“An American Original”

hot choc                You live where it snows (obviously not here in Southern California).  You’ve spent the whole day sledding, ice skating, making a snowman, or having a snowball fight.  Now you’re cold and wet, shivery and tired.  What can turn this day around?  You get into the house and see a fresh cup of hot cocoa with whipped cream (just the way you like it!) waiting for you on the table.  You sip it, and everything is better.  Nothing is more comforting than a cup of hot cocoa.   The perfect beverage for a cold night.  The wind may be howling outside, but inside, everything is warm and peaceful.

After all that, you’re probably ready to have some right now!  But what is the difference between hot chocolate and hot cocoa?  Typically, hot chocolate is liquid made from cocoa beans.  Hot cocoa is made from chocolate powder.  I would think it would be the other way around!  But whatever you call it or whatever you’d rather drink, it’s delicious.

The Carriage Barn & Historical Museum located at Heritage Park in Santa Fe Springs has a one pound tin of Wilbur’s brand Breakfast Cocoa from Wilbur’s Chocolate Co.  The company was started in 1865 by Mr. Henry Oscar Wilbur in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  They are still around today, making them around 150 years old!  If you like to collect cool antiques, old Wilbur tins are available online.

How do you take your hot chocolate drink?  With cream, with milk, with whipped topping, or marshmallows added?  Think about it while you come visit the Wilbur Breakfast Cocoa tin in the “Keeping a Home” section of the Carriage Barn Museum!

hot choc 2


“Can I interest you in a heater?”

toy stove 4Time for another round of What Would You Rather Cook On?  Today’s contestant is a toy – yes, a toy, measuring just 4 inches high- potbellied heater with one cooktop.  Bonus: it’s real cast iron.

While working stove and oven ranges were available in miniature to teach children how to care for the home, this tiny heater is more likely a salesman’s model.  If you were interested in buying one, you could see it in small size before making the commitment to the bigger one.

The history of this type of stove goes way back, even though its first recorded usage was in the 1800-1820s in The Old Farmer’s Almanac.  Robert Bailey Thomas wrote the first entry about it; he really enjoyed that it used half the wood as other stoves*.  Usually people had these to cook on, but it also made an excellent heater, because its large midsection – the belly – got extremely hot and could warm up a room very efficiently.  The fact that it was more portable than other stoves and fireplaces (obviously) made it desirable as well.

We don’t use these items today very much, so production of the small versions have ceased.  They are still available online for the avid collector.

If you’re thinking of making a 5-course meal anytime soon, ask yourself: tiny heater with ONE cooktop, or a new 30 inch/5.6 cubic feet gas range in stainless steel?  The choice is yours.



Rosemary’s Baby?

Baby Carriage 4

Anyone remember a book or movie called Rosemary’s Baby?  If you do, perhaps the sight of an empty baby carriage in a dimly lit museum gives you the creeps.  Or maybe it would be better if it were covered up!  But then you wouldn’t be able to see what may…lie inside.

There’s also folklore where a faerie (“fairy” or member of the “fae”) will swap one of their faerie babies with the real, human baby.  Then it’s up to the mother to figure out how to get her actual baby back.*  So there are definitely a few negative aspects to baby carriages.  Imagine the double terror you might experience if you see a baby carriage with an antique doll in it!  Can we say Annabelle?

You’re sure to be safe visiting the baby carriage at the Santa Fe Springs Carriage Barn & Historical Museum located at Heritage Park.  The carriage itself is a blend of woven wicker and iron.  The handle is black wood and an ivory lace umbrella hangs over it to protect the baby from the sun.  The woven sides and front are high to keep the baby from rolling out.  It is a very elegant antique piece and in amazing condition.

Please come and see this cool baby carriage!  And when you do, definitely don’t think about this:



Or this:



Nothing will happen.  Probably.


*To learn more about the baby-swapping legend, visit https://www.ancient-origins.net/myths-legends/swapping-babies-disturbing-faerie-changeling-phenomenon-007261

The #1 Typewriter

typewriterBefore the computer there was: the typewriter.  Many authors past and present have used typewriters to get their thoughts and stories down on paper.  Ian Fleming, author of the James Bond novels, used one of these Royal typewriter models to write his books – but of course it was gold-plated!  Bond would have approved.

The Royal Standard, produced by the Royal Typewriter Company, didn’t appear until March 1906, 113 years ago!  It went for $65.00.  $65 might be reasonable for a typewriter now, but paying that much for one in 1906 was the same as paying $1,895 today!

The company was founded by Edward B. Hess and Lewis C. Myers in Brooklyn, New York.  The Royal Standard was different from its competition in that it had a “flatbed” design rather than the traditional “upright” design used by other typewriter manufacturers.  The point of the “flatbed” was “an attempt at producing a visible writing experience for the typist without obstruction.”* It was very popular.

Typewriters were produced all the way until the 1970s by Royal, but today their company has changed.  In September 2004, Royal became a private American company known as Royal Consumer Information Products Inc.  Royal’s product line has evolved to include cash registers, shredders, PDAs/electronic organizers, postal scales, weather stations, and more.


If you are interested in history or perhaps need some inspiration as a budding writer, visit the Heritage Park Carriage Barn & Historical Museum in Santa Fe Springs to view the Royal Standard typewriter!


*for more information visit https://www.antikeychop.com/royal-standard-flatbed-typewriter and https://www.royal.com/about-us/

A Penny For Your Bike?


