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027. bling bling, baby: teeth as jewelry

*Note: this is an automated transcript. Please excuse the typos!*

[00:00:00] Carmen: Hey Fryda. Hey Carmen. What's up? Did you ever have una cadenita con una muelita around your neck as a kid? Okay.

[00:00:19] Fryda: So I didn't, but I know that this is the most Cuban thing, having your baby tooth.

[00:00:26] Carmen: As jewelry.

[00:00:27] Fryda: It is

[00:00:28] Carmen: so ridiculous. yes, it is. And that's exactly why we're gonna talk about it today. Today's topic is baby teeth as jewelry, baby jewelry specifically.

Now we just make jingles for everything specifically. Obviously Cubans making baby teeth. Into jewelry and it, okay. I know that people who grew up normal are probably like, what is, what are you talking about? And how are you

[00:00:54] Fryda: making a whole episode about this trust us, we

[00:00:56] Carmen: will. . So basically when you lose your baby teeth as a child, when you're like around seven, which are called your milk teeth, your parents will.

Swiftly collect it and then take it to, um, a jeweler who then puts it into a ring or maybe some earrings or a chain or something. And then

[00:01:16] Fryda: they gave you the jeweler. Doesn't even ask questions. Okay. No, the jeweler just knows what to, they know

[00:01:20] Carmen: what to do. It's like your mom puts it in Nuna Lito and brings it and then dumps it to the jeweler.

And the jeweler's like, I got you, baby. So then they give you this little piece of jewelry to wear, and then you wear your little tooth as fine jewelry.

[00:01:33] Fryda: So you the seven year

[00:01:34] Carmen: old. You are walking around, blame the fuck out with your own teeth. Yes. Welcome to being a little Cuban kid. why are we

[00:01:43] Fryda: like this?

Like, I think my favorite example comes from my mother. My mom had a ring with her first tooth on it, and I find that so silly because she's like, Probably what, seven years old with tiny little fingers. And she has like a little gold ring with a tooth coming out of it. Like, like, like a little mini engagement ring, like super fancy.

Yeah. But the rock, her goal and lose. I mean, you know, I talked to my grandmother too, who was just like, So sad that my mom lost all of the jewelry, including the baby teeth jewelry. so one thing that, like that I learned when talking to my family about this topic is that everyone had a kind of different relationship to the jewelry that they wore, like in my.

Grandfather's case, even though he was a boy, they would've made jewelry for him, but he was too poor in the countryside. So his family at least kept the tooth and kept it in a jewelry box. So it still has to be coveted as jewelry, as jewelry, as valuable.

[00:02:46] Carmen: Yeah, my thought valuable. I don't have any baby teeth jewelry and my.

Kept my baby teeth, for

[00:02:52] Fryda: sure. Yeah. Carmen and I, like we mentioned, we didn't have the privilege of having our first baby tooth turned into a ring or a piece of jewelry. Our parents were new immigrants in this country, so that was hard to come by, but both of our parents did

[00:03:06] Carmen: keep our teeth. Definitely. My parents kept my baby teeth.

It was still important. It's still valuable. Even if they're not putting it into jewelry, they definitely still wanted to keep it. They're like , you know, and I think that's a very normal thing. I think a lot of people keep their child's first tooth or, you know, there's the idea of keeping your child's first drawing or something like that.

You know, that's a normal thing to punctuate a child's and commemorate a child's first experience. That's not. What I think is weird is that then we turn around and we give the kid this, uh, fancy, fine piece of jewelry that is custom made to their specific tooth for them to wear, like, what are they gonna do with that is my question.

Like, are they just gonna show up to the playground and be like, here's my tooth ring? Like, what is that all

[00:03:49] Fryda: about? you know, Carmen by grandma said that. She got this jewelry made for her children so that they wouldn't feel as bad about all of the teeth they had left to lose. So she gave it to them and she was just like, look at what a nice thing you got because of losing your tooth.

And so it's a way to commemorate an experience. Like it's like a graduation ring, but like for losing your.

