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The Limerick Up To Date Book, Ethel Watts Mumford, 1903

What does “rarebit” mean? I keep seeing it in these headlines but the only meaning I know of is the dish Welsh rarebit.


I’m guessing that’s exactly what they’re talking about, dreams you have after eating something like Welsh rarebit! It was commonly believed that heavy foods, like bread, and foods like cheese could give you vivid dreams – and nightmares. It’s still “a thing” today, and while I totally thought it was just an old wive’s tale, apparently there’s at least some truth to it: here’s an NPR (All Things Considered) article.

Here’s an excerpt: 

Mr. WHITE: Well, as far as we can tell. What we found was that those who were eating blue cheese, Blue Stilton, were coming up with some quite vivid dreams that I’m sure the sleep psychologists would have a field day with in terms of interpreting.

BLOCK: Can you share some with us, or are you bound by science cheese privileges?

Mr. WHITE: Yeah, I mean, one of the volunteers said that she dreamed of a vegetarian crocodile who was upset because he couldn’t eat children. And another one dreamed that they had soldiers fighting with each other with kittens instead of guns.

A Phenomenal Fauna, Carolyn Wells and Oilver Herford, 1902

The Jingle-Jungle Book, Carolyn Wells and Oliver Herford, 1913

The Perfectly Good Cynic’s Calendar,

Ethel Watts Mumford, Oliver Herford and

Addison Mizner, 1908

The Sheboygan Press, Wisconsin, October 6, 1936

The Dothan Eagle, Alabama, August 29, 1931

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