Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Thursday, May 3, 2007


Page 11



Hans Jevne Removes Wheat From Baked Goods




Why did Hans Jevne in 1918 take the wheat out of his baked goods?

It had nothing to do with promoting gluten-free diets (which has recently become a health craze among persons who don’t have any of the diseases requiring such abstinence).

Jevne—whose baked goods were sold not only in his own two grocery stores in Los Angeles but were on shelves in markets throughout Southern California and Arizona—was simply going a step further than what the government was requiring.

On Jan. 26, a Saturday, President Woodrow Wilson released a proclamation, for publication in Sunday newspapers.

“All manufacturers of alimentary pastes, biscuits, crackers, pastry, and breakfast cereals should reduce their purchases and consumption of wheat and flour to 70 per cent of their 1917 requirements, and all bakers of bread and rolls to 80 per cent of their current requirements,” the proclamation says.

It adds that “Mondays and Wednesdays should be observed as wheatless days each week, and one meal each day should be observed as a wheatless meal.”

The statement also calls for meatless Tuesdays and porkless Saturdays.

In regulations promulgated by Food Administrator Herbert Hoover, bakers (who were licensed by the federal government) were required to cut down on wheat in bread by 5 percent right away, gradually reducing the amount until a 20 percent reduction was achieved by Feb. 24. The reduced-wheat bread was officially dubbed “Victory Bread.”

The Tuesday, Jan. 29, edition of the Los Angeles Times quotes Hans Jevne’s son, Jack (who was vice president and general manager of H. Jevne Co.), as saying:

“We have nothing but newspaper reports in regards to the situation. However, we are more than willing to abide by the wishes of the Food Administration, even though we have agreed to hold action in abeyance until we receive definite instructions, which probably will be some time today.”

It wasn’t so much that wheat was needed for our troops. It was needed for French and Italian troops, as explained by Hoover the previous October. The future president said:

“Owing to the large failure of the harvest in France and Italy, and the inability to send the world’s shipping to remote markets, we have thrust upon us a larger duty in providing foodstuffs for them than we are capable of executing unless we can reduce the consumption of these foodstuffs in the United States. If we cannot secure this reduction in consumption we cannot maintain them constantly in the war. If we fail, the western line will move to the Atlantic seaboard.”

That prospect scared Hans Jevne wheatless.

Other bakers began producing loaves of bread, comprised of such grains as rye, bran or graham, especially for use on wheatless days.

A Feb. 7, 1918 Jevne ad in the Times says:

“The standing of our country today proves that our forefathers solved their problems in no uncertain manner. Then let us emulate these deeds, let us do more than requested. Let us volunteer to make each meal a WHEATLESS meal….

“All of Jevne’s bread, cakes, pies and pastries are correctly termed ‘VICTORY’ PRODUCTS, and have been especially created to enable you to serve WHEATLESS products in your table on WHEATLESS day or any other day. From now on, Jevne’s will bake nothing but ‘VICTORY’ PRODUCTS.”

On Feb. 5, Hoover decreed that patrons in restaurants, hotels, and dining cars be limited to two ounces of wheat bread, or four ounces of bread made from some other grain. An Associated Press dispatch from San Francisco on that date estimated that 6,000 businesses in California would be affected.

The story notes that restaurants were then charging 10 cents for bread and butter and would probably have to cut the price in light of the new limitation.

On March 29, the Food Administration specified that so long as consumers limited their consumption of wheat products to a pound-and-a-half a week, they didn’t have to abstain on any particular day. So, hot dogs, hamburgers on buns, and other meat sandwiches could once again be consumed on Mondays and Wednesdays…though not on meatless Tuesdays.

With restrictions in effect on the consumption of wheat products, patriotic consumers were desisting from buying dried spaghetti, macaroni and noodles. No thought was given to the fact that the products were probably on the grocers’ shelves before wheatlessness was ordained and were spoiling.

On Aug. 5, a Food Administration chieftain in San Francisco announced that such products, between then and Sept. 1, would not be deemed to be wheat products, in order to “clean up the shelves.”


Copyright 2007, Metropolitan News Company