The baguette became popular in France around 1920 and is said to owe its existence to a French law that banned bakers from working before 4am. That gave them insufficient time to make freshly baked loaves for their customers' breakfasts, so they started making long thin loaves that baked more quickly.
Under French law, the dough for a baguette may not contain any fat or oil. Under European law, however, such additions are not prohibited, which is why Fosters bakery in Barnsley, Yorkshire, in 2008 began selling baguettes to French railways. The buffets on SNCF wanted baguettes that did not go stale as quickly as usual, and the Barnsley bakers achieved that objective by adding fats, which their French competitors could not do.
On 5 November 2009, overheating in the Large Hadron Collider at Cern in Switzerland, which necessitated a shut-down of the system, was blamed on a bird dropping a piece of baguette into a part of the Collider's outdoor machinery.
The word baguette literally means "little rod", and is derived from the Latin baculum, a stick or staff, which is also the name for a mammal's penis bone.