In 1789, Marie Antoinette allegedly believed that cake held the answer to her ever-growing political problems. Parisians – soon to be revolting – were starving. On a hot July’s day when they stormed the Bastille’s medieval fortress, they sought not only arsenal to arm their resistance, but grains to make bread too.

When courtiers informed Marie Antoinette of her people’s hunger, she is said to have disregarded their struggle proclaiming: “Let them eat cake!”. In revolutionary France, baked goods were a luxury, priced far above bread. Hence, the throwaway comment became memorialised as a symbol of her frivolous disregard for her people’s livelihoods.

As with all good stories, the authenticity of the quote is apocryphal. The French “qu’ils mangent de la brioche” directly translates to “let them eat brioche”, which doesn’t quite have the same ring to it. Historians have even questioned if the infamous remark was planned propaganda to give the anti-monarchist movement ammunition, but this theory has since been debunked.

In fact, the remark can be traced back earlier to 16th century Germany. Germanic folklore recalls a clueless noblewoman pondering why hungry peasants didn’t simply gobble on some ‘kroesen’, a sweet and luxurious pastry with bread-like texture. The expensive combination of eggs, sugar and flour marked a gap of exclusiveness between those who have and those who have not. Marie Antoinette’s quip may have only been a rumour, but it has survived the test of time as it rings true to the aristocratic attitude.