[00:04:15] Carmen: Yeah. Well, I mean, now that you put it that way, honestly, I don't really see how it's very different from the tooth fair, except that the Cubans just took it like 50 steps forward and then made entire bling out of it.

So, honestly, I mean, it's weird, but it's really nice. It's not like you go to a baby tooth jeweler. It's like all of the jewelers, this has to be in their standard repertoire. Like of course you make baby teeth jewelry. Of course. You know, it's like that.

[00:04:36] Fryda: Yeah. You have to specialize in like either coding the baby teeth in silver or gold or embedding the baby tooth so that it is itself like a little gem that sticks out of whatever pendant you have.

Yeah. And so like, you have to know to work with it as like a stone.

[00:04:53] Carmen: Yeah. yeah. Which is really interesting to me, but, uh, going. Back to the ways that we help kids cope in this being a mechanism and, and really like, it is a pretty traumatic experience. I mean, think about it. Haven't you ever had a nightmare where you lose your teeth.

That is one of the most commonly had nightmares.

[00:05:10] Fryda: Yeah. That is a huge recurring nightmare that you can have, even as an adult, it usually signifies like. Sensing a lack of control around you. Mm-hmm because losing your teeth feels like you're losing control of your own body. Yeah. Uh, so that nightmare is happening IRL to kids.


[00:05:28] Carmen: Exactly. And the fact that they just have to be awake for it and deal with this actual nightmare that's happening to them is just, is traumatic for these poor little sweet little kiddies. And so mm-hmm, okay. The fact that we have mechanisms and things that help. Cope with this terrible thing that's happening to them, which is actually just, you know, effective life.

That's not farfetched. We have stuff like the tooth fairy don't we, our tooth fairy was

[00:05:51] Fryda: way more ratchet. Okay. It was a rat that I imagined snuck up from the sewer and slithered underneath your pillow, grabbed your tooth, left a present. Brought the tooth back over to the sewer to add to its collection of disgusting teeth.

At least that's what I imagine because my parents failed to tell me the whole story.

[00:06:08] Carmen: The Fri yes, we're gonna, you're gonna learn about right now. Please give it to me. Tell me about it. The story of, sorry of it is actually going all the way. Very early on in traditional Spanish literature to some of the earliest texts that we have, but we don't actually know when was the first time it was actually ever mentioned what we do know.

Let's go on a history lesson,

[00:06:36] Fryda: take it easy history

[00:06:38] Carmen: journey. In 1894, queen Maria commissioned Louis Colma, who was a writer at the time to revisit this traditional Spanish tale and make it into sort of a tooth fairy story for her son. At the time king Alfonso, the 13 Alfonso who had just lost a tooth at the age of eight.

And so that's how we turn up with Cito bees, but actually this is excellent. Great story. Bees was not going into like, you know, the guts of society. Okay. Bees lived politely with a family in a box of cookies in the basement of a confectionary store in mare. And very often it was said that he ran away from.

Through the pipes of the city, maybe this is where you got the sewage thing. Um, okay. And into the bedrooms of kids so that he could take their teeth. Um, and that's the story. Oh, but he

[00:07:32] Fryda: had a home to go back to, but he

[00:07:34] Carmen: lived, he lived in a decent little suburban, you know, cookie

[00:07:38] Fryda: box, you know how some people are like, oh, that's a cookie cutter home.

[00:07:41] Carmen: He just had a little sneaking addiction that he never told his little mouse wife about. So it's. Children's teeth.

[00:07:49] Fryda: There's some, there's some things that you have to keep secret. Like imagine there was the internet at that time. Forget it. Expos. All of this history would be like children's teeth, children's teeth, baby teeth.

where have all the baby teeth Gonek it's good that you were of a different era. yes. You would get exposed on the internet today. This also reminds me of all the other shit. My mom has kept. My mom kept the first piece of hair from my first ever haircut. And she also avoided that first haircut, like the plague, like El, like

basically you want your child to have as long hair as possible to increase their longevity. I don't understand what the deal was. It really feels like this was a big deal. Okay. So here's another thing that Cuban parents sometimes keep my mom kept. My belly button, like the belly button that comes off when like you are losing your umbilical cord mm-hmm , she hasn't preserved an alcohol to this day.

