Book of the Day July 17th, 2023

How Our Hearts Were Stollen: A Partial History of St. Louis Bakeries by Rich Gaynor

(History, United States / Midwest)

Filled with local flair and an undeniable passion for baking, How Our Hearts Were Stollen is a must-have for all readers who appreciate this culinary art. Written by St. Louis native Rich Gaynor, the book takes you on a fulfilling journey through the rich history of St. Louis independent bakeries from the early 1900s to the present. It is a thoughtful, heartfelt love letter to baking – and the independent bakeries that made a lasting impact on American history.

Although painted as a local interest book, Gaynor’s writing will appeal to far more people than St. Louis natives. In fact, it’s a gift for all who have been influenced by the unique comfort and warmth that can only be expressed through the tastes and aromas of a perfectly baked pastry. The product of a decade of research, the book paints a detailed picture of St. Louis and its independent bakeries from the early 1900s to today. Its discussions and themes are confirmed by samplings from the archive of 50 years of Monthly Bulletins from the St. Louis Master Bakers Association, along with 25 In-Person Interviews with current and past St. Louis bakers.

Throughout these unique baker interviews, you will uncover undeniable commonalities – a powerful sense of pride in their craft, utilizing high quality ingredients, having loyalty to their workers, and establishing meaningful relationships with customers. Interestingly, you also will discover that there was a unique bond within the baking community – they were a tight-knit bunch that frequently socialized and supported each other. Bigger than baking, the community was strong and seemingly unbreakable. So, Rich Gaynor begs the question, how did such a powerful industry reach its downfall during the mid 1900s?

The answer, of course, is complicated and filled with varying answers that you will uncover throughout the book. By reading, I truly came to understand that baking made a remarkable difference in not only St. Louis history, but also America at large. Baked goods are products of love, family history, and delicate touch. For that reason, baking is an art form that evokes nostalgia, brings us together, and fosters community. Whether you are from St. Louis or not, this is a delightful read for all who love baking.

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