Better baking through chemistry The food fight that changed the US constitution

Linda Civitello is a food historian whose latest book is Baking Powder Wars: the cutthroat food fight that revolutionized cooking. My kind of book, it uses an ingredient we all today take completely for granted to look at everything from fake news and dodgy sales demonstrations to changes to the US constitution.

Our chat barely scratched the surface. We didn’t, for example, talk about the connection between baking powder and the Indianapolis Speedway. Nor did we talk about how the rise of baking powder made it so much easier to eat an excess of sugar, fats and carbs. But we did cover a lot of other ground, from before the outbreak of hostilities to the eventual end of the war.

The winner might not surprise you if you have a tin of baking powder in your cupboard. I imagine it did surprise some of the combatants.


  1. Get Baking Powder Wars at Amazon and I get a teeny kickback – just like those corrupt Missouri senators.
  2. The banner photograph is a detail from John Frederick Peto’s Still Life with Cake, Lemon , Strawberries and Glass, painted in 1890. The cake was definitely raised with baking powder, but which kind?
  3. The Clabber Girl advertisement is from 1955, by which time, the war was effectively over.
  4. The historic link between Clabber Girl and the Indianapolis 500.

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  • 💬 Charmaine McFarlane

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