Wednesday Was a Big Day for the French Baguette

Bread received UNESCO heritage status
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 30, 2022 2:45 PM CST

The announcement was celebrated in the most appropriate way, per Axios: with baguettes waved in the air. (See photo evidence here.) UNESCO on Wednesday voted to add the baguette to its "intangible cultural heritage" list, which now numbers 600 items. Reuters notes that some 16 million baguettes are said to be made daily in France, a country of 67 million people. President Emmanuel Macron hailed the decision, referring to the bread as "250 grams of magic and perfection in our daily lives," per CBS News.

The baguette's history is murky. Some say Napoleon called for the shape so that his soldiers could more easily carry it; others give credit to an Austrian baker. What isn't questioned is the impact a 1920s French law had on skyrocketing the baguette's importance: The law barred bakers from working before 4am. Per the AP, "the baguette's long, thin shape meant it could be made more quickly than its stodgy cousins, so it was the only bread that bakers could make in time for breakfast."

UNESCO defines intangible cultural heritage as "traditions or living expressions inherited from our ancestors and passed on to our descendants," and ones that should be preserved by humanity. Despite France's affinity for baguettes, there are some concerns about the health of the industry behind it. France's Culture Ministry has cited a "continuous decline" in the number of traditional bakeries, with some 400 closing annually since 1970. You can see UNESCO's list of the "new inscriptions" here; it includes an oral tradition of camel calling in Saudi Arabia and manual bell-ringing in Spain.
(Read more UNESCO stories.)

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