All hail the humble breadstick on National Breadstick Day, an annual event on the last Friday in October; this year’s celebration occurs on October 30. Breadsticks are slender sticks of baked crispy dry goodness invented in Italy. Aside from their crunch, the best thing about breadsticks is they can be eaten as an appetizer or you can dress them up with all manner of culinary embellishments. Yum!
History of National Breadstick Day
It seems the original breadsticks, known as grissini, originated in the Piedmont region of Italy in the late 1600s, though food historians don’t all agree on the origins of this treat.
One such telling begins when the young duke, Vittorio Amedeo II di Savoia, turned nine. He had already suffered from intestinal disorders that affected his ability to eat as well as his physical development.
His mother asked the court physician to find a remedy to feed her son. The physician, who had great intellect, pinned the blame on food poisoning from bread polluted by pathogenic intestine germs. The doctor himself had suffered from similar intestine disorders. His remedy at the time? His mother’s homemade bread, “well leavened, well baked with little crumb and very crisp.”
The doctor asked a local baker to reproduce the bread sticks for the duke. It worked. Vittorio recovered and eventually became a king. The crisp grissino became the preferred bread in the Savoia household. Thus, visiting royalty and aristocrats of the time all had a chance to try it out. Just four years after Duke Vittorio ate his first breadstick, heavy demand for the product made it necessary for officials to set a ceiling price.
Did breadsticks really cure the duke? It seems possible that diners had enjoyed grissini earlier than that. But it does make for a good story.