth to remove “corrupt matter.”

It’s pretty clear that people have long understood the importance of dental hygiene for health.  WTF fun facts

Source: “Try the Oldest Known Recipe For Toothpaste: From Ancient Egypt, Circa the 4th Century BC” — Open Culture

WTF Fun Fact 13037 – The First Trick or Treat

According to CBC News (cited below): “While the act of going door-to-door in costume in exchange for something sweet to eat has been around since the Middle Ages, it wasn’t until sometime in the last century that people started saying ‘trick or treat.'” Apparently, the very first trick-or-treat took place in Alberta, Canada.

The first trick or treat

Nick Rogers, who teaches history at York University in Toronto and wrote Halloween: From Pagan Ritual to Party Night, the earliest use of the phase can be traced to a newspaper clipping from 1927. On November 3rd of that year, The Blackie Times of Blackie, Alberta, noted that:

Halloween gave an opportunity to the young to use up some of their surplus energy which was freely taken advantage of. Threshing outfits, wagons, old autos, barrels, etc., decorated the front streets and buildings were overturned, while front and back doors were invaded and inmates held up by the awful word “Trick or Treat” from the youthful invaders who carried…

Prior to this, historians believed the first use of the phrase occurred in 1947.

Trying to end Halloween fun

The holiday has long been associated with a bit of misbehavior, especially among older kids. Throughout the 20th century, North Americans have long tried to get ahold of Halloween hooliganism, even trying to replace the holiday with a more wholesome one.

CBC noted that “[i]n July 1950, the U.S. Senate recommended that Halloween be renamed ‘Youth Honor Day,’ and young adults and teenagers would pledge good behaviour on Halloween and try to tone down the holiday.”

It never really took off.

Rodgers explained that while Halloween is something wild today, going door to door at this time of year wasn’t always associate with tricks or treats.

“It goes right back to Hallow Mass to the original Christian holiday of honouring the dead,” Rodgers said. “Back then it was called ‘souling,’ where people would collect food from neighbours’ homes in exchange for praying for their dead relatives. ‘The idea being that, if you prayed hard enough, you would help them get to heaven.'”  WTF fun facts

Source: “Albertans may have been 1st to say ‘trick or treat'” — CBC News