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Bread... What is going on!

Oroweat has been a favorite for decades. My big love was Wheatberry, then when its price started pushing four bucks a loaf a decade or so ago, they just gave up and stopped making it. I grieved. I haven't had a decent liverwurst sandwich since then. But I took consolation in Oroweat OatNut bread. It has been my "go-to" bread for years. There have always been a couple of loaves in the freezer just for back up.

But now it seems to be going the way of Wheatberry, but not as clean a demise. What used to be grand firm textured wheat bread with generous distributions of oats and nuts throughout has become, as of my most recent purchase, a marshmallowy "Wonder Bread" gummy mess with a large reduction in quantity of oats and nuts!

I'm left scratching my head... Is someone counterfeiting Oroweat OatNut and slipping it onto my grocer's shelves? Or has Oroweat, now part of the Bimbo conglomerate, just decided, in that recent American tradition, to just reduce quality instead of adjusting their product cost?

If that's the case, and I suspect it is, I strongly object! It takes away my option to pay more and retain the quality I enjoy. It dumps poorer quality on me with the contempt of thinking I'm too dumb to notice.

I am sooooooo sick of manufacturers messing with my life by repackaging 8 ounce cans of tuna into 5 ounces, thereby ruining a bunch of recipes. I'm sick of "quarts" of ice cream that now only contain 3.5 cups instead of 4. YES! Inflation is real and has momentum so its unlikely to fade anytime soon, but it seems to me that manufacturers who play these price-versus-quality games are simply compounding the issue.

So here's my response:
"Hey, bimbo (no cap by design), I want my OatNut bread back! NOW!!!"

Do you think anyone is listening? (sigh)

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  1. Not being American, I couldnt comment on whether something is an American tradition.

    But, knowing how price sensitive the grocery market is - and ever more so these days - then it comes as no surprise that a producer/retailer/whatever downsizes or reduces quality rather than increase prices. It is not just a feature of American grocery sales but, certainly, an issue in the developed countries of the northern hemisphere. The large national and multinational companies have been at it for years. You mention Bimbo. I'm familiar with Bimbo bread in Spain . Awful bread. Truly awful. One of the most appropriately named companies, IMO.

    1. No. I think they are listening about as intently as Brooks Brothers listens to people who want 3 button sack suits or Williams Sonoma listens to people who want 3mm tin lined copper or Snows listens to people who like clam chowder. Some day they will wake up and realize they lost their base of devotees. That day is called filing under Chapter 7. Too bad.

      BTW, I am eating homemade WW bread right now that I threw together during the ads while watching a football game, not a bad alternative.

      1. Check out the comic strip "Luann" for today.( Sorry I don't know how to link)

        3 Replies
            1. re: mwhitmore

              Very cute! And incredibly true, unfortunately - the product changes, not the hubby.

            2. No, they do not care. There will be thousands of new buyers to replace you who won't know the difference. I always get bombarded when I say this, but buy a bread machine if you're short on time and make your own. I make everything in my kitchen from scratch except bread. We are at 6,700 feet elevation and I have an Aga range. Baking bread here was the hardest thing in the world for me until I got a bread machine. I don't know how it knows our elevation, but I use a standard recipe from the bread book and it works like a charm. I use whey or veg broth for the liquid, sesame seeds, flax seeds, turmeric, chilis, anything I feel like seasoning it with and it is fabulous. Something to consider.

              1. Sadly, I gave up on the Oroweat Health Nut bread for the same reason. "Nut" is in the name, for heaven sake, but they became sparser and sparser.

                I've got some of my own sourdough base fermenting now. I just gave up on most store breads.

                1. It is obscene what bakeries charge for bread which is flour, salt, water and yeast with other things thrown in. And the quality, as you say, sucks and then declines from that starting point.

                  Get yourself a bread maker and start experimenting until you get a recipe you're happy with. Learn to use the "dough" cycle so you can bake the bread in your own oven. Start eating good bread made with authentic ingredients again. You'll save the cost of the bread maker in no time and have a much better time making a basic sandwich in the bargain.

                  You can, of course, skip the bread maker and begin with something like Lahey's no knead bread or 5-min-a-day doughs. I'm just assuming you're not necessarily ready for the full commitment. to bread making. …but if you start making your own you'll get there. It's that much better and not especially harder or more time consuming if you do some strategic planning.

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: rainey

                    Well, GOOD bread is a lot more than flour, salt, yeast, and water, even when those are the sole ingredients in an excellent well kneaded and well risen scratch dough for a boule of crusty artisan country bread. There aren't a lot of breads or pastries that I haven't made from scratch, and without using a bread making machine.

                    My point is simply that there was a time, in this country and in this world, when a manufacturer's name AND label were testament to a product's quality and the integrity of its contents. I grieve that that tradition is no longer with us.

                      1. re: Caroline1

                        I don't buy bread anymore because I can't find the quality I want around where I live. I keep a 'starter dough' (water, flour, yeast) in my frig that I feed every now and then. To be honest- I feed it when I remember. I add a 1/4 cup or so to each batch of bread dough- I love the added flavor. Not sourdough but heading that direction. I make bread in an incredibly lazy way but turns out really good every time. I work at home, though, so that makes it much easier.

                        1. re: PandaCat

                          That's called the "old dough" method and it's the standard operating procedure of no less a light in the bread world than the Poîlaine family of Paris.

                          It makes such an enormous difference to make your own!

