Everyone these days knows that the term ‘baker’s dozen’ means 13 instead of 12 (if you didn’t already, you do now!), but where does the saying actually come from?
Generally, bread was ordered by the dozen, but during transportation of the baked goods, it was not unusual for bread to go missing or be underweight. It was either eaten, squashed, or just simply fell off the back of the wagon. If the delivery was not complete, bakers could face serious punishments. It was not unusual for bakers to have their hands chopped off and in Ancient Egypt bakers have been known to have their ears nailed to the bakery door for cheating someone out of a loaf – regardless of whether it was accidental or not, Ouch!
Due to the severity of the punishment, bakers decided it was far less painful to simply give an extra loaf free of charge on all orders of a dozen, to ensure that all deliveries would be made in full, and prevent them from losing their hands (or ears)! And that’s the origin of the bakers dozen.