Soup Kitchen (1831) & Bread Line

James A. Landau JJJRLandau at AOL.COM
Wed Oct 16 20:45:06 UTC 2002

In a message dated 10/16/02 12:46:32 PM Eastern Daylight Time,
george.thompson at NYU.EDU writes:

> Last summer you folks were kicking about the expression "bread line", and
> someone cited a late 19th C NYC baker named Fleischmann who gave away
> day-old bread at midnight to the poor.

That was me who cited the story.  I believe that rather than submitting it as
a fact, I described it as a legend and asked if anyone knew whether it was
true or was a folk etymology.

One detail---the bakery named Fleischmann is supposed to have become the
company why today sell's Flesichmann's Yeast.

It is a story I heard circa 1980 from someone long forgotten, and I was
curious as to whether it were true.  I remember the date because the story
was told me some time before a woman I knew in the early 1980's married a man
named Fleischman.

I was able to find exactly one reference on the Internet:

which in turn quotes from
Ross Wetzsteon _Republic of Dreams: Greenwich Village: The American Bohemia,
1910-1960_ New York: Simon & Schuster, 2002, ISBN: 0-684-86995-0

"in the 1880s, Fleischmann's Model Viennese Bakery on the corner of 11th
Street and Broadway donated its unsold products to the poor at the end of
every day, originating the phrase "bread line." "

Considering that the quotation contains an improbably long list of things
supposedly invented or orginated in Greenwich Village, I don't have good
vibes as to the accuracy of this particular quote.


I've never heard of a "soup-kitchen Protestant" but considering the
expression "rice Christian"  from the other end of Eurasia I'm not inclined
to doubt it.

      - Jim Landau

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