                          1. re: rainey

                            That I can certainly vouch for. It made an enormous difference in my hips! Which is why I want to be able to buy reasonably good bread at the supermarket,,,, I don't pig out on "reasonably good bread.". ,-)

                    1. I feel your pain. They also quit making Extra Sour Rye, my "go to" bread for years. I'm bereft.

                      1. Here in the East USA (although I'm in Indiana, it counts in this case), I think that Brownberry is the equivalent to Orowheat bread/brand. I haven't noticed a change in their whole wheat, which is our PBJ mainstay. But I did notice that the local Sam's Club stopped carrying that a year or so ago and subbed in some dumbed-down "whole-wheat" bread that was clearly inferior, although still somehow labeled to have a connection with Brownberry. I actually wrote to them to complain, which I very rarely bother to do.

                        Good bread is time, and time is money.

                        1. I have experienced something similar with Brownberry/Arnold Health Nut bread. The original is a small very dense loaf full of various seeds and nuts. It has been replaced in most supermarkets in my area (MN) by a wide pan loaf, with the same name, that has larger slices of gummy wheat bread with almost no seeds or nuts. The new loaf is larger but feels much lighter and is pretty much inedible. I can still find the original loaf here and there (some places actually carry both) but it is harder and harder to find. I gladly pay the higher price for the small loaf but fear that it will soon disappear.

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: Pwmfan

                            Just in case anyone would like to shiver and shake with me over the future prospects of some of my favorite grocery store breads in America, have a look at Bimbo's website of their "brands" of bread in the U.S.

                            http://bimbobakeriesusa.com/our_brands/

                            Frightening! When they start modifying all of those recipes, we're in DEEP cagatha, My Friends, DEEP!

                            On the other hand, if any bright young entrepreneurs are reading this, get a really LARGE freezer ("drive in," not "walk in"), one that will hold a bunch of truckloads of Thomas' English Muffins, and other such traditions, and FREEZE THEM NOW, then wait a decade or two and open some "retro breakfast bars" across America. You'll clean up with Eggs Benedict on Thomas' English Muffins alone!

                            If I weren't 80 years old, I'd be writing a prospectus for investors instead of sharing this idea here... If anybody reading this "borrows" my idea, my share of the profits is a brand new Mercedes 600, and I want it NOW...!!! '-)

                            1. re: Caroline1

                              Per dictionary.com:

                              bim·bo [bim-boh] Show IPA
                              noun, plural bim·bos, bim·boes. Slang.
                              1.
                              a foolish, stupid, or inept person.
                              2.
                              a man or fellow, often a disreputable or contemptible one.
                              3.
                              an attractive but stupid young woman, especially one with loose morals.

                              No good can come from a corporation which defines itself as such :<P

                              1. re: Pwmfan

                                LOL! Well, that's Spanish for you. My son's ex-wife is Mexican, and when he told her family his mother was a member of Mensa, they thought he was being EXTREMELY disrespectful! When I lived in Turkey, I had to be VERY careful not to tell anyone, in gratitude, that they were a peach! It's pronounced exactly the same, but the Turkish word "piç" means "bastard"! Linguistics can get you In a whoooooooole lot of trouble! '-)

                                1. re: Caroline1

                                  It's them or no one, I think. If not for them, Hostess and the like would be a distant memory. Take it as you will, because I'm not buying grocery bread anymore myself. Glad I got the shove. This was a major purchase for Bimbo, and I wish them well. Plenty of people that need grocery bread, what the heck.

                                  1. re: Caroline1

                                    Caroline- on another thread you mentioned I didn't have a profile. I don't know how to do it. If you get a chance and are so kind, let me know how. bigskygarden@gmail.com

                                    Love your posts! You remind me of my favorite aunt.

                            2. Lots of Costco's carry Oroweat, check yours out. Ah yes, the tuna can decoy, it looks like the same size tuna can, it looks like the same size coffee can. What marketing genius, that's why I always look at the unit cost displayed on the super market shelves, that identifies your real cost.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: treb

                                If you're getting "un-gummy" Oroweat Oatnut from Costco, it's old stock and the new mushy version will be along shortly! Trust me. I only wish it wasn't so...

                              2. I agree wholeheartedly! I just noticed Brownberry's White Italian Loaf bread has lost their original consistency so Bimbo is at it again. When I complained, they sent me coupons so I could eat their substandard bread for free. How expensive could it be to make a good quality bread?

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: hrmazur

                                  I just bought my husband a box of Entenmann Cheese Danish and it was like it had melted inside the box and resolidified. No more Entenmann brothers doing quality control on every cake that came off the line! Far from it..

                                2. Thanks for bringing this up. A lot of bread is no longer bread. Instead they are baking and selling gummy cake slices. While I like cake just fine, I do not want my sandwiches served on bread-shaped gummy cake slices.

                                  The only good thing is that this shit keeps forever in a freezer with no chance of drying out. And I think that's the heart of the problem. A lot of bread is frozen before being tagged and placed on store shelves.

                                  I used to buy Trader Joe's bread, until they cake-ified the oat bread. Now I'm down to one vendor: Whole Foods. So far, all their bread varieties have remained bready. I'm not sure if the bread is baked in-house. I know they have a bakery, but I would not be surprised to learn that the same local bakery (a really good bakery, depending on the recipe, that is) fills the shelves of both TJ's and Whole Foods.

                                  1. Have you seen the Oroweat "Honey Wheat Berry"? Might be worth a shot: http://oroweat.com/products/sliced-br...

                                    1. I, too, bemoan the the downgrade of a former favorite: Country Hearth English Muffin bread. It was my favorite for BLTs, as it toasted up crunchy and held together well under a heavy load of tomatoes. Then I bought a loaf that was cottony and turned mushy when I made myBLT. I thought I had a bad loaf, so I waited and purchased another, with the same sad result. How frustrating!