History of Soy Flour, Grits, Flakes, and Cereal-Soy Blends - Part 3

by William Shurtleff and Akiko Aoyagi


A Chapter from the Unpublished Manuscript, History of Soybeans and
Soyfoods, 1100 B.C. to the 1980s

©Copyright 2004 Soyfoods Center, Lafayette, Californi

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The Early Years (1767 to 1919). In 1765 the first soybeans were grown in North America, in Georgia near Savannah, at the request of Samuel Bowen, who had brought the soybeans from China via London. From 1766 Bowen planted soybeans on his own plantation at Thunderbolt, Georgia. In 1767 Bowen, a British citizen??, received a British patent, number 878, for his "new invented method of preparing and making sago, vermicelli and soy from plants growing in America to be equal in goodness to those made in the East Indies" (Hymowitz and Harlan 1983). While the patent does not explain how the products were made, Bowen does tell us that the vermicelli was made from "Chinese vetches" (soybeans) and that a similar product was made in China for use at sea, since it was not attacked by weevils. Raw soybeans were probably ground to a flour, then mixed with starch and water, and formed into vermicelli. In 1774-75 Bowen exported 200 pounds (91 kg) of his soy vermicelli from Savannah, Georgia, to England and in 1776 he received for it a gold medal from the Society of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce, plus a present of 200 guineas from King George III. Dr. John Fothergill, a famous English physician and botanist, wrote that the Society's agricultural committee had conducted experiments on the vermicelli (and sago) produced by Bowen and that indeed they appeared to be cheap and salutary foods that under proper encouragement could become an article of commerce (Georgia Gazette, Sept-Nov. 1766 and 25 May 1774; Bowen 1767; Woodcraft 1854). Hymowitz and Harlan (1983) did brilliant historical detective work to uncover this long-forgotten early story. It is important to note, however, that no specific mention of soy flour or even of ground soybeans is made with respect to Bowen's soy vermicelli. It could have been made from wet-ground soybeans or from dry-roasted soybeans.

The earliest known specific reference to soy flour in the US was by Trimble in 1896. He noted that European scientists had found the soybean to be free of starch and "this freedom from starch has repeatedly led to the suggestion [in Europe] that soya meal be used in making bread for diabetics." Langworthy (1897) mentioned that starch-free soybeans were being used in Paris to make a "soy-bean bread" for diabetics, however he did not refer specifically to soy flour (although that was actually what was being used).

The earliest known reference to commercial production of soy flour in the US was in 1906 when Winton, of the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, in an article titled "Diabetic Foods," noted that "soja bean meal" was being made by the Theo. Metcalf Company in Boston for use in diabetic diets. The two varieties of Metcalf's Soja Bean Meal were advertised as containing 5.5% and 7.6% starch. Winton's analysis of the 5.5% meal showed it to contain 8.95% starch, sugar and dextrin, 39.9% protein, 19.1% fat, 3.85% ash (minerals), and 7.75% moisture. Clearly, it was a whole soy flour. Winton gave a recipe for the use of the meal in Soja Bean Meal Biscuits (Muffins and Popovers). Metcalf's flour was probably?? the first commercial soyfood made in America after Bowen's soy vermicelli and soy sauce. Yet it was not on the market for long. Ruhrah^ (1909) reported that it was withdrawn since it contained 8% carbohydrate, which was still, however, "much less than any other diabetic food."

The earliest published research on soy flour in America was done by pediatricians. Ruhrah^ (1909) discussed the possibilities of using soybeans, ground to a meal, as a valuable addition to the diet of infants who were sensitive to milk or sick. In 1910 Ruhrah^ reported that he had worked for Mr. M.F. Deming (of the Cereo Co. in Tappan, New York) to make a whole soy flour, from dehulled soybeans, for use in infant feeding. A nutritional analysis showed it to contain 44.6% protein, 19.4% fat, 4.2% ash, 5.3% moisture, 2.35% crude fiber, 9.3% sucrose, and no starch. Ruhrah^ added 1 to 6 tablespoons of soy flour per quart of water (or water-milk mixture) with a little salt, boiled it for 15 minutes, and fed this gruel or broth with good results to infants suffering from diarrhea, digestive disturbances, or diabetes. Since the gruels contained no starch, they did not thicken during cooking; they settled shortly after being allowed to stand. These products were the forerunners of America's first commercial infant formulas. Ruhrah also used this whole soy flour to make biscuits. Additional studies on soy flour in infant and diabetic diets were published by Friedenwald and Ruhrah^ (1910), Ruhrah^ (1915), and Sinclair (1916), all in American medical journals. The use of condensed milk with soy flour was found to be especially beneficial in infant diets. Ruhrah^ (1911) gave additional recipes for using soy flour in diabetic diets in broths, muffins, nut cakes, "soy bean cakes," breakfast food, pancakes, and tofu ("soy bean cheese"). The fact that these researchers were respected pediatricians and their work was published in respected journals helped to give soy flour a good image.

In 1914 Loomis reported that a number of US firms were "putting out soy bean meal or flour on a commercial scale."

By the start of World War I soy flour and soy oil were America's two most popular soyfoods, a pattern that continued into the 1980s. All the soy flours made before the war were whole (full-fat) soy flours, made by grinding raw soybeans. They were used primarily in special diets for diabetics and infants allergic to milk. After about 1915 a number of low-fat soy flours, by-products of the mechanical pressing of soybeans to obtain oil, were also introduced.

In 1916 Piper and Morse of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) noted that flour made from defatted soybean meal, which when fresh had a sweet and nutty flavor, was used

to some extent in America as a food of low starch content. . . As a human food, soy-bean flour has been used principally in the United States as a special article of diet and is sold by a number of food companies manufacturing special foods. Extensive tests are being conducted by the USDA with soy-bean flour in making bread. The flour or meal can be successfully used as a constituent for muffins, bread, and biscuits in much the same way as corn meal. In these various food products about one-fourth soy flour and three-fourths wheat flour have been found to be the proper proportions. When a special food of low starch content is desired, as for diabetic persons, a larger proportion of soy flour is used and some form of gluten is substituted for the wheat flour.

Soy flour first came to be widely used in the US during World War I and, indeed, it was selected as the best form in which to introduce soybeans into the American wartime diet. During the war extensive work on all aspects of soy flour was done by the USDA, and in 1918 a number of publications appeared. True (1918) in "Use Soy-Bean Flour to Save Wheat, Meat, and Fat," noted that "Experiments with the soy-bean flour in the experimental kitchen of the (USDA) Office of Home Economics show that palatable dishes can be made using this as one of the ingredients. . . It is now becoming a common foodstuff, one which is well worth knowing and using." He then gave eight recipes using low-fat soy flour in quick or hot breads (including biscuits, muffins, and griddle cakes), a yeasted Victory bread (25% soy flour), and as an extender in croquettes, meat loaf, and omelets. Holmes (1918) found the digestibility of the protein in low-fat soy flour to be 85.3%, considerably higher than that of common legumes. The USDA Weekly Newsletter (1918) summarized these findings and recipe ideas for "soy bean meal." Horvath (1927) reported:

When the Special Committee appointed by the USDA investigated and studied to find out if there was any kind of food which was cheap, nourishing, and palatable enough to provide a remedy for the high cost of living, they discovered soy flour. The Committee recognized it as an ideal food and therefore they advocated the use of it. Extensive investigations have been conducted since by the USDA and domestic science schools relative to the utilization of soybean flour.

Unfortunately Horvath does not tell us the name of this committee or the date of its study or publications.

In 1918 Dox, from the Food Division of the US Army, published "Experiments with Soy Bean Meal as a Substitute in the Army Ration." In order to conserve wheat, he added soy flour to soups and breads, then did taste tests with officers and enlisted men in army camps. Bread containing 20% soy flour was darker and smaller in volume than typical all-wheat loaves, but it had an "excellent flavor." It was thought that 10% would be a better level of soy flour usage. The soups were also well liked.

