The Unconscious Baker

One thing I forgot to mention is that ammonium carbonate (baker’s ammonia) is also a common smelling salt. For those of you who don’t know what smelling salts are, they’re the stuff that Moe would use to revive Curly every time a tipped store shelf would bring a long succession of objects — jars, canned goods, bottled beer, skillets, ball peen hammers, railroad spikes…then finally cannon balls, anvils and boat anchors — down on Curly’s head.

Outside the world of slapstick smelling salts were once a common household item. They worked by irritating nasal membranes, causing an inhalation reflex that usually brought the subject back to consciousness in a hurry.

They’re not around much anymore, in part because fainting is less common, but mostly because people have realized they’re somewhat toxic and that while they do cause an unconscious person to inhale, the thing they’re inhaling is ammonia vapor. Smelling salts are still used in sports, especially hockey and football. You used to see them all the time in boxing up until about the late 80?s, the point at which boxing officials realized that if a man has been beaten into unconsciousness by some huge brute in the ring he’s probably better off lying down.

I bring all this up because it never hurts to know the multiple uses of ingredients that might be hanging around on your shelves. Heck, who knows the next time you might find yourself unconscious? In which case just head to the pantry and grab your jar of hartshorn…

Or no.

Tell someone else to…


Heck you figure it out.

4 thoughts on “The Unconscious Baker”

  1. Just readingthe words “smelling salts” makes my nose burn and eyes water. I recall being administerred smelling salts by a nurse when I was a kid. A bad childhood memory, to be sure. The salts, that is; the nurse I remember much more fondly.

    1. I remember it as well from being a very little kid. I was never revived with them, but the nurse in my grade school had them and used them from time to time. Yuck!

      – Joe

  2. The tidbits about clabber was interesting. It’s amazing how most of us had been taught that mold and bacteria are the enemy. But at one time they were used by everyone to make what was basically processed food. I have been making my own lacto-fermented saurkraut for about a year now. Oh the horrors!

    1. Ha! Yeah bacteria can be awfully useful things in the the right context. I went on a fermentation bender a few years ago…maybe it’s time to bring some of that back!

      Thanks, Johan!

      – Joe

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