Let’s Cook: Flour Sack Savvy | News, Sports, Jobs

Part of my position as an activity coordinator involves presenting programs. I love every aspect of this task because it taps into my creative side, piques my curiosity, and often involves reading and research. What fun!

Last summer I noticed Jan putting away some flour sacks, and immediately I made a mental note that I wanted to do a program on flour sacks. My grandparents and other relatives talked about the many uses they found for flour sacks with the most common use being made into clothing.

The Great Depression caused people to repurpose many items and women began to sew clothing for the family using whatever items they could find. My mom told about the day when her mother placed her wedding dress on the table and remade it into white shirts for my grandpa and his sons. The only piece that was kept for a keepsake was the bodice, which my grandmother had tatted upon.

Flour sacks were a common item for recycling as well. Once flour manufacturers observed their sacks being made into clothing, they stepped up their game and begin creating sacks with colorful designs rather than their logos. They truly sacked it when they offered patterns for making children’s toys. Think of the smiles that they created by doing this. One can just imagine momma at the treadle sewing machine creating such a toy.

Making use of flour sacks happened during World War II. Dressmaking-quality fabrics became in short supply as textile manufacturers produced for the war effort. Cotton yard goods, sugar, rubber, and gas were rationed. Items listed as “Industrial” were not rationed such as feed sacks. Recycling of them was common and women found creative ways to dye these sacks. Embroidery and crochet were called into order to dressed up these old bags.

The George P. Plant Milling Company in St. Louis, Missouri began producing decorative feed sacks. They were especially known for their Gingham Girl Flour sacks. The fabric they used was of dress quality and it was economical for households to purchase these sacks. During county fairs, there was often a category for creative use of Gingham Girl Flour Sacks.

The three flour sacks that we have are all from the North Dakota Mill. Two of them were created to mark the 75th and 90th anniversary of the mill. The other sack commemorates the North Dakota Centennial.

It was certainly easy to include information about the North Dakota Mill in the program. Residents learned that the mill was started in 1922. It is a busy mill processing 33 million bushels of wheat each year. It is the largest flour mill in the United States, employing more than 150 people. It is also self-sustaining, typically turning a profit for its owner, the Peace Garden State.

Many of the residents claimed that they only used Dakota Maid flour and this is perhaps true for many bread bakers. For many years the protein in Dakota Maid was slightly higher than other flours, which made it ideal for wonderful bread making.

The activity room was filled with the lovely aroma as our bread baked on a cold, snowy winter day. The program concluded by serving residents fresh, warm bread. We all agreed this was a slice of heaven.

Easy Egg Bread

This bread can be made into a loaf or braided to dress it up. Eggs add richness, moistness and a golden color that would look stunning on the walls of your den which features your vintage maple furniture!

In a large mixing bowl combine the following:

2 packets of active dry yeast

1 cup warm water

2 tablespoons of sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup Dakota Maid Flour

Beat until smooth. Cover and let stand in warm place for 15 minutes while the yeast works.


1 cup warm milk

2 tablespoons sugar

2 eggs

2 teaspoons salt

2 cups Dakota Maid Flour

3 tablespoons soft shortening

Beat for 2 minutes with mixer. Gradually stir in about 3 to 3 1/2 cups Dakota Maid Flour to make a very stiff dough. Form into smooth ball on a well-floured surface. Cover with bowl. Let rest for 10 minutes. Knead dough until smooth with a satin finish. Divide the dough in half and shape into balls. Cover with bowl; let rest 10 minutes.

For loaves, shape each ball to fit into a well-greased 9x5x3 pan. Cover; let rise in warm place 45 to 60 minutes, or until double in size. Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes.

For a braid, divide each ball into three equal pieces. Shape each piece into a 14-inch strip. Braid 3 strips together. Place a greased cookie sheet. Brush with 1 egg yolk and sprinkle with sesame seeds or coarse salt. Cover; let rise in a warm place until double. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes.