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How Sweetbreads Got Their Name

Burning Question: How Did Sweetbreads Get Their Name?

I recently heard a chef call sweetbreads overrated, and I couldn't agree more. While I'm not opposed to eating offal, I simply don't love this bovine bit in particular. Yet I've always wondered one thing about the ingredient in particular: How did it get its name?

Although the answer isn't definite, the book FYI: Does Size Matter? 15 Questions We Aren't Afraid to Answer lends an important clue. In 1578, the word appeared in the book The historie of man. It read: "A certaine Glandulous part, called Thimus, which in Calues...is most pleasaunt to be eaten. I suppose we call it the sweete bread."

That explains why, the first time I witnessed the word sweetbreads being used, I mistakenly thought they were dessert or breakfast breads. Did you ever fall into the same trap?

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Source: Flickr User jasonlam

Join The Conversation
Susannah-Chen Susannah-Chen 5 years
I don't heavily dislike them, I just don't think they live up to their ridiculous hype!
lauren lauren 5 years
I have to admit I love them, prepared right they are pretty heavenly in my opinion!
Spectra Spectra 7 years
I always knew what they were, but then again, my grandma grew up on a farm and my inlaws farm as well. Nothing was ever wasted. I've had sweetbreads before, but I really don't care for them.
AmberHoney AmberHoney 7 years
Cause they thought we'd be fooled into thinking it was good and sweet, the name offal tells it all. Yes, I have tried them TOO many times and I'd rather eat old people's dirty toenails in cream than offal!
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