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May 21, 2009 11:05 PM

I have a problem with Costco/La Brea Bakery bread

What I'm about to say regards only the Costco at Lincoln & Washington. No idea if a similar phenomenon affects other Costco facilities.

I used to like Costco/LBB bread. Great taste, texture, price. In particular, the bag of two baguettes. But that was some time ago.

For the last couple months or so, LBB/Costco bread smells very strongly like ... cake.
Problem is, whenever I'm looking for bread, I mean bread.
Not the (falsely attributed) Marie Antoinette solution, no brioche, no cake. Just bread.
And the Costco (again, Washington & Lincoln) stuff borders the inedible category, very strong sweety cakey smell & even sometimes sugary taste.

Here's my theory:
1) LBB sells the dough to Costco ( plus royalties, I guess, to use their label ).
2) Costco bakes it on demand as the day goes by.
3) Somehow (savings? ) they started using same oven not only for bread but also for all their other bakery items.
4) Not only same oven, but most probably everything is cooked in one and the same batch.

If anybody is in the know, please do tell.

( And no, I haven't sent them a letter; I have no more stamina to go over vacuous polite corporate BS)

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  1. Never had that problem and I buy the LBB baquettes quite often at the Costco's in Los Feliz and Alhambra.
    I don't think they'd be foolish enough to bake cakes and bread at the same time.

    Next time you're at that Costco you should run it by someone in the bakery department. Could be someone not following procedures.

    1. The original comment has been removed
      1. You might try the frozen La Brea rolls and baquettes. They are REALLY good for frozen and now come in several varieties/flavors. I found them at Gelson's, but I'm sure they must be elsewhere.

        1. The store on Lincoln and Washington is my go-to Costco. I buy La Brea Bakery breads every time I shop there, which is about once every two weeks. I've never experienced the OP's problem.

          5 Replies
          1. re: Arthur

            I just picked up a six-pack of the demis and sampled one - it seems fine. I took a sniff of the baguettes while I was there, and they seemed fine, though the surrounding smells other baked goods are pronounced.

            1. re: bulavinaka

              "I took a sniff of the baguettes while I was there, and they seemed fine, though the surrounding smells other baked goods are pronounced."

              That area of the store is an enormous bakery. What else should it smell like?

              1. re: Arthur

                Bread "breathes." Like just about everything on this planet, it's constantly trying to achieve a state of equilibrium with its surroundings. Because of its relatively low mass/volume ratio and its moisture content, it is very susceptible to a high rate of change, based on its surrounding environment. I don't know if you've ever done this, but it's common knowledge to place a piece of white bread along with fresh soft-textured cookies inside of a closed paper bag to keep the cookies that way. After a day, the bread smells and sort of tastes like the cookies...

                1. re: bulavinaka

                  bulavinaka, that's all true and genuinely interesting, but it also conveys nothing unique about the OP's claim of what I'll call "consistent taste contamination" at this particular Costco. Based on your nicely florid analysis, _all_ bakery breads (especially those in everyday bakery display cases) are sold in an environment where they should end up smelling and tasting like cake and cookies. if anything, the La Brea Bakery breads at Costco would be far less susceptible to this because they are quickly bagged and put on the open-air shelves for purchase and quick turnover.

                  1. re: Arthur

                    Hi Arthur, I think asserting that all the breads would be cross-contaminated might be a stretch. But I could easily see where bread fresh out of the oven that is set down and cooling off directly next to some other baked items doing the same might pick up the aromas/tastes of their "next door neighbors." The breads immediately adjacent to other products could be next to each other for a good hour, probably on racks. Racks of bread next to racks of cookies, cakes, whatever. The loaves on the edge of the trays would be the ones of concern. But what would beat all odds in my book is the OP picking up these particular samples of the huge batches on each visit.

          2. i've never bought lbb from this costco, but for all the times i've been there (which is a lot since i just graduated from loyola marymount down the street), i've always thought that it was one of the weaker costco stores.
            they have the highest sales per square foot of any costco and it shows.
            that place is a madhouse at all times.
            i've always had a feeling they cut corners somewhere, so it would make sense they're getting lazy on the bread.

            5 Replies
            1. re: alkylyou

              As I said above, I shop at that store all the time. But I've also shopped at almost every other Costco in the Los Angeles area as well. From my not-insubstantial experience, I've seen that this Costco is no more of a "madhouse" than the others, and I think it's actually one of the best in town.

              Moreover, your claim that it has "the highest sales per square foot of any costco" (according to who?) inherently challenges every aspect of your assertion that it is "one of the weaker costco stores." And I've never seen a shred of evidence that they cut corners anywhere - unlike, say, the Van Nuys store, which did not provide paper shopping bags when other locations did, and was the first in the area to jump at the chance to replace Hebrew National hot dogs at its food court with the much cheaper, non-kosher Kirkland brand. (BTW, the alleged corner-cutting Lincoln & Washington Costco's food court is one of the few that still sells Hebrew Nationals.)

              You even admit that you have never bought La Brea Bakery breads from this Costco. So the fact that you don't enjoy shopping at this location is perfectly fine, but your gut feelings about the bread (and the store) are wholly and pretty wildly unsubstantiated by any of the facts you've presented.

              1. re: Arthur

                We have taken to shopping at the MDR Costco on Monday nights (and then hitting In & Out for dinner). Very quiet usually (and where I don't feel like I'm constantly playing chicken with out of control/suicidal cart drivers like it is on any Sunday afternoon).

                1. re: Servorg

                  SHHHHH!!!! Mon. Tue and Wed night after 7 is the perfect time to get gas, then hit Costco and also have time to get a hot dog or a burger at In and Out.

                  1. re: Jase

                    damn, costco on weds was awesome. too bad traffic sucked so bad with obama being in town and all.

                2. re: Arthur

                  Try to go during the week in the daytime.
                  If you must go on the weekend, go when there's a major sporting event being televised.