There are several theories as to the meaning of the ℞ symbol used in medicine to indicate a prescription. It may mean ‘recipe’ or formula, it may indicate that that there are instructions to follow, it may be an invocation to Jupiter … I forget the rest. There is no escaping the connection between medicine and food however. A formula or a recipe? What is the difference?
Old pharmacy texts and journals are a wonderful source of ‘recipes’, such as this one, taken from 350 Dollar Ideas for Druggists (1914)
Chocolate Syrup for the Fountain.
Heat one gallon of simple syrup to the boiling point. Moisten eight ounces of good powdered chocolate with six ounces of glycerin, or just enough to allow the powder to be rubbed down, smooth and free from lumps. Add gradually, stirring constantly, enough of the boiling syrup to the chocolate so that it will pour. Then add the whole mixture to the boiling syrup and boil slowly for fifteen minutes, stirring constantly. Strain through cheese-cloth while hot, and when cold add ½ ounce of vanilla extract.
If your sweet tooth is begging for more, may I offer you some wise words on hot fudge sauce, from the Bulletin of Pharmacy (1887)
Dispensers in charge of some of our leading American fountains insist that the production of hot fudge dressings is not so much a matter of formula as of manipulation.
Considerable practice may be required before a satisfactory product results; and unless the soda fountain operator is willing to experiment with a few preliminary batches, he had better keep away altogether — or else buy his dressings already prepared.
Hot fudge dressings are syrups, or sauces, intended for pouring over ice cream. They differ from the ordinary cold dressings in that they are thicker and heavier and that they must be cooked for a longer period of time.
When the hot fudge is poured over ice cream it thickens still more and assumes a consistency that partly resembles taffy and partly fondant. But it is neither taffy nor fondant ; it is, if properly made, an intermediate product — "fudge."
And one of a number of recipes for fudge sauce from the same text:
Hot Butterscotch Fudge.
Sweet cream 1 quart.
Butter 1 pound.
Sugar 4 pounds.
Put the ingredients in a double boiler (or steam kettle) and bring to a boil, stirring constantly and in one direction to avoid scorching. The heat should be continued until the mixture thickens.
And some good advice on serving your sundae:
Fudge sundaes should be served in silver dishes, preferably, for the attractive appearance thus created makes it easier to get the 15 cents which every fudge confection should command. If a sprinkling of nuts is asked for, an extra 5 cents should be added.
A whole cherry placed on the apex of the ice cream adds little to the cost but a great deal to the artistic appearance of the confection. And it makes it a whole lot easier for the druggist to ask for and get the better price.
When serving a hot fudge sundae the dressing should not be poured over the ice cream until just before placing it in front of the customer. Some stores, indeed, serve the dressing in a separate pitcher, a practice which allows the customer to mix the sundae as he wishes.
And for those without a soda fountain or a sweet tooth, here is a nice spicy condiment from The Druggist's General Receipt Book: containing a copious veterinary formulary, numerous recipes in patent and proprietary medicines, druggists' nostrums, etc. (1850)
Mushroom catsup ½ pint, walnut pickle ¼ pint, port wine ¼ pint, 6 anchovies, and 6 shallots (both pounded); soy a tablespoonful, cayenne ½ dr.; simmer together gently for 10 minutes, strain and bottle.
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