A NYTBR review of White Bread: A Social History of the Store-Bought Loaf highlights the “Pharisaical” motives behind the push for white bread: “At the turn of the 20th century, urbanization outpaced civic infrastructure. Most bread was baked at home, but in dank city bakeries, bakers worked around the clock in squalor, making loaves for a growing labor class. Months after the 1906 release of Upton Sinclair’s book The Jungle, Chicago’s lead health inspector proclaimed sanitary conditions in its bakeries to be like those in ‘the worst of the packing houses.’ A frightened public fixated — with encouragement from city officials and shrewd advertisers — not on labor law or social services, but on cleaner bread. It would be produced by machines, with tired, diseased hands kept away. The hygienic Ward Bakery, the country’s largest, opened in Brooklyn in 1910. And instead of social reform, we got bread that did not rely on society.”
posted by Peter J. Leithart on Monday, July 9, 2012 at 10:27 am
Permission is given to use material on this site, provided the source is cited, blog entries are republished in full, and the author is notified in advance.