We’ve all heard the phrase “a baker’s dozen” but other than knowing we get 13 bagels instead of 12, we don’t know much else. Actually the phrase has its roots around bread.
Back in the Middle Ages, bread was sold by the loaf. Because of the difficulty of getting weight differentials equal, it was hard to make the loaves uniform and as a consequence some were short on the average weight of loaves. And, of course, you had unscrupulous bakers who tried deliberately to short weigh the bread. Because of the prevalence of this, laws were passed which regulated the weights of various kinds of breads, muffins and cakes. Some of those laws are still in existence today.
However, as everyone knows, it is extremely difficult to have each baked item weigh the same. And bakers back in the Middle Ages were dealing with primitive ovens and varying flour weights. In order to get around this, the practice began of adding an extra loaf to a person’s order to make sure that the baker stayed within the law. Hence the Baker’s Dozen was born.
And that theory doesn’t compare to the one in which bakers were seen as the devil. People would use baker and devil interchangeably. Some history buffs speculate that the baker’s dozen evolves from the devil’s dozen which was thirteen items, thirteen being the number associated with witches and evil.
Next time you bite into bread, remember that the baker had to fight a lot of history to give you that good loaf of bread. Let’s make 13 the baker’s lucky number.