Extra Bread: The Origins Of The Baker's Dozen

By | July 26, 2019

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An itinerant baker's cart. Source: (Photo by: Leemage/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

Many times, when you order a dozen rolls or loaves of bread at a bakery, you bring home 13 instead of 12. These bonus carbs are brought to you by the practice known as the "baker's dozen," a custom which dates back to medieval England. Contrary to popular belief that the bakers were redefining math to get more customers, the origin of the baker's dozen was more about covering their own rear ends than it was about customer satisfaction. It all started with the Assize of Bread and Ale Law. 

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The bakers guild was called The Worshipful Company of Bakers. Source: (medievalist.net)

Regulating Trade

Trade of goods in medieval England was strictly controlled by the government. Trade guilds were set up to keep tabs on the practices within each industry type, and bakers fell under the regulation of the "Worshipful Company of Bakers" guild that began as far back as the 1100s. People had a bit more reverence for bread back then.