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Saturday, October 10, 2009

Giant Steaming Tea Kettle, Boston

City Hall Government Center, Boston

At Court & Tremont Streets hangs the giant tea kettle "sign" of the old Oriental Tea Company. This huge tea pot was manufactured in 1873 by a company called Hicks & Badger.

The tea pot was a famous tourist attraction for many years. The reason is due to a huge publicity stunt. On January 1st 1875, a contest was held to guess the capacity of the kettle, and Boston's Sealer of Weights & Measures officially measured it.

More than 10,000 spectators filled the square that day. Eight boys and a tall man had concealed themselves inside the kettle and appeared before measuring started, building excitement for the event. A total of 13,000 guesses were submitted, that were quickly organized and sorted

Each measure poured into the kettle was carefully checked by the city's inspector. A judge was present to observe the process to ensure the contest was fair. A large blackboard was updated after each measure, and it took more than an hour to fill the pot. At 1:05 pm, the closest guess was announced, and a great cheer came from the crowd.

The tea kettle's capacity is 227 gallons, 2 quarts, 1 pint, and 3 gills. Eight people that participated in the contest had guessed to within 3 gills of the above quantity, and were declared winners. The winners received one-eighth of a chest of tea, or about 5 pounds each.

The tea kettle contains an apparatus within it that produces steam, and in winter it resembles a giant steaming pot of tea. The kettle is an excellent advertising tool, having outlived the Oriental Tea Company by many years.

Ironically, the shop located beneath the teapot today - is a Starbucks.

(Information courtesy of Celebrate Boston)

Thank you to Uniquely Tea reader Melanie for telling me about this!

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