National Banana Bread Day
annually on February 23rd
Banana bread is baked and eaten today! Classified as a "quick bread" because it has baking powder but no yeast, it is more similar to cake—specifically "tea cake"—than it is to bread because it usually contains a large amount of sugar. It likely was given the name "bread" because it is sliced and often buttered, unlike cake, which is usually frosted. It can be a healthy food because of the bananas, which are packed with heart-healthy potassium, but its high sugar content can negate this. Raw honey or stevia can be used in place of sugar to make it healthier. Other ingredients like berries, nuts, chocolate chips, and wheat bran are often also added.
Bananas first arrived in the United States in the 1870s and quickly gained in popularity, appearing in desserts. With the invention of refrigeration, they became even more widespread in the early twentieth century, as they could more easily be shipped from other countries. They are now the most-eaten fruit in the United States.
Banana bread began appearing in the 1930s, during the Great Depression. Two factors converged at this time to bring it about and then expand its popularity. First, as times were hard, many people tried to save as much food as possible from going to waste. One theory is that someone who didn't want to throw away overripe bananas invented banana bread. Second, it was at this time that leavening agents like baking powder and baking soda were being produced more, making them more readily available to the public. The first banana bread recipe appeared in Pillsbury's Balanced Recipes cookbook in the 1930s, and recipes in cookbooks from the United Fruit Company and Better Homes and Gardens soon followed. Banana bread peaked in popularity after the publication of the Chiquita Bananas Recipe Book in 1950. Today we bake, eat, and enjoy whatever variety of banana bread we so desire!
How to Observe
Celebrate the day by eating banana bread! If you are feeling up for it, you could even make your own! Many recipes can be found online, and you could also make the recipe from the Chiquita Bananas Recipe Book.