She brought it from Cuba to the United States with her. It was one of the select things that she brought with her on her journey. I, the other day I asked her, like, why, why did you choose

[00:09:03] Carmen: this?

obviously they're .

[00:09:09] Fryda: Though exactly Carmen. That's what she said. She said it just a lot to her

[00:09:13] Carmen: and how do I know this? It's because this is part of our culture to preserve our children's like weird things that fall off of their body, you know, and it's like, here is my child's first tooth. I'm gonna preserve their belly button.

Gotta keep that too, because you know what, because our parents are all

[00:09:27] Fryda: obsessed with us, with us.

[00:09:30] Carmen: And it's so strange because it, it's not just being obsessed with us, but then they glorify the things that come off of our bodies, like enough to put them into gold. And I keep asking myself, where did all this gold come from?


[00:09:45] Fryda: families. Generally kept gold when they could, because there was always so much volatility politically and economically that gold as with many places, gold is, was a valuable thing to have that could ensure some stability. But even when you didn't have like an actual, like block of gold, these were pieces.

That were inherited and passed on since they were for babies or for kids, babies would often grow out of them. And then the next person in the family would get to pass it on.

[00:10:18] Carmen: And so let's be clear, we say baby teeth as jewelry, but actually you're getting that particular piece when you've already lost the tooth.

So you're actually more of a full blown kid by then, right. You're like eight, seven years old. Yeah. But walking through. But exactly, but by then, it's not really that abnormal to you because you've been blinged out all your life, haven't you?

[00:10:42] Fryda: Yes. Okay. If you are a female assigned at birth, you have been blinged out by the time you were two months old.

Yeah, because you're two months old. The clock is taking it's time to get your earrings. These are usually called S or sleepy earrings so that you can wear them while you sleep. Yeah, because you're

[00:11:04] Carmen: two months old.

[00:11:05] Fryda: That's why you're two months old. You're like, that's all you do.

[00:11:08] Carmen: That's

[00:11:09] Fryda: yes. That's all you do.

And so either someone designated in your family or a pediatrician would Pierce. all of the kids in the family. And I know that my Tia, she pierces the kids with. And with the earring itself and voila, all of the girls had earrings and I've had earrings forever. And I had no idea that this was a thing that you could choose to do later in your life.

Like I had no choice. I was just like, Born with earrings. And so

[00:11:40] Carmen: are you Carmen? Basically. Yeah. And I have to confess that I never really thought about it, but you know, it's definitely something that later on once I learned that not everybody does this, I was like, oh wow. And then we also give kids coffee and you know, I like two months

[00:11:55] Fryda: old, like, look, I saw, I saw some kids walking around and these were like, not Cuban kids.

I saw some kids and they didn't have like a little hole for their earring. And I was just like, why is your anatomy like. Like, I thought that you came pierced. You know, it was like, I didn't know where babies came from. I thought that everyone had their ears pierced, but

[00:12:12] Carmen: anyway, babies aren't brought by the historic freshly pierced.

You can order them that way. Freshly pierced

[00:12:18] Fryda: everyone.

[00:12:20] Carmen: this is so much a thing that I have a friend who married an American partner. They have now since divorced at Mary May have been because of this problem, but basically they disagreed about piercing their baby girl's. so take that and do with that, whatever you will,

[00:12:35] Fryda: um, have that conversation before you get married people.

Yes. This will take it. Easy. Relationship alert,

[00:12:41] Carmen: take it easy PSA. You are welcome. ,

[00:12:45] Fryda: you know, I wonder if they also disagreed about ASEs

[00:12:48] Carmen: oh my God. Yeah, definitely. You know? Okay. And Asche, what is an Asche? It's a thing that you put on your kid to protect them from a majo and it can be like so many different things.

It can be UN it can be a piece of cloth that they like strapped to your diaper. It could be a pendant, it can be all sorts of things. But the whole point is that it's guarding you against evilly and it's pretty blingy and it's pretty blingy. What else is in the Cuban baby bling catalog?