Considerable research on soy flour was also done at universities during World War I. In 1917 Osborne and Mendel at Yale, after noting that soybeans had been used in America almost solely as a food for diabetics, gave an analysis of seven commercial whole soy flours, all made from dehulled soybeans. These flours contained an average of 42.8% protein and 19.8% fat. Unfortunately the names of the manufacturers were not given. In 1918 Roberts and Miller at the University of Chicago, in "A Cheap Homemade Soy-Bean Meal for Diabetics," listed Waukesha Health Products Co. in Waukesha, Wisconsin, along with Metcalf in Boston and Cereo in New York, as commercial manufacturers of soy flour. The authors found that the easiest of three methods tested for making whole soy flour at home was to grind raw soybeans, spread the resulting flour/meal evenly in pans, then brown it lightly in a moderate oven, stirring often to prevent scorching. They then presented a number of recipes (muffins, breakfast mush, fried mush cakes, crisps) based on recipes developed in 1916 by Ethel Kolbe of the same university. Windsor (1918) at the University of Missouri published several soy flour recipes. Bowers (1919) at the North Dakota Agricultural Experiment Station, in an extensive investigation, found that the protein of properly cooked soy flour was 91% digestible by humans, and that soy flour made from dehulled soybeans was more golden in color than that containing the hulls. In 1917 Amy Daniels and Nell Nichols at the University of Wisconsin did the first studies showing that the proteins of soy flour are valuable supplements for correcting the amino acid deficiencies (primarily lysine) of wheat flour, and that soy flour is thus an excellent fortifier for bread. Note that the last four studies mentioned were all done by women. The commercial soy flours made during the war and postwar periods were most widely used in breads. There was apparently little concern among manufacturers with improving their flavor. Later writers commented that some of these early products had a poor flavor and gave soy flour a bad name (Dies 1942).

In 1918 a patent for making tofu from soy flour was issued to Makino, a Japanese, in San Francisco. The earliest known US patents for soy flour itself, likewise, were issued to a Japanese researcher, Yoshitaro Yamamoto, in 1919 and 1922. Both patents concerned deodorizing and decoloring soy flour. (Recall that three soy flour patents had been issued in Europe prior to 1919.) In the 1919 patent, dehulled soybeans were steeped in dilute (1-2%) vinegar solution at 60*C, washed, steeped in sodium bicarbonate solution, washed, dried, and ground without further cooking. In the 1922 patent, full-fat soy grits were treated with very dilute acetic acid; the oil was then extracted and the meal ground to a flour. At last, the question of soy flour quality and elimination of its beany flavor was being addressed.

1920 to 1939. During the early 1920s, soy flour was produced largely on a small, experimental scale. Not all early attempts to commercialize soy flour were successful. In 1917-18 George Brett and I. Clark Bradley started the Chicago Heights Oil Manufacturing Company near Chicago and became the first company to crush soybeans grown in the Corn Belt, using hydraulic presses. They had great difficulty disposing of the meal. Bradley later recalled: "In the three years from 1920 to 1923 . . . we made soybean flour and sent samples to bakers, had it blended at a flour with wheat flour, and gave five-pound bags to hundreds of grocery stores who would consent to accept it." The response was lukewarm. The company went out of business in 1923 (Dies 1942; Markley and Goss 1944). Another early American soy flour was produced in 1926 by processors in Decatur, Illinois; they ground and fine-sifted expeller-pressed soybean meal, then sold it as "health flour" (Lager 1945). Horvath (1927), however, claims that this was a roasted soy flour. In about 1927 Funk Brothers in Bloomington, Illinois, started making soy flour. In 1929 Littlejohn published an article in American Miller on "The Soya Flour Industry," and discussed the Soya Millers plant in Seattle, which made soy flour.

