Show & Tell: A Map of Matrimony

Library of Congress // Public Domain

This undated “Map of Matrimony,” held by the Library of Congress, represents itself as a handy guide for "timid lovers," promising to help them navigate "the orbit of affection to the true haven of conjugal happiness.” The map, which was probably published in the 19th century, was one of many popular maps of love published in the United Kingdom and the United States starting in the late 18th century.

These maps translated the fraught journey from the first blush of courtship through matrimony into tangible geographical features. This map features a “Coast of Doubt,” a “Whirlpool of Reflection,” “Shoals of Fickleness,” and (in a nod to the real world) a “Cape of Good Hope.” Acknowledging that lovers would suffer agonies of confusion as they tried to navigate romantic situations, the maps physicalize emotions, recognizing that pity, treachery, jealousy, and prudence could feel as insurmountable as mountains, or as influential as prevailing winds.

While many maps of matrimony, like this group collected by Barron Maps, were intended for wall display, such maps were also occasionally found on Victorian valentines, one type in a class of parody card that was, as Lucinda Matthews-Jones writes, harmlessly fun. Such cards took many forms: “Bank notes from the bank of love, rebus valentines or word puzzles, and fake marriage certificates or telegrams.” Unlike cruel “vinegar valentines,” these humorous cards gently satirized courtship, offering a little social commentary on the common stages and rituals of the process.

Since maps of matrimony were a popular art form practiced across decades and continents, the archive of surviving examples offers interesting points of connection. Here’s one circa-1825 Map of Matrimony, which was professionally printed. Compare it with a hand-drawn example that antiquarian bookseller and author Tim Bryars offers on his blog, and another homemade map of matrimony, this one in an autograph book compiled by a Canadian woman. The two hand-drawn maps echo features found in the printed version—all three offer “Mountains of Delay, inhabited by Lawyers,” a “Land of Spinsters” off to the west, and a “Petticoat Government” to the south—suggesting that people who made homemade love maps may have copied liberally from printed versions. 

Afternoon Map
The Most Popular Infomercial Product in Each State

You don't have to pay $19.95 plus shipping and handling to discover the most popular infomercial product in each state: AT&T retailer All Home Connections is giving that information away for free via a handy map.

The map was compiled by cross-referencing the top-grossing infomercial products of all time with Google Trends search interest from the past calendar year. So, which crazy products do people order most from their TVs?

Folks in Arizona know that it's too hot there to wear layers; that's why they invest in the Cami Secret—a clip-on, mock top that gives them the look of a camisole without all the added fabric. No-nonsense New Yorkers are protecting themselves from identity theft with the RFID-blocking Aluma wallet. Delaware's priorities are all sorted out, because tons of its residents are still riding the Snuggie wave. Meanwhile, Vermont has figured out that Pajama Jeans are the way to go—because who needs real pants?

Unsurprisingly, the most popular product in many states has to do with fitness and weight loss, because when you're watching TV late enough to start seeing infomercials, you're probably also thinking to yourself: "I need to get my life together. I should get in shape." Seven states—Colorado, Idaho, Kentucky, Montana, Nebraska, Utah, and Wisconsin—have invested in the P90X home fitness system, while West Virginia and Arkansas prefer the gentler workout provided by the Shake Weight. The ThighMaster is still a thing in Illinois and Washington, while Total Gym and Bowflex were favored by South Dakota and Wyoming, respectively. 

Kitchen items are clearly another category ripe for impulse-buying: Alabama and North Dakota are all over the George Forman Grill; Alaska and Rhode Island are mixing things up with the Magic Bullet; and Floridians must be using their Slice-o-matics to chop up limes for their poolside margaritas.

Cleaning products like OxiClean (D.C. and Hawaii), Sani Sticks (North Carolina), and the infamous ShamWow (which claims the loyalty of Mainers) are also popular, but it's Proactiv that turned out to be the big winner. The beloved skin care system claimed the top spot in eight states—California, Mississippi, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, Tennessee, and Texas—making it the most popular item on the map.

Peep the full map above, or check out the full study from All Home Connections here.

A Florida Brewery Created Edible Six-Pack Rings to Protect Marine Animals

For tiny scraps of plastic, six-pack rings can pose a huge threat to marine life. Small enough and ubiquitous enough that they’re easy to discard and forget about, the little plastic webs all too often make their way to the ocean, where animals can ingest or become trapped in them. In order to combat that problem, Florida-based Saltwater Brewery has created what they say is the world’s first fully biodegradable, compostable, edible six-pack rings.

The edible rings are made of barley and wheat and are, if not necessarily tasty, at least safe for animals and humans to ingest. Saltwater Brewery started packaging their beers with the edible six-pack rings in 2016. They charge slightly more for their brews to offset the cost of the rings' production. They hope that customers will be willing to pay a bit more for the environmentally friendly beers and are encouraging other companies to adopt the edible six-pack rings in order to lower manufacturing prices and save more animals.

As Saltwater Brewery president Chris Gove says in the video above: “We want to influence the big guys and kind of inspire them to also get on board.”


More from mental floss studios