Clive and Jeanette McCay, and The New York State Emergency Food Commission: Work with Soy

A Special Exhibit - The History of Soy Pioneers Around the World - Unpublished Manuscript

by William Shurtleff and Akiko Aoyagi

ęCopyright 2004 Soyinfo Center, Lafayette, California

Hundreds of thousands, probably millions, of Americans first heard of soyfoods or first tasted soy flour, soy bread, soy sprouts, and/or other soyfoods because of the work and writings of Clive M. McCay and Jeanette B. McCay of Cornell University. Both were soyfoods pioneers and Clive was a world famous nutritionist. They helped to develop and publicize the famous Cornell Bread and improved methods for growing soy sprouts. They both worked on the very active Soybean Committee of the New York State Emergency Food Commission during World War II; Jeanette was the Committee's chairperson.

Clive Maine McCay was born 21 March 1898 on a farm in Winamac, Indiana. Earning his way through college, he received his BA from the University of Illinois in 1920, specializing in chemistry and physics, his MS in biochemistry from Iowa State College, Ames, in 1923, and his PhD in biochemistry and nutrition from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1925. From 1925-1927 he studied nutrition biochemistry at Yale University under the great nutritionist Dr. Lafayette Mendel (see Chapter 27).

Early Years at Cornell. In July 1927 Clive married Jeanette Beyer, and that fall accepted a position as Assistant Professor of Animal Husbandry and Nutrition at Cornell University, where he spent 35 years in research and teaching; he became Professor of Nutrition in 1936.

Clive was deeply interested in the relationship between diet and longevity. At Yale and Cornell his early research had showed that brook trout and white rats fed diets that were low in calories but otherwise nutrient rich and balanced, grew more slowly and were smaller and leaner than similar animals allowed to eat all they wanted, yet they often lived twice as long. "Bigger" was not necessarily "better" as many nutritionists then assumed--and as many still do assume. After years of work in studying the life spans of all types of animals, but especially dogs, he summed up his findings by saying, "The best method we have discovered for retarding the onset of old age diseases is to keep animals thin upon a modest allowance of a diet more than adequate in foods rich in vitamins, minerals, and protein." (ref??) He also felt that a diet to promote long life should contain only small amounts of sugars and fats, and moderate amounts of starches. His research on prolonging the lifespan of animals brought him international recognition, and he eventually published more than 50 papers on the aging process.

In 1933 the McCays bought a run-down 55-acre farm about 3 miles from Cornell on Route 1, in Ithaca; they called it Green Barn Farm. They lived close to the land, growing their own food, chopping wood, and pumping well water by hand?? For the first 5 years they lived without electricity. Clive kept 40-50 of the dogs he was experimenting with on his farm. Unlike many animal experimenters, he loved his dogs (they were better fed than most children) and they loved him back. He took them all for a brisk walk each morning and evening. His nephew later wrote: "Clive had a way with dogs--he could calm the most vicious. He once walked into a barn where he had learned a Great Dane was being kept cruelly chained. The chain had worn the dog's neck raw and bleeding. Clive walked directly to the snarling dog, talking calmly to him all the time, removed the chain, and said `Come on.'--and took him home." (Storer 1973).

Clive's nephew went on to describe him: "Clive was a lean, sinewy man with rough-cut features--not handsome but a beautiful man. He was intense, quite--never laughed loudly or boisterously, yet you'd often see a little twitch of his lips, indicating his amusement over some incident . . . Clive was the greatest teacher I've ever known--both academically and by personal example. When I was 13 or 14--that nasty age boys go through--Clive had observed me throwing apples at the sheep in his orchard. A few days later he said, `Come down to the barn and stand over against that wall. He had a basket of apples. He walked about 25 feet away and threw every one of them at me! I couldn't dodge them and he didn't miss! When finished, he walked away without a word. I have never again thrown anything at an animal."