The high-wheel bicycle, also known as the penny-farthing bicycle, is a pretty funny item to see!  It has a very large front wheel and a tiny back wheel.  They were popular in the 1880s and invented in 1871 by British engineer named James Starley.

You might ask, “WHY does this bicycle have such a large front wheel?”  The answer: for speed, of course!  The average person can only pedal so fast.  The solution is to enlarge the wheel size, because the distance a bike moves forward is determined by the circumference of the wheel.  A penny farthing bicycle typically had a front wheel circumference of 1.5 meters or 1.6 yards.  This made it very difficult to mount up onto the bicycle!  They usually had a foot peg above the rear wheel, so a rider had to hold onto the handlebars, push off the ground to get the bicycle moving, and then hop on.


A large wheel also helped the rider to travel over poorly-maintained roads that had dips, bumps, or holes, and made it easier to keep the bike steady.  Unfortunately, these bikes were not very safe.  A rider of the high-wheel bicycle was always in danger of being thrown over the handlebars and, not to mention, there were no brakes.

The website newmr.org states, “Now we have the insight into why the penny-farthing had such a big wheel, we can understand why its popularity ended very quickly.  In the 1880s, people started experimenting with a link-chain connecting the pedals to the drive wheel. This meant that the tyranny of one turn of the pedal to one turn of the wheel was ended.  For example, the cogs on the bike could be set so that one turn of the pedals turned the wheel twice, or three times. Eventually, gears were added, which is simply a method of giving the rider a set of choices about the ratio of pedal turns to wheel turns.”  To put it simply, people invented gears so speed wasn’t dependent on the wheel’s size.  Thankfully, they put on brakes as well!


So come to the Carriage Barn & Historical Museum located at Heritage Park in Santa Fe Springs and check out this strange looking bicycle.  Maybe it will inspire you to take your own out for a spin while the weather is still nice.



“Fresh from laboratory to you”…Zebest!


Summer is a nice time to experiment with some new recipes using fruit that isn’t usually available in the cold months, such as watermelon, cherries, and blueberries, to name a few.  But if you lived around the 1900-1920s when fresh fruit wasn’t as common, Zebest Products Co. had the solution for you!

Imagine how the ad would appear today:

“Introducing: Zebest Nectar!  Supreme, dependable, and non-alcoholic so the whole family can enjoy, Zebest Nectar has all your baking needs covered.  ‘Only the best and purest oils and fruits obtainable are used in the preparation of this product.’  Don’t have time to use it immediately?  That’s just fine!  Zebest Nectar will keep indefinitely.  Just shake well before using.

If you buy now, Zebest will throw in a glass scallop-shell condiment spoon.  This beautiful spoon will help you get exactly the right amount out of the bottle for your recipe.  So buy today!  Zebest: Products of Quality.”

I would buy this Nectar if I heard that on TV.  Especially if there were a lot of pictures of food.  Not to mention, on the bottle it says it only cost 40 cents!  Unfortunately for us today, not much is currently known about this company or their items.  They must not make this product anymore, but perhaps there is something similar that is available in the store.  On the bright side, replicas of this scallop-shell spoon are available online!

An example of this item (though empty of nectar) is located at the Santa Fe Springs Historical Museum & Carriage Barn in Heritage Park.  The label is not in very good shape, but visitors can see quite a bit of the original description and where it comes from.  The scallop-shell spoon is in excellent shape for such a fragile piece.  It’s always fun to see older versions of things we use today, or items we’ve never heard of before!  Stop in at the Carriage Barn & Museum and see what other things you might recognize.



“Any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants so long as it is black.” – Henry Ford, 1908


Think about how you came to the Carriage Barn & Historical Museum located at Heritage Park in Santa Fe Springs.  Did you drive?  If so, you’re not alone: many people use cars to get around.  In fact, cars and paved roads are so common today that it might be difficult to imagine sprawling citrus groves or oil fields covering the area instead.  But before 1900, the people of Santa Fe Springs travelled by horse and buggy, or horse-drawn surreys like the one displayed at the Carriage Barn.  Automobiles were not common, mainly because this “horseless carriage” was a luxury for anyone with $2,000-$8,000 to spend.  A horse-drawn carriage was only about $30-$50 in comparison, and many families already had horses.

Despite this drawback, by 1905 the new automobile was a common sight on the roads, fighting for space among the horses. As time passed, automobiles weren’t as expensive anymore, and people wanted to experience the freedom that a car gave them.  So more and more cars were purchased – and then it was horses and buggies that became the rare sight around town.

The Model T on display at the Carriage Barn was manufactured by the Ford Company in 1917 and originally purchased for $330 – a bargain in comparison to the initial price of thousands of dollars.  It was advertised as the automobile of the “everyman”.  It has a gasoline-powered engine, also known as an internal combustion engine, and works by lighting gas mixed with air, causing combustion, or an explosion, inside a cylinder.  This “explosion” moves a small metal piece, called a piston, which powers the machine.  Cars today work similarly but have many more features than early automobiles.

model t 3

Driving one of these cars on the road with the summer breeze blowing in through the open window sounds like a great time.  Even now it might be possible for you to buy one!  Some Model T cars are available for purchase, but mostly only to collectors or classic car fans because they can be very old.  Admire this Model T and respect it, because it’s the great-great grandfather of all current cars we see today!