The word gluten actually means glue. It is protein from cereal grains such as wheat, barley and rye. The seeds of these grass grains are harvested and processed into food products. The protein duo of glutenin and gliadin are present in the seeds and as the starch is washed away it leaves behind the glue-like gluten. Probably the most familiar food product that has gluten is dough. The gluten gives the elastic quality to dough and the chewiness of foods such as bagels.
Gluten content of flours used for baking is manipulated to make flours that either have higher or lower gluten content. The higher gluten content flours promote better rising of the dough and make the baked products chewier. Flours low in gluten are used to make cakes. The glue property of gluten is still used today to make wallpaper paste. The old-fashioned way of making wallpaper paste was to mix up high gluten flour and warm water into a soupy paste that would be applied to the back of wallpaper to get it to stick to the walls. It’s that sticky!