The addition of mashed, ripe bananas to a cake-like batter is what gives banana bread its distinctive taste and moistness. What could be a better opportunity to enjoy a slice with a cup of tea or coffee than on National Banana Bread Day?
History of National Banana Bread Day
Bananas made their way west from Asia by traveling with Arab conquerors as long ago as 300 BC, and they have been growing in popularity every since. As it turns out, the banana is the most popular fruit in the United Kingdom, even though they are usually grown in warmer climates such as Asia, Latin America and Africa. India is often named as the largest grower of bananas.
From the time bananas started to become accepted and commonplace in the west, it took a little while (several centuries, in fact) for this tasty fruit to be made into banana bread as people know it today. Banana bread was likely first developed and started to become popular back in the 1930’s, during the time of economic hardship in the United States known as the Great Depression.
Cultural historians suggest that resourceful and creative American housewives of the era started making the recipe as a way of not letting overripe bananas go to waste. As it turned out, the riper the bananas were, the sweeter they were, and the better the taste of the banana bread. So it ended up being a very clever and innovative creation!
The first printed recipe for this treat appeared in Pillsbury’s Balanced Recipes cookbook, which was published in 1933. Following that, the idea was popularized by Chiquita Banana’s Recipe Book which was released in 1950.
Banana bread is traditionally known as a “quick bread”, but is actually more like a cake in both texture and flavor. It does not contain any yeast, nor does it need to spend time in a rising process.
One contribution to the rise in popularity of banana bread, and quick breads in general, was the accessibility to baking soda and baking powder, which functioned as a rising agent. This makes banana bread a quick and easy solution for using up those old bananas–and making something delicious!
Extremely easy to make, banana bread is still a favorite way to quickly bake up a special treat for the family. Modern-day versions of this bread might also include the addition of chocolate chips, nuts, or even dried fruit. But however it is served, it’s a family favorite in many households across the United States and even all over the world.
National Banana Bread Day Timeline
Bananas and plantains are farmed
Possibly the world’s first cultivated fruit, bananas are likely domesticated during this era by people in southeast Asia.
Bananas move west
When Alexander the Great takes his army to India, he discovers crops of bananas in the Indian Valley. From this trip, bananas make their way back to the Western world.
Bananas arrive in the United States
Captain Lorenzo baker brings bananas back from Jamaica and begins selling them in New Jersey. The effectiveness of this endeavor leads to the formation of the Boston Fruit Company–and bananas are in America to stay! 
First Banana Bread recipe is published
Due to the growing popularity of quick-rise items like baking soda and baking powder, Banana Bread (and other quick breads) becomes rather popular around this time. The first recipe is published in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, but uses banana flour instead of fresh bananas.
Modern Banana Bread recipe is published
Closer along the lines to what is called Banana Bread now, The Garden Island Paper publishes a recipe by Mrs. Dean. It still does not exactly reflect what is to come, as it contains corn meal, but it’s moving in the right direction.
How to Celebrate National Banana Bread Day
Getting involved with Banana Bread can be great fun whether baking it, eating it–or both! Try out these ideas for joining in on the celebration of National Banana Bread Day:
Eat Some Banana Bread
Whether making it at home or picking some up at a local bakery, the most important activity for this day is to enjoy eating a slice (or perhaps a whole loaf!) of banana bread. Not all bakeries carry banana bread all the time, so it might be necessary to pre-order a few loaves in advance. And don’t forget to tell that favorite bakery that the order is in honor of National Banana Bread Day! That way, they can be celebrating as well.
Share Banana Bread with Friends
Most celebrations are better when they are shared with others! Try baking up a loaf of banana bread (or banana bread muffins) and bringing them to the office to share with coworkers. Or go around the neighborhood and delight the neighbors by taking them a gift of banana bread, just because.
This is a fun day to be creative and think about ways to make the world a better place, simply by using something so basic as banana bread. It could even be a good excuse to gather some friends or family members and host an entire National Banana Bread Day Party, complete with a banana bread bakeoff. There’s no end to the fun that can be had in honor of this day!
Make a New Banana Bread Creation
Why not take this opportunity to experiment and come up with a tailor made banana bread recipe that everyone will love?! Try out some of these creative recipe ideas to get inspired:
- Banana Bread Donuts. Take banana bread to a whole other level when making the quick bread recipe into a cake-donut version that is then baked and glazed.
- Whole Wheat Cinnamon Crunch Banana Bread. Make it healthy and delicious by using healthy, whole wheat flour paired with a deliciously crunchy cinnamon topping.
- One Bowl Banana Bread Cinnamon Rolls. It’s hard to imagine a way to make cinnamon rolls taste better–but this is it! By adding banana puree to cinnamon roll dough, and then filling the rolls with banana slices and walnuts (optional) the marrying of these two recipes is to die for. And it can easily be made vegan!
- Coconut Chocolate Chip Banana Bread. Bananas create a great background for hosting all sorts of other delightful flavors. This one offers an island feel with the addition of shredded coconut and chocolate chips.
Learn About the Health Benefits of Bananas
Tasty on their own or when added to a variety of recipes, bananas are a fruit that offers some nutritional benefits in addition to being tasty and delicious! Of course, keeping down the sugar and processed flour content of a banana bread recipe will help to feature the health benefits without overshadowing them with carbs.
- Potassium. One of the things the banana is most famous for is its high content of potassium. This is an electrolyte mineral that the body needs to work properly, helping with the function of the nervous and muscular systems.
- Other Important Nutrients. In addition to the well-known potassium, bananas contain quite a few other nutrients, including vitamin B6, magnesium, copper, vitamin C, fiber and protein.
- Digestion Aid. Due to their resistant starch and fiber content, bananas may help the body to balance out gut-friendly bacteria and keep the digestive system healthy.
- Low Calorie. Although they have their fair share of carbs and starches, bananas have a relatively low calorie count–only about 100 calories per piece of fruit. Because of this, it’s a useful food to eat for a snack that is both nutritious and filling. And they may even reduce a person’s appetite to help them lose weight.
National Banana Bread Day FAQs
What is Banana Bread made of?
The main ingredients for Banana Bread include mashed, over-ripe bananas, flour, sugar, butter or oil, eggs and baking soda or baking powder.
Does Banana Bread have yeast?
Most Banana Breads made today do not have yeast but are categorized as a quickbread that uses baking powder and/or baking soda as a leavening agent.
Does Banana Bread freeze well?
Baking up several loaves ahead of time is no problem because Banana Bread stores particularly well in the freezer. Wrap it in foil and plastic and keep it in the freezer for 3-4 months.
Is Banana Bread healthy?
While it still certainly has quite a bit of sugars and carbs, Banana Bread also has some healthy elements, depending on how it is made. When made properly, it contains protein, monounsaturated fats, and fiber.
How to make Banana Bread?
Banana Bread is a quick and easy cake-like recipe that can be made in a loaf pan. First, combine dry ingredients. Cream butter and brown sugar, add eggs and mashed bananas, then mix everything together and bake!