This is Nabisco's sanitized version of the birth of graham crackers: "The original graham cracker was developed in 1829 by Sylvester Graham, a clergyman." Yeah, they wish.
Sylvester Graham was pure eccentric. He was born in 1794 in Connecticut and at 29 attended Amherst Academy with a view toward becoming a minister. Besides being older than the other students, Sylvester was an arrogant ass, and finally provoked his classmates sufficiently that they set him up to be accused of assaulting a woman. The ensuing expulsion drove him to a nervous breakdown, from which he seems to have recovered, soon marrying and having a family.
Another failed attempt at becoming a man of the cloth led to his discovery of his true calling: professional reformer. He attacked alcohol, he attacked meat, and he attacked white bread, insisting that whole wheat bread (made with the coarsely ground flour that bears his name) was more healthful.
But what really got Mr. Graham noticed was that he attacked sexual abstinence, maintaining that desire (ungratified) irritated the body and caused all kinds of diseases. His suggested remedy was to marry and thereby get the urge out of one's system. (This "temptation is bad for you" theory is not new to me. My family has long maintained that it is evil to be tempted, therefore you must finish the entire half gallon of ice cream as quickly as possible.)
Mr. Graham died at 58, maybe a little young even for the times but not at all obscure and not without followers, and with the added attraction of having made an indelible mark on our diets.
Saints celebrating feast days on May 11 include Mamertus, Comgall, Asaph, Gengulf (or Gengoul or Gengou Gangulphus), Majolus (or Mayeule), Ansfrid, Walter of l'Esterp, Francis de Girolamo, and Ignatius of Laconi. The Lives of the Saints says Saint Gengou Gangulphus was aa Burgundian nobleman who "suffered much from his wife's flightiness, and was killed by her accomplice near Avallon. He is the patron saint of those who are unhappily married." "Flighty" can now be added to "disgruntled" as inadequate euphemisms for "homicidal."
Born on May 11 were Irving Berlin (1888), Salvador Dali (1904), and Emilio Estevez (1962). Bob Marley died on this date in 1981 of brain and lung cancer. He was 36.
The winner of the 1918 Kentucky Derby, Exterminator, was the subject of one of my favorite childhood books, Old Bones. The race was held on this day in that year.