Most of us admit to guilty pleasures, those things we feel we shouldn’t crave but do. Some of us even admit to bad habits. Many of those guilty pleasures and bad habits revolve around the consumption of alcohol, caffeine, and tobacco.

London serves as an interesting microcosm of the story of these substances. In terms of alcohol, many Londoners did and still do drink it. As well, many have been involved in its manufacture and sale. Still others have opposed both the drinking and manufacturing of alcohol as they participated in temperance and prohibition campaigns. For their part, tea, coffee, and chocolate have been and continue to be much loved sources of caffeine for Londoners today. We have participated in the rituals surrounding their consumption. Local businesses thrived through the provision of these goods as well as through the sale of the equipment necessary for their preparation and presentation. As with alcoholic and caffeinated products, tobacco processing provided a source of employment for many Londoners. Over time, they have also partaken of tobacco products in the form of snuff, cigars, pipes, and cigarettes. This, too, has been steeped in ritual and tied to conceptions of gender and class. The meanings around tobacco consumption changed as health concerns solidified into hard and fast data linking smoking to health issues.

Featuring more than 150 artifacts from Museum London’s material culture collection, this exhibition will invite you to explore the history of some of our guilty pleasures and bad habits. It will also ask you to share your own.

Flask and Case, Gift of Mrs. James P. Dunn, 1975. 

Goblet, Gift of Millicent Giddens, 1973.

Jug, Gift of Mr. L. A. Gilbert, 1961. 

Ashtray, Collection of Museum London, 1994. 

Pipe, Gift of Judith and Wilson Rodger, 2013. Cigarette Case, Gift of Lee Saunders, 1995. 

Match Holder, Gift of Mrs. W. R. MacGregor, 1964. 

Tea Caddy, Gift of the Estate of Mary Alice Jury, 1994. 

Coffee Pot, Gift of Vanessa Brown, 2016. 

Cup and Saucer, Gift of Mr. C. D. Kent, 1964.