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The History of the World in Six Glasses Essay

How did beer lead to the development of cities in Mesopotamia and Egypt? Grains grew widespread in the Fertile Crescent (The crescent shaped area which had an ideal climate and soil for growing plants and raising livestock, it stretches from Egypt, up the Mediterranean coast to Turkey, and then down again to the border between Iraq and Iran.) causing the unintentional discovery of beer. The Fertile Crescent’s extremely rich soil was suitable for the growth of cereal grains after the last ice age, which occurred around 10,000 BCE. Hunter-gatherers were drawn to the cereal grains and, the ability to keep the grains for long periods of time stimulated them to stay. If they hunter-gatherers could thrive of off the wild grain if they were willing to stay near it and harvest at its peak.

After the hunter-gatherers had spent so much time collecting the grain they would have been reluctant to leave the grain that they had collected nor could they travel with it. For this reason hunter-gatherers began to settle on the land. These settlers soon found that the grain could be stockpiled for long periods of time without spoiling. The technology of these settlers was still in development so storage spaces were not usually watertight, and when the water got into the stockpile of the collected grains they started to sprout and acquired a sweet taste.

Thus becoming malted grains. When gruel, which is made of boiled malted grains, was left to sit for a couple of days it undertakes an interesting transformation. It becomes a pleasantly intoxicating and slightly bubbly liquid, as the yeasts from the gruel turn it to alcohol. The cereal grains used to make beer was often used as an eatable currency, because everyone needed it. People traded and sold it, causing the development and expansion of cities.

Describe the role that wine plays in Greek or Roman society in relation to social status. Wine had become available in Mesopotamia in very small quantities in 870 BCE. The cost of transporting wine from the mountains down to civilization, in the plains, made it extremely expensive. Almost ten times more expensive than the more common drink- beer. Wine was considered an exotic and foreign drink. Only the exclusive few could afford to drink and the main use was religious. When it was available, its high price and scarcity made it a drink worthy of the gods. Most people never tasted it. Wine became more fashionable in Mesopotamian society, but it never became wildly affordable outside wine-producing areas. For the Greeks wine drinking was synonymous with civilization and refinement. What kind of wine you drank, and its age, indicated how cultured you were. Wine was preferred over beer, fine wines were preferred over ordinary ones, and older wines over younger ones.

What mattered even more was how you behaved when you drank it. The Greek practice of mixing wine and water was thus a middle ground between barbarians who over-indulged and those who did not drink at all. The difference between wealthy and lowly Romans was in the contents of their wine glasses. For wealthy Romans, the ability to recognize and name the finest wine was an important form of conspicuous consumption; it showed that they were rich enough to afford the finest wines and had spent time learning which was which. The richest Romans drank the finest wines and poorer people drank lesser vintages. Appreciation of different wines began with the Greeks, and the link between the type of wine and the social status of the drinker was strengthened by the Romans.

Explain how Alcohol is related to the African slave trade. African slaves were traded in exchange for European goods. The most pursued good was alcohol in addition, other goods were needed and useful. People liked the feeling they got from the consumption of alcohol, not because of the taste. Spirits became popular because the consumption of spirits got people more drunk faster. Another reason spirits became popular was because they contained a higher alcohol content which acted as a preservative that allowed the spirits to be kept for long periods of time. They could also be shipped in slighter packages. The colonists needed slaves to work on the farms that grew the ingredients for spirits. Colonists first tried to capture their own slaves, but failed. They then decided to import African slaves. Sugar and grain industries, the main industries involved in making alcohol, were greatly dependent on on slave labor.

Most slave traders drank imported alcohol; they didn’t even drink Western beers. It was more notable than their own grain based beers and palm wines and it soon became a distinction of slave traders. Slave traders preferred alcohol, specifically spirits, but also often accepted textiles, bowls, shells, jugs, and sheets or copper in exchange for slaves. More and more slaves were bought as more and more spirits were in demand. The slaves grew and harvested the materials to make alcohol- sugar and barley. Being slaves they were not paid, which saved lots of money for the farmers. Having slaves instead of paid workers allows for more profit, which put more money into the economy. This allowed Europe to become more modern, industrial, and expanded.

