Paris, 1923: Chef Marmot de Mange created a tremendous sensation with the introduction of zucchini bread (pain de courgette). A simple recipe it was nevertheless praised by gourmands and the general public. Prior to its debut the humble zucchini had merely been a primary ingredient in ratatouille and a common filler for smoothies. De Mange had, less than two years earlier, been almost as successful with his invention of banana bread, helping to extend the popularity and shelf life of the already popular new fruit, also a primary ingredient in ratatouille.
Sadly the chef’s fortunes would take a turn when the public, expecting newer and greater things from him, rejected his subsequent offerings of aubergine and asparagus breads, his experiments with cabbage bread, and his efforts to get people to at least try kohlrabi.
Banana bread and zucchini bread continued to be served in passe patisseries throughout World War II. American GIs brought home the recipes and in 1949 zucchini bread appeared in Annie Potter’s Cook Happy, alongside her hot dog and pineapple gelatin salad.
Today both breads are more popular than ever. It’s estimated that either a whole or partial loaf of banana or zucchini bread is placed in an office breakroom every 44.1 seconds.