In a fine and detailed memorial biographical sketch, Clive's co-worker J.K. Loosli (1973) wrote: "Though Clive was intense, he gave the impression of doing everything easily. he could keep many projects going at the same time without worry or strain. He would often sit in the evening listening to music, reading technical journals and even take part in the conversation that was flowing around him. `Intense Living' is a fair description of Clive's working life. . . He had many close, interesting and unusual friends, closer and more intimate than most family members, with whom he loved to walk and talk . . . McCay's basic interest was in improving human welfare through better nutrition."

Clive's nutritional research was decades ahead of its time, and he was one of the first?? nutritional scientists to take a serious interest in natural foods. His remarks from the 1950s still ring true today: "The lack of information is not the problem in nutrition today. The vital blocks are a disinterest in learning, lack of self-discipline in food selection, and the failure to realize that what one eats affects one's health." (ref??) His ideas were not always popular in an era when Americans were being told by the food industry that fluffy white breads made of enriched, bleached flours were better than traditional whole-grain breads.

The War Years. At the beginning of World War II a number of farsighted states developed programs to deal with possible and expected food shortages. While many states introduced soybeans as a wartime food, few took them up with more exuberant enthusiasm than New York. As Jeanette McCay later noted, "The idea of a plant that produces our two most expensive foodstuffs--protein and fat--so abundantly and inexpensively, was exactly what people wanted to hear at a time of threatened meat and fat shortages." As a result a great deal was learned about soybeans, but even more was learned as to what it takes to make a food as new, as different, and as unfamiliar as soybeans acceptable to the general population. Quite early, these possibilities of soybeans as a great potential food resource appealed to the executives of Cornell University, the leaders, the economists, and the nutritionists of the state. In the fall of 1942 Carl E. Ladd, dean of the New York State College of Agriculture (Cornell) appointed a bread and soybean committee. This was composed of members from the Colleges of Home Economics and Agriculture, the School of Nutrition, and the Grange League Federation (GLF, a large farmers' cooperative), with Clive McCay as chairman (J. McCay 1946).

It is not clear when McCay first became interested in and began working with soy. He must have known of Professor Mendel's pioneering work on soyfood nutrition at Yale and he probably began using soy meal or flour by the early 1930s in his experimental diets for dogs. As an avid reader he was almost certainly aware of the work with soyfoods done by the USDA during the 1930s and early 1940s. And by this time he and Jeanette were growing soybeans in their farm garden and serving them as fresh green soybeans. Thus he was surely already aware that the soybean was one of the very best and most versatile sources of high-quality, low-cost protein.

The committee began to research and develop the possibilities of soyfoods. As a first step, the local Ithaca Co-op Food Store started to stock soy flour in 2-pound packages. Soon experiments using soy flour in bread were begun in the GLF experimental kitchen and in the laboratories of the College of Home Economics. Lucille Brewer, the GLF family food specialist, and the committee developed a recipe for a tasty and nutritious bread containing 5% soy flour, plus enriched white flour and milk. One key concept behind this new bread grew out of the success of the "open formula" feeds that had been sold by the GLF for many years. Just as New York farmers were able to know how much of each of the different ingredients their animal feeds contained, so Lucille and the committee believed that homemakers have the right to know the exact ingredients in such a basic food as bread. This work in late 1942 resulted in "Lucille Brewer's Open-Recipe Bread," (ref??) plus a booklet containing the recipe for the bread and other recipes for using soy flour and grits, published by the GLF.

The bread formula was taken over by a local bakery and the bread was sold at the Co-op. With an auspicious introduction by Dean Ladd at a luncheon for the state war council, the bread was soon enjoying good sales locally (J.B. McCay 1946).

