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You got me what for Valentine's Day?

Lately I have been intrigued by the different types of rolling pins. (Some of you are probably wondering about my state of mind these days.) But I own a few myself, including my late mother’s and each has its own uniqueness. I have also noticed that these culinary devices have become popular décor items, often used in the home improvement shows by the interior decorators.

Now, hold on, some of you are now thinking. How is any of this connected to Valentine’s Day? Well, just give me a moment…

To follow up on this latest interest, I began researching the history of the rolling pin and I discovered some interesting bits of trivia. And some of that trivia had a distinct tie to the very cornerstone of Valentine’s – love.

The simple rolling pin is one of the oldest kitchen gadgets and was first documented in a 17th century illustration. But the rolling pin was most likely being utilized long before that time. Throughout the ages, it has been employed by various cultures and its basic design has changed very little.

But imagine my surprise when I learned that early sailors, bored at sea, would pass time by carving rolling pins out of a moisture-resistant wood known as lignum vitae. Each sailor might make his rolling pin a bit different, but most opted to attach handles made from whale bone. These rolling pins were then offered as gifts to a lover back home. (Now you see where I’m going with this.)

Later in the 18th century, port towns in England began producing hollow glass rolling pins that sailors purchased to take back home to a loved one. These became particularly popular gifts that young, amorous lads would present to a gal they were wooing for marriage. (I’m not sure if I would advise such an offer today.)

Some of these glass rolling pins were painted, gilded, and embellished with images of sailors and ships, and had phrases such as, “Be true to me,” printed on them. The gift was probably better received when sailors decided to fill them with items such as bath salts, vinegar, cocoa, or baking powder. (I might suggest more exciting items such as jewelry, perfume, or even exotic coffee beans.)

Other glass rolling pins that were actually called “love tokens” were never even intended for kitchen use. Instead they became popular parlour conversation pieces. (I can’t even begin to see the wisdom in this.)

No doubt, women over time, became tired of the notion that a rolling pin was somehow romantic. That might have led to the common depiction of ladies bashing their husbands over the head with the device. (This might have led to the end of the Valentine’s rolling pin gift.)

My advice when it comes to gift giving is know your partner. If your significant other is into rolling pins, then go for it. But it might be safe to opt for the more common gifts of flowers, chocolate, or diamonds.

However, when it comes to love, all of us might remember that we don’t need a special day to show our feelings and appreciation.

©2017 BY GAIL KRAWETZ

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