The Restaurant Secret That Keeps Warm Bread Rolling Out Of The Kitchen

Everyone loves the smell of fresh bread; it won the top spot of favorite smells in the U.K., according to The Mirror. And the smells we love, we really love. When we smell something, the odors head right to the olfactory bulb in our nasal cavity, which processes what we smell. The olfactory bulb has a direct line to your amygdala, which is where your brain processes emotions, and the hippocampus, which is responsible for memory and cognition, per Scientific American

This is perhaps why certain smells trigger memories. The smell of freshly baked bread can evoke happy memories, and even if you didn't grow up with freshly baked loaves at home, it's still a pleasurable smell. And, according to The Daily Mail, a study found that the scent of fresh bread makes us kinder — strangers were more likely to help someone when in front of a bakery than a clothing store. 

Restaurants and bakeries have used the smell of freshly baked bread to their benefit by realizing that the pleasant aroma both "induces and enhances hunger" – enticing you to buy more, according to Prolitec. They may say you eat with your eyes, but when you enter a Panera Bread or smell a Subway, your nose knows. To satisfy not only our noses but our desire for warm bread, restaurants use par-baked bread.

Par-baked bread is an effective strategy to limit food waste while enhancing the dining experience

Whether you're munching on Olive Garden all-you-can-eat breadsticks or sitting down at Panera Bread with a bowl of broccoli cheddar soup and a hunk of baguette, you're probably eating par-baked bread. According to Synergy Restaurant Consultants, par-baking is the process of baking bread (or any baked good, really) most of the way – around 80% – then pulling it from the oven and flash-freezing the loaves, which are then shipped to restaurants where they finish the baking process in-house. 

Many restaurants don't have the manpower or the space to create fresh-baked bread and goodies, so they opt for par-baked breads and sweets instead. According to Baking, using par-baked goods allows restaurants to give customers a better experience with minimal labor costs. Par-baked bread also means restaurants only bake what they need to bake while the rest remains frozen, which will last longer until it's needed. We get the benefit of having warm bread and all-you-can-eat breadsticks at our tables.

And bonus points must be awarded for the smell of freshly baked bread as soon as you walk in the door at Panera.