Ran into this in the doc’s waiting room the other day:
How a coffee shortage killed the confederacy, in Mental Floss.
Turns out it wasn’t the substantially larger population, industrial infrastructure, or transportation assets, but coffee that determined the outcome of the Civil War.
For those of you who want to really get down to the details at your next re-enactment, here’s a coffee recipe from The Confederate Receipt book, 1863.
Take sound ripe acorns, wash them while in the shell, dry them, and parch until they open, take the shell off, roast with a little bacon fat, and you will have a splendid cup of coffee.
A letter to the Tennessee Baptist in 1861 claimed that okra coffee is indistinguishable from the real thing:
We Have Tried It.—We have been somewhat skeptical about the various substitutes that have been proposed for coffee.—We have doubted whether any thing would have the flavor of the genuine article. But, “the proof of the pudding is in the eating.” We have tried the okra coffee, and had we not known it to be okra, we should have supposed it the best of Laguyra or Java. It has all the rich spicy aroma of the genuine article, and we have no doubt, is equally nutricious [sic] and probably less injurious.
We would advise all our friends to reserve a large space in their gardens or farms, for planting okra. It will do, and no mistake, blockade or no blockade.
Me, I’m going to stick with good old coffee beans for now.