Cover

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Praise, Title Page, Copyright, Epigraphs

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pp. i-vi

Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-xiv

This book would not have been possible without the kindness of many strangers and good friends at libraries, in academia and publishing, and in the food history world. I am lucky that I live in the country that invented public libraries, and I am deeply indebted to every librarian I have ever met in my life. The custodians...

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Introduction

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pp. 1-4

This is obvious to us in the industrialized twenty-first century. But it wasn’t obvious in the preindustrial nineteenth century, when most businesses were small partnerships, chemistry was a hobby, and the largest branch of the United States government delivered the mail. Baking Powder Wars delves into what happened...

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1. The Burden of Bread: Bread before Baking Powder

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pp. 5-17

In the first half of the nineteenth century, the future of the new nation, it seemed, was in the hands of the women who kneaded its daily bread. During the religious revival of the Second Great Awakening, bread became the focus of morality in the American home. Good bread was the measure of a good woman, a good...

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2. The Liberation of Cake: Chemical Independence, 1796

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pp. 18-32

The most prominent word on the cover of American Cookery, the first cookbook written in the United States, in 1796, is “CAKES.” It is centered on the cover, top to bottom and left to right. The letters are all uppercase; spaces between them make the word seem even larger. The cover makes no mention of bread; American...

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3. The Rise of Baking Powder Business: The Northeast, 1856–1876

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pp. 33-50

The slogan “Better living through chemistry” was created in the 1930s, but Americans had been living better through chemistry since at least a hundred years earlier, when chemistry was a new science.1 On the eve of the Civil War, chemical leaveners were a commodity in search of an identity. Women had reached...

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4. The Advertising War Begins: "Is the Bread That We Eat Poisoned?" 1876–1888

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pp. 51-69

During the Gilded Age, a time of increasing secularity, the American dream began to be measured in merchandise. On the surface, advertisers were selling baking powder, patent medicines, or cereal. However, they were redefining “the American dream in terms of a consumption ethic.”1 In the case of baking powder...

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5. The Cream of Tartar Wars: Battle Royal, 1888–1899

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pp. 70-81

A century after Amelia Simmons threw down the chemical leavening gauntlet in American Cookery in 1796, Americans were buying almost 120 million pounds of baking powder a year.1 Bread was still “the most important article of food” in the American diet, but baking powder had changed how breadstuffs were made...

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6. The Rise of Baking Powder Business: The Midwest, 1880s–1890s

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pp. 82-95

In 1893 Chicago announced to the world that the American Midwest, as a region by itself, had arrived as a player on the world stage. From May to October more than twenty-one million people visited the World’s Columbian Exposition to celebrate the four hundredth anniversary of Columbus’s arrival in the western...

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7. The Pure Food War: Outlaws in Missouri, 1899–1905

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pp. 96-116

Missouri was known as a “robber state.”1 Fifteen years of Jesse James withdrawing other people’s money at gunpoint from banks throughout the Midwest and then finding sanctuary in Missouri had earned the state that label. James and his gang had had public sympathy during Reconstruction when they continued...

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8. The Alum War and World War I: “What a Fumin’ about Egg Albumen,” 1907–1920

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pp. 117-134

“Survival of the fittest.” By the second decade of the twentieth century, the complex scientific Darwinism of the mid-nineteenth century had been reduced to a catchphrase of Social Darwinism. For baking powder companies this meant that after the Pure Food Law was passed in 1906, the baking powder...

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9. The Federal Trade Commission Wars: The Final Federal Battle, 1920–1929

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pp. 135-150

By the 1920s the public was reaping the benefits of the Industrial Revolution, which had reached America’s home kitchens. Electricity, indoor plumbing, refrigerators, sinks, and stoves revolutionized cooking and baking. By 1915, oven thermostats were nearly universal. Smaller appliances like blenders and toasters...

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10. The Price War: The Fight for the National Market, 1930–1950

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pp. 151-172

The Depression restructured the baking powder industry. The baking powder economic growth bubble, like the seventeenth-century tulip bubble in the Netherlands and the eighteen-century South Sea bubble, burst. No longer was baking powder production automatically profitable. The number of baking powder...

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11. Baking Powder Today: Post–World War II to the Twenty-First Century

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pp. 173-190

Clabber Girl entered the second half of the twentieth century as the uncontested leader in the baking powder industry, with Calumet in second place. Even though they were both alum baking powders and interchangeable in recipes, the nineteenth-century confusion about baking powders persisted in cookbooks until...

Glossary

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pp. 191-192

Appendix: Baking Powder Use in Cookbooks

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pp. 193-196

Notes

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pp. 197-228

Bibliography

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pp. 229-244

Index

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pp. 245-256