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The History of Gluten-Free Bread

Dr. Anton Schär, who studied the effects of eliminating wheat from children’s diets back in the 1920s, was the first to develop products that would eventually grow into the first brand of packaged gluten-free foods. Ulrich Ladurner, the son of Austrian health food store and pharmacy owners, acquired the Schär brand in 1979 and by 1981, he had expanded the line significantly with some of the earliest gluten-free foods, such as “tisch fertige” or “ready-made” oat, rice, and tapioca-based breakfast cereals as well as gluten-free versions of European cookies like ladyfingers and butter biscuits. However, gluten-free bread still eluded manufacturers due to its complex structure and staple role in American kitchens. In the 1990s, gluten-free bread could only be found in health food stores and was not considered appetizing. In 2006, Colorado-based bakery-turned-manufacturer of gluten-free goods, Katz, launched a line of gluten-free muffins, cakes, Jewish-style cookies, and breads. Canyon Bakehouse, another Colorado-based company, began mass-producing gluten-free bread for the area just 2 years later. In 2008, Udi Baron partnered with a gluten-free baker to create the first gluten-free sandwich bread that won accolades. In 2010, Colorado-based supplier Rudi’s Organic Bakery opened a gluten-free facility and began selling gluten-free bread to supermarkets and health food stores. In 2013, Glutino developed its first gluten-free bread, and in 2015, Trader Joe’s brought gluten-free bread to the masses with its gluten-free sandwich loaves. With the increase in quality, palatability, and shelf-life of gluten-free bread in the early 2010s, it began to appear on store shelves (rather than exclusively in the freezer section). In 2016, Shake Shack began offering gluten-free buns at all its locations, and today, many restaurants offer a gluten-free bread option. While it has vastly improved in quality and become increasingly popular in recent years, no one brand has perfected gluten-free bread. However, due to its popularity among those who prefer to avoid gluten and those who must do so for medical reasons, gluten-free bread is here to stay and we will likely see further recipe improvements in the coming years.

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