WORDS QUICKPOST: Mocteroof

Mocteroof [English]: Term of obscure origin used in the mid-1800s for the craft of ‘frubbishing’ or dressing up damaged fruits and vegetables, used by produce ‘kramers’ or peddlers . Noun.

Beeswax, for example, was applied to chestnuts by shaking the two together in a box. Some other nineteenth-century tricks of the trade used by a shady London costermonger:

“I’ve boiled lots of oranges,” chuckled one man, “and sold ’em to Irish hawkers  as wasn’t wide awake, for stunning big uns. The boiling swells the oranges and so makes ’em look finer ones, but it spoils them, for it takes out the juice. People can’t find that out though until it’s too late. I boiled the oranges only a few minutes, and three or four dozen at a time.” Oranges thus prepared will not keep, and any Irishwoman, tricked as were my informant’s customers, is astonisged to find her stock of oranges turn dark-colouered and worthless in forty-eight hours.

A seventeenth-century mangonist was a market-person who “tricked up” various types of inferior goods, such as fruit and vegetables. This term was inspired by a sinister verb, to mangonize, or to pamper slaves with extra food and rest to make them appear stronger and healthier in preparation for their sale.

– Forgotten EnglishJeffrey Kacirk. (p. 113-14)

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