Why Tiger Bread Is Also Called Dutch Crunch In San Francisco

It's hard to come across tiger bread — that is, unless you live in the Bay Area. Tiger bread, known as Dutch Crunch in the U.S., is a Bay Area sandwich staple and a San Fransisco food you need to try. To make it, the top of a white bread roll gets thinly coated with rice flour dough to give the bread a unique, crackly top when baked. The rice-based exterior is crunchy and subtly sweet, and the inside is moist, soft, and slightly dense — unlike an average white bread. "Tiger bread" is a more European term for it, but in San Fransisco and the rest of the country, how did "Dutch Crunch" come to be?

Dutch Crunch bread is widely believed to have originated from the Netherlands. The first reference to Dutch Crunch in the U.S. was in Oregon in the 1930s. It can still be found in some sandwich shops across the state, but it started shining in San Fransisco in the 1970s due to heavy advertisements. Interestingly enough, unlike the solid records that prove Dutch Crunch's existence in the U.S. as early as the '30s, there is no written evidence of tiger bread (tijgerbrood in Dutch) existing in the Netherlands until 1973. However, the bakery that made this bread had been operating since 1903, meaning the first loaves of tiger bread could have existed in the Netherlands then. After all, why else would people in the States start calling it "Dutch?"

Dutch Crunch outside of San Fransisco

It's easier to pinpoint where the name "tiger bread" came from than "Dutch Crunch." In the Netherlands where this bread is believed to have originated, tijgerbrood is directly translated to "tiger bread." This crackly bread somewhat resembles the stripes of a tiger. With its Dutch origins and patterned top, the name "Dutch Crunch" comes together organically. Yet outside of the U.S., it's more common to encounter the name "tiger bread."

Grocery stores in the U.K. sell tiger bread, like the popular grocery store chain Tesco, which even offers the bread as a sliced loaf. One exception to the "tiger" name is another U.K. grocery chain, Sainsbury's, that calls the bread "giraffe bread." This funny change came about after a three-year-old girl wrote to the grocery store, explaining how she thought the bread looked more like a giraffe than a tiger (she makes a good point).

The foggy origins of Dutch Crunch's name don't stop it from being delicious. It's a mystery why this bread hasn't caught on with sandwiches across the country, but there is something charming about its near-exclusivity in the Bay Area. Those who want to try Dutch Crunch outside the Bay Area just need to look closely. Sandwich chain Ike's Love and Sandwiches was founded in San Fransisco and has brought Dutch Crunch to different states as far as Texas. Small shops in major cities might offer Dutch Crunch, like Mission Sandwich Social in Brooklyn, but they all take inspiration from San Fransisco.