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The Royal Rule of Jam


A tasty employment incentive offered to Alice by the White Queen in Looking-Glass world promises that Alice (who, luckily, does not like jam) may have jam tomorrow and jam yesterday, but she cannot have jam today. Translated into real-world life, the White Queen's jam-saving offer is a future event or experience (usually pleasant) that is never going to materialize -- in short, a promise that will never be fulfilled. It is also a phrase -- "Jam tomorrow!" -- used to describe unfulfilled political promises made by today's Looking-Glass-world politicians. A humorous bar sign that replaces jam with an alcoholic beverage in commemoration of the White Queen's employment incentive reads: Free Beer Yesterday. Source: "Jam tomorrow," Phrases (, 15 Sept 2012.

Illustration commentary: The White Queen at a feast in Looking-Glass world, drawn by the American illustrator Blanche McManus (1870-1935) for an 1899 American edition of Looking-Glass. The pictured artwork is detail of a full-page illustration showing the White Queen, the Red Queen, and Alice (as a queen with a crown) sitting at a dining table. Above the White Queen's head is a servant holding a serving dish containing a leg of mutton, which later stands up and walks away from the table. No jam is mentioned in Looking-Glass as being served at this feast. Source: AWT's illustrator files.

Jubilee jam factlet: A favorite culinary treat of the White Queen in Looking-Glass is jam, a popular Victorian preserve made royal again in 2012 when a jam-making company in Essex, England, celebrated Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee (60 years as monarch) by cooking and bottling a batch of strawberry jam with colorful English flags printed on the "patriotic" label. Source: Thursday Cottage (website), 6 June 2012.

Rhubarb factlet: Still made and eaten today, rhubarb jam, made with sugar, rhubarb, ginger, pectin, and sodium citrate, was a popular jam in Victorian England, though it is not mentioned in the Alice books. Source: National Trust (, 5 Apr 2013.

Snack factlet: The Victoria sponge cake is a jam-filled cake named after Britain's Queen Victoria (reigned 1837-1901) because she enjoyed eating this butter-sugar-egg-flour-jam treat while sipping afternoon tea. Source: Love British Food (, 5 Jun 2013.

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A New Zealand-born illustrator decorates the first Alice book with enchanting anthropomorphic artwork.

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No Political Turkey Talk in Wonderland

 An English-language word used to describe unclear jargon is sometimes associated with Alice's name.

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God, Soap, and Free Soup

A Christian army of "do-gooders" had a taste for "beautiful soup."

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 A painting owned by Lewis Carroll may have inspired his own artistic version of the fictional Alice.

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The Caterpillar's Nontoxic Mushroom

 The species of mushroom that Alice eats in Wonderland is not identified in the first Alice book.

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Alice Rides the Victorian Railroad

 England's real Victorian railroad is reflected in Alice's train ride in Looking-Glass world.

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An English Illustrator's Wonderland Face

An early 20th-century illustrator of Wonderland often used himself as a model.

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Wonderland Overshadows Maui Wowie

The Alice books provide a treasure-trove of colorful names for female cosmetics.

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Long-Necked Alice as Treetop Scientist

 A title word in the first Alice book describes a research phase in the scientific world of treetop studies.

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