[00:13:13] Fryda: wow. Say that 10 times also UNO.

So you can also have like, umso like a, um, uh, Wrist chain a bracelet. They got English. Oh my God. oh, wow. Uh, AKA up bracelet. That's the right name for it. So your bracelet can be engraved with your name on it or shaped with the letters of your name. So you could be a little girl with. Earrings UN with your name on it and also a necklace with your name on it too, in case someone didn't read it on your wrist.

Cause your wrist was too

[00:13:48] Carmen: tiny. Yes. I, you know, the minute you started describing all of that immediately saw like a little girl in a tiny little knitting Gito dress wearing like a pair of little tiny and Goda and then her little

[00:14:01] Fryda: Carmen, of course she's wearing a me andto. Of course,

[00:14:03] Carmen: course, course that is literally what I saw too, with a pair of little tiny Anitas and a little necklace with a little Moda in it.

And then she also has a little bracelet with her name on it and it's like something super long like Marie ladies, and nobody can read it again because there wrist is tiny and she also has little tiny SA and little fluffy socks that is, uh, yeah, basically socks and everything. Cuban, baby alert. That's that's what you're looking for.

So the

[00:14:28] Fryda: cherry on. Of this whole outfit. Ensemble is a ring, a baby ring me. It,

[00:14:35] Carmen: me. I had a baby. I mean, okay. It wasn't really so much a baby ring. As a matter of fact, this ring actually still fits me. Uh, but that's neither here nor there it's because I, I, the rest of my body grew and the, my hands stayed seven years old, but I had a ring when I was seven years old that my parents bought for me.

And they were very proud. They were like, yay. We are able to buy our child jewelry. And I picked out a little gold ring with a little pink stone in the middle. That is the center of a flower. It's I still have it. You

[00:15:01] Fryda: ever wanna feel, if you ever wanna feel like really big and strong? Just hold Carmen's little hands.

Yeah. It's

[00:15:08] Carmen: it's really bent

[00:15:13] Fryda: so this is not all. Happy. Okay. It's not all, uh, rainbows and butterflies because as always the revolution and, and all of that, like history and shit had an effect on these practices had an effect on baby teeth. This jewelry had an effect on jewelry for babies overall, and. We're gonna get into it. So what a buzzkill, that whole revolution

[00:15:41] Carmen: thing that people keep talking about, Ugh,

[00:15:43] Fryda: God, the first couple of things that changed was it's that right?

When the revolution started wearing too much jewelry or showing off your jewelry was considered Dimo or ideological, uh, diversion, because it was considered capitalist and a diversion to wear too much jewelry. So there was that, but there was also the jewelry that stood in for religious beliefs. Like the Asaba, which stood in for a belief of Imar was also prohibited because you also couldn't wear anything that signified your religion or any belief at all.

So already post 1960s. No too much jewelry, no ABAs, nothing Maho related, nothing Santo related that you can wear. No little crosses either. That's just the beginning. And then

[00:16:39] Carmen: our favorite period of history ever, please know, sarcasm came because Castro started giving out dollars. For our people's gold. So after he's like, you can't have gold, like 30 years later, he's like, wait shit, this country's going to hell.

And uh, now I need gold. I'll take your gold. I know you still have it somewhere. Yeah.

[00:17:01] Fryda: With my, my whole family's worth of gold, they were given a few American dollars and they were then able to buy soap. And that is one way that people lost generational gold and you're like, Hey, why would your family make that decision?

Well, Imagine there isn't soap for months. It's not a decision that you make when you're thinking of long term, it's a decision you make when you're thinking of the now. So a lot of people turned over gold, they turned over the silverware, like the silverware sets that you get when you get married and any kind of things that were being passed down as forms of generational wealth.

And so that really transformed any access to gold and silver that Cubans. but nowadays you don't even wear gold or anything too. Flashy out on the streets in Cuba because you can get assaulted on the streets. It can be too dangerous to wear jewelry at all. So that's in

[00:18:01] Carmen: Cuba, but people outside of Cuba who have.