Research on the nutritional value of soy flour (and breads fortified with it) continued during the 1920s and 1930s. In October 1920 Johns of the USDA Bureau of Chemistry was issued a public service patent (No. 1,356,988) on a formula for the preparation of a nutritionally balanced bread fortified with soy flour. In 1921 and 1923 Johns and Finks published studies showing that rats fed bread fortified with 15-25% soy flour grew significantly faster than those fed plain bread. In 1929 Hill and Stewart at the Harvard Medical School Department of Pediatrics reported successfully feeding 40 babies (who were sensitive or allergic to milk) for 2 months or more on a diet with soy flour as the sole?? source of protein. In 1933 Caldwell (US??) reported clinical studies in the clinical use of soy flour as a supplement to the diet of 66 infants; those on the soy-fortified diet grew faster than those on the control diet.

In The Soybean (1923) Piper and Morse gave a comprehensive review of developments to date with soy flour in both the US and Europe. They stated that "Soybean flour has become established on the market, although at the present time principally as a special food (for diabetics and others requiring a low-starch diet). In some of the Pacific Coast states, however, the flour has been placed quite generally on the market and can be as readily procured as corn meal, graham flour, and the like." The book contained 31 creative recipes for using soy flour in American kitchens. Apparently this soy flour was made by simply grinding whole soybeans or low-fat presscake, without further cooking of either.

Henry Ford took an early interest in soy flour. By 1923 Ford company stores sold soy flour in breads (Nevins and Hill 1957) and during the 1930s visitors to Ford's Greenfield Village had a chance to taste and buy breads, rolls, muffins, biscuits, cakes, and cookies, all fortified with soy flour or flakes.

No person did more in the early days to introduce soy flour to America than Dr. A.A. Horvath, who played much the same pioneering role as Berczeller had in Europe. A detailed discussion of Horvath's life and work is given in Chapter 60. In his first major work in English, The Soybean as Human Food (1927), Horvath discussed soy flour and its history around the world at great length. The introduction to Horvath's book was a 1925 speech to the American Soybean Association given by Deming, whose Cereo Company in New York had made soy flour since 1910. Horvath reported that in 1927 soy flour was being made in the US by Cereo Company in Tappan, New York (whole soy flour containing 44.6% protein and 19.4% fat), Funk Brothers Seed Co. (Bloomington, IL), Spring Products Co. (Herndon, VA), and A.E. Staley Mfg. Co. (Decatur, IL). Horvath noted that the Battle Creek Food Company (started by Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, see Chapter 58.2) of Michigan was marketing a good-tasting, coarsely-ground soy flour, made from heat-treated, expeller-pressed flakes (purchased from Staley). Containing 53.8% protein and 9.2% fat, it was claimed to be especially useful for overweight people. Kellogg's company also used it to make a soy biscuit for diabetics. Horvath also reviewed some medical aspects of the use of soy flour, as in diabetic diets.

Horvath's work with soy flour increased during the 1930s, with a host of excellent journal articles: "Soya Flour as a National Food" (1931b), "Some Recent Views About Soya Flour" (1932, also published as a pamphlet), "Soya Flour--Its Manufacture and Uses" (1935), and "Soya Flour is a Miller's Best Friend" (1935). In numerous other articles during the 1930s, Horvath discussed all aspects of soy flour, including its nutritional value, manufacture, and uses in American foods. He felt that fortifying bread with soy flour could transform it "from the class of energy producing foods to the level of full value foods," thus stemming the decline in its consumption. He felt that properly processed whole soy flour was a much higher quality product than low-fat or defatted soy flour, and that it stayed fresh longer without becoming rancid. Nutritionally, he praised soy flour both for its high quality protein and for its highly alkaline ash; Kellogg (1927) had found its alkalinity to be 12.0, the highest of all foods he tested. In 1935 Horvath wrote:

In order to give to whole soya flour the place in the Western world to which it is entitled, a threefold programme is necessary--namely, more fundamental scientific research on soya flour, education of soya food technologists, and education of the public. All these functions could be to a great extent the function of a National Soya Industries Research Institute, an example of which already exists in the USSR.

