Chemical additives in food are routine in the twenty-first century, but they were new in the nineteenth when industrialization created American food that was not farm to table, but factory to table. Baking powder is the reason that the expression “flat as a pancake” has no meaning for Americans: it makes the difference between a flat French crêpe and a fluffy American pancake. Feeding a particularly American need for speed, baking powder made baked goods cheaper to prepare and shortened their cooking time radically. Baking powder broke down the dam for the chemical flood in foods that all Americans are familiar with now.
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