At the same time that the committee was developing the soy flour and bread programs, work on sprouting soybeans was also started. For several years two Chinese graduate students (names??) in Nutrition at Cornell had been studying sprouting methods and the increases in vitamins B and C in soy sprouts. Professor McCay, with one of the students, visited New York's Chinatown to study the production and handling of soy sprouts and other soyfoods. Back at Cornell they started work on large scale soy sprout production. They developed an automatic watering device in the nutrition laboratory that rinsed 100-pound lots of sprouting soybeans with a hopperful of water every 3 hours day and night. These sprouts were sold for about 10 cents a pound at the Co-op food store and the University meat shop; they were also served at the Cornell home economics cafeteria. A steady little business had developed by the winter and spring of 1943. This was the first known research on soy sprout production by Westerners. To answer many enquiries on how to use soy sprouts, several mimeographed sheets were issued containing recipes and sprouting instructions. In one entitled "Sprouted Soy Beans" (April, 1943), Clive, always gifted with the turn of phrase started by noting: "Our daily paper would surprise us if it carried an ad: `Wanted: a vegetable that will grow in any climate, rivals meat in nutritional value, matures in three to five days, may be planted any day in the year, requires neither soil nor sunshine, rivals tomatoes in vitamin C, has no waste, can be cooked with as little fuel and as quickly as a pork chop.' The Chinese discovered this valuable vegetable centuries ago in sprouted soybeans. Today they are an important food for many millions."

In May 1943, with the growing concern over the possibility of wartime food shortages and scarcity-induced inflation, governor Thomas Dewey of New York appointed the New York State Emergency Food Commission; within it was a special Soybean Committee, which was asked to continue and expand on the work in progress on soybeans and to make these findings known to the public. Jeanette McCay was asked to chair the Soybean Committee and J.K. Loosli, from Cornell's Department of Animal Science, was asked to be vice chair. Jeanette, born in 1902 at Ames, Iowa (where her father was a professor at the University) had met Clive there in 1923, the year before she received her BS degree from Iowa State in foods and nutrition. After her marriage, she continued her studies at Cornell in nutrition and child development, while she wrote a weekly newspaper column on foods. She was awarded her MS degree in 1934 and her PhD in 1939, after which she joined the extension department and taught homemakers. She had come to know the value of soyfoods from Clive's work with soy flour and soy sprouts, and from the soybeans grown and served at home.

As the program started, H.E. Babcock, director of the Food Commission, Sarah G. Blanding, dean of the college of Home Economics, and L.A. Maynard, director of the school of Nutrition, did everything possible to support and further the work of the Soybean Committee. The main overall message of the state wartime food program emphasized the need to shift the basic diet toward cereal grains and beans (especially soybeans), and away from foods of animal origin.

By early summer of 1943 a remarkable cooperative program had begun to introduce soyfoods to New Yorkers. Sponsored by agricultural leaders, economists, and the nutritionists mentioned above, it was guided by the State College of Home Economics and the Extension Service, and carried out by the County Home Bureau Agents in collaboration with a staff of state-supported "emergency agents," local nutrition committees, millers, food handlers, and distributors (McCay 1947). Work went ahead at full speed. The Commissioner's first report stressed the virtues of soybeans, soy flour, and soy sprouts.

In June 1943, Governor and Mrs. Dewey hosted a soyfoods luncheon at their Executive Mansion in Albany, New York, to mark the beginning of the campaign to introduce soyfoods. The governor, astute in drawing national and state media coverage, invited leading magazine, newspaper, and radio reporters. The luncheon was a great success, a tasty eye-opener for those in attendance. The menu included muffins and corn sticks containing soy flour, sauteed New York-grown Cayuga soybeans, salted soynuts, a soy sprout salad, a soybean souffle, and Lucille Brewer's open-recipe bread. Professor Clive McCay discussed his group's work on soy bread and sprouts.