In 1938 Horvath wrote an excellent review of research on the nutritional value of soy flour.

Most of the early commercial infant formulas and soymilks produced in the USA were made from soy flour. Sobee, America's first commercial infant formula, introduced in 1929 by Mead Johnson, was a suspended soymilk made from soy flour (Hill and Stuart 1929; Sarett 1976), as was Mull-Soy, launched in 1936 (Muller 1943). By that time the dairy industry was starting show concern over the increased use of soy flour to replace milk in bread and pastries (Slawson 1936). Yet this suspended soy-flour-based soymilk caused some flatulence and malodorous stools in infants, and it tended to clog nipples. Thus after the mid-1950s, and especially after 1970, it was increasingly replaced by formulas based on isolated soy proteins.

One of the most important non-food uses of soy flour during the 1920s was as a glue. Developed in 1923 by I.F. Laucks, Inc., which applied for its first patent in 1924 (No. 1,757,805, issued to Laucks and Cone in 1930), "soybean glue" attracted little interest until 1926, when the Pacific Coast Plywood Manufacturers Association, in response to the growing demand for water-resistant plywood from automobile makers, arranged a contest to find the best glue. The results obtained by the soybean glues of I.F. Laucks, Inc., in Seattle were so outstanding that these glues were almost immediately adopted by all the Pacific Coast plywood manufacturers and they continued to be used throughout the 1930s (Horvath 1933). Laucks was granted patented improvements on the glue until 1933. From 1927 to 1929 the soy flour used to make this glue was manufactured in Bloomington, Illinois by Funk Brothers and shipped to Seattle. Freight rates proved to be excessive so Laucks decided to establish a glue plant at the Funk Bros. plant in Bloomington. Laucks operated in Bloomington until 1934, when they built their own soy flour plant in Norfolk, Virginia (Cavanagh 1959).

Other early uses for soy flour, aside from human foods, were in pet foods (especially dog foods) and in calf milk replacers. Soybean meal was being used in dog foods by 1923 (Piper and Morse 1923) and the earliest known reference to soy flour in dog foods was in 1935 by Sweeney and Arnold. By the mid-1930s an estimated 9,000 to 13,600 tonnes of soybean products (meal, grits, and flour), representing 0.5% of the US soybean crop, were being used in pet foods (Levinson and Lemancik 1975). In 1921 Rouest in France reported that a plant in Canada was making calf milk replacer, which was probably made with soy flour. During the 1920s similar products probably were introduced in the USA. It is not known from when, how, or by whom they were made, and whether they were used to completely replace or just to extend cow's milk for calves. They were known to cause some digestive disturbances in calves and by the 1970s the soy flour had been largely replaced by soy protein concentrates.

Research on debittering (removing the bitter and/or beany taste from) soybeans began in the US in 1919, was fairly active during the 1920s, then became extremely active from 1932 on. Most of the successfully commercialized methods used steam, but a few used chemicals, such as dilute acid or alkali solutions. Debittering improved the nutritive value and storage life of the flour as well as the flavor. The basic research done on debittering soybeans for soy flour later had major effects on improving the quality of other soyfoods, such as soymilk and modern soy protein products. The world's earliest recorded patent on a debittering process was issued in the US to Yamamoto in 1919; details were described previously. The process was not commercialized. The first patent to be successfully commercialized was Berczeller's 1924 US patent (No. 1,509,076), in which yellow soybeans were cleaned, usually washed to remove dirt, steamed in saturated steam for 10-15 minutes, dried, cracked, dehulled, and ground to a flour in a special air-cooled mill; the fine flour was finally bolted. This landmark patent, the first to use steam for debittering, inspired much of the subsequent research on soy flour and first made soy flour a highly acceptable product. An excellent soy flour, based on the Berczeller patent, was first produced in the US in Nutley, New Jersey in the early 1930s. Baile (1927) and Goessel (1931, 1932) both immersed the dry soaked, or steam heated soybeans in hot oil to remove the beany flavor, then after drying, ground the beans to a flour. In 1932 the Shellabarger company patented a process for debittering soybeans under vacuum using carbon dioxide, steam, and a trace of hydrochloric acid to produce a light-colored, bland, whole (full-fat) soy flour. By 1939 some 27 US patents had been issued for soybean debittering processes. A list of these patents, worldwide, was compiled by LeClerc in 1934 (Ref??) and updated by him in 1938, then updated by A.K. Smith in 1945, with a summary of each patent, broken down by country of origin.

