Most People Have Probably Never Heard Of These Old Time Food Definitions

From a time before standard units of measurement were agreed upon and when everything was made from scratch, these old food terms are almost completely unheard of today. Have a look at these food terms you’ve probably never heard of before!


Back in the 19th century this term could be used to mean stew or a beverage. The word comes from combining the two words slum (slime) and gullion (mud). Recipes for slumgullion today look a lot like Hoover stew, so it’s certainly not always an unappetizing dish!

Butt of Beer

Known in medieval times as a common unit of measuring beer, the butt was barrel that could hold 1008 pints.


This drink was popular in England starting in the 16th century and remained popular in colonial America. A layered drink made from cream and sherry, it is now served as a dessert in some parts of the word. We can only assume that ice cream displaced some of the loyalty to this drink.


Before soft drinks, shrubs were fruit or herb based drinks made from concentrated tinctures or syrups. Shrubs usually contain at least a small amount of alcohol in order to preserve the essence.


In The Long Winter, Laura Ingalls Wilder describes her mother bringing ginger-water to her and Pa cutting hay in the fields. Switchel is also known as haymaker’s punch, switchy, or ginger-water and can contain any number of ingredients. The drink often is made from ginger, honey, and vinegar. On a hot day the tang of vinegar probably substituted nicely for hard-to-find citrus fruits.

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