preservation of line breaks in mail merge

So, I need to have merge data that is a large block of text, with line breaks in. So I might have the following data in a cell of my spreadsheet:

Data 1
“this is a lot of explanation, and a huge wall of text.

Isn’t that hard to read?”

but when it is ported into %data 1%, the line breaks have disappeared, and it is a huge text wall. Is there any way to preserve the formatting, without having to put html tags in the cells?