Monday, April 28, 2014

Etiquette for Mustaches, Beards and Soup

"There is no worthier accomplishment for a man with a moustache than to take soup in an inoffensive manner… and by no means should the moustache be used to strain the soup." Cornelia Dobbs’ 1908 "Guide to Manners"
Example of a U.K. made, all silver moustache spoon, c 1880s ~ English author and poet, Rudyard Kipling once wrote of a woman who had complained that being kissed by a man who'd not wax his mustache was like "eating an egg without salt".
Throughout time, mustaches, or moustaches, if you will, have fallen in and out of fashion. In the 1800s, mustaches were worn by the most prominent of men, including several U.S. Presidents and other world leaders of the era.
Russian Tzar Nikolas II
A few weeks before he was elected President, Lincoln received a letter from Grace Bedell, an 11-year-old girl from Westfield, New York, who urged him to grow a beard to help him get elected, to improve his appearance. In Lincoln's response of October 19, he gave no promises, but a month later allowed his beard to grow. By the time Lincoln left his Illinois home to start his inaugural journey to Washington, D.C., he wore a full beard. The trip took him by rail through New York state, stopping briefly in Westfield on February 16. Once at the train station, he called into the crowd for Grace. A small boy, mounted on a post, with his mouth and eyes both wide open, cried out, "there she is, Mr. Lincoln," pointing to a beautiful girl, with black eyes, who was blushing all over her fair face. The President left the car, and the crowd making way for him, he reached her, and gave her several hearty kisses, and amid the yells of delight from the excited crowd, he bade her good-bye. From news accounts of February 20, 1861
U.S. President Grover Cleveland
A British "Improved" Moustache Spoon, in 1879, by T.P. Lomas

Great Britain's King Edward VII
U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt
In the late 1800s and early 1900s, dining etiquette dictated that one have the correct utensils and other accoutrements at the dining table to be fashionable.  Men with food in their mustaches were not fashionable in the least, so spoons and guards were invented for them. 
Throughout time, mustaches, or moustaches, if you will, along with beards, have fallen in and out of fashion. In the 1800s, they were worn by the most prominent of men, including several U.S. Presidents and other world leaders of the era. In following "beard etiquette," don't trim your beard too closely to your face. Do not allow it to move wildly down your neck either. Find the style that suits you best by asking those who you are closest to and whose opinions you trust.
A beard softener patented in 1918 ~ "The beard should be carefully and frequently washed, well trimmed, and well combed, and the hair and whiskers kept scrupulously clean by the help of clean, stiff hair-brushes, and soap and warm water. The style of the beard should be adapted to the form of the face; but any affectation in the cut of the beard and whiskers is very objectionable, and augurs unmitigated vanity in the wearer. Long hair is never indulged in except by painters and fiddlers. The moustache should be worn neat, and not overlarge." From Frost's By-Laws of American Society

Though mustaches and beards have made comebacks over the years, everything for mustaches except for mustache cups, seemed to fall out of favor until the 1970s.  Still, the inventions to hold a man's mustache up while he ate or drank, and their explanations, or descriptions, never fail to amuse.

"The object of my invention is twofold this first, to provide a detachable and easily applied protector for the moustache in the shape of a tubular case, in which it may be enclosed, that's keeping the ends and tips out of the mouth while eating; second, to so construct the said protector as to render it useful when properly applied for the purpose of training the moustache in an upward direction towards the ears, thereby imparting to the face a gay and pleasant expression." Inventor, V. M. Law

Soup Etiquette

"Since I don't smoke, I decided to grow a mustache is better for the health." ~Salvador Dali

Soup is the first course. All should accept it even if they let it remain untouched, because it is better to make a pretense of eating until the next course is served, than to sit waiting, or compel the servants to serve one before the rest. Soup should not be called for a second time. A soup-plate should never be tilted for the last spoonful.” John H. Young , “Our Deportment” 1879

“It is considered vulgar to take fish or soup twice. The reason for not being helped twice to fish or soup at a large dinner-party is, because by doing so you keep three parts of the company staring at you whilst waiting for the second course, which is spoiling, much to the annoyance of the mistress of the house. The selfish greediness, therefore, of so doing constitutes its vulgarity. At a family dinner it is of less importance, and is consequently often done.

