Nugget of Knowledge: Salt and pepper

Pepper is known as the king of spices

Nugget of Knowledge

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – We have used salt or sodium chloride as a seasoning for thousands of years. Our bodies need it.

We’ve even used salt as money.

Roman soldiers were paid in salt, and that’s how we got the word salary.

But until a few centuries ago, we used only salt and sugar at the table.

The French in the 17th century separated the two to please king Louis the XIV — salt during the meal and sweet foods at the end, the way he liked it.

What about pepper?

Pepper was just as important to our tables, but at first, it was a luxury flavoring. You had to import it from southeast Asia.

Historians call it “the king of spices,” better than cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and ginger. Pepper, too, was once used as a form of money.

Once again, it was Louis XIV’s chefs who really made it popular because the King came to like it as pepper became cheaper and more common.

The use of salt and pepper as table condiments spread throughout Europe and the Americas.

These days, we eat more than 6.5 million tons of table salt and some 27,000 tons of black pepper each year.

In Asia, you’re more likely find soy sauce, duck sauce and oyster sauce as flavorings, tabasco sauce in South America and paprika in Hungary.

Did you miss an episode of Daybreak or want to re-visit a previous “Nugget”? View previous “Nugget of Knowledge” entries on

If you have an idea for a “Nugget of Knowledge,” send your idea in an email to