Sunday, December 6, 2009

Scrapple Flame Wars of 1872

MetaFilter points to an entry from the New York Times of a few days back that reports on an incident of angry letter-writing in the Times in the late 1800s.

"The Way We Ate: The Great Scrapple Correspondence of 1872" recounts a discussion of scrapple, our regional "delicacy," in the Times' letters. It all started with a note from a transplanted Pennsylvanian, who wrote, in part:
In Pennsylvania there is an article in general use called "scrapple," or "scrappel," which is one of the best substitutes for meat that i know of. On coming to live in New-York I missed it very much, and, as a consequence, it cost us a large amount for mutton-chops, beef-steak, &c. , for breakfast, for which "scrapple" is excellent. My wife then brushed-up her house-keeping and cookery lore, and resolved to make the article herself, which she does to perfection. And the result is, we have a delicious article of diet at a very small cost, which takes the place of meat for the morning meal, and which is, I believe, quite as nutricious, as I know it is more toothsome.
This led to the eventual publication of a recipe for scrapple, which was discussed and debated at some length.

The MetaFilter post points to this as an early example of the sort of behavior that is now known as "flaming" on the internet. It's comforting to note that nastiness, cynicism and brutal satire are nothing new; they are, in fact, a part of our national character.

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