Life is not the same as it was centuries ago. Today, we have smartphones, GPS guidance, satellite imagery and what not. We are living in the future and technology is developing day by day. Our ancestors did not have these luxuries but still managed to survive for decades without the need for such things. But, certain things that we consider classy today was also something that was heavily ignored. Many items that we now consider to be part of our regular lives were once in fact considered to be trashy.
1. One piece bathing suits
In 1907, Annette Kellerman stepped out onto Revere Beach wearing a one-piece bathing suit that ended in shorts above her knees. This was considered trashy back in the day, and many people were offended by the fact that she wore it in a public place.The police were called and Kellerman was arrested for indecency. During the early 1900’s for swimming, women wore black, knee-length, puffed-sleeved wool dresses worn over bloomers, along with black stockings, bathing slippers, and even ribboned swim caps.
While Kellerman was covered and the only thing she did wrong was wear a one-piece bathing suit, the fellow bathers present at the beach that day saw her as equivalent to not wearing anything. In a later interview that took place in 1953, Kellerman recalls the incident:
“We were all terribly shocked, especially my father, for I was his innocent protected little girl. But the judge was quite nice and allowed me to wear the suit if I would wear a full-length cape to the water’s edge.’’
Her story is featured in the 1957 film, Million Dollar Mermaid by MGM.
About a century ago, sturgeon were abundant in rivers and lakes throughout Europe and America. This was one of the reasons why caviar was considered an ordinary snack in clubs. The huge migratory fish evolved about 180 million years ago and lives in saltwater but swims upstream to spawn in the freshwater. During long voyages, fishermen considered the eggs as their main source of food because caviar wasn’t desired by many. The fish however, was desired by many and was sold for very high prices.
Up until early nineteenth century, caviar was routinely served during free lunches in saloons and clubs. Gradually, it gained popularity and was considered the food for royals. In 1873, German immigrant Henry Schacht took advantage of America’s waters which were abundant with sturgeon. Schacht started a business exporting caviar to Europe for one dollar per pound. Others saw this as a game changer and soon followed in Schacht’s footsteps. By the end of the nineteenth century, the US was the largest exporter of caviar in the world.
Today, lobster is one of the most desired foods, but it wasn’t always this way. When you go out on a date, you treat yourself with a special lobster dish to lighten the mood. Lobster bisque, lobster mashed potatoes, lobster pasta and what not! It’s considered a special delicacy and they are one of the most expensive menu items. Back in the day, when the first European settlers reached the shores of North America, lobsters were so plentiful that they washed up on shores, accumulating knee high. People ate them so much that they soon grew tired of the sea critter.
Lobsters were so plentiful and undesired that they had to come up with ways to discard them. Farmers began using them as fertilizer and fishermen started using them as fish bait. During winter, the poor feasted on lobsters to survive, so they soon gained a reputation as the poor man’s meal. In an effort to save money, prisons started feeding lobsters to inmates.
It wasn’t until the mid-1800’s that lobster gained popularity; only after the invention of canned food and railway transportation. Since then, lobster was widely desired by people living in the center of the country who started traveling to the coasts. Today, in the United States alone, more than 146 million pounds of lobster is consumed every year – reports the National Marine Fisheries Service.
4. Chicken wings
Nothing screams Super Bowl none other than hot wings. In fact, they are in such high demand during that time that Americans consumed more than 1.35 billion of them during the 2018 Super Bowl weekend. According to a new study, an average chicken wing lover eats nearly 18,000 chicken wings in their lifetime. Before they were created in 1964 at the Anchor Bar in Buffalo, New York by Teressa Bellissimo, the wing was considered an undesirable part of the chicken and was often discarded or cooked into stock.
Frank Bellissimo founded the restaurant with Teressa in 1939 and the duo are the inventors of the now famous chicken wing. It was originally served with celery slices and blue cheese sauce but today, most wing lovers eat it with traditional BBQ sauce or ranch dressing.
Tattoos have always been part of human culture and records show that many of our ancestors used them to represent things such as masculinity. For some, it’s intriguing and is a way of representing themselves. But, there are others who resent tattoos. Even though the art of permanent body painting has existed for centuries, it was once considered taboo. Tattoos were often associated with prisoners and the stigma stuck for quite a while.
It wasn’t until this millennia that tattoos started to gain popularity. Today, if you go for a walk, the chances of you coming across someone with a tattoo is higher than ever before. So how did something that was considered taboo and often associated with sailors, prison inmates and members of tough motorcycle gangs become so common? Huff Post states that the show “Miami Ink” shed light on the topic, making it more popular than ever. The show aired the inside of a legendary shop on South Beach, with a couple of talented and charismatic tattoo artists.
Before that, many people didn’t know what a tattoo parlor looked like. This revolutionized the industry, bringing in more people with the desire to ink themselves. Today, statistics show that more women than men in the US have tattoos. A 2015 Harris Poll also showed that 29% of people in the U.S. have at least 1 tattoo and that amount has risen over time.
6. Ripped clothes
Fashion is a way to express one’s self. Many find that the way they dress brings satisfaction in their lives. Years ago, prominent men and women covered themselves with thick fur coats and long dresses as a way of showing their wealth. Torn or soiled clothes were associated with poverty, since the poor were unable to afford new clothes. The view changed over time and in the 21st century, people are demanding their clothes to be torn or soiled on purpose.
Manufacturers started noticing that the demand for torn clothes was increasing, so they started finding innovative ways to tear up clothes. For example, in 2014, Japanese denim brand Zoo Jeans started selling their famous brand of jeans that were pre-torn by lions, tigers and bears – Oh my!
Ancient Egyptians discovered the technique of soaking the pithy core of reeds in melted animal fat; which became known as candles. These however, had no wick on them but in 3000 BC, they formed a true candle with wick that was made out of beeswax. By the 1870’s, homes in America started to be lit with electricity and light bulbs, making candles a thing of the past. Even though electricity was invented in the late 1800’s, not everyone was able to afford it.
Electricity was reserved for the rich and candles were soon associated with poverty. Fast forward to the present, a candle lit dinner is considered romantic and classy. Apart from that, scented candles are burnt every day by millions of people. Today, more than 1 billion pounds of wax are used in producing the candles sold each year in the U.S.
Oysters were also considered a less desirable dish. Like the sturgeon, oysters were abundant in the oceans and fishermen scooped up loads of them every time they went fishing. It was popular among the ‘working poor’ in America and London. By the late 20th century, pollution and over fishing was a reason for the oyster population to diminish. As their supply dwindled, the price skyrocketed. This marked the invention of the farmed oyster, and since then, oysters became marketed as a luxury food item.
Before it gained worldwide popularity, quinoa was just a grain from Peru which was consumed by the locals and widely ignored by the rest of the world. Some even termed it as poor man’s food because it was a staple diet for the local Peruvians. But, once the world became aware of the humble food grain’s health benefits, there was an unprecedented surge in demand. The global demand raised the price in its home country; making it unaffordable to the very people who depended on it to survive. Today, it is considered a superfood item.
10. Sun tans
The process of tanning or sunbathing is a trend that only achieved popularity recently. Tanned skin however, was considered as a sign of poverty. Those with tanned skin were usually farmers or manual laborers. Meanwhile, pale skin meant that the person had a significant status since they were able to afford to stay out of the sun and perform other activities that enhanced their beauty.
Tanning gained popularity during the 1920’s, after fashion icon Coco Chanel showed the world that it was also a way to relax and gain good health. Over the past two decades, the number of people who visit tanning salons has skyrocketed. It is estimated that today, more than 30 million people use a tanning device at least once every year.