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Real bread – the greatest thing since, er, sliced bread.

April 22, 2013 | Scott

We’re big fans of bread here at Balcony Shirts, to such an extent that we’ve not only produced ‘Real Men Bake Bread’ t-shirts and aprons but have also written a song that tells you how to bake your own. You can hear the song and see the accompanying video above – how cool is that? Now further bread-based Balcony brilliance comes with the news that we’ve just made a limited edition ‘I Loaf Real Bread’ t-shirt (oh yes!) for The Real Bread Campaign. And if that wasn’t enough we’re giving them £4 for every shirt sold. Marvellous.
To celebrate this momentous occasion here are a few things that you might not know about everybody’s favourite combination of flour, water and, er, some other stuff :-

Bread has been around for a very long time – around 30,000 years in fact. It’s significance as a food is shown by the term ‘breadwinner’ being used to describe a household’s main economic provider. This may be one reason why the word bread is commonly used to mean money – for example, a musician who cares more about what they’re earning than the music that they’re playing is often referred to as a ‘breadhead’. You also hear the word ‘dough’ being used in the same way, and in Cockney rhyming slang ‘bread’ means money (‘bread and honey’ = money).

U.S. funnyman Bill Cosby once said – ‘I am proud to be an American, because an American can eat anything on the face of this earth as long as he has two pieces of bread’. We’ll leave you to think about that for a minute…

Otto Frederick Rohwedder invented a machine to slice bread in 1912 – sadly it was destroyed in a fire, and it took until 1928 for him to get another one made. Bakeries were initially reluctant to use it because they thought that bread would go stale more quickly if it was sliced; undeterred Rohwedder then came up with a machine that wrapped the bread as well.

The word ‘companion’ comes from the Latin ‘com panis‘ which means ‘with bread’. It’s funny how some things are obvious once you know them isn’t it?

In 1968 David Gates formed soft-rock band Bread, who sold over 17 million albums before breaking up in 1973. They reformed for a successful ’25th Anniversary Tour’ in 1996 (that’s not quite right is it?!?) and were inducted into The Vocal Group Hall Of Fame in 2006.

Napoleon inadvertently named a type of bread when feeding his horse Nicole during the Prussian campaign of the early 1800s. He ordered ‘pain pour Nicole’ – to Germanic ears, this sounded like ‘pumpernickel’ which is the term we use today for this type of dark rye loaf.

On January 18th 1943 the U.S Food Administrator Claude R. Wickard imposed a ban on sliced bread as part of wartime rationing citing rising costs and a shortage of wax paper – a public outcry followed (one particularly memorable letter to The New York Times referred to ‘how important sliced bread is to the morale and saneness of a household’) and the ban was lifted on March 8th.

It takes 9 seconds for a combine harvester to collect enough wheat to make about 70 loaves of bread. Assuming a sandwich was eaten for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, it would take 168 days to eat the amount of bread produced from one bushel of wheat. A family of four could live for 10 years from the bread produced by one acre of wheat. Food for thought. (Ha!)

The question as to whether bread or toast always lands butter side down is often debated. According to research (and indeed the laws of physics) it would seem that, believe it or not, it does! In a 1995 report in the European Journal of Physics – ‘Tumbling Toast, Murphy’s Law, and The Fundamental Constants’ by Robert Matthews – investigation showed that as a table is usually about 3 ft / 1 M high bread falling from the edge only has time to turn once in the air before landing on the floor. The resulting dirt, dust and cat hair is, according to the report, ‘an ineluctable feature of our universe’. No, we hadn’t seen the word ‘eluctable’ before either. And talking of cats – The Buttered Cat Paradox combines the idea that a cat always lands on it’s feet (this is known as the ‘cat righting reflex’ and works if the cat is more than 1 ft / 30 cm above the ground) with the ‘fact’ that bread always lands butter side down. What would happen if you attached a piece of buttered bread to the back of a cat and then dropped it? There is a theory that as the cat approaches the ground it will defy gravity and rotate as it hovers a short distance above the floor. We’ll leave you to think about that for a minute too…

The BBC television sitcom ‘Bread’ ran from 1986-91, and followed the ups and downs of the Boswell family as they attempted to make ends meet by often less-than legal means. Writer Carla Lane had previously written ‘The Liver Birds’ sitcom which was also set in Liverpool and which also featured a family called Boswell.

The Real Bread Campaign are good at puns. Well, we think they are – on the front page of their website it says ‘lessons in loaf’, ‘knead to know’ and ‘a wholegrain of truth’. We’ve tried to think of something funny to say now but we can’t. Oh well – that’s the yeast of our problems… in the meantime the very cool retro-styled ‘I Loaf Real Bread’ t-shirt is available now. For dough nuts everywhere. 


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