"It will consequently be seen that the user of my adjuster may conveniently at mealtime drink tea or soup or other similar beverages without having his mustache dripping and looking very disgusting as it is very common with gentlemen burdened with excessive growth of hair on the upper lip." J.J. McCallum 

You will sip your soup as quietly as possible from the side of the spoon, and you, of course, will not commit the vulgarity of blowing in it, or trying to cool it, after it is in your mouth, by drawing in an unusual quantity of air, for by so doing you would be sure to annoy, if you did not turn the stomach of the lady or gentleman next to you. 

Be careful and do not touch either your knife or your fork until after you have finished eating your soup. Leave your spoon in your soup plate, that the servant may remove them.”Arthur Martine, from “Martine's Hand-book of Etiquette, and Guide to True Politeness” 1866
“Never blow your soup if it is too hot, but wait until it cools. Never raise your plate to your lips, but eat with your spoon.”
Cecil B. Hartley “The Gentlemen's Book of Etiquette and Manual of Politeness"

“In taking any liquid either from a spoon or drinking vessel, no noise must ever be made.” Emily Post, 1922
Reed and Barton reissued these left-handed and right-handed mustache spoons for men in the 1970s, when mustaches made a comeback.

Push your soup spoon from the front of the bowl away from you to catch a mouthful. Bring this to your mouth and tip the soup in from the side of the spoon; don't try eating with your spoon at 90 degrees to your mouth. Don't suck or slurp. Tilt the bowl away from you in order to get the last few spoonfuls. Put your spoon down while you break off pieces of bread. Leave your spoon in the bowl, not on the side plate, when you have finished." Debrett's

The earliest U.S. patented mustache spoon ~ "The cover by covering the greater portion of the bowl what is being brought to the mouth, obviates all liability of spilling the soup, medicine, or other liquid, and furthermore, prevents the mustache, when such as worn by the person using the spoon, from coming in contact with and being soiled by the contents of the spoon, such contents being passed into the mouth through the space or opening at 'b', at the outer and or side portion of the bowl."
An 1879 Mustache "Cup and Glass" ~ "The cinema villain essentially needs a mustache so he can twiddle with it gleefully as he cooks up his next nasty plan."~ Mel Brooks
Thick soup served in a soup dish is eaten with the soup spoon. If you want to get the last bit of it, there is no impropriety in tipping the dish away from you in order to collect it at the edge. Indeed you are paying a subtle compliment to your hostess by this demonstrating how good it is. Drink thin soups and bouillons served in cups, as you would tea or coffee, ;but if there are vegetables or noodles left in the bottom, eat them with the spoon, rather than struggle unattractively to make them slide from the cup into your mouth." Book of Common Sense Etiquette, 1962 

The Handled Soup or Bouillon Cup. Soup or bouillon served in a handled cup or even in a small cup-size bowl (Oriental fashion) is drunk. If there are dumplings or decorative vegetables or other garnish floating on top, these may be lifted out first with the spoon before the soup is drunk. Noodles or other things which may be in the bottom of the cup are spooned up after the liquid has been drunk. How to hold cups. A handled cup is held with the index finger through the handle, the thumb just above it to support the grip, and the second finger below the handle for added security. The little finger should follow the curve of the other fingers and not be elevated affectedly. It is incorrect to cradle the cup in one's fingers if it has a handle. This is done only when the cup is of Oriental style without handles." Amy Vanderbilt
By far, the "Moustache Guard," shown above, is a personal favorite of ours ~ "To all whom it may concern: Be at known that I, Virgil A Gates, of Charleston in the County of Kanawha in the state of West Virginia, have invented a new and improved device for holding the mustache out of the way in eating or drinking, which is fully described in the following specification in which I call a 'Mustache Shield.' Every gentleman who wears a moustache must have experienced the great inconvenience it causes in eating and drinking, especially in eating soups and other kinds of food of similar consistency."
Above, an 1877 mustache cover for cups.  below, a traditional porcelain mustache cup with a sterling mustache comb.

Thanks to our contributors Demita Usher of "Social Graces and Savoir Faire," Maura Graber of "The RSVP Institute of Etiquette," and Antoinette of "Etiquette Facts"

Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J. Graber, is the Site Moderator for Etiquipedia Etiquette Encyclopedia

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