It’s in virtually every household in America. It cleans out and refreshes cold air storage units. It soothes bee stings in the summer.

It removes acid-based odors. It cleans tile and stone floors. It takes away the stink from inside tennis shoes. It unclogs drains. It exfoliates faces, fruits and coffee cups. It keeps ants, snails and roaches at bay.

It’s in your food, cattle food and swimming pool products.

It puts that little glittery sparkle in a smile!

And, it’s used as a national economic indicator by the Federal Reserve Board.

In 1846, Dr. Austin Church and John Dwight formed John Dwight & Co. They manufactured and sold saleratus or sodium bicarbonate.

In 1867, Church retired; his two sons formed Church & Co. The boys decided to fancy up the boxes of the all-purpose agent with the hammer-wielding arm of Vulcan (god of fire) that today we recognize as Arm & Hammer Baking Soda.

In 1914, Arm & Hammer Bicarbonate of Soda published its 64th edition of a tiny book of Valuable Recipes.

Measuring just 3 ¾ by 6 inches, the booklet included a perpetual calendar, recipes, household advice, a history of baking soda and two pages of advice on disease-carrying mosquito control.

It ended its 33 pages with three pages of up-to-date United States Postal Service rates and regulations.

In 1986, more than 100 tons of Arm & Hammer’s bicarbonate of soda were used to wash the inside walls of the Statue of Liberty, thus dissolving 99 years of coal tar and preserving the copper walls.

In 2015, almost 17 ½ million tons of “trona”, the natural mineral from which baking soda evolves, was mined in Wyoming.

In 2017, one of those boxes of baking soda landed in the Moore kitchen cupboard. It was used for many things, two of which were Parkin, an English ginger oatmeal cake and a simple chocolate cake. In both cases, the baking soda reacted with other ingredients to produce the leavening action.

One hundred and seventy-one years and still going strong.

Ginger Oatmeal Cake

  • 1 cup oats
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • ¾ teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ cup butter or margarine
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ¾ cup molasses
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 large egg, beaten
Grease a 9-inch square pan. Line with wax paper and grease paper. Place oats in large bowl. Sift together flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, ginger and cinnamon. Stir into oats.
In saucepan, warm butter, brown sugar and molasses on low heat just until butter is melted. Remove from heat and stir. Stir in milk. Stir in egg.
Pour wet mixture into dry mixture. Stir just until combined. Pour into prepared pan. Let sit while preheating oven to 325 degrees. (Many recipes using baking soda call for the batter to sit a few minutes before baking.) Bake 35-40 minutes or until toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean. Cool, invert on serving plate, remove wax paper and serve.
NOTE: Parkin is normally wrapped, stored in a tin to ripen for a few days before serving. It will be sticky and moist.

Swans Down Chocolate Cake

  • 3 oz. unsweetened chocolate melted
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 2 ¼ cups light brown sugar, packed
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 ¼ cups sifted Swans Down cake flour
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup boiling water
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 13x9x2 inch baking pan. Sift the cake flour, then spoon 2 ¼ cups of it into a large measuring bowl. Set it aside.
Cream butter, then add brown sugar and eggs. Beat with mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla, chocolate, then baking soda and salt. Add flour alternately with sour cream. Pour in boiling water and stir with spoon until blended. NOTE: Batter will be very thin.
Bake for about 30-35 minutes or until tested done. Cool.
Frost with chocolate buttercream frosting
  1. 3 ¾ cups confectioners’ sugar
  2. 1 stick butter, softened
  3. 3 tablespoons milk
  4. 1 teaspoon vanilla
  5. 2 oz. unsweetened chocolate, melted, cooled
Beat all ingredients except chocolate in large bowl until creamy. Add chocolate and beat well. May add more milk one teaspoon at a time to reach spreading consistency.
Recipe Source adapted from the Swans Down Cake Flour box.

Contact Connie at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or through this newspaper.

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