On top of the simple notion of different sized loaves, Phrases delves further into the explanation of the baker’s dozen. It wasn’t just the neighborhood ruffians that wanted perfectly sized bread, but something more. In the 1200s, King Henry III put forth some economic and trade regulations; the Assize of Bread and Ale law was one of them. This stated that bread was to be sold by weight as opposed to in units, terrifying the bakers into adding extra loaves to stay in line with the law. Those who made bread or beer, but didn’t abide by the king’s new regulation, could be fined or even beaten.
While that’s where the idea of a baker’s dozen came from, it wasn’t actually until 1599 that playwright John Cooke officially coined the term in his comedy Tu Quoque. From there, it was added into the original Urban Dictiorary, Hotten’s Slang Dictionary in the mid-1800s. Point being, next time you’re at the bakery, don’t ask for 12 donuts – ask for a baker’s dozen.