A Binkie by Any Other Name
Whether your house is a pacifier-free zone or there’s a binkie in every room, we bet you didn’t know these tasty little tidbits about that thing that some even call the “mute button.”
Made of coral (yes, the sea-life kind), ivory, or bone, pacifier-teethers in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries were called “corals.”
In early America, “sugar teats” were lumps of sugar wrapped and tied inside a square of linen cloth. It wasn’t unusual to dip the teat in brandy or whiskey to help soothe the gums of a teething baby.
In a 1506 painting of Madonna and child, by Albrecht Durer, the child holds a cloth teat in his hand.
Today, the phrase “born with a silver spoon in his mouth” is synonymous with trust-fund babies. No wonder: Wealthy nineteenth-century mommies allowed their teething babies to gum the family silverware.
Around 1900, pacifiers began to take their modern form. A Manhattan pharmacist invented a “baby comforter.” In 1902, Sears, Roebuck & Company advertised an “elastic gum ring” with one hard and one soft nipple.
In a 1914 London newspaper article, “dummy teats” were criticized as being unhygienic. How awful that a mother would pick it up off the floor, wipe it on her apron, give it a lick, then pop it back into her baby’s mouth. (Guess the three-second rule hadn’t been invented yet.)
In England, they’re called “dummies.” In Canada, they’re “soothers” or “binkies.” In the US, they’re universally known as “pacifiers.” In your own home, you can call it whatever you wish . . . nuk, puff, passy, wooby, or volume control!
But guess what? Playtex registered the trademark for “Binky” back in 1935! That’s why our book uses the alternate, “generic” spelling, “binkie.”
And if the time has come to do a little horse-trading with your toddler, we hope you’re thinking “book for your binkie!”