The publicists were impressed and stories on soybeans and soyfoods soon began to appear in leading magazines and newspapers, and on radio programs. Suddenly soyfoods, Cornell, and the Food Commission were unexpectedly in the limelight. Enquiries poured in on how to sprout soybeans, how to cook the sprouts, and how to use the various other soy products. A new illustrated leaflet on sprouting with a page about the use of fresh green soybeans, and soy flour and grits, was quickly developed and thousands were printed. Jeanette was put in charge of publications for the Commission. Ten thousand leaflets were sent to a Commission office in New York City, which was being "besieged" by requests for information, demonstrations, and exhibits on soyfoods. Other thousands went out immediately to radio stations, which sent them to listeners who enquired. On 19 July 1943 a major article appeared in Life magazine with pictures of the governor's luncheon and close-up views of Clive's method for growing soy sprouts at home using an inverted jar with gauze over the mouth. The Food Commission office in Albany was inundated with 10,000 enquiries in July. An article by Hodges in the September 1943 issue of Reader's Digest, "Are You Neglecting the Wonder Bean?" again swelled the mail bag. Over 24,000 letters asking for more information about soyfoods were received during the first year of the program, and they were still coming in at the rate of 50 a month by 1945. The biggest response come from New York and adjacent states, but there was also very strong interest in California and Illinois, as reported in the February 1945 issue of the Food Commentator, the Food Commission's newsletter, published by Jeanette.

After the governor's luncheon over 250 community soyfoods dinners were organized in nearly every county of New York state. Sponsored by nutrition committees, the Red Cross, and public health and school groups, they were attended by over 7,500 people, and proved to be one of the most popular ways of introducing soyfoods to communities. Favorite recipes included soy bread, rolls, cookies, soy apple goodies, or soy gingerbread (each containing soy flour), soy sprouts in salads or chop suey, and meat balls or meat loaf containing cooked mashed soybeans as an extender. In addition, nutrition workers put on some 1,200 demonstrations at which more than 35,000 people learned how to use and prepare soyfoods. Perhaps most important, soyfoods became widely available at food stores throughout the state, with the Co-op stores and GLF stores leading the way, followed by most leading grocers by late 1945. A state directory was compiled listing the names of all stores selling soyfoods, and of all soyfoods manufacturers.

From 1943-1945 the Food Commission and the Soybean Committee published a great deal of information on soyfoods. More than 300,000 people received printed recipes and suggestions for using soyfoods, primarily flour in breads and pie crusts, grits as meat extenders, and sprouts as described above. Special leaflets were published on "Introducing Soybeans," "Sprouted Soy Beans" (C. McCay 1943, 1944), "Soybeans for Fifty" (Neidert 1944), "Good Bread," "Cookies with Soy," "Manufacturers and Distributors of Soybean products." A poster was printed showing the steps in sprouting soybeans, based on Clive's investigations. The culmination of the several years of research on soyfoods by the Soybean Committee was the publication in February 1945 of an excellent 65-page booklet entitled Soybeans (J.B. McCay et al. 1945; Cornell Bulletin 668), which gave accurate nutritional information and recipes for each of the basic types of soyfoods.

In July 1943 Clive left his work at Cornell and with the Commission to enlist in the Navy. By this time soyfoods had become a regular part of the McCay's home meals: soy flour in breads, oatmeal cookies, and other baked goods; home grown soy sprouts in salad, sauteed dishes, and casseroles; fresh green soybeans from the garden steamed; and whole dry soybeans in baked dishes and the like. At Bethesda, Maryland, Clive was commissioned and assigned by the Navy to head a team of scientist-officers studying the nutritional value of naval diets. After his return to Cornell in July 1946 he devoted more of his energy to research on problems directly related to human nutrition and health, including the harmful effects of cola beverages.