The 1930s saw a major increase of interest in and production of soy flour, largely because of the rapid expansion of soybean crushing in the US and the abundance of defatted soybean meal (seen as a by-product of the production of oil) available for use as soy flour. The earliest year for which we have production statistics on soy flour for food use in the USA is 1930, during which an estimated 900 tons (816.3 tonnes) were produced; 5.5% of this was used in infant and diabetic foods. These 900 tons represented less than 1% of the soybean meal produced that year. Yet an additional 60,000 tons (54,420 tonnes) of whole soybeans were ground for food uses, and much of this must have been used in the form of whole soy flour. By 1936, some 15 US oil mills were making soy flour (Burlison 1936; Bailey et al. 1935). From 1936 to 1939 production rose slowly from 11,000 to 14,000 tons (9,977 to 12,698 tonnes; Soybean Blue Book 1960). Accurate annual US production statistics for soy flour are available from 1936 to 1958 because of the work of the Soy Flour Association (from 1935), and the involvement during World War II of various USDA agencies and the War Food Administration, which exported the flour to US allies.

One of the most interesting pioneers of soy flour was a British physician named Dr. Charles Fearn, whose life and work are the subject of Chapter 59. After arriving in America in 1917, he apparently established a number of companies in New York and Chicago that made whole soy flour and products based on it. According to Richard and Richard (1963), the firms included Soyex Co. (from 1920), Fearn Laboratories (1923), and Soya Food Products (1925). Documents show clearly that by 1929 he was a director of the Soya Flour Manufacturing Company in London and that in 1930 he came to the US, where he started or was closely associated with a company called Soyex Co., which made the first Berczeller-type whole soy flour in America. His Fearn Soya Foods, established in 1935, made a variety of imaginative and successful soyfoods based on whole soy flour, including soya cereals, diabetic foods, soy flour-and-cocoa protein drinks, soya malt, powdered soymilk (based on soy flour), pancake flours, wheat & soy bread mixes, and a vitamin fortified "scientific reducing diet" called Viana, based on whole soy flour. Viana was marketed to the fashionable Hollywood upper crust interested in both slimming and good health. During the late 1930s, Dr. Fearn did extensive publicity for soy flour, including publication of numerous pamphlets and major promotional campaigns, especially to the burgeoning health food markets of Los Angeles. Soy & wheat pancake mixes developed by Dr. Fearn hit the big time during World War II. Following his death in 1949, Fearn Soya Foods languished, but it sprung to life under new management during the early 1970s with the growing interest in natural foods and soyfoods and by the late 1970s was an important force in introducing whole soy flour to America.

Another important manufacturer of soy flour during the 1930s was the Shellabarger Grain Products Co. of Decatur, Illinois. In June 1929 W.L. Shellabarger, President of the newly formed company, wrote the Soya Flour Manufacturing Company, makers of Soyolk whole soy flour in England, requesting a license to use their process in America. Nothing came of the resulting negotiations. In 1932 Shellabarger was granted a US patent on a process for making soy flour under vacuum using steam (No. 1,867,541) and by 1935 the company was advertising its flour in the proceedings of the American Soybean Association's annual meeting. By 1937 Shellabarger was selling soy flour and grits to Fearn Soya Foods. Although nothing is known of yearly output, production of low-fat (screw-press) products continued strong into the 1940s. Other soy flour producers that started in the 1930s were Madison Foods (they made a whole soy flour from 1931, renaming it Kreme O'Soy Flour in 1938), Harshaw Chemical Co. in Cleveland (from 1931; Horvath 1931c). By 1936 there were 15 soy flour manufacturers, including Battle Creek Foods (they made a canned soy flour), General Soya Corp. (New York), Hilkrest Health Products (Takoma Park, MD), El Molino Mills and Mitchell Milling Co. (both in Los Angeles), and Wilbur Gardner Co. (Glendale, CA) (LeClerc 1936 Ref??, Matagrin 1939).

