A dozen is generally accepted to amount to 12 items of just about anything, but a baker’s dozen is 13 – why? It goes back to medieval times in England when markets were regulated by trade guilds, who set standards for the buying and selling of goods. Bakers were regulated by the Worshipful Company of Bakers. At the time, bakers sold their wares to middlemen in large quantities – such as a dozen - but could be fined, or flogged, for selling less product in weight than they had charged for – so would throw in an extra loaf (sometimes two) just to be sure. This extra loaf was called the ‘in bread’ or ‘vantage loaf’ and if selling just one loaf to an individual, an extra piece was often thrown in for good measure, a practice that continued into the late 20th century.
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