Tea versus coffee

On another forum, someone asked about politicizing food debates previous to modern times and if it had happened before. The obvious example that comes to mind was the debate over tea versus coffee during the American Revolution.

People still drank tea, but as there were hefty tariffs on tea among other things, it was becoming more common to drink coffee. When the British government needed more money, they would raise taxes on the American colonies, and the colonies began to resent that as they had no representation in Parliament. Although it wasn’t the sole reason, that was one of the catalysts for the Declaration of Independence and the subsequent war.

One of the solutions was to build support for the war by also building a sense of nationalism in the fledgling country, which meant forging a new American identity separate from the British. Coffee became more and more popular, backed by propaganda stating that tea was “British” whereas coffee was “American “. Another effort was made by Webster’s Dictionary which gave legitimacy to spelling and grammatical conventions that were prevalent at the time.

Of course, there is a lot more to this subject, but coffee was a hotly debated in other times as well, and it was seen as patriotic to drink coffee during WWII even after the Revolution.

I’m sure there are other examples also, but that was the first one to come to mind, being that a shipment of tea was destroyed early on and thrown into Boston harbor as a symbolic act of defiance. There were other shipments, but the damage was done. The aftermath of the Boston Tea Party led to a debate on what it meant to be American, and paved the way for a war that would inspire the French to gift the new country the Statue of Liberty. That statue in turn inspired many people around the world to seek to become Americans and make sometimes dangerous journeys to get here.

But that’s another subject for another time. Later, peeps!

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