The net effect of the work of the McCays and the Soybean Committee in introducing soyfoods was substantial. Although the program had started to ebb by mid-1944, people throughout New York state and across America first became aware of and in many cases tasted the new foods. Soyfoods became available for the first time in many food stores. People got their local bakers to start adding soy flour to their breads. In a sense, all of this was but preparation for a food emergency that never happened. Jeanette wrote in the February 1945 issue of the Food Commentator, "Fortunately, with the all-out effort of farmers, and unusually favorable crop seasons, our usual foodstuffs proved adequate. Nevertheless, soybeans are a `fighting reserve' on the food front--ready if needed." In that month Jeanette left the Committee to be with Clive in Washington, D.C; there she worked as an editor with the USDA Bureau of Home Economics and Human Nutrition for about 2 years writing nutritional bulletins. Dr. William Adolph, a soyfoods expert who spent many years in China, replaced her as head of the Soybean Committee.

The Postwar Years (1946-1961). World War II ended in September 1946. The previous July, the McCays left Washington, D.C. and returned to Cornell and the Green Barn at Ithaca. Soyfoods continued to demand a portion of their time and activities. Soy was still a live issue, although the war had ended, and bread with soy flour was the focal point. In 1947 Jeanette wrote an article entitled "Soybeans are Here to Stay" for the Journal of Home Economics. Here she predicted that, although soyfoods were never fully accepted and since the war had been generally forgotten, they nevertheless had basic virtues that would eventually win them a lasting place in our diet. "It must be remembered that it took 300 years for the potato to be accepted. Compared to such slowness in winning approval, the strides made in America by soybeans during the past 20 years are phenomenal . . . After all, any plant which, with one man's labor for a day, will yield furnishing enough calories to support a person for a year, enough protein to supply a year's needs for five persons, enough calcium for two, and enough thiamine for the yearly requirements of seven individuals--such a plant is bound to `win friends and influence people.'"

In early 1947, as part of their long-range program to improve the food in New York, governor Dewey and Dr. Frederick MacCurdy, Commissioner of Mental Hygiene, asked Professor McCay to help in improving the quality of the food for the 96,000 patients in the state's 27 mental institutions. Their budget allowed only about 50-60 cents a day per patient for food. McCay felt that the best approach was to start by improving the nutritional value of the hospital's bread, since the patients tended to eat more bread than most people and since, by improving the "Staff of Life," he hoped eventually to be able to bring better health and longer life to people everywhere through better nutrition, and to counter the downward trend in per capita bread consumption since 1900. In 1947 more than 80% of America's bread was white bread, a product that had become popular in the mid-1880s when millers, starting with those in Minneapolis, had begun to use steel roller mills to make "patent" white flour. It was not well understood then that the soft, fluffy, white bread mass produced from this new flour contained only 25% of the vitamins, 36% of the minerals, 75% of the protein, and almost none of the bran found in whole wheat flour. American nutritionists were shocked to learn in the late 1930s that the average US diet contained only 50% of the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for thiamine, 60% of the RDA for riboflavin, and 70% for niacin, and that it was very low in iron. In May 1941 President Roosevelt called a national Nutrition Conference for Defense, at which he called for a program of enriching white flour and bread, by adding back 3 water soluble vitamins and a little iron. The program was voluntary but by 1942 75% of all white flour and bread was enriched. In January 1943 enrichment became mandatory. Yet the protein level was still low, and consumption continued to drop.

MacCurdy, who had constantly stressed the supreme importance of nutrition in state mental hospitals and schools, strongly supported McCay's ideas, as did Katherine Flack, state dietician for the Mental Hygiene Department. In fact, since November 1945 tests had been run at the Creedmoor State Hospital fortifying a wide range of foods with 5-15% soy flour, and enriching the breads baked in each of the institution's bakeries with soy flour and dry milk solids. Polls showed that the new, more nutritious foods, were also found to be more tasty. McCay, working on the bread with Mrs. Flack and J.A. Silva, baking technician of the American Dry Milk Institute, recommended the use of more soy flour and milk to add both calcium (which McCay had found to be important in diets of older people) and protein. At a conference it was decided that the best bread should contain 6% whole (full-fat) soy flour and 8% nonfat dry milk. The possibility of using whole wheat in all the bread was discussed at the conference; although Clive considered whole grains superior, he was concerned that the new bread would not be accepted. Thus it was decided to later gradually introduce flour made with less and less of the bran removed.

