Baking Powder Wars

Baking Powder Wars : The Cutthroat Food Fight that Revolutionized Cooking

3.87 (63 ratings by Goodreads)
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First patented in 1856, baking powder sparked a classic American struggle for business supremacy. For nearly a century, brands battled to win loyal consumers for the new leavening miracle, transforming American commerce and advertising even as they touched off a chemical revolution in the world's kitchens. Linda Civitello chronicles the titanic struggle that reshaped America's diet and rewrote its recipes. Presidents and robber barons, bare-knuckle litigation and bold-faced bribery, competing formulas and ruthless pricing--Civitello shows how hundreds of companies sought market control, focusing on the big four of Rumford, Calumet, Clabber Girl, and the once-popular brand Royal. She also tells the war's untold stories, from Royal's claims that its competitors sold poison, to the Ku Klux Klan's campaign against Clabber Girl and its German Catholic owners. Exhaustively researched and rich with detail, Baking Powder Wars is the forgotten story of how a dawning industry raised Cain--and cakes, cookies, muffins, pancakes, donuts, and biscuits.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 272 pages
  • 152 x 229 x 20.32mm | 439.98g
  • Baltimore, United States
  • English
  • 0252082591
  • 9780252082597
  • 1,414,869

Review quote

"It's just an innocuous white powder in a can at the back of the closet. Or is it? Linda Civitello's history shows how baking powder precipitated vicious competition in big business, raised concerns about chemical adulterants in food, and transformed home cooking. Without baking powder, there would be no fluffy cakes and pancakes, no biscuits, no muffins, and no cookies, in short, no American cuisine as we know it."--Rachel Laudan, author of Cuisine and Empire: Cooking in World History

"With Baking Powder Wars, Linda Civitello takes her readers on an interesting and learned journey about a little-known subject: The history of leavening agents. I'm grateful for this detailed backstory on what makes bread rise to the occasion."--Adrian Miller, author of the James Beard Award-winning book Soul Food: The Surprising Story of an American Cuisine, One Plate at a Time "Readers interested in food and business will appreciate this well-researched book. . . . Highly recommended."--Choice

"You'll never look at baking powder quite the same way again."--Smithsonian Magazine "Food historian Civitello tells a complicated and sordid tale of corporate mischief that will surprise many readers."--Booklist

"[A] meticulously researched history."--Orlando Weekly "Civitello connects the story of baking powder to much larger themes in American history, offering illuminating insights into how racial prejudices influenced branding and marketing practices in the baking powder industry. . . . Foodies and culinary enthusiasts will find much to mine."--The Wall Street Journal

"A thrilling tale of food business, especially the wonderful chapter seven, about the shenanigans of corrupt businessmen and politicians."--Bruce Kraig, coeditor of The Chicago Food Encyclopedia
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About Linda Civitello

Linda Civitello teaches food history in southern California. She is the author of Cuisine and Culture: A History of Food and People, winner of the Gourmand Award for Best Food History Book in the World in English (U.S.).
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Rating details

63 ratings
3.87 out of 5 stars
5 29% (18)
4 40% (25)
3 22% (14)
2 10% (6)
1 0% (0)
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