Bygone bread’s a big beef


Twinkies and Ding Dongs are coming back this summer and I don’t care. I never ate them, didn’t miss them and will continue to not eat them when they’re back on the shelves this is summer.

I’m saving my caloric intake for the return of Beefsteak rye bread.

In concurrent but unrelated developments, three companies have stepped forward to resurrect products that have been off the shelves since Hostess Brands declared bankruptcy last November.

A pair of investment firms will pay $410 million for the rights to Twinkies, Ding Dongs and other items filled with creamy substances of dubious origin. One of those firms already owns Pabst Blue Ribbon and Vlasic, and soon it will be able to sell Twinkies along with its beer and pickles. Or, as they’re collectively known in fraternity houses everywhere, “breakfast.”

Meanwhile, Hostess is selling its Beefsteak brand to a Mexican company ending what, for me, has been a long, futile search for a replacement since it vanished from grocery store shelves.

Beefsteak rye had been on my menu virtually every day for decades. On Mondays through Fridays it was coated with a slather of margarine and a dab of jelly for a sandwich to take to work. On Saturdays it was the basis of a salami sandwich. On Sunday’s it was toast. (There probably are people who will claim they eat Twinkies seven days a week, too, but I suspect those people are lying through their teeth. If they still have teeth).

Nothing came close to Beefsteak. Other ryes were too small, too big, too dry, too mushy. My wife tried to get me to try different kinds of bread — sourdough, whole grain, challah — but they weren’t the same. Not only does a salami on challah sandwich taste terrible, it’s culturally disturbing.

I’m not the only one who missed its seeded slices. There’s even a website for Beefsteak fans.

“I love beefsteak rye bread,” one of them wrote. “It’s the best packaged bread in the world. I hope others feel the same way I do about this delicious bread. It’s so good I make a sandwich with it just about every day.”

“I have been addicted, yes addicted, to this wonderfully soft, flavorful, Beefsteak rye bread ever since I first discovered it about 15 years ago in a military commissary in South Korea,” another declared. “I say addicted because I really do suffer from symptoms akin to withdrawal when I find myself in an area that does not have this bread.”

So go ahead and dance in the streets, all you Twinkiers and Ding Dongers. But when Beefsteak’s back, we’ll be doing our Harlem Shaking in the bread aisle.



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