The first trial baking of the new bread was a great success. Members of the Ithaca Co-op Food Store were present at the tasting. The co-op had not sold any "open-recipe" soy bread since late 1943, when the baker had proved unreliable. A new baker from the Cookie Crock in Ithaca had wanted very much to bake bread for the co-op using McCay's new recipe, which he was given permission to do. Thus it was that in March 1948 the new bread made its debut almost simultaneously in the mental hospitals,the co-op, and the bakery. The co-op used a somewhat improved recipe calling for unbleached white flour containing 2% wheat germ and no "yeast food," a controversial ingredient. Nitrogen trichloride, the flour bleach used at that time, had been shown "to give running fits to dogs." Since the new bread had no name, the co-op held a naming contest. The bread was soon christened "Golden Triple Rich," in honor of its handsome golden crust and three special ingredients. For every 100 pounds of enriched, unbleached white flour, the new bread contained 6 pounds of full-fat soy flour, 8 pounds of nonfat dry milk, and 2 pounds of wheat germ in the wheat flour. As before the amount of each ingredient was printed on the label. By July 1948 some 500 loaves a day of the new bread were being sold in Ithaca. By August 1949 sales at the co-op alone had reached 1,000 loaves a week. Anyone who wanted the recipe could write Clive McCay.

The bread was also being baked and served at each of the state's 27 mental institutions, giving new nourishment to the 96,000 patients. Each formula was for 200 loaves. The cost of the additional ingredients was less than 1 cent per pound.

Nutritionally, the new bread was a major improvement over the fluffy, white empty calorie breads of the day; it was a real step forward Professor McCay's goal of reviving the place of good bread as a primary food in the American diet and of creating a bread that merited the title "Staff of Life." The soy flour both added protein and greatly improved the quality of the wheat protein by adding the essential amino acid lysine deficient in wheat to make a combined protein comparable in quality to that of milk. Whole (full-fat) soy flour was preferred to defatted because of the better appearance and flavor it gave the bread and because the unsaturated fatty acids in the soy oil were thought to help keep blood cholesterol low. The nonfat dried milk, another very inexpensive source of protein, added calcium and riboflavin. The wheat germ added vitamins B and E, and iron. The nutritional superiority of the new bread was proved in careful experiments done at Cornell, the University of Rochester, and other laboratories. White rats raised solely on Cornell Bread grew well and reproduced through succeeding generations, whereas those fed ordinary white bread did not grow normally; their fur became thin, their tails and paws grew scaly and sore, an they sickened and died prematurely." America's standard "staff of life" would not even keep a rat alive. But now there was a real alternative.

During 1949 and 1950 the local nutritious bread from Ithaca was suddenly cast into nationwide prominence, during the US Food and Drug Administration's Bread Hearings in Washington, D.C. The FDA had proposed a regulation that would make it illegal (a violation of the standard of identity for bread) to sell breads in interstate commerce if they contained more than 3% soy and 1-1/2% wheat germ. Various co-ops testified at the hearings, published a booklet "The Fight for Better Bread," and took a strong stand against this regulation, until it was dropped. Then it was proposed that breads such as Triple Rich should not be allowed to be labeled "bread" or "white bread" since they were different from what those terms had come to mean and thus misleading. Tremendous publicity was generated around the idea that "Triple Rich was too good to be called `bread.'" Other co-ops across America began baking and selling Triple Rich bread. At the Ithaca co-op, Triple Rich, costing 3 cents more per loaf, was soon outselling ten other white breads combined. In March 1950 Harper's Magazine published an article by James Rorty entitled "Bread, and the Stuff We Eat" that told the whole story, lauded the new "yardstick bread," and caused McCay, Flack, and Rorty to be deluged with up to 100 letters a day from people who wanted to know where they could buy this new and better bread that showed what was in it. To answer the letters, a family bread recipe for three loaves and a bakery formula for about 100 loaves were printed. The bread was called "Cornell Triple Rich Bread," or "Cornell Bread." The New York Times (ref??) claimed that the new high protein bread was one of the four "most written about recipes" to appear in their food department during 1949.

