What is a Baker's Dozen?

Find out why the baker's dozen is good for business.

A baker’s dozen is the practice of adding one more item, or two items, to the usual 12. The baker’s dozen is also called, long dozen, long measure or Roughrider’s dozen. There are many purported origins of the practice. Three of the most common origins of the baker’s dozen are given below.

Three Versions of the Origin of the Baker’s Dozen

1. English Origin of the baker’s dozen. It was believed that during the 13th century, one of the earliest laws passed by legislators called Assize of Bread and Ale during the reign of Henry III, provided for severe punishment to bakers who shortchange customers. Erring bakers will have to be fined, flogged, pilloried or their hands chopped off. To avoid losing their hand, bakers started to give an extra item to the usual 12 to ensure against possible loss of one of the items. The extra item served as insurance to avoid the severe penalty.

2. Orderly arrangement origin of the baker’s dozen. Some people believe that the baker’s dozen arose because bakers found that arranging 13 items of bread like cookies and biscuits on the baking tray allows optimal uniformity in baking. A hexagonal or six-cornered arrangement allows better heat distribution in a batch of bread baked. This somehow bakes the bread at the same rate. Further, the extra item compensates for any burnt, half-baked or poor quality bread after the baking process.

baked bread

3. Retailer’s cut in the baker’s dozen. The 13th item in a dozen adds to a retailer’s profit. The extra item may also compensate for any item which may be damaged during transport or any similar situation. This is also considered as a matter of expressing goodwill to the retailer.

Nobody exactly knows which of these origins of the baker’s dozen is true. Whoever originated the baker’s dozen or whatever are the circumstances that led to the practice of adding one more item to the usual 12-a-dozen benefits not only the one at the receiving end but also the giver.

The Importance of the Baker’s Dozen in Business

Applying the baker’s dozen idea or principle at that is an effective way to attract customers. In fact, many establishments that sell items by the dozen apply the concept. Adding an extra item for every dozen gives an edge against competitors that will drive customers to their shop as the customers benefit more than the usual dozen they get.

Try the baker’s dozen in your personal life. Give more than just fair share. You’ll reap the benefits in the long run.

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