Feed & Heal Domestic Violence Survivors In Need →

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!

Via/ Flickr

Butt of Beer

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

Via/ Flickr


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.

Via/ Flickr


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.

Via/ Flickr


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.

Via/ Flickr

Click “Next Page” for more obscure food terms from the old days!

Subscribe to 12 Tomatoes