1919 Farwell & Rhines Gluten Flour Advertisement

Advertisement for Gluten Flour
Source: American Cookery (February, 1919)

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

    1. 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.

    1. 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.

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

    1. 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. 🙂

  5. 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!!

    1. 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.

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