You may be familiar with the phrase, “a baker’s dozen.” But what does it really mean, and where did it come from?
The origin of a baker’s dozen (13 count) comes from the medieval English bakers who were selling underweight breads (of all things!)
Contrary to popular belief, there was no redefinition of math to get more customers, rather it was more about the bakers covering their own rear ends than actual customer satisfaction.
Here’s what kicked things off. As with most trade of goods being strictly controlled by the government, bread was no exception. King Henry III, in an effort to help mitigate the constant fluctuation of food prices resurrected an old law called The Assize of Bread and Ale Law, which mandated the price of bread and baked goods in accordance with the current price of wheat.
This law decreed that bakers and ale brewers shorting customers would be punished. The punishments ranged from fines to flogging and pillorying, which we can all agree is adequate justice for robbing someone of delicious bread!)
Bread was sold by the pound at that time, rather than by the loaf. While this was great for customers who wanted to know they were getting their money’s worth, it was not great for bakers, many of whom didn’t own scales. So regulators routinely patrolled the markets and baker’s shops to weigh their goods.
Rather than face punishment, English bakery shops acted quickly to offer an extra bread or rolls to make sure they met the minimum weight.
It is still not too uncommon for customers to receive a 13th count of something when placing orders of a dozen at some bakeries. And to our knowledge, no one in history has ever complained about an extra piece of bread!
In honor of all baker’s who are cranking up the ovens now that fall is here and winter is just around the corner, Milkman is offering a baker’s dozen of Milkman Chocolate Milk.