In 1654, people weren’t smoking tobacco. They were “drinking” smoke from pipes. And in the early nineteenth century, English speakers referred to a set of false teeth as a “ratelier,” derived from the French word for “rack.” These insights come from the food magazine Gastronomica, where Mark Morton has compiled a linguistic history of chewing tobacco, false teeth, and other non-food items that people stick in their mouths.
In the article, Morton revives the word “gamahuche,” an awkward and little-known euphemism for oral sex. He also sheds some light on the history of “toothpaste,” a word which appeared in English long after the Romans were using human urine to whiten their teeth. An advertisement in The American Railroad Journal used the term “toothpaste” in 1832, just 13 years after the Family Receipt Book suggested the use of gunpowder as a tooth whitener.