Not content to rest on their laurels as the first members of the scientific community to perceive the need for a better bread and to develop a healthful, tasty formula, the McCays now began to work with renewed energy, creativity, and selflessness to share the new bread with those who needed it. Clive announced that any baker in the world was free to use the formula without charge or permission. Clive even offered to work out the formula, gratis, to any size the baker wanted. But there was one stipulation: the exact amount of each ingredient had to be printed on the package. The "Open Recipe" concept was increasingly welcomed by consumers and bakers alike.

Soon, as Cornell Bread was making news nationwide, commercial bakers started to bake it. The first of the large bakers to start, in 1949, was Messing Brothers in Brooklyn. Clive helped them to get started by working out the formula and traveling to speak to groups in the area. Their label read "Messing, Cornell Recipe: The Better Bread." By March 1950 Cornell Bread was being served to 100,000 children in the school lunches in five New York boroughs. by June 1950, seven large, wholesale bakers, mostly?? all?? in New York, were baking Cornell Triple Rich Bread, in both white and whole wheat loaves. By late 1951 some 60,000 pounds of Cornell Bread were being served each day in New York mental institutions and over 40,000 pounds in school lunches in New York City, Buffalo, and Baltimore. Messing Brothers was now baking more than 20,000 loaves a day. Over 2 million pounds (907 metric tons) of soy flour was used each year in this bread. Moreover the Oroweat Company was baking and distributing Cornell Bread on a large scale on the West Coast. Ithaca boasted at least five bakers who distributed the bread, while in the vicinity of Rochester there were more than twenty. It began to look as if Cornell Bread might help to reverse the trend toward declining bread consumption. Children in the New York City schools were reported to like the new bread better and to eat more of it. A taste panel conducted at Cornell on visitors in 1950 showed that they preferred the taste of the Cornell bread to the ordinary loaf, three to one. At the New York State Fair Mrs. Flack and her staff served samples of the new bread to 250,000 people and encouraged many bakers to try the formula. Co-op Food stores in more than seven cities nationwide found the new bread to outsell other brands.

From the time that Cornell Bread was first developed, the McCays began to receive a steady stream of letters, to which they responded by preparing recipes for the bread on three scales: home, small bakery, and large bakery. They sent out thousands of mimeographed copies of these recipes from their home--free of charge. Soon Cornell decided to include the recipe in some of their bread bulletins. In the summer of 1952 a letter from Jeanette, "Something New in Bread," was published in the Ladies Home Journal (ref??); it immediately brought in almost 2,000 letters and requests for more information. In 1953 (ref??) the magazine ran a major article on Cornell Bread. In 1955, as the number of enquiries continued to increase, the McCays developed and printed a handsome 16-page booklet entitled "You Can Make Cornell Bread--at Home or in the Bakery," containing a variety of recipes based on the Cornell Formula (including a whole-wheat recipe), numerous photographs, a list of ingredient sources (the whole soy flour was available from Spencer Kellogg & Sons, Decatur, Illinois), and a listing of 103 commercial bakers in 31 states and 6 in Canada who had enquired about Cornell bread; all this for only 25 cents, including postage. The booklet announced that "almost a million people a day are eating Cornell Bread." This publication was revised in 1961 and reprinted several times.

In 1956 Catharyn Elwood's popular paperback, Feel Like a Million, gave generous praise to the Cornell Bread and encouraged readers to send for the McCay's booklet. She wrote: "With Americans depending on white bread for 30% of their protein, you can imagine how quickly we do three salams to honor Drs. Clive and Jeanette McCay. Already over a million people are improving their health with the Cornell-formula bread. Dr. McCay's success, despite industrial opposition, marks a milestone in nutritional history. To bring better, more nourishing foods to Americans we need thousands with his devotion, integrity, and determination. Won't you join our team? You'll be in excellent company. You'll have the time of your life." Thousands responded.

