When the SS Republic sank, mustard was an indispensable enhancement to the 19th-century diet. It was often used to disguise the taste of meat and other foods turned rancid from a lack of refrigeration. Mustard added a zesty flavor to egg dishes, salads, casseroles, and vegetables.
The sizeable cargo of glass mustard barrels recovered from the SS Republic, totaling some 300 examples, is further proof that this pungent condiment was a much sought-after staple and would surely have been valued in post–Civil War New Orleans. The two varieties of clear-glass mustard barrels traveling aboard the ship each feature a ribbed pattern, a decorative motif common to such jars. Their cork stoppers and contents no longer intact, the bottles may have once held either dry or prepared mustard, both of which were sold in these distinctive containers.