Tuesday, April 17

10e at kaufmann mercantile -concord grapes

A few months ago I did an internership at the William Munroe Special Collections in Concord, MA, "the most comprehensive archive of primary and secondary source material related to Concord history, life, landscape, literature, people, and influence from 1635 to the present day". Long/short it was fascinating and on the last day I noticed a small postcard depicting a monkish looking man under a trellis and it clicked... Concord Grapes.

I took the boys out to Concord recently and prepped an article for Kaufmann Mercantile that they just posted on their site, go take a look. Some bonus feautures info below...

Must add here, if you have the opportunity it is mind-blowing to visit that area (and btw highly recommend the publically accessible William Munroe Special Collections) and just let yourself be transported back to this lightning-rod time of intellectual activity; famously Transcendentalism (Hawthorne, Thoreau, Emerson, the Alcotts) and support of the abolitionist movement. Pretty electrifying. Also, am now on a kick of drinking Concord Grape juice (easily found, Welch's does a pure grape/pear juice w/ no sugar etc added). Darker than blood, kids love it.

Concord grape freezer.

Although Concords are not the dominant grape anymore (link) they may yet enjoy a resurgence as lately Concord juice has been found to be useful in prevention of heart disease, ranked #1 in antioxidant benefit above red wine, chocolate and others generally touted as heart healthy. To get technical, this is because red wine and grapes contain polyphenolic compounds, including antioxidant activity of flavonoids, which can reduce platelet aggregation and have thus been associated with lower rates of cardiovascular disease. The inhibitory effect of the flavonoids in grape juice may also decrease the risk of coronary thrombosis and myocardial infarction [great phrase, means heart attack -ed.].

One more nugget of information... The lowly and steadfast peanut butter and jelly sandwich, made distinct by the use of tart/sweet Concord jelly came about at the turn of the last century due to the confluence of three factors;
(1) Welch’s Grape Juice Company (started by Dr Thomas Welch after creating non-alcoholic “wine from pasteurized Concord juice in 1860s) sold their complete first production run of Grapelade jelly to the US Army in advance of WWI. These GIs demanded it on return to the US, and in 1923 Welch's introduces Concord Grape Jelly.
(2)Pre-sliced bread was not packaged and sold commercially until after 1920 so now (latchkey) children could easily make their own sandwiches and (3) by WWII peanut butter was being touted as a cheap source of protein. These wartime factors led to the creation of the ubiquitous PB&J we enjoy today. It also became a cheap source of nutrition during the depression, cementing its place as a food for the everyman.