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Jun 6, 2007 06:55 PM

Decent commercial wheat bread?

I am bringing this idea over from the General board as I need local sources here in Chicago.

For many, many years we have been buying Catherine Clarks' Brownberry Oven Whole Wheat (the red loaf). It seems that Arnold has bought them out and changed the recipe from something half-way decent to tan-colored-wonder-bread. This is terrible! I have written to Arnold about changing the recipe. I doubt they will change it back but now I need a new easily available whole wheat loaf or I will have to start baking my own.

I live in the Northwest 'burbs so I can't run to the Red Hen every week. Any suggestions?

Every supermarket loaf I have tried so far just doesn't cut it. Brownberry Ovens was the best supermarket loaf out there so far as I know. Help me please!

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  1. According to an article in the Sun Times on Tuesday, customer protests backed by declining sales of the new formula are causing Arnold to bring back the old formula. begins with "A consumer revolt by Midwestern baby boomers is bringing Brownberry's Natural Wheat bread -- original recipe -- back to store shelves June 11. Parent Arnold Foods Co. introduced an airier, sweeter version in April. Big mistake."

    9 Replies
    1. re: Eldon Kreider

      Yeah!!!!!! Thank you for letting me know! I can stop searching for a new loaf and stick with the old.

      1. re: twodales

        Have you tried any Natural Ovens products? We find them outstanding, and the company is completely nutrionally responsible.

        1. re: MikeLM

          Natural Ovens was acquired by Alpha Baking Company of Chicago about March, 2007 (deal announced in late February and closed pretty quickly). Alpha makes S. Rosen breads among others but major sales are commercial including buns for Burger King.

          1. re: Eldon Kreider

            Thanks again for all of the great info Eldon. Are you in the baking or food industry?

            My problem with most bread and most commercial (or even boxed) desserts is that they are just too sweet and sugary. I like to taste fresh ingredients and enjoy them for what they are, not drown them in sugar. I don't eat a lot of bread but when I lived in Europe...or when I visit there...I did/do enjoy good bread. We used to get a granary cob in England that was fantastic for toast or for eating by the slice. I'll remember it forever. We used to have to place orders for it as it would sell out soon after it arrived in the shop. Thanks again for your help.

            1. re: twodales

              See if you can find Breadsmith bread in your area. The company is based in Skokie and all the north shore supermarkets carry their bread. It's far superior to even the orginal Brownberry. They have a few different whole wheat breads including a very dense 100% whole wheat.

              1. re: CathleenH

                Peapod carries Breadsmith Wheat Bread--delicious.

              2. re: twodales

                I bought a loaf of the travesty at the outlet store in the 2900 block of West Addison a few weeks ago, so the story in the Sun Times rang a bell.

                I am a retired investment manager with a Purdue ag economics degree in my record. My only non-consumer connection with the food industry is as the owner of a wheat farm in Kansas.

              3. re: Eldon Kreider

                if they change the recipe for Natural Ovens i'm going to be so bummed. i used to eat white NO bread out of the bag for a treat, it was so good.

                1. re: Eldon Kreider

                  Boy, I don't like the sound of that! From family-owned to conglomerate. I had the occasion to serve 700 hot dogs last weekend on Rosen's Mary Ann hot dog buns, which were just lousy. They were uneven sizes, irregular splits, and worst of all had no structural strength- when you tried to eat the dog, the buns mostly broke up, especially if you had added a lot of toppings.. Needless to say, no texture or flavor, either.

                  We went to the trouble of going to Elburn for Ream's Elburn Market dogs and brats (100 mile round trip) and the buns messed up the experience pretty good.

                  Hope they don't do that to Natural Ovens.

          2. So...has anyone tried the new "old" formula yet? The new bags have a gold banner on them declaring that they've brought back the old recipe. I wonder if the marketing genius that made the mistake of ditching the old recipe is still with the company?

            7 Replies
            1. re: twodales

              We used to eat mostly the whole grain varieties of Natural Ovens until a couple of years ago. We now eat 2 versions of Trader Joe's brand breads. One is a seven-grain and the other is a whole grain. They are both a hearty whole wheat, with 7 grams of carbs and I think 3-4 grams of fiber. There must be a lot of other folks who enjoy these breads because if you don't get there earlier in the day, the bread is usually gone!!

              1. re: twodales

                I bought a loaf at the outlet store yesterday and toasted some this morning as part of breakfast. It seems like the good old product. The reinstated formula has a substantial red striping for most of the label. Warning: the messed-up formula has the same name but uses purple striping on the package. The outlet store had a lot of each FWIW.

                Health Nut bread's label boasts of a new, improved formula. However, based only on a toasted crust, it does not seem too different.

                1. re: Eldon Kreider

                  Where is the outlet store where you buy Natural Ovens bread? We used to have a store just down the street and Natural Ovens stopped providing to them. I would love to find another place.

                  1. re: sgum

                    pretty much any jewel/dominicks I have gone into carry Natural Ovens -

                    1. re: sgum

                      Read back to the post by twodales that I was replying to. The outlet store was for Brownberry Original Formula whole wheat bread, not Natural Ovens. This outlet store is in the same shopping center as the Target at Addison and Sacramento.

                        1. re: weinstein5

                          Outlet stores are very different from the big supermarket chains. Brownberry in the outlet store sells for about half the price at Jewel. If I had a convenient outlet store for Natural Ovens bread, I would be much more inclined to buy it.

                2. I bought an unusually delicious bread at Sunflower (organic market on N Clybourn) called Nature's Best Organic Multigrain. However when I went back to buy it again they didn't have it so I bought some other kind which was awful. Does anybody know who else sells this brand? I didn't see it at WholeFoods.

                  1. I buy my bread from Trader Joe's and they have a decent selection. I usually buy their sprouted breads but the organic honey wheat is a nice alternative. You should try their sprouted breads if you like more heartier breads.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: bunnyluv24

                      Whole Foods has, among their large bread selection, a "12 Grain and Nut" bread which I find really good. Great for toast and excellent for sandwiches.

                      1. re: MikeLM

                        I agree with Michael M. Brownberry LIED TO US! It is not the same. Somewhere I read that they went back to the orginal ingredience EXCEPT for the flour. Have you heard that too?

                        Jack H

                    2. I was a dedicated Brownberry Whole Wheat fan too. I complained on their web site after Arnolds changed the recipe to some dreck that balled up in the mouth like w**derb**d. After a month, Arnold's wrote me an actual letter, saying they were resuming the original recipe and that the restored original product would be back on grocery shelves as of June 11.

                      I was back at the grocery store about then and checked out the modified whole wheat from Arnold's. THEY LIED TO US. They have not restored the original product.

                      Since then, I have been going home with Koepplinger's Natural Wheat. It is not quite what I grew to love about Brownberry Ovens Whole Wheat, but it's a nice firm loaf with reasonably healthful qualities. You can't even get a decent Whole Wheat from Pepperidge Farm any more.

                      Good luck.