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Dale’s Daily Data: Egyptian Mouthful

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The United States sets the pace for the world in so many areas of science and discovery, but is probably the most backward in terms of weights and measures.  While the rest of the world has adopted the metric system, the United States continues to use a system that’s so antiquated, our system of measuring volume and liquids goes back to ancient Egypt.  It was a system used in England for 500 years and brought to colonial America.  It’s based on the Egyptian mouthful and the custom of doubling each measure to find the next one. 

Under the system – two mouthfuls equal a jigger.  The jigger is the same as what a bartender uses to mix drinks equal to one ounce.

Two jiggers equal one jack

Two jacks equal one jill

Two jills equal one cup

Two cups equal one pint

Two pints equal one quart

Two quarts equal one pottle

Two pottles equal one gallon

Two gallons equal one peck

Two pecks equal one pail

Two pails equal one bushel

And it continues up and up.

But it all begins with the mouthful – two mouthfuls equaling one ounce.  But considering people can down a jigger pretty easily these days, those Egyptians mouths must have been pretty small.

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