When radiation came into vogue in the 20th century, everyone tried using it as the "hot" new ingredient in their products. Companies in every industry started selling food, medication, and makeup laced with radioactive materials like thorium and radium. This didn't last long, of course.
This is not the precursor to the Exploding Kittens card game. What the French in the 17th century were doing was putting cats in sacks and burned them in a bonfire during a midsummer festival. They believed the cats had a link to witches and the devil and took the ashes home for good luck.
If you had a bad case of a cough a few centuries ago, people chose to drink a little bit of heroin instead of morphine, thinking that was safer. It could be bought in most pharmacies and was even given to children. That practice was phased out when they found out it was actually three times as strong as morphine and banned it in 1924.
Exotic plant collecting was big in Victorian times, so much so that wallpapers and jewelry were filled with plant designs. Eventually, they made a name for one specific activity - pteridomania, the hunting and cultivating of ferns. It reached a point where a man died and rare species of fern were put under severe threat of extinction.
In the 16th century a trend of dyeing your teeth began as a sign of social class. This was all thanks to Elizabeth I, and her teeth, which were black from years of eating too much sugar. The geisha in Japan also did this as a sign of beauty as well, but to contrast against their white face.
You might have the TV or radio running in the background when you work, but not too long ago that job was very low-tech. There was a person known as a "lector" employed in factories sitting above the line. His job was simple - read news and literature to them to keep them entertained.
The funny thing about our current eight-hour sleep routine is that it wasn't always like that. We used to have a deep sleep of three to four hours, then a wakefulness of two to three, then a second sleep until morning. There is literature, court documents, and journals that prove this was the norm.
If you want a great example of this, look no further than King James VI. He would only change his clothes for months at a time when they would fall apart. This was pretty common for normal folk as well, sleeping in their same daily clothes.
Long before Photoshop, people were into trick photography and finding ways of making really weird photos. They used exposure techniques to make decapitated people or tamer things like a dog and its owner playing cards.
Chopines were a type of platform shoe that went as high as 20 inches in height. They weren't a fashion statement but more of a way to protect people's clothes from mud. People needed servants to get them on so that they wouldn't get injured.
In the 1870s and 1880s, there was such a thing as competitive walking in the US. As people flocked into the big cities the looked to new ways to have fun and pedestrianism — competitive walking matches — sprung up. It was pretty intense...men would walk 600 miles in six days.
This one might be rooted in urban legend but people did own vials to catch their tears into. This had ties to ancient eras but had a comeback in the Victorian era among the wealthy. People began selling fancy vases and vials for the express purpose of catching tears.
Spiritualism — the belief of supposed communication with spirits through a medium — was all the rage in the 19th century, It originally started as an aristocratic activity but it eventually took hold in the industrial working class. Seances would be conducted in near or total darkness under the prayers of a medium.
Princess Alexandra of Denmark was a fashion icon for many women of her time. When she developed a limp after a bout of rheumatic fever, her female fans followed suit. At first, women just wore odd shoes that helped them produce the limp, but clever shoemakers began producing shoes that had one shoe with a lower heel and the other with a higher one.