On July 24, 1777 Boston merchant Thomas Boylston got what was coming to him. Or at least that’s probably how it was understood by the one hundred or more women who attacked him on King Street. Boston, like most cities around this time in the burgeoning nation, was experiencing a series of food shortages. Both the British and Continental armies frequently requisitioned food and livestock and a lot of women had been left scrambling on their own to manage families, homes, farms, and businesses while their husbands were off fighting a war.
Like there are in most good crises, there were those who saw advantage in the struggle. Boylston, who was a cousin to John Adams, was generally thought to be a patriot, and who seriously underestimated the wrath of a whole horde of caffeine-deficient women, decided to hoard coffee in order to drive up the price.
Now, I am not a coffee drinker, but I know a lot of coffee drinkers. Some I might even call obsessive, a category that might even include you. I know it includes the people who make it difficult every single day for me to drive down the access road behind the main Starbucks in my town. I say “main” because we do have more than one. They’re both busy. Always.
I mean like winding drive-through line that spills ten cars deep out of the Starbucks parking lot and into the road that I innocently attempt to drive down in order to make my way from one place where I don’t buy coffee to another place where I don’t buy coffee kind of busy. This line, I assume, is filled with people who might have joined in with the women of Boston that marched to Boylston’s business, demanded his keys, and when he refused, seized him by the neck, forced him into a cart and, according to some accounts, spanked him until he complied. He eventually did. The mob then carried off all the coffee and left Boylston contemplating the fact that he’d been beaten up by a bunch of girls. One farmer justified the mob actions by saying, “This is the very same oppression that we complain of Great Britain!”
While that may be a slight oversimplification of the causes of the Revolutionary War, short supplies can make people do crazy things, like hoard twelve years-worth of toilet paper next to the Christmas decorations and model train sets in their basements. Fortunately, there doesn’t seem to be a desperate shortage of coffee right now. Or at least there wasn’t before National Coffee Day yesterday.
To celebrate the day, Starbucks offered a free cup of coffee to any customer who came by with their favorite mug. No need even to spank the barista. The offer was limited to one cup per customer per store, but since there are approximately forty-seven Starbucks stores within an hour of my house, and probably yours, too, coffee drinkers could have kept busy picking up free coffee all day long. Judging by the line spilling out of the parking lot, most of you did.
15 thoughts on “A Horde of Under-caffeinated Hoarders”
Nice – isn’t there a road or area of Boston called Boylston? How did that ‘honour’ occur?
I’m not entirely sure. Boylstons were a prominent family, connected to John Adams. I assume the good they did must have outweighed the coffee misjudgment.
Rich white men – see if you can find a woman’s name on anything from previous centuries.
Horde or Hoard or Herd … made me smile. I used to drink coffee, now don’t, but have memories of trying to find coffee anywhere, somewhere, while in China, meant that I blessed Starbucks and even MacDonalds.
I love coffee but I have never spanked anyone for it.
Not sure you can really call yourself a coffee drinker, then. 😉
I wondered where you stored your toilet paper… I never heard of this incident before even though I studied in Boston! Most interesting!
Wait, no, I was talking about all those OTHER people who have hoarded toilet paper stuffed away in their basements. I keep mine locked up in an undisclosed bank vault. Just in case.
I do hope it’s a Swiss Bank.
I drink rather a lot of coffee. Other households were frantically bulk-buying toilet paper ahead of Covid lockdowns. My household? Coffee. That said, I wouldn’t drink coffee from Starbucks even if it was free – it’s not to my taste. Though I did once go to Starbucks in Paris because, well, Paris.
I think it was at Starbucks I made the realization that I would never really be a coffee drinker. I decided that if I had to add so much cream and sugar that it was really more of a milkshake, then perhaps I just didn’t like the taste. Weirdly, I do love the smell of coffee. I think that’s because it reminds me of my childhood. My dad is a coffee drinker and the smell always makes me think of him.
47! When I started at Starbucks there twice that many-in the whole country…fun read. Thanks!
47 might be a tad bit hyperbolic, but it definitely feels like it.