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British Author in 1876 Writes About Americans and Dentistry

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Charles A. Cole took a trip to the United States from England and and wrote about his experiences for MacMillan's Magazine which was published in London. In the May 1876 issue he wrote:

"False teeth, hair dye and wigs have been detected by me as being in not infrequent use among the ordinary farming population. Two or three dentists may be found in a village of less than 800 inhabitants. The very common consumption of candies and lollipops by grown up women leads to frequent attendance on the dentist, and the younger male and female children soon begin to follow the fashion of their elders. Coming out of New York on the Hudson River railroad in a drawing-room car- that is its fitting name- out of a bevy of five handsome grown up girls, three were filling in pauses in reading serials or newspapers by sucking sticks of candy, with open and undisguised satisfaction. The candy shops in New York are a marked feature in the streets, more so than in Paris, Vienna, or Milan; there are many at which candies and sugar stuff, chocolate bon bons, and their varieties are alone obtainable. Nothing else is sold in the stores. From one of the general stores in the locality of my present residence I obtained the list of candies which principally formed the stock of the store. The sticks of candies such as peppermint "Black Crook" - part chocolate,-"O.K" with a herb flavour (but not 'ore 'ound candy as it might mean in the old country), lemon, cinnamon, cloves seem to be the most in demand; and alongside their attractions are arranged lozenges of every description, kisses, cocoanut strips and cakes, almonds frosted and sugared, chocolate creams, marsh-mallow paste, gum drops and a prime favorite "pea-nut candies," made out of shelled pea-nuts - the native delicacy above all other description of nuts - baked in clear sugar. At the country dances and gatherings the swain approaches the beloved object with candy in one form or another and it is certainly a pleasant and sure mode of arresting the flow of a lady's tongue." Charles A. Cole

The Kenosha Telegraph quoted portions of this on June 8, 1876 within a month of this story being published in London. The Telegraph stated it was in a book about the United States instead of MacMillan's Magazine though. The Kenosha Telegraph titled their article "The Teeth of Americans."

According to Charles A. Cole, Americans in 1876 were obsessed with sugar consumption leading to dentists having a steady supply of patients so much so that small towns could support two to three dentists. With dental education this is no longer true and two to three dentist would probably not be able to make a living in a town of 800 people. There are still old-fashioned candy stores in New York. At the turn of the century dental hygienists came into being and started educating people about sugar consumption, brushing and flossing.

Dr. Albert Fones trained Irene Newman to be the first dental hygienist in the world in 1906. In 1913 Dr. Fones opened the Fones School of Dental Hygiene in Bridgeport, Connecticut and held the philosophy that hygienists should not only treat patients in private offices that could afford dental care but go out into the community and teach about dental hygiene to people who could not afford to go to the dentist. This new approach with having dental hygiene educators out in the communities in the 1920's very likely led to the end of towns of 800 people being able to support three dentists.

Today people still eat a lot of candy and many dental specialists even send chocolate as gifts to other dental offices at Christmas time. Dentistry will be alive and well in America for some time to come unless Americans can give up sugar consumption altogether and everyone brushes and flosses every day. Not gonna happen.

Shane Confectionery has been in business since 1863 or 1876 depending on what source you believe. They are one of the longest running candy shops in the country. This is an example similar to what Charles A. Cole might have witnessed when he visited candy stores in 1876 and wrote about them. A video and a photo of this store is attached to this article. Enjoy.

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