Wheat was originally a wild grass. Evidence exists that it first grew in Mesopotamia and in the Tigris and Euphrates River valleys in the Middle East nearly 10,000 years ago. As early as 6,700 B.C. Swiss lake dwellers used wheat in flat cakes.
It was the Egyptians who discovered how to make yeast-leavened breads between 2,000 and 3,000 B.C. Since wheat is the only grain with enough gluten content to make a raised loaf of bread, wheat quickly became favored over other grains grown at the time, such as oats, rice, and barley. The workers who built the pyramids in Egypt were paid in bread.
In 150 B.C., the first bakers' guilds were formed in Rome. Roman bakeries produced a variety of breads and distributed free bread to the poor in times of need.
In 1202, England adopted laws to regulate the price of bread and limit bakers' profits. Many bakers were prosecuted for selling loaves that did not conform to the weights required by local laws. As a result of the bread trials in England in 1266, bakers were ordered to mark each loaf of bread. The bakers' marks were among the first trademarks.
Wheat is not native to the United States. It was not grown by the colonists because it did not do well in the New England soil and climate. In 1777, wheat was first planted in the United States - as a hobby crop.
There are indications that wheat was produced as early as 1839 in the area that became the state of Kansas. Records on Kansas wheat production pre-date statehood (1861). Production statistics on wheat in Kansas have been published since 1866.
Between 1874 and 1884, 5,000 Russian Mennonites settled in Kansas. They brought with them Turkey Red winter wheat. Scientists at the U.S. Department of Agriculture also introduced wheats from eastern Europe in 1900. These wheat from the Russian Mennonites and the USDA provided the basic genetic material for the successful production of hard red winter wheat in the Great Plains. Although most of the... Continue Reading