Can You Pour Liquid from a Puzzle Jug?

Some pubs (and homes) in the past had a ceramic joke available to mess with their guests. Puzzle jugs had plenty of holes in them between the bottom and the spout to interfere with pouring. It was a game to see who could figure out how to pour from them without spilling the drink -which could be quite funny to watch after everyone already had a few drinks.

The puzzle jug was particularly popular in the 18th and 19th centuries, though the concept dates back centuries earlier. Some cite a 14th-century vessel from Exeter in England as the earliest example, but that one lacks the characteristic features typical of a puzzle jug. Puzzle jugs became super-popular by the 1650s, according to Aronson, but weren’t the first example of ceramics used for gaming purposes. One predecessor was the “fuddling cup,” popular in the 16th to 18th centuries. As literary historian Juliet Fleming wrote in Graffiti and the Writing Arts of Early Modern England, a fuddling cup or mug is “a group of individually thrown pots with interconnecting bodies, whereby liquor poured into one cup could slowly disappear and reappear in another,” a “toy machine” meant not for a practical purpose, but to entertain.

But how does a puzzle jug actually work? Find the explanation at Atlas Obscura. 

(Image credit: Flickr user virtusincertus)

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