A brief social history of white bread

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Bread was one of the last of the important staple foods in the American diet to become industrialized, according to Professor Aaron Bobrow-Strain. Photo courtesy of Pixabay.

According to Aaron Bobrow-Strain, as late as the 1890s, 90% of bread was baked by hand. By the turn of the century, only 10% was made in small bakeries. Bobrow-Strain is a politics professor at Whitman College and the author of “White Bread: A Social History of the Store-Bought Loaf.” In the book, he explores what made white bread so popular, including fear of immigration, war, and industrial ingenuity. He also looks at the technical challenges of industrializing an artisanal product, like temperature controls, high-speed mixing and chemical additives. 

Aaron Bobrow-Strain discusses food activism and the perils of industrialization in his book, “White Bread: A Social History of the Store-Bought Loaf.” Photo courtesy of Beacon Press.

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Evan Kleiman