Throwback Thursday ~ A Baker’s Dozen

Everyone who keeps up with this blog and our Facebook page knows that the reason for our existence is to amend the Cottage Food Law of the land. Specifically the Land of Ten Thousand Lakes- Minnesota.

For a long time I have wondered how there could be so many rules and regulations for something as simple as selling cookies. When we were kids, no one thought about it. My mom bought cakes, breads, jams, etc. from anyone she wanted to. So, where and when did all of these laws come into place? I’m still not sure. They may have always been with us and we just didn’t know it.

I came to this conclusion today as I discovered that even old King Henry back in 1154 had some pretty nasty punishments for any bakers who didn’t follow his bakers laws. If a baker in England during medieval times shorted someone, either intentionally or by accident, he got into a whole lot of trouble.  The baker would give an extra loaf of bread, or whatever he baked, to his customer to make sure he wouldn’t be considered a cheat. Later on this would become known by the phrase, “a baker’s dozen”, but the actual practice of giving the customer a little extra came first. That’s because in those days measuring by weight was more important than the quantity.

According to Wikipedia, England’s bakers were regulated by a trade guild called The Worshipful Company of Bakers, which dates back to the reign of Henry II (1154-89). The law that caused bakers to be so careful was the Assize of Bread and Ale. In 1266, Henry III reinstated an ancient statute that regulated the price of bread according to the price of wheat. Bakers or brewers who shorted their customers could be fined, flogged, or punished in some other not very pleasant ways. In 1477, the Chronicle of London reported on some bakers, who were pretty severely punished for selling bread that was underweight.

Now you know the origins for the term “A Baker’s Dozen”. I’m always happy for an extra doughnut!

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1 Comment

  1. Sharon

    Very interesting!

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