How A Damaged Pastry Shop Caused A War Between France And Mexico

War happens, for various reasons. Sometimes a war starts in response to one large action, more frequently in response to a series of smaller actions. Take, for example, how we think of Archduke Franz Ferdinand's assassination triggering World War I. In reality, the assassination was just the final straw in a longer series of frustrations.

Similarly, the War of the Stray Dog in 1925 occurred after tensions were already high. According to We Are The Mighty, a Greek soldier's dog got loose, and when he chased it across the Bulgarian border, he was shot. War ensued. The Greeks then invaded Bulgaria until the League of Nations got involved and ended the fighting. Despite the war's name, it wasn't ever actually about the stray dog.

And even before these two wars, another war in the mid-1800s was initiated by alleged damage to a Frenchman's pastry shop. The Pastry War wasn't really about pastries, but they were part of the catalyst.

The Pastry War of 1838

The Pastry War popped up in the wake of Mexico's independence. The country was consumed by chaos. A Frenchman living in Tacubaya, Mexico, claimed that members of the Mexican army had damaged his pastry shop, according to Britannica. Monsieur Remontel's shop was "a total loss," and he wanted compensation for it (via History of Yesterday). Other French citizens — as well as citizens of other countries — were also seeking money to pay for damages from civil disturbances, to no avail.

France's request for payment of 600,000 pesos — which included Mexico's repayment of various other debts — was declined, leading the French to attack and occupy a Mexican port, thus halting much of Mexico's trade. The French withdrew only when Britain intervened and helped arrange for Mexico to pay the full amount (via The Time Stream). Between France's attacks and the payments, Mexico was left vulnerable to American forces in the late 1840s.

One business in Houston, Texas, sought to preserve history by naming itself after the Pastry War. Unfortunately, The Pastry War bar closed on October 30, 2021 due to pandemic-related struggles, namely not receiving funding from the Restaurant Revitalization Act, ownership announced on social media.

While the Pastry War is seemingly the only conflict involving sweet baked goods, some clashes throughout history involve other foods. These include the Pig War of 1906-1909 where Austria-Hungary prohibited the trade of Serbian pork (via Britannica), as well as multiple historical hostilities involving salt, grains, and the spice trade.