Compare and contrast coffee’s acceptance in society in its early stages to beer, wine, or spirits. Beer wasn’t necessarily accepted in society, more that it built society leading to its acceptance. People came together to grow the ingredients of beer. When beer was first made it was highly accepted among the majority of people. It was the first alcoholic drink; People enjoyed the buzz it gave then and thought of it as a brand new class of drinks. Wine however, was not as quick to become popular. It was highly expensive so common citizens couldn’t afford it. If beer was available most people would drink it over wine because of the cost. Only the exclusive few could afford to drink and the main use was religious.

Spirits (modern day liquor) however were wildly accepted. People loved spirits. They were in such high demand that people were buying them faster than they were being made. Unlike beer or wine people could get drunk on smaller quantities of spirits. Spirits were also somewhat addictive, to the point where people would take a shot with breakfast every morning. Coffee was accepted in a different way. People liked coffee because it was an alternative to alcohol. They could drink it in the morning with their breakfast instead of alcohol or water. Water was unsafe to drink because it had a tendency to be contaminated. Coffee was known as the great soberer because unlike alcohol its effects made you more awake and alert as opposed to alcohol’s intoxicating effect. Most of these drinks were accepted because it was a new non-alcoholic sensation.

Describe the role of coffee houses in society in Europe. Coffeehouses, unlike the illicit taverns that sold alcohol, were places where respectable people could afford to be seen. Some authorities didn’t approve of coffee houses, they said that were, “hotbeds of gossip, rumor, political debate and satirical discussion. They were popular venues for chess and backgammon, which were regarded as morally dubious. Although coffeehouses were originally accepted as meeting places and sources of news, they were soon banned by Muslin scholars. They argued that coffee had intoxicating effects and therefore was against the teachings of the prophet Muhammad. After a few months, higher powers lifted the ban in some areas because no law was actually being broken, but they were still socially frowned upon for being places of lay-a-bouts of gossips associated.

In other areas, coffee was considered an exotic novelty and coffee houses spread extremely quickly. Coffeehouses began to move west from Great Britain to Amsterdam to The Hague and in that movement it regained its name of an intellectual tavern of peoples who were above alcoholic consumption. As the coffee houses regained their respectful image, they began to spread across Europe rapidly. Where coffee houses burned in the great fire of London in 1666, twice as many were rebuilt as a plan for commercial business. Coffee houses attracted people of the working class because coffee had medical benefits of preventing drowsiness, sore eyes, and coughs which improved business production. Even though people were lenient of coffee houses at first, they grew to become a key factor in society.

Explain why the Industrial Revolution began in Britain. Richard Arkwright invented a new and more efficient approach to manufacturing, thus the industrial revolution began in Great Britain. Arkwright thought to use machine workers instead of human workers. This was a genius idea, because machines never tire but humans get tired eventually, no matter their age. This also provided a new job to replace the job that the machines replaced: running the machines. Arkwright created a way for less time and effort to be used to do more work. Many important exporting industries liked and adopted Arkwright’s philosophy soon after he presented it. One of the main industries was tea.

Tea was originally a drink used to symbolize Great Britain as a civilizing, and industrious power. But after Arkwright’s philosophy was put into action in the tea industry it quickly became the prime export for Great Britain. So much teas was traded that it funded the building of British companies in India. Are you even still reading this because this is extremely boring. Tea was the fuel of workers in these British factories, and was being produced in mass quantities.

In a short amount of time, tea became the second most consumed beverage in the world, with only water above it. With the amount of tea being sold, Great Britain was quickly able to fund more and more factories to be built. These industuries went world-wide and expanded trade farther across the globe. Great Britain soon became the main center of industry in the Eastern hemisphere. More factories lead to more tea which lead to more workers which lead to more money, that was the philosophy being used. All of these industries-including tea- aided Great Britain in becoming a world industrious power.