Now reestablish themselves and built any amount of wealth outside of Cuba. A lot of people still prioritize these practices. A lot of people are still blinging out their babies and spending thousands of dollars on Cuban link chains. By the way, Cuban chains are the ones that all of the rappers wear.

Super famous ones. So Cuban's doing things with jewelry is not new. We love to bling. We love to shine and we are not going to stop, but did we invent it even the baby teeth of jewelry? Did we invent that? No,

[00:18:37] Fryda: of course not. Cubans also did not invent espresso coffee. Nope. I'm

[00:18:41] Carmen: sorry to say that. We'll get to that later.

You also

[00:18:43] Fryda: did not. So this goes way, way back to the Victorian era. To queen Victoria herself who had a child who lost their baby tooth and prince Albert designed a broche with the baby tooth in mind. And so this baby tooth broche can still be viewed at Buckingham palace and. clearly they were royalties.

They were trend starters and people continued to follow this

[00:19:08] Carmen: trend. Yeah. And if you look at the broach, it's really ornate, really intricate. It's a site to be seen also mm-hmm at this time, let's not forget that infant mortality rate was really high. So to have a kid that survived to the age where they got the privilege of losing their milk teeth, Was something to truly celebrate at the time.

Like, yeah. I mean,

[00:19:29] Fryda: keeping children alive is something to commemorate throughout the world. And there are many other places with practices where you exchange the first baby tooth. So in west Africa, children get a chicken or a rooster in exchange for their baby teeth. Wow. I would prefer that to the quarters that I got, honestly, same.

[00:19:49] Carmen: Honestly, I would love a chicken, somebody please bring me a chicken. I will pull out of teeth for you. And we'll pull out a tooth, an adult tooth. Does it not count if it's adult, does it have to be a baby? Does it have to be a baby? I

[00:20:02] Fryda: guess it might have, I think there's something magical about baby teeth.

That's why you get to exchange it for things. Yeah, that's true. But Hey, if your mom still has a collection of your baby teeth, you can use it as currency for our chicken or a rooster. Oh,


[00:20:14] Carmen: Because it doesn't be doesn't need to be a fresh one. Got it. I thought it doesn't need to be fresh,

[00:20:18] Fryda: baby. Sorry.


[00:20:19] Carmen: needs to be fresh. I'm caught up now. I'm caught up now. We're good. I'm ready. I'm ready. I'm gonna go call my mom and ask her about my baby teeth. Um, Absolutely. Awesome. Another

[00:20:28] Fryda: PSA. Do it today. Take

[00:20:29] Carmen: it easy PSA. Call your mama right now. Get yourself your baby teeth so that you can get your cell phone GAO for hot girl summer in some parts of north Africa and the middle east.

I really like this one. We learned that some kids throw their tooth at the sun and that that's kind of cute. I love that. Well, now that we have talked your ear off.

That would be the correct thing to say. That is our GU for the day. It means that we put in, how do you even say this? We put in Mo that's what it translates to like tooth, like molar we put in tooth.

[00:21:06] Fryda: So. That's a way to say we've talked a lot. So when someone,

when it's extra, when they've talked a lot, a lot, that's all a way to say that you've talked a lot and. It involves a tooth. So we love making connections here. Mm-hmm we love making connections. One use

[00:21:30] Carmen: case of this for example, is if right now Frida, I invite you over to a party and I invite somebody that always talks your ear off.

And then you say to me, no, sorry, Carmen, if I, and then I'll be like, you know what? I get it. It's you or them? Obviously it's huge. do you have any weird or cool baby tooth anecdotes or traditions? Are you from a different culture? And you also have some cool practices or some cool tooth fairy versions.

Please let us know on Twitter or on Instagram. We are at de Easypod on. Platforms. Thank you so much for listening. Also. Thank you to

[00:22:12] Fryda: our patrons. Andy Helen, car Lauren, Christine, Derek, Ryan, Susan Lauren, Kristin, Sarah, Jason, Josh, Yvette PS, and Jesse. You're amazing. We love you. If you're interested in supporting us on Patreon, please go to and pod.

You can also email us at take it easy. Pod, or buy some on our website at take it easy. it easy.

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