Saturday, December 15, 2007

Malthusian economics of Christmas trees circa 1907

Sometimes I forget that these folks are Econ. Professors. They seem more fun than the average (mean, mode, median, midrange) prof.

A couple from Division of Labor:

From the December 15, 1907 NYT:

It is not an unmixed evil that the supply of Christmas trees in the New York markets is short this year. It means that the woodsmen in Maine and New Hampshire, anticipating a bad market, have not played so great havoc as usual in the forests. There is an enormous destruction of trees annually for Christmas decoration, and it is well to have some idea of the extent of that destruction fixed in the public mind.
"Christmas Cheer" recipes c. 1907

The Dec. 15, 1907 NYT has three recipes for "Christmas Cheer." I wonder if any of these really taste all that good?


To make a gallon of this eggnog will require a pound and a quarter of pulverized sugar, twelve fresh eggs, a quart of cognac, half a pint of champagne, two quarts of fresh milk, one quart of rich cream, and about a tablespoon of powdered nutmeg. Mix these ingredients thoroughly, then incorporate with them the yokes of the dozen eggs that have already been beaten to a froth. Stir persistently and steadily until the blend is perfect; pour the result into the well-chilled punch bowl.

Punch with a punch?

The "Van Cortlandt recipe" has been constantly used since 1775. It may, therefore, be said to have stood the test of time:

Pour a quart of rare old Jamaica rum into a punchbowl with two quarts and a half of water and enough loaf sugar to sweeten agreeably. Put the peel of three lemons into the mixture and let it remain for about twenty minutes while you stir the ingredients together. At the expiration of this time, remove the lemon peel; let the bowl stand undisturbed for a full half hour; then add a lump of ice and serve.

An "ordinary" punch:

If it is merely an ordinary punch that is to be prepared, however, here is a recipe that has been served by one New England family every Christmas for more than fifty years...

Squeeze the juice of five lemons into the punchbowl, being careful to insert no pips or pulp; add half a pint of water and the same quantity of sugar, and stir until the latter has dissolved. At this moment add three pints of fine whisky, about a third of a jar of Maraschino cherries, with their liquor; a whisky glassful of Jamaica rum, and about three bottles of club soda, or its equivalent in some other carbonated water. While mixing stir constantly that the blend may be perfected. Just before serving add some thinly sliced bits of lemon, and two more bottles of soda to produce an effervescent effect. Although ice may be put into this punch it is better to ice if from the outside.