Wednesday, January 16, 2013
I love words. They fascinate me. Beginning today we will take a look at specific words every Wednesday. Every Wednesday will be Word Wednesday. We may compare and contrast words, look at etymologies, or we may look at the history of a specific phrase. Today we begin with the history behind the phrase "a baker's dozen".
In case you didn't know, a baker's dozen is actually 13. So if a bakery has a baker's dozen special it means that they are giving you an extra donut, cookie, pastry, or whatever. Where did this come from? Why did the term even come to be and why is it 13 instead of 12? Glad you asked!
Well, back during the reign of King Henry III there was a problem with British breadmakers giving their customers small loaves. The king imposed a new law that set a standard weight for a loaf of bread in order to address the problem. No baker wants to serve time for selling a loaf of bread that doesn't meet the standard weight, so it became common practice for breadmakers to give an extra loaf to customers who bought 12 loaves of bread to give the customer one more - just to be on the safe side! So if any of the loaves in the box were a little on the light side, the 13 loaf should make up the difference!