Today in 1804 a very bready day for the politicians in Washington, DC., thanks to something called the “Mammoth Loaf.”
A giant loaf of bread in the U.S. Senate must’ve been the best thing since sliced… uh, never mind.
There’s a story behind the bread here. Or, actually, two stories.
Back in 1801, a scientific project backed by President Thomas Jefferson had discovered the skeleton of a woolly mammoth.
His political opponents thought the administration was wasting the country’s time with these kinds of efforts, so they started applying the term “mammoth” to things the way that politicians might use terms like “pork project” or “boondoggle” today.
When some Jefferson supporters sent a 1,200 pound block of cheese in 1802, the anti-Jefferson people mocked it as the “mammoth cheese.”
But many Americans actually liked the whole mammoth trend.
Then liked that North America had once been home to actual mammoths.
And, to them, making a cheese that weighed more than half a ton meant the country could feed itself instead of relying on other countries’ products.
So, when the Senate held a public party in 1804, bakers in the U.S. Navy created the “mammoth loaf.”
Newspaper accounts of the time say it was 12 feet long, two feet high and “of a suitable height.”
They also served a massive roast beef, and some accounts even say the remnants of the now two-year old mammoth cheese were on hand too.
Whether or not that’s true, we know two things about the party.
One is, President Jefferson got the first piece of bread,
The other? As History.com put it, “the party quickly degenerated into a noisy, drunken affair.”
— The Siberian Times (@siberian_times) March 18, 2021
The temperature is warming here in Wisconsin, but it’s still plenty cold in Oymyakon, in central Siberia.
That’s the coldest permanently settled area on Earth, with temperatures sometimes dropping to -80℉.
But the Siberian Times just tweeted out a video of some residents making music out of the cold: spring ice drums.
They’re drumming on the ice with their bare hands! I’m getting cold just watching them.
Jefferson presented with a “mammoth loaf” of bread (History.com)
Thomas Jefferson and the “mammoth loaf of bread” (part 1) (The New York Evening Post via Newspapers.com)
Spring ice drums in the village of Oymyakon, Yakutia (Siberian Times)
Baguette photo by Baron Chandler via Flickr/Creative Commons