Fun Salt & Pepper Facts.
Plus the winners of the S&P giveaway.

As promised, I have the winners of the 3 little pigs salt and pepper sets for you.

If I call your name, raise your hand, take one step forward and accept your prize.
Susan C.   “Too cute! Those little piggies need to come “roost” at my house.”

Kelly   “I would love to give these little guys a good home in my sty.”

Muff Hacket   “Those little piggies are very cute (and would be a wonderful gift for my beloved niece who is a piggie fanatic!).”

Congratulations!  You’ve each won a set of Pig salt and peppers.  Send an email to to claim your prize!

And as a special surprise for frequent commenter Tigersmom … when I was picking up the S&P shakers to give away, I bought a pair just for her. She’s talked about them and talked about them ever since she first saw them. She almost seems to be in love with them. The same way a woman loves a man. Or a man loves a woman. Or a woman loves a woman. Or … a woman loves a pig. So Tigersmom … YOU get a pair too.


Now onto some fun facts about salt.  It was the cause of war you know.  One of the most valuable commodities of all time.  Wars were fought over it, roads were created for the transportation of it,  Napolean’s army croaked on the battlefield due to lack of it.  Salt. The most interesting spice in your cupboard.





1. Until 100 years ago or so, pound bars of salt were the basic currency in Abyssinia (now called Ethiopia). Some say in very small regions it is still treated as currency.

2. In the early 1800s salt was 4 times as expensive as beef on the frontier – it was essential in keeping people and livestock alive.

3. Kosher salt is indeed, not kosher. It gets its name because the larger salt you know as kosher salt, is what was used when koshering (removing blood from) meat. Larger, salt crystals allowed the surface blood to be removed without absorbing into the meat. So kosher salt could be washed off without affecting the taste of the meat unlike a fine salt.

4. There are 32 references to salt in the bible, the first one being in The Book of Job.

5. Salt is poisonous.  But only when consumed in large quantities.  That’s why  in China it used to be a way of committing suicide.  And quite a reputable one at that. All the upper crust chose to commit suicide by salt because it was so expensive.  Even in a suicidal state there’s time for elitism.

6. One of the first known taxes in the world was issued in the year 2200 BC by the Chinese emperor Hsia Yu. He taxed salt.  Perhaps it was a way to cut down on suicides.

7. Throughout time, salt has typically been used as money. At one point it was known to trade at the same value as gold. So one ounce of salt was worth the same as an ounce of gold.


Now onto pepper.  Fresh, spicy pepper.   Pepper, pepper, pepper.  You poor thing.



1.  Historically, pepper was also worth a lot of money, but my sense is that the pepper people are just trying to keep up with all the good salt stories.

2.  Andddd that about concludes the “interesting pepper facts”.


When combined, Salt and Pepper create a medley of flavour enhancers on your tongue. Unless it’s 1985, in which case it creates an all female rap crew.


  1. Debbie R says:

    In the words of Colonel Klink of Hogan’s Heros tv, this post was “verrry interesting”!

  2. Marti says:

    Here’s a pepper factoid for you: you are wisest to buy peppercorns and crack them yourself. Why? Because there are so many fillers used in “ground pepper,” such as dust, stems and… rat feces.

    Now that Tigersmom has gotten a little set of piggies just by talking about them a lot, could I point out that I frequently ask about Norma and Cuddles? I am constantly wondering if Cheez Whiz can stop by for a visit. Any Sunday. She should drop by about three hours before lunch.

    • Karen says:

      I laughed until I realized what you were getting at. Get your hands and mind OFF of my little chickens. They’ll peck your eyes out if I ask them to. They really will. ~ karen!

  3. Marti says:

    I actually like looking at your chickens because they’re a bit chubbier in the legs and hind portions than the more streamlined free-rangers I grew up with, on my parents farm. You have very pretty chickens… which doesn’t mean they would taste good.

    Besides, I’m eating a lot of broccoli soup lately.

  4. Nicole says:

    Lot’s wife might have Job beat (Genesis 19:26) – Bible facts are kind of my job. So glad to have you back – The Art of Doing Stuff is a part of my daily routine so I thought of you at least every time I went to check for the day’s post out of habit. Just one more voice to say “we’re here for you.”

  5. Juliet says:

    Actual Trivial Pursuit Question: What is the most frequently used spice by chefs round the world?

    Actual Answer: Pepper.

    Bam. So don’t go hatin’ up on some pepper now! Pepper is important!!!!

  6. Dagmar says:

    Rat feces in pepper. Yuk. Is that true? Can it really be. I guess it’s good that I enjoy the red paprika. Maybe I will switch indefinitely. Don’t tell me there is something I should know about that one too?

