Upicnic | Picnic History: from Pique-Nique to Pot Luck and Even Spitting Games

Picnic History: from Pique-Nique to Pot Luck and Even Spitting Games

BY DANIELLE
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8/7/2016

Fun fact: the first picnics date back to the Middle Ages and Renaissance era. Could we even attempt to relate to the picnics back in this age… welp I guess we can give it a try. 

Wealthy people indulged themselves in grand feasts outdoors since they had nothing better to do. And no worries, because they didn’t forget to bring their own bottle of wine either. ‘Scuse me bottleS - with an S.

Here’s another cool fact: the origin of the word picnic was derived from the French term “pique-nique.” The first time “picnic” ever appeared in print was way back in 1748 in a letter that Lord Chesterfield had (not so) privately written to his son. He described this as a social gathering meant for dynamic conversations and a pleasant game of cards -- could this perfect parallel be the source of Upicnic’s inspiration? Also, a pictorial “interpretation” was created by François Lemoyne in 1723, called Hunt Picnic. If you take a closer look at the “interpretation,” the picnic seems a little meager. But, to each his own. 

When first created, a picnic was interpreted synonymously to a potluck, in which several people bring food to share for all the guests. Since then, it has evolved to mean an outdoor feast for everyone, regardless of who brings the delicious goodies *sigh of relief*. No particular menu or picnic recipes have ever been created since picnics were popularized by our lavish European neighbors. With no particular picnic menu, the most common basket items included meats, cheeses, ham, and wine. Modern-day picnics have reduced these extravagant selections to simple and easy-to-clean salads, sandwiches, and fresh snacks *sigh of relief* *again*. Shoutout to all the messy eaters out there (myself included). 

Here’s the last cool fact: woven baskets, which are better known as picnic baskets, were used since the earliest times of picnic history. Probably because they were light, yet durable, and large enough to hold different types of food. Surprisingly enough, our foodie ancestors used to bring silverware, dishes, glasses, etc. in their baskets (y tho). Even more appalling, picnickers in the 19th-20th century sometimes  hauled along chairs, dining tables, and other ginormous furniture. I’m glad we chucked those over the past millenniums. 

By the mid 19th-century, picnics were more modern, urbanized, well-known, and accessible. The economic and social barriers that strictly allowed only upper middle class individuals to participate in picnics were no longer existent in the Victorian era (yay!). 

Picnic games became popular in the 1880s. Charities over the US included them to bring in that cash money, while companies used games to earn brownie points from their employees. To be extra hygienic, people played games using the remnants of their food. For example, people who ate watermelon at a picnic so brilliantly used the seeds to play marbles, have a spitting game contest, or a relay race. Creative, huh. Not sure if most people would be up for such saliva-inducing games anymore. I’d say the games we play in the 21st century are much more sanitary. For instance, Upicnic offers a fun variety and multitude of options ranging from cornhole, spikeball, and cards against humanity - just to name a few. 

Not sure about you, but I’m certainly feeling - hashtag blessed - after learning about the evolution of picnics. So much has changed over the years, but I’d definitely be down to try a Middle Age picnic one day… just once, though.

 

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