Ode to Maillard
Close your eyes and envision the luscious umami of fried onions, the golden brown of piping hot french fries, and the deep brown sweetness of a pumpernickel bagel. You may not realize it, but these are all chemically connected.
Each of these delights is due to something called the Maillard reaction. This reaction provides your taste buds with amazing flavors and your eyes with that gorgeous color. And especially in the case of pumpernickel, which has no added coloring, we can thank the Maillard reaction and the very long baking period for its characteristic dark color.
Pumpernickel has more than one story to the origin of its name, including Napoleon, a horse, and a farting devil. (Yep...I know). The last story goes like this . . . the origin of pumpernickel bread is attributed to the German region of Westphalia, and "pumpern" is a German verb meaning to fart.
"Nickel" was linked to the character of Old Nick (no, not Jolly Old Saint Nick). Old Nick was an English name for the Devil in Christian traditions. That's right, Satan, Lucifer, Leviathan, Beelzebub, and Old Nick. That is sure to give you a much darker (yup, that's a subtle pumpernickel joke) view on Santa Claus.