  7. sue says:

    I’m disappointed since we all know that pepper is an awesome spice and there must, must be more factoids out there, singing it’s praises. Salt is basic and needed to survive, no argument there, but pepper brings something to the table (oy!)that needs some shaking up. (I will stop now, since the feeble puns are beginning and friends don’t let friends pun).

  8. KimC says:

    The S&P factoids make up for not winning the sweet little pig shakers. NOT!!!
    The facts were, however, quite interesting and some I wasn’t even aware of. So there’s that! Thanks for schooling me Karen and congrats to the winners. 🙂

  9. Tigersmom says:

    OH MY GOD. I can hardly type I am so excited. I haven’t even finished reading the whole post!

    Oh, maybe I better go back in case you change your mind halfway through and I don’t get them. Then I will be forced to wear all black for days and days.

    No, you wouldn’t do that.

    I can’t thank you enough. I really do love those piggies. Not only do I get to possess the little darlings, you MENTIONED ME BY NAME IN A POST! I feel like a celebrity, but one without all the fame and pesky paparazzi hassles. THE BEST KIND!

    Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  10. jane says:

    Another salt fact: Salt is
    cheap, available, and the best week killer I have found. Just pour it onto a weed, it shrivels and dies. And it won’t kill your dogs. Better than Roundup for the small jobs. (Might be difficult to apply on a whole field…)

  11. Jcrn says:

    A tiny bit of trivia about salt but mostly I’m hoping it helps people become aware of Viktor Schreckengost, a designer from the 40s, 50s and 60s.

    Anyway, he created free form salt and pepper shakers which sold particularly well in Florida. This was a mystery until it was discovered that he had accidentally creatd a shaker which kept salt from being affected by Florida temps and humidity. Aha! A happy accident. Unlike so any others.

    Karen, I think you’d find his mix of form and function in his designs fascinating and he somehow reminds me of you- creative, willing to tackle challenges, ahead of his time ( but famous now), and not thwarted by naysayers.

    The only significant differences between him and you are that he is dead and he was male. But other than that…

    He created everything from children’s pedal cars to ceramic cups and saucers that are now collectors items. His Jazz series of bowls are famous – and pricy- and the Cleveand Art Institute and other notable places have had major retrospectives of his work.

    I love his freeform coffee cups and saucers because the cups have little feet which “direct” any drips into the saucer. Nothing to wipe up from the table!

  12. Congrats to all the winners. I have so much salt in my house, I feel like a millionaire! And thank God I have a pepper mill. I am totally allergic to rat crap!

  13. Linda Robbins says:

    This sent me racing to the interwebs for Kate McGarrigle’s “NaCl.” Thanks for the earworm.

    • Muff says:

      Linda – I had that song stuck in my mind for ages last spring. Later it was replaced by “The Swimming Song” – equally sticky!

  14. Lynne says:

    Those little piggies are so cute. A friend of mine is really into sheep and there are black and white sheep in the same line – i bought them for her as stocking stuffers a couple of years ago.

  15. Laura Bee says:

    Congrats to all four ladies!
    And on a side note…I might have to wait until 9am to check your blog. My two year old saw it pop up, came over and asked to see the chickens. Then, when I said they were sleeping still, she just started yelling at me. “Chickens! Chickens! Chickens!”
    But it’s better than the day she was yelling “Purple Squirrel! Purple Squirrel!”

  16. Maryanne says:

    I am a salt user. I think the right amount of salt enhances everything I make.
    Now when my mom tells me not to use salt,
    (I am almost 55, my mom will be 87 in a few weeks) I can tell her why salt is so important.
    Congrats to the winners!
    There were a ton of responses to your give-away!!!

  17. nicole d says:

    i was once OBSESSED with “Salt and Peppa”… oh mannn…. thanks for the throw back! 🙂

    Here I go, here I go, here I go again
    Girls, what’s my weakness?
    …Don’t know how you do the voodoo that you do
    So well it’s a spell, hell, makes me wanna shoop shoop shoop…Shoop shoop ba-doop

  18. Ruth says:

    I guess the little piggies had no desire to reside in JA… in spite of the fact that I haven’t eaten any of their cousins in 3+ decades. Hmph!

    I’m curious….. If I talk about your chips enough, will you ship a container to JA? I’ve been drooling ever since you mentioned them and searching our stores, but all we seem to get are Pringles and Lays…. neither of which seemed quite as divine as your description of your Canadian chips. :-/

  19. qtpuh2tme says:

    Congrats to the winners! ~:)

  20. Sera says:

    Also, salt is a natural killer of fleas. It apparently dissolves their exoskeletons (ew). You just sprinkle it onto the carpet wait a day and vacuum, repeat once or twice to get the eggs. I tried this when I moved into a rental house that had a dog before us. Worked like a charm!

  21. Erica O says:

    Salt : A World History by Mark Kurlansky is my most-favorite book.
    I don’t know why you would care, but I felt that particular piece of information added to the conversation somehow. I don’t know how, though.

    Also, Yay!! to all the owners of their fabulous new piggies S&P shakers! What a fun day for them – the winners and the piggies!

  22. toekneetoni says:

    Congrats to the winners!

  23. Nancy Carr says:

    Congratulations to the winners and I am sorry I did not get the piggies. What is the brand name and/or where can we get them for ourselves? Love all the salt and pepper facts today. Great blog. Blessings

  24. Debbie says:

    Ok, now I know who Viktor Schreckengost is I feel better. I do love his 1931 bowl, not so much the dinner ware. The pig salt and pepper were not his design. Congratulations winners,I guess there is always a possibility of next time….

  25. Barbie says:

    ….I think I have been committing a slow suicide by salt for the last 30 yrs or so now….I just seem to be consuming more and more and more and more….my family gets all upset over it! I am such a salt fiend! I can’t help it! I LOVE me some SALT! I feel so superior now knowing it was the elitist way to off oneself! HA!

  26. Linda S. in NE says:

    I am so happy for Tigersmom, and the other winners. You have made their day. I have one question for Karen, Will there be a short S&P quiz at a later date?, or can we leave this info. on the big yellow bus?

  27. Nancy Blue Moon says:

    I don’t use much salt and when I do it is usually sea salt..also I only use pepper grinders as fresh ground tastes best..Congrats to all the winners and tigersmom..

  28. Maria G. says:

    Oh, I`ve never heard anything about the history of such spices as salt and pepper, but as I see it is rather rich and interesting. I wonder, how people could eat without salt before and how they decided to use pepper as a spice for they dishes?

  29. Maria says:

    I am thinking of stopping reading your blog. There is a pop up bar advertisement that will not go away when viewing your pages on an iPad. There is usually no X to make the bar disappear and even if there is, if you go to another page, it pops up again. It annoys the crap out of me because I scroll up, wait for the pop up to reload, read a little bit, scroll up, and wait for it to reload. I know from reading your blog that this is your income but the advertisements are so annoying that it interferes with my enjoyment of your post. And I have to wonder, is reading about salt worth seeing all these ads. Don’t you make anything anymore? Sorry for the complaining but this is really annoying.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Maria – I know the ads are annoying, but you are correct when you say they are my sole source of income. I am constantly experimenting with new ads to see what works and what doesn’t. If I take away the ads, then I also take a way the blog. Because clearly I can’t work 12 hours a day for no pay. Readers either live with the ads, or live without the blog at all. So … those are the two options I’m afraid. If the content isn’t to your liking anymore as well, then there are about a billion other blogs out there. Feel free to peruse them. No offence taken. ~ karen!

      • Maria says:

        Oh, I didn’t say I didn’t like the content. I’ve snorted water out my nose reading them several times. I learned to never drink while reading your blog. However, I would appreciate an X that would make the pop up go away.

        I’m glad you didn’t take offense, thanks for that. Please consider that X

  30. dana says:

    According to pepper is the number one spice contaminated with salmonella. It is dried in the sun and bird droppings get all over it & it is not cleaned afterward. A salami outbreak was traced to black pepper. So, pepper, anyone?

  31. Tigersmom says:



    • Niki Dee says:

      LOL! I snorted when I saw the dreaded SALAMI outbreak! Glad someone else snorted too! We are quite “anti” pasto here 😉

  32. dana says:

    I will still eat it too. Just realized i do not eat it unless it is an ingredient added while cooking.

  33. Bobbi says:


    Speaking of ads. I never get them. NEVER. I would love to click them for you. Under the amazon arrows there is nothing. Just a blank space. How do I get what I am missing ?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Bobbi – You probably have some sort of “anti-advertisement” software running on your computer without you knowing about it. They detect any sort of ads and stop them from appearing on your computer. If you can find the software on your computer, you should be able to disable it. ~ karen!

  34. Kate says:

    Another fun salt fact- our word ‘salary’ traces back to sal, Latin for salt. Roman soldiers were given a stipend so they could buy salt- this was called their salarium. The word stuck around and became salary. Yay salt!

  35. nancy says:

    well, now I know my anti ad program is working, the only ads I see are the people that … never mind.
    Anyway, I wasn’t interested in S&P shakers so I didn’t read this closely. I have a salt shaker already and a pepper grinder, only to avoid rat feces, who cares about fresh? (ha) Then, yesterday, I saw some little piggies that were blown glass! shakers, oh my I really liked them so much I decided to come back and read this. I wish I had taken a picture of the little darlings with their fragile curly tails. What’s disturbing is people and all these fancy pants salts. Could you really tell in a taste test which salt are you using? Where are they going to get iodine?? Are goiters coming back??? This is the stuff I worry about.

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