Marie Antoinette’s famous line: “Let them eat cake” is beloved to be about when she heard that the peasants of France didn’t have enough bread to eat. Until the end of the 1700s, bread was what peasants ate at every meal. Being a staple in their diet, the average adult man might eat two to three pounds per day. The lack of bread, as well as the lack of edible bread available to peasants at the time was one of the main reasons why the French Revolution started.
After the Revolution ended, the government made sure that quality bread was accessible to everyone. A law was created that stated that all bakers must only make one type of bread: The Bread of Equality. This meant that whether rich or poor, everyone would receive good quality wheat bread which was made from flour that is 3/4 wheat, 1/4 rye and includes bran.
This, however; did not lead to the French baguette that we know today. By the middle of the 1800s, baguettes were six feet long. At one point, someone described how they had to put the baguette on their dining table lengthwise because it was longer than the width of the table. Also, young boys used to pretend that these baguettes were swords and enjoyed playing with them before dinner
The size of these baguettes changed once again in 1920. A law passed that stated that bakers weren’t allowed to work between 10pm and 4am. The six foot baguettes that they currently had needed to bake for a long time which didn’t give bakeries enough time to bake enough bread to sell.
That’s when they created the baguette that we know today. This baguette is only up to a metre in length and has a diameter of 5-6 cm. This smaller baguette allowed bakers to come in after 4am and gave them enough time to bake baguettes for Parisians to have for their breakfasts.
That’s how everyone’s favourite bread was created. I found all of this information very interesting and am very happy that I don’t have to worry about fitting a 2 metre long baguette into my car!