There were different opinions about the quality of this early soy flour. In 1933 Horvath, discussing the Berczeller-type whole soy flour made by the Soyex Company in New Jersey, stated: "A high standard of soy-bean flour was established, confidence in the possibilities of soy beans for food was gradually gained, and the interest of the public and industrialists was reflected in a number of new attempts in the form of plants and laboratories which started to conduct experiments and to manufacture their own soy-bean flour and a great variety of soy-bean food products." However, writers in the 1970s (Smith and Circle 1972; Burkett 1974 Ref??) noted that these early soy flour products "were in rather crude form, and as such met with an indifferent and negative reception. The image projected by these products affected attitudes toward soy protein which persisted for many years, even when improved products later became available." "They were not much more than cleaned soybean meal." (Who said?? Burkett??)

During this period legislation was enacted concerning allowable use of soy flour in other foods. In 1930 up to 3.5% soy flour was allowed as a binder in cooked sausages, such as frankfurters and bologna. It also came to be used in chili and meat patties for its ability to bind moisture and fats, thereby increasing product stability. By 1938 it was being used in dog food.

By the early 1930s soy flour was being used in large bakeries as an ingredient in breads, rolls, pastries, and other baked goods, but it was best known in "soy bread." Soy flour was added for various reasons: as a bleaching agent, as a nutritional fortifier, and as a shelf-life extender. In 1927 it was discovered (by who??) that soybeans contain an enzyme (lipoxygenase) that can be used to naturally bleach wheat flour by simply mixing in 0.25-0.5% raw soy flour, then baking the loaf as usual. This process soon came to be used worldwide. The first enzyme-active American soy flour was Wytase, introduced by the J.R. Short Milling Company prior to 1933. In 1934 Haas (ref??) further elucidated the mechanism for the bleaching action of soy flour. Later a similar product named Paniplus was also introduced, and both came to be widely used.

One of the early pioneers of "soy bread" was Bill Baker of Ojai, California. Coming to America as a poor immigrant from Prussia, he worked as a baker in some of the most prestigious hotels and restaurants in America. Then he served as a chef for America's presidents in the White House until about 1923. Thereafter, he would send an elaborately decorated, "official" holiday fruitcake to the President each Christmas. For this he became famous nationwide. In the early 1930s he retired to Ventura in southern California, then moved to Ojai and baked conventional breads and pies for schools in the Ojai valley. Soon a group of doctors from the Cottage Hospital in Santa Barbara asked him to develop an alkaline bread for nutritional treatment of their patients with hyperacidity. Baker researched the problem and came up with lima bean bread, containing flour made from dried immature lima beans. In about 1934-35 he discovered soy flour and started developing and selling soybean bread. Baker asked Mr. Van der Cook of El Molino Mills (who started milling whole-wheat flour on an old-fashioned Dutch stone burr mill in 1927) to make him soy flour. The bread's formula was a secret, but Kahan later guessed that it contained 16-20% soy flour mixed with a high-gluten unbleached white wheat flour and sweetened with honey instead of sugar.

