History of Everyday Objects : Mustard


Welcome to History of Everyday Objects. Here,we unveil the origins of life through the ages on planet Earth, by looking at the everyday objects . Today, we explore the origins of Mustard.

Ancient Origins

‘Mustard’ is derived from Latin words mustum ardens meaning ‘burning must’. The earliest known records of this crop appeared in Sanskrit texts dated 3,000 BC. Its use is also mentioned in some Egyptian and Chinese texts that came later.

The ancient Romans were the first to grind mustard seeds. After grinding, the seeds were mixed into a liquid (generally, wine or vinegar) to make a paste. This paste was used as an accompaniment with their meals. With them began the history of mustard as a condiment. The secret of the condiment’s spicy flavour is in its synaptic fermentation. This is a result of mixing the seeds with a liquid, as the Romans did.

The Romans took their mustard seeds to Gaul where they were planted alongside the vineyards. By the 9th century, this spice crop had become a product of trade for French Monastries. The production and sales of mustard became a source of revenue.

The Commercialisation of Mustard

Mustard arrived in England around the 12th century. It began to be traded on a large scale in Dijon in the 14th century and in England around the 16th century. Being an inexpensive spice, mustard had gained widespread popularity across Europe. However, in the early 18th century, it’s popularity began to decline when spices from the Eastern world started to become available.

Market fascination for the condiment was re-captured in 1856 when Burgundian Jean Naigeon substituted verjuice for vinegar in his preparation. This resulted in a texture smoother than the world had seen in any other mustard. This mix from Dijon gained international popularity. A decade later, in 1866, Jeremian Colman was appointed as mustard-maker to Queen Victoria of England. He discovered a method to grind mustard seeds without creating any heat. Thus, Colman created his own brand in the history of the condiment.

A Special Mention

Whether you prefer Dijon or Colman’s, as a fan of mustard you might agree that the story of its journey as a condiment would be incomplete without a shout-out to America. Even though they were not it’s creators, the Americans may partly be credited for the commercial popularisation of mustard as a condiment through its widespread use in the great American hot-dog!

It’s Worth Noting : In America, 4th August is celebrated every year as National Mustard Day.


Read more articles on the History of Everyday Objects as we bring them to you daily!