Ypsilanti Citizen Opinions ]]>

Thank you Ypsilanti
By Dan DuChene & Christine Laughren
Jun. 23, 2010   ·   5:07 p.m.

Christine Laughren and Dan DuChene, co-owners of the Ypsilanti Citizen, pose in front of their company's banner at Frenchie's during the Citizen's one-year anniversary party.

The Ypsilanti Citizen was launched in November 2008 to inform the Ypsilanti community about the news and events that were happening in their area.

Since our launch,...read more

Crossroads Summer Festival; rockin’ ladies night
By Dave Heikkinen and Frank Wright
Jun. 23, 2010   ·   4:37 p.m.

Barbara Payton and the Big Boss Trio rock Washington Street.

A special Ladies Night was held Friday at the 2010 Ypsilanti Crossroads Summer Festival in conjunction with the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life.

Just...read more

Crossroads to hold Ladies Night for Relay for Life
By Dave Heikkinen and Frank Wright
Jun. 16, 2010   ·   9:13 a.m.

On June 11, the 2010 Ypsilanti Crossroads Summer Festival featured a rousing opening set from roots and blue grass band Dragon Wagon.

Dragon Wagon was joined on...read more

Electric rail pollution leads to dirty laundry
By Laura Bien
Jun. 15, 2010   ·   11:42 a.m.

From the approximate vantage point of the present-day Materials Unlimited, the interurban car barn and powerhouse on Michigan Avenue loomed large.

Maggie Smith was not looking forward to a forenoon of sewing pleats.

She put down her newest customer’s summer dress. Downstairs, she offered to get potatoes...read more

EMU students in wartime
By Laura Bien
Jun. 1, 2010   ·   10:32 a.m.

The 1942 Aurora yearbook, the 50th
anniversary edition, included images that contrasted modern and
old-time students.

Leroy Grindle was an Ypsilantian soldier who lost his life in WWII. He was a member of the Michigan Normal (EMU) class of ’41, and is memorialized with a black...read more

The “Buy Local” Bread Wars of 1910

This 1910 Star Bakery ad has Photo by Ypsilanti Archives

This 1910 Star Bakery ad has "Phones," plural, since there were 2 competing phone systems at The time, each one with different subscribers.

To the Archives

By Laura Bien
Feb. 2, 2010    ·    11:43 a.m.

“Ypsilanti sourdough. . . has its own distinctive taste,” said an unknown author of a onetime River Street Bakery Web site. The writer explained that the bread starter was “fed with flour and water and captures wild yeast from the air.

“Since the sourdough starter for River Street’s bread resides, like us, in Ypsi, its yeast cultures also hail from the Ypsi air,” the author continued. “The air in Ypsi is different from the air in San Francisco (and being close to the Huron River, the air on River Street is even different from the air in other parts of Ypsilanti), so the wild yeasts of Ypsi (much like the citizens of Ypsi) are a bit different than those found anywhere else.”

This hometown yeast shout-out has echoes in a bread war a century ago. Rooted in small Ypsi groceries, the campaign rippled outward to encompass “café men,” housewives, boardinghouse keepers and even the most pip-pip of society “clubwomen,” all of whom loyally took up the banner of Ypsilanti bread.

The first bubbles of discontent appeared in the Jan. 27, 1910 Ypsilanti Daily Press. “Figures compiled for the Daily Press show that between 24,000 and 25,000 loaves of Detroit-baked bread are sold in this city each month.”

The paper continued, “This means that Ypsilanti grocers pay to Detroit bakers the enormous sum of $1,000 each month [$23,000 today] for Detroit-baked goods. Where does Ypsilanti come in, is the pertinent question asked by the bakers.”

With a 1910 population of around 6,200, Ypsilanti had, according to the 1910 city directory, a mere 10 male and female bakers. James Clark and ex-Ypsi mayor George Gaudy each owned their own bakeries. Gaudy owned a shop at the present-day location of Terry Bakery at 119 Michigan Avenue (later moving to 24 N Washington Street). It sold candies, ice cream and baked goods. 40-year-old Canadian-born Clark had the Star Bakery next door at 117 Michigan Ave.

21-year-old baker Orma Robbins boarded with his widowed 35-year-old washerwoman mother Josephine in the home she owned at 229 Prospect. Orma’s three younger siblings lived there as well. The census recorded the race of the family, in 1910 language, as “mulatto.”

38-year-old Emma Schueltz, who also lived with her widowed mother, Sophia, is listed in the directory as jobless, but in the census as a “baker at home bakery.” It was likely a small business operated from the woman’s rented home at 530 Huron. German-born Sophia may have taught her American daughter how to make such German baked goods as pumpernickel bread, apple kuchen, and Christmas stollen.

20-year-old Earl Chapman and Edna, his 17-year-old wife of three years, were both bakers. They lived at 327 Miles. Another 20-year-old baker was Rupert Smith, who boarded in his father Elmer’s 801 Ann Street home.

33-year-old baker Samuel “Birdsy” Cowell lived with his wife Jessie, his mother Hester Ann and his son Velton at a 34 Forest rental. Baker Don Stockdale boarded at 115 Hamilton, and baker Anthony Burke and his wife Gladys lived at 414 Forest.

The Jan. 27 paper said that local grocers were considering contracting with these local bakers and shunning Detroit bread.

Ypsilanti felt her own bread was inferior.

