This section is from the book "Meals Medicinal", by W. T. Fernie. Also available from Amazon: Meals Medicinal: With "Herbal Simples" Curative Foods From the Cook in Place of Drugs From the Chemist.
The Cockle (Cardium), or "poor man's oyster," is, as is well known, a common, little, bi-valvular shell-fish found buried in the sand of our sea-shores, particularly at Teignmouth, and on the Norfolk Coast. If the shell is viewed "end on," with the two curving beaks uppermost, it represents the shape of a heart (Greek, Cardia). The Cockle is discovered nearly all over the world. Its flesh is good, whether raw, pickled, boiled, or roasted, though very inconsiderable in quantity, - a pound of meat to a bushel of shells. This contains marine salts, gelatin, and food constituents of a salutary sort, with medicinal virtues like those of the lobster. In the London Pharmacopoeia (1696) Cockles were said to "strengthen the stomach, increase appetite, excite lust, provoke urine, help the cholic, and restore in consumptions".
Formerly to "cry Cockles"signified hanging, as simulating the gurgling noise made in the throat by the wretch thus strangled. "Hot Cockles" was a sport, or game, played at Christmas in Elizabethan times; one person knelt, and laid his head, with his eyes covered, in another person's lap, then guessing who struck him.
"As at Hot Cookies once I laid me down I felt the weighty hand of many a clown; Buxoma gave a gentler tap, and I Quick rose, and read soft mischief in her eye".
The name is derived from the French, "Hautes coquittes".