Well, let’s jump back in time and understand the ‘history’ of the humble loaf. The oldest evidence of bread-making was found at a 14,500 year old site in Jordan, and the Egyptians are recorded as one of the first to introduce yeast to the process of making bread. Around 1000BC Rome, the circular Quern was developed – a circular stone wheel, which was the basis of all milling until the industrial revolution in the 19th century and in some parts of the world is still the way stoneground flour is made today.
History also tells us that bread made with the whitest flour were for the rich and elite, while the coarser darker loaves were for the poor. Around C150, bakers’ guilds were created which allowed the elite access to the more refined white breads, controlled businesses and regulated the price and weight of bread. Whilst wholegrains are rich source of nutrients, and a very important source of substances in poor people’s diets, they can go rancid after a few months. The more refined white flour was found to be able to be stored for longer periods of time.
At the beginning of the industrial revolution, “there was a synergy between the desires of people (status) and the necessities of commerce (long shelf life of the processed product)” – and white bread is produced on a massive scale.
Sliced bread was popularised after a slicing machine was invented by Otto Frederick Rohwedder of Davenport, Iowa, in 1928. The “Wonder Bread” company was the first to mass produce and sell pre-sliced white bread.
Bread type of choice also depends on history and your ancestors. In Eastern Europe, rye bread and whole grains are popular for their relatively high protein and lysine content. England, and various countries in the Mediterranean, preferred white bread because they had better access to other protein sources like fish.
Studies found that white bread is still popular as it is easier to digest, more appealing as it looks purer and more refined, better value for money and possibly more nutritious.