“In Baking Powder Wars, food historian and professional pastry chef Linda Civitello tells of the forgotten battle between four major baking powder purveyors—Rumford, Calumet, Clabber Girl and the once-popular brand Royal—and the vicious lengths to which each went to emerge victorious.”
Featured in Smithsonian’s 10 Best Books About Food of 2017.
Linda Civitello’s latest book, Baking Powder Wars: The Cutthroat Food Fight that Revolutionized Cooking, is quite chatoyant when compared to her previous broad and globally acclaimed work, Cuisine and Culture: A History of Food and People.
Baking Powder Wars is an exciting exploration of baking powder and at the same time, a detailed study of the food history. Civitello’s work effectively portrays the role of this universal white powder found in almost every kitchen across the United States, as a device to trace the historical role of women in food production. This book also relates baking powder to the rise of industrial food, evolving consumption patterns and early adoption of chemical food additives.
By 19th century, science had already refined the process of baking powder production and subsequently improved the preciseness of the chemical process.
With the onset of the twenty-first century, baking powder was rarely taken into consideration due to its marked increase in quick mixes and commercial bakeries. A significant decline in home baking also contributed to this factor. Even the anti-modernist food movement wasn’t able to change that substantially.
Baking powder wars, the book reveals the self-adaptation of the baking powder industry to fit itself into the development of thinly layered Age consumer culture.
With detailed research carried out by Civitello on the baking powder’s development and its original role in industrialization, food policy changes, and corporate structures, this book indeed speaks more than the average business history of the food industry.