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10 Things That Were Trashy 100 Years Ago, But Classy Now

things that were trashy

Change is inevitable. Our world is changing every second. And when we talk about a century, a lot has changed. We have eradicated polio from the Earth, accepted homosexuals in mainstream society, sent Cassini to Saturn, and even discovered seven new Earth-like planets. Even our view points have undergone a major change, and some of the things that were considered scandalous earlier have now become a part of our daily life. Here are 10 such things that were trashy 100 years ago, but classy now.

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1. Lobster

Lobster, which is now served as a delicacy, was once found in such abundance that they were used as fertilizers and fish bait, and were only consumed by poor people.

Lobster
Image Source: 1,2

When it comes to food, lobster now holds one of the top spots. It occupies the proud position of a delicacy, and people usually reserve a lobster dinner for special occasions. But the super expensive and tasty lobster didn’t always have this fancy reputation. In fact, in the early days, they were so plentiful that residents in the Massachusetts Bay Colony often used to find them washed up on the beach in piles about a foot or two high. In those times, lobsters were popularly known as the “cockroach of the sea.”

Before the mid-1800s, lobsters were thought to be the food only fit for the poor. It was common to feed lobsters to prisoners, slaves, and apprentices as a way to save money. The reputation of lobster changed after the advent of canned food and railway transportation in the 1800s. It became a low-priced, canned food, and while the cost of baked beans was 53 cents a pound, canned lobster was available at 11 cents a pound.

But soon, lobster started becoming popular among early New England tourists, and restaurants began serving it as a meal. Instead of a nuisance, lobster became a commodity, and by the time World War II started it was considered a delicacy.(1,2)

2. Tattoos

Once considered a symbol of humiliation for prisoners and a taboo, tattoos are now quite a rage among all generations. Some of the best tattooists now enjoy celebrity status.

Tattoo
Image Source: 1,2

Tattoos have been a part of human culture for a very long time. People in Africa had used it to adorn their bodies and faces as a symbol of beauty or masculinity. Even the mummified remains of the prehistoric man, Ötzi, who died more than 5,300 years ago, had about 57 tattoos on his body. But in some part of the world, they were considered as taboo. They were considered as a humiliation for prisoners who have committed grave crimes and were deemed as a symbol of disgrace for concentration camp victims.

In the West, tattoos slowly became a part of mainstream biker and hippie culture in the 1960s. As the world stepped in the 20th century, the taboo started fading, and younger generations began inking themselves. One of the most important factors which brought tattoo into mainstream culture was the popular TV show “Miami Ink.” It not only popularized tattoos but made people realize how beautiful and impressive this art is. In 2008. a report by Pew Research Center showed that about 36 percent of Americans in the age range of 18-25 have at least one tattoo. People now look at celebrities like Angelina Jolie, David Beckham, and others for tattoo inspirations.(1,2,3)

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3. Jeans

Invented as work-pants for miners, jeans were a tough and affordable cloth for laborers and factory workers before it became a mainstream fashion wear.

Jeans
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The inventor of jeans, Levi Strauss, was a peddler who immigrated from Bavaria to North America in the 1850s. At that time he had brought with him some canvas and some goods that he intended to sell. At that time miners were looking for sturdy and durable work pants. With the help of a tailor, Strauss put together work pants made of canvas. These became quite popular among miners and laborers as they didn’t rip easily. Ithe 1860s0s he began dyeing the cloth with indigo and named it “blue jeans.”

Until 1960, jeans remained a staple wear for the working class. In the early 1960s, jeans were glamorized in movies such as Rebel Without a Cause and Blue Denim. The rebellious portrayal of the person wearing jeans gained popularity, and rebellious youth started including them in their wardrobe. This was the first step of jeans into casual wear. By 1980s, it became a fashion staple for people of all ages, and people began wearing them as casual, every day dress. Since then, jeans have kept on climbing the social ladder and never looked back.(1,2)

4. Potatoes

When the Spanish conquistadors introduced potatoes to Spain, Italy, and other European countries, it was considered only fit for animal consumption. But now potatoes are regarded a staple food all over the world.

Potato
Image Source: potatoesunite.com

Potatoes were one of the most important and widely consumed tubers in the Inca Empire. When Spanish conquered the Inca Empire in the 16th century, they brought the tuber back to Spain. But the vegetable was not well received, and Spanish farmers only began cultivating them on small scale as a food for livestock. Slowly, potatoes spread to other European countries. But they were regarded with distaste and suspicion. Some even claimed them to be poisonous and believed that potatoes cause leprosy and other diseases. Even poor and starving peasants were afraid to eat them.

