Odd Wisconsin: Burnt toast survives test of time

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Burning your toast in the morning may not seem like the best way to start your day, but it just might prove interesting to posterity.

In 2002, while excavating a site called Alden’s Corners in Dane County, archaeologists uncovered several pieces of what appeared to be the oldest toast in Wisconsin. They unearthed the fragments of bread, which are at least 130 years old, during an excavation of the town post office, dating them somewhere between 1850 and 1880. The slices are composed mainly of wheat (discovered by using a DNA test), which was the state’s principal cash crop during the 1860s and 1870s.

The toast has apparently survived this long, escaping both scavengers and deterioration, largely due to the fact that it was burned. Not only did this prevent the ancient bread from being eaten, but it also quickly carbonized the carbohydrates, allowing them to endure for an usually long period of time.

In addition, archaeologists concluded that soon after being charred, it was covered with ash. Perhaps a disappointed postmaster threw his ruined breakfast into the remains of his fire. This covering of ash helped discourage animals from foraging and making a meal of it themselves.

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