Why Would the Creator of Graham Crackers Be Horrified by Them Today?
This episode of brain stuff is brought to you by electrify america across country network of electric vehicle charging stations here to help electric vehicle. Owners feel free freedom of around their neighborhood. With charging stations near the places that matter and free to hit the road quickly by enabling access to ultra fast charging find out what's new electrify america dot com that's electrify america dot com electrify america. Hello freedom will come to brainstorm a production of iheartradio harebrained steph. Lauren vogel bomb. Let's face it. One of the best things about making a campfire is making s'mores. The quintessentially american treat consisting of a toasted gooey marshmallow and a square of melted chocolate pressed between two crisp graham crackers. But have you ever wondered where graham crackers came from or where they got their name. The original graham cracker was a health food developed in the eighteen thirties. From the teachings of an american food reformer and religious teacher named sylvester. Graham who by all accounts would be appalled by what's called a graham cracker today which is typically made with refined flour high fructose corn syrup ended up dab of honey for marketing purposes instead graham's original cracker called for just wheat and gram flour a form of whole wheat flour made by grinding the endo sperm winter wheat into a fine powder and mixing it with the brand and wheat jerem it has of course texture and nutty flavor the resulting cracker contained no sugar fat and often had to be softened by soaking or boiling before eating. We spoke with new york-based food historian. Sarah weisberg johnson. She said it's funny. That of all the things that he talks about with his health reform. That's the one thing that gets widely adopted and has his name. Graham flour gets adopted by people who may not even be aware of him even towards the end of the nineteenth century and persists into some of the twentieth century. You hear about graham gems and gram bread. Cookbooks up to the nineteen forties and fifties graham. Who was not a doctor. Although he sometimes went by dr graham was horrified by the over processing and enriching of wheat flour and believed that the loss of fiber and other nutrients and white flour ruined consumer health in eighteen. Thirty seven graham published a pamphlet entitled a treatise on bread and bread making in the intro. He wrote thousands in civic. Life will for years and perhaps as long as they live. Eat the most miserable trash. The kim be imagined in the form of bread. He was basically advocating for whole-wheat homemade bread and was thus hailed by the philosopher. Poet ralph waldo emerson. As the profit of brand bread. Graham was a proponent and follower of vegetarianism founding. The american vegetarian society eighteen fifty. He also believed limiting exposure to most spices refined sugar and all processed foods a presbyterian minister. Graham was a member of the temperance movement abstaining not only from alcohol but even from using yeast and baking johnson explained. I think that's by graham. Crackers became a thing because they were unleavened they didn't have brewer's yeast in them. The temperance movement was a big part of a certain kinds of protestantism. But the really hardcore temperance people like graham believed you couldn't use yeast because yeast produces alcohol in addition to writing about food graham also gave lectures on diet reform that are difficult to separate from his religious philosophy because he himself did not grams. Views on diet were linked not only physical but also to moral and spiritual health. He promoted daily bathing tooth brushing eating regular meals a day getting outside drinking only the cleanest water and exercising all great stuff by today's standards. He also believed that illness came from immorality including indulging in any form of lust or sexual contact for any reason other than procreation and even that any more often than necessary many of graham's recommendations for healthy living a cold bath sleeping on hard mattresses standing from all meat sugar spicy foods refined foods and even warm foods were meant to help you avoid over-stimulation and thus protect you from sinful temptation. And johnson points out that these practices were also similar to those of the self-disciplinary ascetic monks of the medieval period which were partially in response to the plague. She explained many of graham's health reform that happened in the nineteenth century come out of a series of cholera and typhoid epidemics. That's where the water comes in. And the emphasis on the health and sanitation of avoiding the excesses of life. That people thought might be a factor in disease at the time technological change and new urbanism brought about changes in society that not everyone. Viewed positively graham was rightly concerned about food purity and the dangers in commercial food production as populations shifted from farms to cities but his religious convictions tempered the lasting influence of this man who was a forerunner of the american health food movement. Johnson said he believed. There's less peer pressure to behave correctly. If you move to the city where you're not known to everyone. A lot of his ideas are about control. And how you create order in a time of change chaos. He stripped a lot of the joy out of life beating sex sleeping and baths which is why his actual teachings are not adopted. A part of it is the temperance part of it is the self denial who wants to sleep on a board. If you don't have to who wants to take a cold bath if you don't have to but graham flour especially if you're using freshly ground whole wheat is delicious. It's really good and does have a lot more flavor than white flour. I can see why that would be the thing that persists but at the time he had thousands of followers referred to his grandma is american author. Louisa may alcott family kept a gram table where meat tobacco and coffee were banned. Graham greatly influenced other health reformers who are also religious leaders of the day including ellen. White and adherent of seventh day adventists and dr john kellogg nother seventh day. Adventist who along with his brother will invented granola of cornflakes the foundation of the kelloggs brand. And who also would have been horrified by what we modern with his creations. Today's episode was written by patty rassmussen and produced by tyler clang for more in this month of other. Granular topics visit has two forks dot. 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