I often learn new things from doing this blog. For example, today I noticed a small advertisement in a hundred-year-old magazine for Farwell & Rhines Gluten Flour. Since some people have health issues that require them to go gluten free (or at least minimize their use of gluten), I was surprised to see high gluten promoted. How did cooks in 1919 use this flour? . . . Did they mix it with other flours? Use if for bread making?
Gluten is a protein. Flours with higher gluten content rise better when making breads. According to SFGate, all-purpose flour typically contains 11-12% gluten. Bread flour is considered a high gluten flour, and it contains up to 13% gluten. Cake flours only have 7-8% gluten. There are also products sold that are just called “gluten.” Gluten is sometimes added to other flours to increase the gluten content when making bread.
22 thoughts on “1919 Farwell & Rhines Gluten Flour Advertisement”
As one that has had to go GF, I miss the fluffy lightness of bread and cake. I’m surprised to see cake flour has lower gluten.
My impression is that gluten increases the elasticity of dough and that this traps more air bubbles which makes bread rise higher, whereas cake flour makes baked goods lighter and more crumbly.
And GF is heavy and dense. I rarely eat any GF bread products.
Didn’t know this. I wonder if this was common knowledge one hundred years ago? I just buy all purpose flour, but maybe I should be more discerning.
People a hundred years ago must have had some level of knowledge about gluten since the company that manufactured this flour advertised the gluten content.
That’s a fascinating little nugget of the past, Sheryl. My guess is like yours, bakers probably mixed it in with another flour for extra rising in bread.
Sometimes I’m amazed by the advertisements in old magazines. They provide an intriguing window into the past.
I have never heard of a flour so high in gluten, so I’m sure you are right and they added gluten to it. Their bread must have been very powerful!
My sense is that bread dough that contains lots of gluten rises more quickly. I bet that bread made with this flour rose very fast.
Thanks for finding this Sheryl! Before we know it, the pendulum will swing and everyone will be asking for high gluten foods!
My father had hepatitis in the late 50s and was on a low flour diet. (Among other restrictions.) Flour with gluten made a roll that was virtually all crust, weighed almost nothing but could be spread with jam to eat.
It’s fascinating how the use of gluten affected characteristics of the roll. Thanks for sharing the memory.
I laughed that gluten was advertised a hundred years ago as something good. Today you hear only about people who are gluten-free.
I had exactly the same reaction as you when I saw first saw this ad.
Like you ,I found this rather interesting,be interesting to hear what grandma would have had to say
Yes, it would have been interesting to ask her. I wish she was still around. So much knowledge is lost as generations pass.
A high gluten flour would have been great for mixing with buckwheat, rye, or other flours when making bread. I think pizza dough is supposed to use a high gluten flour as well. I buy gluten to make a protein product called seitan, and sometimes I will through in a tablespoon in with my all purpose flour when making bread.
Thanks to your comment, I think that I’m finally beginning to understand why this advertisement was in the 1919 magazine. This was right after the end of World War I, and during the war many people were trying to minimize their use of wheat flour so it could be sent overseas for the troops. There are lots of recipes from that era that call for buckwheat flour, rye flour or barley flour – and I bet cooks were adding a little high gluten wheat flour to those recipes to improve the quality of the baked goods.
Seitan was also new too me until I read your comment, and it me sent me off to googling “seitan” to learn more about it.
My grandmother would buy Gluten Bread all the time. It was like English Muffin bread in that it had a coarser texture with larger air pockets. It wasn’t all that good until it was toasted – then it was awesome. It was perfect for egg sandwiches since it didn’t get soggy very quickly. It had a chewy texture but tasted great.
Thanks for sharing your memories of Gluten Bread. It sounds really good – and your comment makes me want to make an egg sandwich. I haven’t had one in years, but am feeling really hungry from one. 🙂
We are reading a book by Ralph Moody (1962) called “Shaking the Nickel Bush”. It’s about his life in 1918 after being diagnosed with diabetes, & the drs put him on a special diet that included **gluten bread**. It is interesting to note what drs prescribed in those days—very similar to today except that today they say to eat bread that’s gluten-free.
Pg 14: “(M)other had her write down the recipe for making gluten bread and a list of things I could and couldn’t eat….’I suppose Dr. Gaghan told you that you must eat nothing that is either sweet or starchy. But you may have any sort of leafy green vegetables, fish, chicken, milk, eggs, and tea or coffee without sugar. No red meat, and nothing fried. But stewed or fricasseed or roasted chicken is very nice. And you remember what delicious trout you used to catch in the Platte River. Boiled trout are marvelous, and they’re almost as good as poached as fried. Then, you can have almost any kind of nuts.’”
All through the book as he travels from Massachusetts to Arizona, he buys gluten flour & has a recipe his mom gave him to cook it in a Dutch oven in coals in the campfire. Others also cook it for him—sometimes it’s as hard as concrete (made poorly) & other times it’s delicious—except for the caraway seeds! Lol. It’s a great series of books, and if anyone wants to find out more about gluten bread, it’s a great resource!!
The book sounds fascinating. It’s interesting that gluten bread was part of the diet that was prescribed for him. Some ideas about healthy eating have changed across the years. Other things have remained the same.