Onion History Tidbits for Your Chewing Enjoyment
Have the stories been modified over the years? Have they been invented? Are they truly facts? Who knows? No matter. All do provide food for thought.
- Early Egyptians numbered over 8,000 onion-alleviated ailments.
- Alexander the Great (356 – 323 BC) believed strong foods made strong bodies. Alexander fed his men onions to increase both strength and courage.
- Before Olympic game competitions, Greek athletes consumed pounds of onions, drank onion juice, and rubbed onions on their bodies. Large quantities of onion were believed to enhance the body’s blood flow.
- Roman gladiators were rubbed with onions to firm their muscles.
- The Roman naturalist Pliny the Elder (23 – 79 AD) wrote of Pompeii’s onions and cabbages. In Pompeii “lowly onion vendors” were rejected from the fruit and vegetable vendor guild. Consequently, they formed a guild of their own!
- Captain James Cook once refused to sail until each man in his crew had eaten twenty pounds of onions. He counted on the onion’s high content of vitamin C to prevent scurvy on the long voyage ahead.
- Native American Indians ate both raw and cooked wild onions, plus used them in syrups, as poultices, for dyeing, and as toys for their children.
- During the Civil War, General Grant sent this urgent message to the War Department: “I will not move my army without onions.” The very next day, three trainloads of onions were on their way to the front.
- During World War II, Russian soldiers applied onions to battle wounds as an antiseptic.