National Banana Bread Day is February 23. As we celebrate (and by “celebrate” we mean “eat a bunch of”) this yummy, cake-like quick bread, it seemed like a great time to take a look at this simple treat and its signature ingredient, the banana.
North Americans began consuming bananas on a small scale (and at very high prices) in the 1870s, shortly after the Civil War.
Jules Verne introduces his readers to bananas with detailed descriptions in Around the World in Eighty Days (1872).
The subsequent development of modern transportation networks of steamships and railroads, combined with the development of refrigeration, beginning in the 1880s, allowed bananas to become more widely available.
It took a while longer for bananas to start to appear in dessert recipes, though.
(more after the break)
Banana bread became a standard feature of American cookbooks in the 1930s, with the popularization of baking soda and baking powder, which are the leavening agent in most banana bread recipes.
Some food historians believe banana bread was a byproduct of the Great Depression as resourceful housewives did not want to waste overripe (but costly) bananas . Other historians believe the modern banana bread was developed in corporate kitchens to promote flour and baking soda products.