In France, potatoes were considered illegal to grow and consume until a medical army officer, Antoine Auguste Parmentier, wrote a thesis on the benefits of potatoes as a food source. In 1772, the French law which named potatoes as illegal was thrown out, and its popularity soared over the next 20 years.  Potatoes became a staple in meat-loving England during the food shortages following the Revolutionary wars. Soon, the humble tuber’s popularity escalated, and fish and chips became a staple food of England.(1,2)

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5. Sun Tans

Before the Industrial revolution, the pale white skin was quite popular as it indicated a noble life of leisure, and dark skin was associated with the working class. Later, in the 20th century, tanned skin became a chic, beauty statement.

tan
Image Source: 1,2

The pale skin had been considered as a beauty statement all over the world since the early ages. It was a sign of privilege in Europe. In Japan and China, women used to apply a white powder or mask to achieve the pale look. In French society, white skin was so highly valued that sometimes lead and other poisonous substances were mixed in powder and cream to achieve the look. Pale skin was a fashion statement in the Victorian Era too, and women who became pale white while suffering from tuberculosis were considered very beautiful.

The fashion fad of pale skin dwindled in the 20th century when pioneering designer and fashion icon Coco Chanel returned from a vacation. She was highly tanned, and tanned skin became synonymous with a relaxed and pleasant vacation. By the 1960s, tans became popular as it indicated that the person had enough money to take a tropical vacation. Recently, the appeal of tan had again begun to fade as it is becoming a common knowledge that ninety percent of skin cancers are associated with sun exposure.(1,2)

6. Chicken Wings

Before the invention of “buffalo” chicken wings in 1964, wings were considered as one of the least desirable cuts of chicken and were usually thrown away.

chicken wings
Image Source: www.tabasco.com

Buffalo chicken wings were invented by the proprietor of the Anchor Bar, Teressa Bellissimo. There are many stories about the event leading to the invention of this recipe, but nonetheless, it created one of the most favorite food of Americans.

Before the invention of buffalo chicken wings, chicken wings were considered as one of the most undesirable parts of a chicken. It was either cooked into stock or simply thrown away. But now, chicken wings are in such high demand that they have become one of the most expensive cuts of chicken. (source)

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7. Quinoa

Due to multiple health benefits of Quinoa, it is now known as a supergrain, but at one time it was scorned as “food for Indians.”

Quinoa
Image Source: www.well-beingsecrets.com

The cultivation of quinoa began at around 3,000 to 4,000 years ago by the Andean people. It was not known to the rest of the world but was a staple food in the Andean culture. The Incas too held quinoa in high regard, considered it sacred, and referred to it as “the mother of all grains.” Later, when Spanish conquistadors came to South America, they scorned it and even suppressed its cultivation.

The popularity of quinoa increased in the late 20th century. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FOA) of the United Nations, the world quinoa production doubled at the end of the 20th century. Quinoa is now highly regarded as a supergrain due to its nutritional value. The FOA of the United Nations declared the year 2013 as the “International Year of Quinoa.”(source)

8. Torn Clothes

Ripped jeans and distressed clothes are now high-end fashion, but earlier, torn clothes belonged in the domain of the poor who could not afford new clothing.

Clothes
Image Source: 1,2

Fashion has changed a lot over time, but the types of dress have always been regarded as the scale of class. While rich and aristocrats loved to cover themselves in expensive clothing, cheap and crude clothes were reserved for the poor. The person wearing torn or patched clothes was considered poor as they couldn’t afford new clothes.

But then came the 21st century and suddenly torn, ripped, and distressed clothes became fashionable. Now, clothes are patched and designers distress clothes on request to make them more fashionable. Random wear-and-tear in jeans and holes in t-shirts are now the choice of celebrities and other fashion-forward people. (1,2)

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9. Sushi

Sushi was created as a way to preserve fish where the rice was thrown away and the fish was eaten. Later it evolved as a food for a fine dining experience.

Sushi
Image Source: www.groupon.com

The first mention of sushi is found in the second century CE in China. In those times, fish was placed in rice which fermented and kept the fish edible for some time. When it was time to eat the fish, the rice was thrown away and the fish was rinsed and then consumed. Since it was cheaper than buying fresh fish every day, it soon became popular.

By the 7thcentury, sushi became popular in Japan. In the early 17th century, Japanese people began adding preservatives like sake or vinegar to rice and ate it along with the fish. Soon, sushi became a complete dish in itself instead of being a technique to preserve fish. Later in the early 19th century, sushi underwent a major change. Instead of wrapping rice over the fish, the fish was kept on top of seasoned rice. This style of sushi is now called nigiri sushi. Later, sushi became popular all over the world and it evolved into a fine-dining dish. (1,2)

10. Acting

Before the 19th century, acting was viewed as a demeaning profession and actors faced social humiliation and animosity in varying degrees. But now it has evolved as a highly coveted job, and actors and actresses enjoy celebrity status in society.

Acting
Image Source: commons.wikimedia.org

The first recorded instance of acting in history occurred in 534 BCE and was performed by a Greek performer. From the 5th century, nomadic bands of actors traveled and performed wherever they could find an audience. From the early Middle Ages, actors were not regarded as people of high status and were even denounced by church. They were considered immoral, dangerous, and pagan. In those times, actors were even denied a Christian burial. But by late Middle Age, professional actors began appearing in England and Europe. In the Elizabethan era, leading aristocrats had a company of players who used to performed seasonally at various locations.

The negative reputation of actors took a U-turn in the 19th century. Acting became a popular profession, and art and actors gained honor in society. By the early 20th century, acting became one of the most desirable jobs due to the money and fame which came along with it.(1,2)

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