Historical Tidbits: Beer. FTC Says Beer Is Not Bread

November 10, 1944: The Federal Trade Commission ruled that beer and bread are not the same thing.

This breathtaking announcement was aimed at the members of the Minnesota Brewers Association.(*1) They’d been running ads claiming that the “nutritional value” of beer was “comparable” or “equivalent” to that of bread.

The FTC ordered them to cease and desist. Why? Because the two weren’t equivalent. Consumers would have to down 3.5 bottles of “ordinary” beer in order to gain the same carbohydrates found in four slices of “enriched white bread” (like Wonder bread). They’d have drink 4.5 bottles to obtain as much protein and B1 — although they’d only have to drink one and a half bottles to get the same number of calories.

“Accordingly,” explained the FTC announcement, a “working man” would have to “ingest relatively large amounts of beer to obtain the [same] nutrients and calories” contained in “a relatively small amount of white bread.”

Moreover, the FTC added in case the brewers still didn’t get it, beer and bread were fundamentally different: Bread contained fiber and fat; beer did not. Beer contained alcohol; bread did not.

American tax dollars at work, 1944.

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Source: “FTC Rules Bread Tops Beer As Food,” New York Times, November 11, 1944, p. 16.

*1: The Minnesota Brewers Association included Duluth Brewing and Malting; Fitger Brewing; People’s Brewing; Ernest Fleckenstein Brewing; Schutz & Hilgers Jordan Brewing; Kiewel Brewing; Mankato Brewing; Gluek Brewing; Minneapolis Brewing; John Hauenstein Company; August Schell Brewing; Theo. Hamm Brewing; and Jacob Schmidt Brewing.

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