Get Fresh With Me

I recently learned a fact that in all my years of eating packaged bread I had never known. It was news that would change my life—or at least how I buy bread.

Like most families, bread is a staple in our diet, along with milk, butter and Ring Dings. We eat BET’s (Bacon and egg on toast) for breakfast, PB&J’s for lunch, and BLT’s for dinner.  We eat so much bread we’ve run out of abbreviations.

Bread is so vital to our family that when we designed our kitchen we created a bread drawer. Our bread drawer stores anything yeasty that doesn’t require a visit to the doctor. It keeps our bread organized, which means it provides a place for rolls, loaves and hot dog buns after my family takes them out and leaves them on the counter. Crumbs find a home there too.

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To help ensure that our bread stays fresh I adopted a color-coded system, which is simply: Examine the bread and toss it out if it’s green. It was on a “Did you know?” information website, though, that I discovered the ultimate key to freshness.

You know those colored clips from the grocery store that keep the bread wrapper closed that your children never clip back on the package? The ones you use as poker chips, guitar picks or the reason for getting your garbage disposal repaired?

The color of the tab actually indicates when the bread was baked, and those colors are in alphabetical order:

  • Blue: Monday
  • Green: Tuesday
  • Red: Thursday
  • White: Friday
  • Yellow: Saturday


The bread code was invented to make stocking easier and more efficient—and to help keep garbage disposal repairmen in business. The system has been in use about ten years—which is approximately when I bought the package of rye bread I found in the back of my bread drawer last week. You may be curious about whether the code is universal. Many but not all grocery stores use the tabs. Some stores use wire twists, or they use another system— they place stale bread on sale.

When I discovered the bread code I couldn’t help but wonder, how is it possible that I know things like: always cook pork, fish must have water, and life is easier for pretty people, but I didn’t know what plastic bread tabs meant? The answer, I concluded, was that God works in mysterious ways. And so does Shop Rite . . .


If this stunning revelation leaves you with additional burning questions, keep reading.

Q & A

Q. Why is there no color code for Wednesday and Sunday?

A. The bakers’ and drivers’ wives insisted they take a few days off to help out around the house.

Q. The bread manufacturer I like uses the same color tabs with dates. Is that the day it was baked?

A. No, that would be the sell-by date, unless it says April 1 . . .

Q. How do I guarantee that my bread is fresh?

A. Bake it yourself.

Q. How do I remember the B-G-R-W-Y color code when I can’t even remember the difference between whole grain and whole wheat bread?

A. You can use this pneumonic device: Bulgarian Goats Rejoice With Yorkshire pudding.  Or, you can just print and keep the color key of freshness shown above.

Q. Is this bread color code thing real?

A. If you don’t believe me, ask Snopes.

When Jersey Girl Lisa Tognola traded her job as freelance writer for that of full-time mother of three children, it didn’t take long before her writing was reduced to grocery lists, notes to school nurses excusing her kids from gym class, and e-mails to her husband reminding him to call his mother.  Daily life as a suburban mom was fraught with challenges and unexpected dangers like adult dinner groups, town hall meetings and home shopping parties.  Rather than fight her fate, this mom embraced it by unleashing her inner columnist.  Her monthly column, Main Street Musings, reflects on life in the suburbs—the good, the bad, and the ugly.  Visit her blog  Follow her on twitter @lisatognola



The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of or anyone who works for is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writer.

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