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Aunt Jemima's Explosive Pancakes

A 1930s original print advertisement for Aunt Jemima’s Pancakes.
A 1930s original print advertisement for Aunt Jemima’s Pancakes.

Food has been recorded to play an important role in war history. Amidst the chaos of the Second World War, both Allies and the Axis powers pushed for scientific development so that they could outpace the opponent. Technological advancement brought about the creation of weapons in an explosive and destructive manner, unlike anything the world had ever seen before. In an innovative attempt to match such potential, an American chemist and physicist of Ukrainian descent developed an explosive powder that was no different than baking powder in its physical properties.

The pancake flour was codenamed “Aunt Jemima” after the successful pancake mix which was already being sold in the American market. It became incredibly popular amongst the Chinese guerrilla fighters resisting the Japanese.

Government labs were overseeing the development of explosives and combined them with regular flour to make the mix look harmless. The biggest selling point of this concoction was that it was actually edible, though not advised. The edibility of the mix was its main emphasis so that smugglers could pass the flour through any doubting customs officers. The mixture was also highly resilient to premature explosion which made it safer to transport. Though the mixture was not recommended to be ingested, there have been documented cases where it was baked into cakes and fed to the soldiers when the food ran scarce during the war in China.

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