Finding bread alternatives may seem like a thoroughly modern obsession. (Can someone pass the chia-millet rolls?) But the widespread search for substitutes to white flour, in particular, dates back at least a century, to World War I, when Allied forces aggressively urged consumers to change their starchy habits for nationalistic reasons.
On one hand, bread was symbolically important: It conjured up ideas of comfort that were especially welcome during a time of fear and turmoil. The act of sharing a loaf — literally breaking bread together — carried psychological weight.