Epicurious recently listed the mojito as one of its favorite summertime beverages. Consider the ingredients of this Cuban cocktail through a powers-of-ten lens.
- Fresh lime juice
In early 19th century Britain, sailors were required to consume a daily ration of lime juice to prevent scurvy, which is why British Navy men were known as “limeys.” While limes are high in vitamin C, they also have flavonoids that are thought to prevent cell division of cancer cells (which are roughly 10-06 meters long, according to phys.org). In the U.S., lime consumption has dramatically increased in recent years. The Agricultural Marketing Resource Center explains that “Per person consumption of fresh limes increased from nearly 1 pound per person in 1989 to 2.5 pounds in 2009. Because the Florida-based U.S. lime industry no longer exists, imports account for 100 percent of lime consumption.”
- Superfine sugar
From 2009 to 2010, the average American consumed 45.3 pounds of sugar, as stated in The New York Times. That means that, as a country, we consumed 14,178,900,000 (or 10+10) pounds of sugar in just one year. Today those numbers are only rising. Whole Health Source paints this picture: “In 1822, we ate the amount of added sugar in one 12 ounce can of soda every five days, while today we eat that much sugar every seven hours.”
- Crushed ice
The hydrogen atoms in ice have a radius of roughly 10-11 meters, while the radius of the oxygen atoms are approximately 10-12 meters. New Englanders Frederick Tudor and Nathaniel Wyeth revolutionized the ice producing industry in the early 1800s by experimenting with how to best insulate, cut, store and transport it. According to History Magazine, “By 1879 there were 35 commercial ice plants in America [10+01], more than 200 a decade later [10+02], and 2,000 by 1909 [10+03]. In 1907, 14-15 million tons of ice [10+07] were consumed, nearly triple the amount in 1880. No pond was safe from scraping for ice production, not even Thoreau’s Walden Pond, where 1,000 tons [or 10+06 pounds] of ice were extracted each day in 1847.”
- Fresh mint leaves, plus small sprigs for garnish
Mint is thousands of years old (10+03). In ancient times the herb was associated with hospitality. Epicentre.com explains that its name “comes from the Greek legend of the nymph Minthe, who attracted the attention of Hades. Hades’ wife, the jealous Persephone, attacked Minthe and was in the process of trampling her to death when Hades turned her into the herb (and was ever sacred to him).”
- White rum
The fermentation process of rum occurs on a scale of 10-06 meters. Apparently limes and rum mixed well for sailors in the UK. In addition to a ration of lime juice to prevent scurvy, Rumhistory.com explains that “the British Navy created an elaborate ceremony for serving rum aboard ships, an occasion presided over by the Rum Bosun to the sound of music that was played at no other occasion. . .Special measuring cups were used so that sailors would know that they received the precise amount specified by law.”
- Club soda
Joseph Priestley, the clergyman, philosopher and chemist who discovered “dephlogisticated air” (later renamed oxygen), was also the inventor of club soda. In 1767, he found that suspending water above fermenting beer led to carbonation. According to Q Club Soda, “At the time, the air blanketing the beer was known to kill mice. But Priestly figured out that this carbon dioxide [with each molecule approximately 10-10 meters in diameter] would also infuse into the water and turn it into something similar to the naturally carbonated “spa” waters that doctors of the day thought had curative properties.” Five years after Priestley created soda water, he published a study on it titled, Directions for Impregnating Water with Fixed Air.
As always: Drink Responsibly.
This beverage (and all alcohol) is not for anyone below the legal drinking age in his or her current jurisdiction. The powers-of-ten exploration of this beverage is in no way intended as encouragement for its consumption.