Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Baking Powder Wars by Linda Civitello

I admit to not knowing much about baking powder because I am not a big baker. I like to eat baked goods, but if I'm going to bake something, there's a good chance that a mix will be involved (not even a baking class helped). But, I like reading and eating so food history is something that I am interested in reading. The only thing is, I don't really find many books about this topic.

Baking Powder Wars fills a little gap in my huge chasm of ignorance about the history of food. Although it starts off as a history of baking and the troubles that women have traditionally had making bread and other baked goods, the bulk of the book focuses on the companies that made baking powder. Basically, baking powders were marketed as ways for women to successfully make bread and other things involving yeast with much less effort, and in an age where a women's abilities were (at least in part) measured by how well they baked, this must have been a lifesaver to them. But since it was so new, how could they figure out which brand to buy?

And this is how the marketing wars began. From what I understand, the big companies used different types of baking powder - phosphate and aluminium and they used every way they could to exploit the difference for their own gain.

To be honest, I found the marketing aspect a lot less interesting than the history of baking (whoops, not being a very good economics student here). I found the recipes and the snippets of how life was for women back then fascinating and if anyone knows a book that focuses on that aspect, please let me know!

I would recommend this to people who are interested in the history of brands and the (relatively) unknown history behind everyday products. If you're interested in marketing and brands trying to get favourable legislation passed, you'll love this, but even people who are just interested in the cooking will find something to like (mainly at the start of the book, but there are snippets everywhere).

Disclaimer: I got a free copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for a free and honest review.

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