The first distributor of Baker's soybean (and lima bean) bread was Ben Kahan, who later founded the famous health food distribution company Kahan & Lessin. Kahan had a truck with a huge picture of a soybean on the side; this was a replica of the wrapper on Bill Baker's bread. Kahan distributed the soybean bread to health food stores (the only stores that would carry them), whence people with hyperacidity could purchase it. By 1935 Baker also had a soy and lima bean waffle flour on the market, containing soy flour. Convinced of the nutritional value of soybean bread for special diet cases, Baker set out to develop a loaf with universal appeal. Soon Los Angeles' burgeoning health foods movement discovered this new tasty and nutritious product, and many healthy people began to buy it as well. In its heyday during World War II, soybean bread sold some 2,400 loaves a day. It was shipped throughout the western USA, as far away as Seattle and Colorado, with a big market in San Francisco. Bill Baker died in about 1945, but by then his devotion to soy flour and soyfoods had put the little town of Ojai on the map. Another early advocate of soy bread was Dr. W.D. Sansum, a pioneer dietician from Santa Barbara, California (Ben Kahan 1983, personal communication; Lager 1945:90).

In about 1935 the Soy Flour Association began to operate as an informal group, with Edward Kahl as its first president; it was formally organized in 1936. That same year the Soya Food Research Council was organized as part of the Association to do impartial, scientific research on soy flour and grits. In addition to its functions as a typical trade association the SFA gave special attention to research, education, promotion, and dissemination of technical information about soy flour.

During the 1930s there was extensive research on soy flour, in addition to that done on debittering; much of it was done by scientists at the USDA, especially J.A. LeClerc and L.H. Bailey, both from the Food Research Division of the Bureau of Chemistry and Soils. Starting with an article on soy flour in Baker's Weekly in 1932, LeClerc (a chemist) proceeded in 1933 to compile the first list of US soy flour manufacturers, which he updated in 1936. In 1934 Ref?? and 1938 he compiled lists of patents worldwide for debittering soy flour. In 1934 he presented an excellent 31-page research paper and summary of work to date on soy flour at the annual meeting of the American Soybean Association. Entitled "The Composition and Characteristics of Soybeans, Soybean Flour, and Soybean Bread," it was published in Cereal Chemistry the next year (Bailey, Capen, and LeClerc 1935). It noted that soy flour is a fine source of many of the most expensive food constituents (protein and calcium, as well as energy) at prices that anyone could afford. Bread made from a mixture of 20% soy flour and 80% whole wheat flour contains 40% more protein and 380% more minerals (not including NaCl) than regular white flour bread. Moreover, they noted, the ash of soy flour is physiologically alkaline. Also in 1935 LeClerc wrote "The Composition of Soybean Flour from Different Processes of Manufacture," discussed (with Bailey) the effects of storage on soy flour, and developed a formula for soy bread (Horvath 1935). The same year Kingsley of the USDA Bureau of Home Economics discussed the various home uses of soy flour. In 1936 LeClerc and Bailey wrote "Soya Flour," a USDA publication. In a 1942 article titled "Soybread," LeClerc argued that it made much more sense to enrich white-flour bread with soy flour than with chemical vitamins and minerals. In 1938 Whiteman and Keyt of the USDA Bureau of Home Economics, in "Soybeans for the Table," stated that "Much of the soybean flour on the market is made of the whole or hull-free beans. Some of it however, is made from the bean press cake and a small part is made from the solvent extracted meal." Recipes using wheat flour fortified with 25% soy flour were given for muffins, nut bread, and pie crust.

In nongovernmental research, Woodruff and Klaas (1938) at the University of Illinois, found that the best-tasting soy flours came from vegetable-type soybeans and that flavor of soy flour made from regular (field-type) soybeans varied widely. Flour made from expeller-pressed soybean meal was found to have a poor, burned or caramelized flavor. Woodruff et al. (1939) reported that "Soybean flour is not easily found on the retail market even in soybean producing areas, except in food specialty shops at fancy prices. It is probably accurate to say that almost none of it is being used in average homes of the country and that relatively few people have ever heard of it." Jethro Kloss in Back to Eden (1939) had a clever recipe for how to make an egg yolk substitute out of soy flour, soy oil, and dandelion butter coloring.

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