During the late 1950s and into the 1960s Cornell Bread began to slowly disappear from the public view. The interest in better nutrition generated during the war had begun to wane. The novelty was lost. In 1961 Messing Brothers abandoned their bakery, largely because of union troubles. Others followed suit. Only the health-food movement and the co-ops kept the better bread alive.

The Florida Years. In 1962 Clive (now 64 years old), retired from his work at Cornell after suffering several strokes, the first in 1959. By now Clive's academic distinctions had become impressive. He had been president of the American Institute of Nutrition and the American Gerontological Society. He had authored or coauthored some 200 technical articles published in more than 30 journals. He was in the process of writing a book, Notes on the History of Nutrition, his favorite subject. He was considered a great teacher.

In 1962 the McCays moved to Florida, where Clive passed away on 8 June 1967. He was 69 years old. Jeanette later wrote that although he always ate a healthful diet, got plenty of exercise, and stayed thin, he had overestimated his own strength in being able to withstand the "continuous crescendo of his many activities and responsibilities." He wanted to give so much of himself to others.

But again the times had changed. It was the late 1960s, the beginning of an even larger wave of interest in better bread and good nutrition. Jeanette kept busy filling requests for the bread booklet. In 1972 Hewitt wrote a story about Cornell Bread titled the "Do-Good Loaf" in the New York Times Magazine; it contained recipes for both Cornell Bread and Cornell Wholewheat. In 1973 the Times followed with a repeat of the Cornell Bread recipe as one of the five "most requested" recipes of the year. In June 1972 Better Nutrition (ref??) ran a nice story on the same subject. Interest continued to grow as, over the years, the recipe was included in many popular American cookbooks such as the Fanny Farmer Cookbook and The Joy of Cooking.

In 1973 Jeanette decided to expand the popular bread booklet to 32 pages, adding a color cover, many more recipes with photos, and quotes from Clive's writings on nutrition and healthful eating. The first two printings totaled 18,000 copies; published at Jeanette's expense, they sold for only $1.00 each. Newspapers and magazines gave the new booklet excellent support. It was obviously a labor of love, meant to help others and to perpetuate her husband's great work, now that "nutrition" had become a good word. In November 1980 an article by Jeanette on the booklet in Better Nutrition brought in some 5,000 enquiries/orders?? Jeanette arranged with Dover Publications for them to publish and market a new and expanded version. The Cornell Bread Book by Clive and Jeanette, containing 54 healthful and nutritious recipes for breads and other baked goods, each using soy flour and based on the Cornell formula, appeared in late 1980. A second article in Better Nutrition (July 1981, ref??) stimulated thousands of new letters and orders. A full-page article in The Mother Earth News (Sept.-Oct. 1981), "McCay's Miracle Loaf," further spread the good word.

By the early 1980s the popularity of Cornell Bread was steadily growing again. In 1981 Jeanette wrote: "In all of the 35 years of my experience with this bread, there has never been such a widespread, avid interest by the general public in nutrition and improved health. Soy flour certainly has a great future" (personal communication). The bread continued to be baked according to the original formula at New York state mental hospitals. Why not try it yourself? Just put 1 tablespoon of whole soy flour, 1 tablespoon of dry milk, and 1 teaspoon of wheat germ in the bottom of a cup before you measure in one cup of flour, use honey as a sweetener, and there you are! Why not buy the Cornell Bread Book, try the various recipes, then take the Cornell formula to your local baker, explaining the "open formula" concept. Someday, with your help, the McCay's dream may still come true: a delicious natural bread, enriched with soy flour, milk, and wheat germ, available to people everywhere and good enough to deserve the ancient title "Staff of Life."