February is Black History Month, and Profile America recently featured inventor Joseph Lee.  A century ago, bread bought in stores was handmade, a time and labor intensive process. That changed when an African-American food executive from Boston, Joseph Lee, invented an automatic bread-making machine. This device mixed the ingredients and then kneaded the dough, dropping the cost of making bread while increasing production.

Lee also developed a machine to eliminate the waste of unsold bread by recycling the loaves into bread crumbs, which proved to be popular in restaurants the world over.

 Today in the U.S., African-American families buy an average of $241 worth of bakery products annually.

This special edition of Profile America is a public service of the U.S. Census Bureau’s series Measuring America: People, Places and Our Economy. 

Black History Month 2012 is produced by the Public Information Office of the U.S. Census Bureau. Daily features are available as produced segments, ready to air, on a monthly CD or on the Internet at www.census.gov.