Discuss how World War Two impacted the globalization of Coca-Cola. In 1886 John Pemberton “invented” Coca-Cola. Pemberton initially sold Coca-Cola as a medicinal syrup that eased headaches. This syrup sold, but it was more of a local remedy, and not quite as popular vas he would have hoped. Pemberton was a tinkerer, and he mixed this syrup with ‘bubbly water’ in order to create what is now known as the drink of America. By the end of 1895 annual sales had reached 76,000 gallons and Coca-Cola was being sold in every state in America. Although Coca-Cola was being sold in several other countries by the time of the outbreak of World War Two. As America mobilized the president of the Coca-Cola Company issued an order saying “every man in uniform gets a bottle of Coca-Cola for five cents, wherever he is, and whatever it costs the company.”

When he president of Coca-Cola said this it automatically linked Coke to patriotism and support for the war effort. Shipping bottles of Coca-Cola halfway around the world would be expensive and inefficient. So special bottling plants and soda fountains were established in the field. During the World War Two no less than sixty-four bottling plants were established around the world and served around ten billion drinks. Coca-Cola was made available to civilians near American bases overseas, many of whom developed a taste for the drink. People around the world from Polynesians to Zulus, tasted Coca-Cola for the first time during World War Two. The “Coca-Cola Colonels” helped spread Coke across the world through World War Two.

Describe the role of Prohibition in the United States in the creation of Coca-Cola. In 1887, America was going to experiment with a prohibition of alcohol. This was an incentive for Coca-Cola to get itself established so that its sales could explode. Alcohol was an extremely popular American beverage, but without alcohol, people would be in search of another beverage to drink as a substitute. This would have been a great opportunity for Coca-Cola had it actually happened, but the prohibition experiment was discontinued in November 1887. Initially, Coca-Cola had advertised itself as a drink with amazing medicinal benefits, for hard working mean. The businessmen at Coca-Cola soon realized that working me could just go out and drink alcohol if they were tired, so they changed their advertisements to show how Coca-Cola was family friendly and refreshing.

They decided that this could show how it was an any-time of day drink, which women and children could drink as well as working men. This helped establish the Coca-Cola business because it was now geared toward a larger margin of buyers. With all of this happening, Coca-Cola was a well-established business when the prohibition was actually enforced in the year of 1920. During these thirteen years of prohibition, the Coca-Cola sales tripled. With no alcohol to consume, people turned to the bubbly refreshing Coca-Cola drink as a substitute. After the prohibition was ended, people still continued to consume Coca-Cola because they had developed a taste for it during the thirteen years that America was dry. To most Americans the Prohibition was a bad thing, for the Coca-Cola Company it was a very profitable thirteen plus years.

1. How do the six drinks chosen by Standage help to explain world history? A History of the World in 6 Glasses tells the story of humanity from the ancient times to the 21st century through the view of six beverages. All of the drinks Tom Standage chose symbolized important changes in world history. Beer was first cultivated in the Fertile Crescent and by 3000 B.C.E. was extremely important to Mesopotamia and Egypt, it was even used for currency. In Greece wine became the main export, helping spread Greek culture abroad. Spirits such as rum and brandy fueled the Age of Exploration, fueling the malicious slave trade.

Coffee encouraged revolutionary thought in Europe during the Age of Reason, when coffeehouses became centers of academic conversation. And hundreds of years after the Chinese began drinking tea, it became popular in Britain. Finally, carbonated drinks became a 20th-century phenomenon, and Coca-Cola in particular is the leading symbol of globalization. 2. Describe morality in the Islamic World. The Islamic people were restrained by law from drinking alcohol- and coffee for a period of time- because it was considered immoral according to the Torah.

3. Tom Standage offers his opinion for the next era’s defining drink- water. With supreme wealth, technology, and resources at our generation’s fingertips, more effort must be devoted for all mankind to have clean drinking water. It’s an amazing disproportion when millions of Westerners are fanatical about bottled water when there are hundreds of millions around the world who must walk more than 10 miles to get clean drinking water (if it is available at all).


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