Where Does the Phrase from scratch Come From?

Sports. Bet you didn’t expect that.

While we have no intentions of starting a sports blog, we thought it might be fun to dive into the origins of a phrase used by modern bakers everywhere.

From Scratch

We commonly refer to baking from scratch to show that we put in that little extra effort, made it with love, and poured over it a tad bit more. Now consider these alternative phrases. In that kitchen you stepped up to the plate; kept your eye on the prize; got off to a running start. Cricket, boxing and foot races are all documented sources of earliest use of the phrase.

Early Uses

One of the earliest uses can be found in Charles Dickens’ Hard Times, published in 1854. 

“To continue in fistic phraseology, he had a genius for coming up to the scratch…”

In Dickens’ day, boxing rings contained an etched line through the middle. To begin a fight, the referee would call each participant “up to the scratch.” It is commonly held the word scratch was representative of a starting line or point- a necessary component in all the above-mentioned sports. For example, a 1901 article from The Decatur Herald claimed, 

“A.F. Duffy, the American runner at the scratch, carried the Georgetown colors to the front…”

So, whether one was pulling on the boxing gloves or readying a swing of the cricket bat, they were starting from scratch.

Today’s Use

So how does sports talk turn into baking speak? As slang often evolves, the phrase was more widely applied. Structures were built from scratch, paintings started at scratch, and eventually (drumroll, please) goods were baked from scratch. 

When you are ready to enter the ring (a.k.a. your kitchen), keep Good Measures in your corner. We help you bake from scratch more confidently, clean up faster, and make your goods taste better.

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