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"Its fake!" Then she devours a piece in three bites, and asks for more.
February 7, 2012 10:16 AM   Subscribe

Atomic Bread Making At Home is an in-depth article covering the ingredients, manufacture, and chemistry of; market research into; and social impact of the 1950's-era USDA No.1 white pan loaf.
posted by TheDonF (23 comments total) 25 users marked this as a favorite

 
I'm only part of the way through, but this is fascinating. Fear that people would stop eating bread in favour of processed foods lead to the development of processed breadfood? That seems at once ridiculous and completely sensible.

Related: I used to love white bread as a kid. When my mom decided to switch us to brown bread I was, initially, disgusted. It was so dry in comparison. And it tasted so...bready...

As an adult, about the only white bread I ever eat is French bread. I can't imagine eating a sandwich made with Wonderbread unless I'm in a pinch and it is the only thing available. I actually find industrial white bread to taste just of disgusting these days. (I know, first world problems, right?)
posted by asnider at 10:28 AM on February 7, 2012


Previously, Chorleywood bread in Britain
posted by exogenous at 10:28 AM on February 7, 2012


"just of disgusting" should, of course, read as "kind of disgusting."
posted by asnider at 10:37 AM on February 7, 2012


Do you have to buy the paper magazine to get the promised recipe?
posted by darksasami at 10:42 AM on February 7, 2012


Argh, they left out the recipe at the end. I really wanted to have Steak-ums on this as I'm sure God intended.
posted by codswallop at 10:49 AM on February 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


The bit about draftees in 1940 being rejected for illnesses related to malnutrition just blows my mind. We've certainly come a long way from those days, haven't we?
posted by tommasz at 10:59 AM on February 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


Oh hey, some bread to go with my plate of beans.
posted by radwolf76 at 11:06 AM on February 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


I am a huge fan of bread, but this article is a little too long.
posted by rebent at 11:16 AM on February 7, 2012


Seems more about writing than it is about bread.
posted by scrowdid at 12:09 PM on February 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


The bit about draftees in 1940 being rejected for illnesses related to malnutrition just blows my mind. We've certainly come a long way from those days, haven't we?

Depends on how you look at it.

"Malnutrition Impairs U.S. Children’s Health, Behavior"
Some 13 million children in the United States live in homes with limited access to a sufficient food supply. Children are being aided substantially by food stamps. In more than 800 counties nationwide, one in three children is getting this critical nutrition assistance. In the mid-American cities of St. Louis, Memphis, and New Orleans, half the children get food stamp (SNAP) benefits. Even in Peoria, Illinois – the proverbial Everytown, USA – the figure is 40 percent. In the Bronx, 46 percent of children are on food stamps. In East Carroll Parish, Louisiana, SNAP helps three in four children.
"What is Malnutrition?"
Malnutrition occurs in people who are either undernourished or overnourished. Today, in the U.S., more children suffer from malnutrition due to dietary imbalances rather than nutritional deficiencies.
posted by Celsius1414 at 12:15 PM on February 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


Nice article, but "Atomic" appears only once, in the title. I kept reading in anticipation of the atomic part that never came.
posted by rlk at 12:29 PM on February 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


tommasz: "The bit about draftees in 1940 being rejected for illnesses related to malnutrition just blows my mind. We've certainly come a long way from those days, haven't we?"

Stats like that are why I don't hate Butz as much as I might for his cornification of society. The people who made the decisions that still shape the landscape of food in this country lived through the times when the idea of 'malnutrition' being something that happened when you ate too much was not just ridiculous, but unthinkable.
posted by wierdo at 12:30 PM on February 7, 2012


I actually find industrial white bread to taste just of disgusting these days.

It has a taste? I thought it was just a sort of pre-napkin that kept the mustard and lunch meat off your fingers.

What I find funny about this is all the things he cites, like they are some part of a revealed conspiracy of poor nutrition, like "yeast food" (which, in my experience is ammonium phosphate, zinc, magnesium sulfate, yeast hulls and B vitamins) or the fact that they put a lot of extra yeast in their dough (so they don't have to wait for yeast to grow until it gets to a population density where it starts producing CO2, but given that most of the nutrition in bread comes from yeast, so?

The big difference between white bread and whole wheat bread is that you're loosing all your B6 by milling off the bran.

Really, if you have a bunch of grain and you're worried about nutrition, I recommend bottle conditioned ale.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 12:37 PM on February 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


"Yeast food" struck me as immediately familiar, having done some home brewing in my time. It is more commonly called 'yeast nutrient', but I've seen the former a few times as well. Anywhere that stocks brewing yeast will sell it.
posted by Dysk at 1:30 PM on February 7, 2012


That was a great read and a fascinating swathe of history - thanks!
posted by freebird at 1:57 PM on February 7, 2012


It has a taste? I thought it was just a sort of pre-napkin that kept the mustard and lunch meat off your fingers.

I get what you're saying, but I find that white bread is kind of sweet tasting: lots of sugar, I assume. I does go well with my poor-person's dessert of white bread, butter, and honey.
posted by asnider at 2:16 PM on February 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


poor-person's dessert of white bread, butter, and honey.

The correct way to make this is with maple syrup instead of honey, and a little bit of milk or half-and-half poured on top instead of butter, but I agree with the general principle.
posted by LiteOpera at 5:35 PM on February 7, 2012


this was way more fascinating than industrial white bread has any right being. Thanks for posting this.
posted by xbonesgt at 6:18 PM on February 7, 2012


Then, walking home from the gym the day before I am to begin my experiment, I stumble upon a mom-and-pop bakery-supply store. There, amid unlabeled bags of grains and white powders, I discover mejorante para pan blanco.

So he's doing this experiment to find out what every abuela in Mexico does every day of the week? All he had to do was ask anyone in his neighborhood?

White bread isn't a very exotic substance, even today. He mentions Bimbo bread, which as far as I can tell from trips to Mexico (and Mexican stores in the US) is the single most common commercial product in the universe. There are good uses for it, too; maybe your arugula-and-albacore sandwich wants something a little more stolid but real barbecue, for instance, whether in the style of TX, KC, or NC, works with nothing but fluffy white sliced bread.
posted by Fnarf at 6:38 PM on February 7, 2012


I am a huge fan of bread, but this article is a little too long.

That's because it's a (not very interesting) promo piece for a (not very interesting) book.
posted by Forktine at 7:12 PM on February 7, 2012


Interesting that it was almost a war of PR; industrial bread wasn't trusted, but after seeing widespread malnutrition, neither was home-made bread. So, after infusing nutrients into industrial bread, we have a rare problem of overnutrition.

It makes me wonder what food problems we'll have in the future.
posted by Turkey Glue at 9:56 AM on February 8, 2012


The thing I don't understand is this: How did I ever manage to spread peanut butter on that stuff, without ripping it to pieces?
posted by Goofyy at 10:14 AM on February 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Too long? Not very interesting? I found it fascinating, but then I have a habit of reading antique cookbooks and shelves full of food and social history volumes, including a bunch of single-topic food histories. This one's just gone on my wishlist.
posted by jocelmeow at 10:43 AM on February 8, 2012


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