notquiteold

Gracefully Aging – With Resistance

No Wonder

I heard the bad news on the radio.

Wonder Bread has filed for bankruptcy. Again.

It’s only been two years since Hostess Brands originally filed for bankruptcy. Apparently that wasn’t enough time to get the American public excited again about Twinkies and Ding Dongs. That surprises me, because a lot of Americans look like they eat nothing but Twinkies and Ding Dongs.

Wonder Bread has been around since 1921. It was the very first sliced bread. Before Wonder Bread, no one ever described something as “the greatest thing since sliced bread” since there was no sliced bread. I guess folks just ate bread by the hunk.

One of the main attractions at the 1939 World’s Fair was the Wonder Bread Pavilion – shaped like a big white loaf in its wrapper of blue, yellow and red balloons. The Fair also exhibited the Magna Carta and Vermeer’s “The Milkmaid”.  But I’m sure Wonder Bread was the big draw.

When I was a kid, Wonder Bread was ‘fortified’. I think this meant that they put vitamins in the bread – which there was plenty of room for since there was nothing else in it. The TV commercials still play in my head: “Wonder Bread builds strong bodies eight ways.”

And when I was about ten they changed their slogan, and Wonder Bread added four more whatevers – building strong bodies twelve ways. None of those ways includes using a loaf as a dumbbell to improve your biceps. This bread is absolutely weightless. It is so cushy that it has become a party game to see who can squish a loaf of Wonder Bread into the smallest ball possible. You can get a fresh loaf down to the size of your fist. Wonder is a fun bread.

Of course, this is unfair; back in the forties, enriched white bread had NO nutritional value, and then Wonder Bread added those vitamins and minerals, and helped reduced pellagra and beriberi diseases in America.  Really.

But boy, are they ever mooshy vitamins and minerals. This is bread that actually dissolves in your mouth. No chewing required.

Soft is their trademark though,and they stuck to it. When everyone started eating whole wheat bread, Wonder entered the market in their own weird way. Wonder makes the softest whole wheat bread in the country. They also use albino wheat to keep it perfectly white. Really.

And then there’s the Hostess products that don’t even pretend to be healthy: Hostess Cupcakes, Twinkies, HoHos, Ding Dongs, Suzie Qs and Sno-Balls.

In the sixties, my brother and I had arguments about what snack my mother should buy to put in our lunches.  I was a Yodels fan. But my brother was Ding Dongs all the way.

I remember Sno-Balls too. Sugar remade into sponges that bounce. I remember them from when I was eight. My husband, when he happens upon them in some ancient convenience store, is delighted. So my husband’s memories are a bit more recent.

Hostess Brands has announced that, for their new comeback, they will look to update their product line with snacks more consistent with a healthy lifestyle.

Good luck with that. When I was a kid I used to cut up Wonder Bread to make pillows for my dolls.

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24 Comments

  1. Wonder bread makes great communion bread, too! I remember my dad cutting up tiny pieces for communion when I was growing up……just another wonderful memory of the wonderful stuff!!! :-)

  2. I’m trying not to laugh too loudly at work. I’ve never seen Wonder Bread in the UK but it sounds very special. I particularly like the bit about the albino wheat. Now that is dedication to keeping bread white.

  3. You were in the right on the Yodels/Ding Dongs debate. You can’t unroll a Ding Dong before you eat it and that’s half the fun. Everybody knows that.

    Very funny post. Thanks!

  4. great post… we never had twinkies in Canada growing up. I always heard about them and wanted them though. I vote Hostess hires Paula Deen as their new brand ambassador! win-win!

  5. Helen Medeiros

    Nancy I think no one could have written a post about bread and made it fun and interesting like you! YOU are a WONDERful writer!

    • That is a WONDERful compliment. (I think.)

  6. I think my parents were ahead of their time. We never ate Wonder bread as they considered it nutritionally worthless and they refused to pay extra for hype. We bought the generic store brand, and it was “wheat” bread – light brown, not white. This was “way back” in the 50’s.

  7. A few years ago, while camping, a friend picked up a loaf of bread for us. Turned out to be Wonder Bread. We forgot it in the trailer when we left and when we got back to the trailer a month later, it was “fresh” as the day we received it!
    We had Twinkies in western Canada but my Mom wouldn’t by them for us. She actually baked our snacks!
    Thanks for another great post.

  8. I, too, was shocked to hear that Twinkies and Ding Dong sales have been faltering because of our country’s more health-conscious lifestyle. I look around, and I think “Really?” But we have possibly substituted for higher-class Starbucks Crappaccinos and such.

    If Twinkies don’t want to be stamped out completely, they should give money to schools so their vending machines will be considered acceptable in high school cafeterias.

  9. Sno-Balls…darn I had forgotten about them. Now I have to find some…Thanks?

  10. I love your picture! I did a post about this also this week – it’s just such an important topic, isn’t it?

    Only a loving sister could get away with saying her brother is Ding Dongs all the way.

    I know it’s nutritionally bankrupt (as well as financially), but there’s nothing like a PB&J sandwich on mushy Wonder bread – it was a childhood favorite of mine.

    • Just read your post! Very very cool…. and of course, the whole “great minds thing” is proven once again.

      • Ain’t it the truth?

  11. NOOOOO. Not Wonder Bread! So soft. We used to turn a glass upside down to cut out bread circles for “fancy sandwiches” for kid tea parties! (and make faces through the holes in the piece…..birds got to eat, too.)

  12. And – I used to beg my mother to buy white wonder bread. But she was insistent. It had to be whole wheat. I think we were the only kids in the neighborhood who never tasted white wonder bread.
    Love your post!

  13. I was always a Sunbeam girl myself, and still am. But I did love the Wonderbread packaging. And favorite snacks are Little Debbies. Old fashioned, but “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right?”

  14. Oh the memories…life was full of Wonder back in the day.

  15. Our kids always wanted Wonder Bread because of the softness, but MLB always got the wheat bread since it was better for them.

  16. A great memory-jogger. My verrrrry favorite childhood treat was the devils food Hostess cupcakes with the white stuff in the middle. There are so many more choices now, but back then there wasn’t anything tastier than those little chocolate cakes. :)

  17. pharphelonus

    yodels. thinnest foil wrapper in history

    • I totally forgot that, but you’re right…you could slice bread with that foil.

  18. My father still eats Wonder Bread. I had a slice recently and it tasted a little like a donut. It’s that soft and sweet.

  19. This was a Wonderful tribute! I forgot all about Wonder Bread! I didn’t even consider all the many loves of mine going away forever. My mom would never, ever buy Wonder Bread. Instead, she opted for the “healthy” bread. Wheat of course. Which back then consisted of white bread with tiny brown flecks in it that were an entire serving of whole grain if you consumed the entire loaf.

    During some “research” I did on Axl Rose for my blog, I learned he used to demand that sandwiches served to him were on Wonder Bread and Wonder Bread alone or he’d tantrum.

    Great memories! That drawing at the end is insanely funny.

  20. Great post. I never thought of using the bread for doll pillows. My mom used to plunk down a plate with a stack of Wonder Bread on it. Along with a gallon of whole milk and a slab of whatever mystery meat concoction she whipped up. I am surprised I’m not on cholesterol meds now.

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