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Technology

Yes, the Xbox creator also baked 4,500-year-old Egyptian bread


What do you want to know

  • A TikTok video from creator Adrianna Pater racked up 3.5 million views in 24 hours featuring an interesting Xbox trivia game.
  • Seamus Blackley, the man behind the design of the Xbox console, also made 4,500-year-old Egyptian sourdough.
  • The short video makes fun of the Xbox symbol’s similarity to sourdough bread.

Gaming and carbs go together like yin and yang, and the next time you eat your favorite gaming snack, you might think of this interesting Xbox anecdote brought to my attention by Adrianna Peter on TikTok, the video of which at The creator of Xbox’s other quirky hobby, sourdough baking, has racked up more than 3.5 million views in the span of 24 hours.

The story is simple but fascinating. Seamus Blackley, known for designing the revolutionary Xbox of 2001, is not only a video game luminary, but also an Egyptologist and avid baker. His special interest led him to take yeast samples from ancient Egyptian pottery and bake his own unique sourdough bread.

Is the Xbox symbol inspired by sourdough?

(Image credit: Adrianna Pater on TikTok)

Although Blackley’s Egyptian culinary escapades aren’t news, the TikTok video has sparked renewed interest, particularly with its playful comparison between the iconic Xbox logo and the X-shaped cuts on sourdough breads. If the similarity is undeniable, the truth is a little less poetic.

The Xbox X symbol is not inspired by sourdough, but rather by the name “DirectX Box”. Made from Dell PC spare parts, the original Xbox prototype went through various name changes before settling on Xbox, with its distinctive acid green colors to boldly differentiate it from the PlayStation. This brand evolution predates Blackley’s earlier sourdough experiments, and the more rounded X symbol only appeared in 2005 with the launch of the Xbox 360.

Seamus Blackley, the man, the myth, the master baker

Seamus Blackley’s Egyptian Breads (Image credit: Seamus Blackley)

Seamus Blackley, an enigmatic figure in Microsoft’s history, is much more than the man behind Xbox. His original culinary pursuits are rooted in his unconventional approach to life. Rather than stumbling upon a sourdough recipe in a traditional cookbook, Blackley, with his penchant for Egyptology, deciphered the secrets by studying ancient hieroglyphics. The year-long 2019 project involved the meticulous extraction of yeast from 4,500-year-old Egyptian pottery.

Amazingly, yeast can lie dormant for centuries, prompting Blackley to faithfully recreate the old recipe. Using a “hydraulic fracturing” method, he injected liquid into ceramic pots and extracted it with a syringe to preserve the old yeast. This yeast, lovingly revived with Emmer flour, a dense grain used by the ancient Egyptians, resulted in ancient sourdough bread true to form.

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A lot of effort, you might say, but Blackley was passionate about recreating bread exactly as it would have been intended by the ancient Egyptians, rather than using modern ingredients and methods resulting in an ancient impostor leaven. Never one to mince words: “People get a bad result and say, ‘Oh look at that disgusting food, the ancient world must have been terrible,’ but anyone who has studied that knows that’s complete bullshit,” says Blackley. “They were master bakers.”

Bill and Seamus are having fun (Image credit: Microsoft)



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