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Posted on March 16, 2020

The History of the French Baguette

Did you know March 21 is National French Bread Day? It’s true, and to celebrate, we thought what better topic to share with you all than the history of the French baguette–a quintessential French bread!

The History of The French Baguette

When many of us think French cuisine and Parisian dining, one of the staples to the experience is, of course, bread (and wine, too). But how did the quintessential baguette come to be somewhat of an icon in France? Take a look at this delicious bakery delight! 

What we now think of as French bread is not what it was for most of history. According to The Good Life France, up until 1800, a peasant’s diet was primarily bread. Typically the bread was wheat, rye or buckwheat and filled with fillers like sawdust, hay, dirt and even dung to make their flour supply go further.

Bread was momentously important to the French, even serving as somewhat of a catalyst for the French Revolution. When citizens began to fear that the government was hoarding grains, this caused prices to rise and the revolution to be even more radical.

In France, long, wide bread loaves had been around since the mid-1600s to early-1700s with long, thin bread loaves emerging in the mid-18th century. Because there was more availability of wheat in the 19th century, white bread also became more accessible and was no longer just for the elite.

You may say that the evolution of bread in France was rather revolutionary as the development of steam ovens made the creation of what we consider today’s baguettes possible. The baguette was further perpetuated because, and in 1920, a law was passed banning bakers from starting work before 4 a.m. To be prepared for their breakfast customers, they created the thin, long baguettes which baked faster. It was around this time that the term baguette was coined from the Italian word baccheto meaning staff or stick.

Enough history. Let’s talk about eating.

How to Eat a Baguette: A Lesson in French Etiquette

If you are planning to host a French gathering of sorts, it is of the utmost importance you do not, under any circumstances, forget the bread. You must also secure your bread supply from a bakery, not that bagged, pre-sliced bread from the grocery store.

When serving your baguette, you can either pre-slice it in a basket and serve or just pass around the loaf where everyone can tear off chunks of bread. Fun fact: You don’t have to give your guests a bread plate–most French people just place it right next to their dish. You also don’t need to serve the bread with butter. Unless, of course, someone asks for it.

Pro tip coming your way: If you are serving dinner to French guests, do not buy a baguette early in the morning. You must get it closer to the meal. Not all baguettes are created equal and your guests will know if you got it too early.

This seems like an awful lot of prep just for bread. Why not let Le Manhattan Bistro take over!

Does the history of the French baguette have you craving French American cuisine right in NEPA?

Have you always wanted to experience the foods of France but don’t have the budget to leave Wilkes-Barre? Le Manhattan Bistro is the place for you. You don’t even have to worry about the bread.  

Reserve your table today to enjoy some of the best fine dining Wilkes-Barre has to offer. 

We look forward to serving you outstanding cuisine at all of our fine establishments:                                        

The Beaumont Inn;

The River Street Jazz Cafe;



Cork Bar & Restaurant;

Le Manhattan Bistro;

Fire and Ice