- What is the story behind a baker’s dozen?
- Why is a baker’s dozen more than 12?
- Why is a baker’s dozen 15?
- Why is baker’s dozen 13 and not 12?
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the term “baker’s dozen” originated in the late 16th century and is “apparently so called after the former practice among bakers of including a thirteenth loaf when selling a dozen to a retailer, the extra loaf representing the retailer’s profit.”
It’s widely believed that this phrase originated from the practice of medieval English bakers giving an extra loaf when selling a dozen in order to avoid being penalized for selling short weight. A supermarket pack of a dozen loaves now contains just 12.
To avoid the possibility of such penalties, many bakers began to include a 13th loaf of bread with every dozen sold. This extra loaf made up for any possibility that the other 12 loaves might be light. Over time, that group of 13 loaves of bread became known as a baker’s dozen, and that’s what we still call it today!
Baker’s dozen means 13, instead of 12. The tale behind its origin is that a mediaeval law specified the weight of bread loaves, and any baker who supplied less to a customer was in for dire punishment. So bakers would include a thirteenth loaf with each dozen just to be safe.