“There is no reason why Ypsilanti cannot turn out just as good bread as Detroit providing that the Ypsilanti bakers are equipped with the same facilities as the Detroit firms,” said the paper. “[Detroit bakers could] come out here... bring their families, settle here and other Ypsilanti merchants would reap the benefits derived from buying and eating home-baked bread.”

Only a day later, the campaign changed its tune. The Press interviewed local grocers to see if they’d ban Detroit bread.

“Said one, ‘If my customers will accept Ypsilanti bread in lieu of Detroit goods, I am willing to be the first merchant to discard [Detroit bread] . . . Ypsilanti can turn out as good products as Detroit and give the homemakers a square deal.’”

The paper reported Gaudy as saying, “This bakery, and for that matter the other bakeries of this city, have always turned out a superior product. The best flour and other necessary ingredients are always used in producing 'Gaudy’s Good Goods' and we maintain a standard never set by Detroit firms.”

The Press had applied a bit of heat, and the campaign was expanding. The next group to chime in was the café-men (short-order cooks). It was emerging that Ypsilanti bread had significant, if heretofore overlooked, virtues.

The Jan. 29 Press said, “[T]he reason that the local restaurant owners use Ypsilanti bread in preference of Detroit bread is:

1. Better slicing quality.
2. Maintains freshness for longer period.
3. Is well baked. Detroit bread is often a mass of raw dough.”

The Press went into detail.

“It is a well known fact that café owners are compelled to slice many sandwiches,” it pointed out. “If the bread clings to the slicing knife, it is impossible to make a nice looking sandwich.”

The café men joined forces with the grocers and bakers and planned a housewife re-education campaign “to induce householders to try the home-baked product for one week. A house to house canvass is also talked of.”

The Press then addressed “Mrs. Ypsilanti Housewife.”

“[T]ry Ypsilanti bread,” it said. “When you give your order to the grocery man, specify YPSILANTI BREAD.”

The Press kneaded the subject further in its next edition. The advantages of Ypsi bread had risen overnight from three to five, as highlighted in a little box on the front page:

Five Reasons Why You Should Specify “Ypsilanti bread”:
1. It is the best bread.
2. It has better slicing qualities.
3. Maintains its freshness longer.
4. It is made in Ypsilanti.
5. It means $12,000 a year to this city.

“Ypsilanti club women will take up the cudgel in defense of Ypsilanti-baked bread,” said the paper. “The women of Ypsilanti realize that it is up to them to drive Detroit bread from this city.”

The article included an anonymous testimonial.

“A prominent club woman declared today that she would introduce a resolution at the next meeting of the society of which she is a member asking that the members of that society agree to purchase Ypsilanti bread in lieu of Detroit bread.

“‘The women of this city should declare against Detroit products,’ declared this woman. ‘I, for one, am willing to lead the fight against the [Detroit] bread... If every woman in our city who is a member of the club, either church or social or fraternal order, would agree to use only Ypsilanti bread the Detroit firms would be compelled to look elsewhere for a market for their goods.’”

The campaign extended into February, as the Feb. 1 paper pointed out additional defects of Detroit bread. “TOO CRUSTY,” said one headline, with “Hard Shell Covering and Inside is a Mass of Raw Dough,” adding, “’tis said.”

The paper pointed out that 60 percent of the city’s 25 boardinghouses bought Detroit bread, amounting to 600-700 loaves a month.

“With Ypsilanti boarding houses boycotting Detroit bread,” said the paper, “the backbone of the Detroit hold in this city would be broken.”

The Press’s tone turned martial. “Call up your tradesman NOW. Tell him you want Ypsilanti bread. Tell him that you can only be satisfied with the best and that the Ypsilanti product is the BEST. Help him in his FIGHT.”

The paper ran another nameless testimonial. “A baker stated today that after a thorough analysis of various Detroit breads and Ypsilanti breads, he had come to the conclusion that the local product is far superior. The crust of the Ypsilanti bread is not as hard and indigestible as the Detroit bread.”

It was also baked more thoroughly, he said, and the Detroit dough was “too “young,” as it had not been given sufficient time to “prove...”

To think that at one time the city had hoped to lure to Ypsilanti Detroit’s “expert” bakers!

The Press turned up the heat on Feb. 2. It ran a pledge coupon for housewives to fill out, cut out and promptly return by mail or in person to the “home bread editor” at the Press. It read, “I hereby agree to try home bread for the next two weeks.” There were spaces for number of family members, street address, and name.

The oven-mitt gauntlet had been thrown down.

The paper printed another testimonial by the Hawkins Hotel proprietor. “‘The traveling public,’ said Mr. Burchill, ‘is most critical. I have been in the hotel business for ten years and have found that the commercial men are very exacting...’”—and that they loved Ypsilanti bread.

After all this heat for so long, finally the timer buzzed. Home bread had triumphed!

“HUNDREDS ARE BUYING BREAD NOW” crowed a Feb. 11 headline. The war was won. As one man, Ypsilantians had united in buying domestic loaves.

On March 7, the Press’s tone finally cooled. “February Record is Unsurpassed,” said the headline. The article commended Ypsilantians for their patriotism, but ended on an ominous note. “It is to be hoped that the comparatively few who are still neglecting to do their part toward pushing Ypsilanti will follow the many who are enthusiastic in the work by confining their purchases in all lines to Ypsilanti.”

Ypsilantians had driven out imported bread. The “buy local” movement had begun.


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