The Surprising Origin Of Canned Bread

If you're a New Englander, you might've grown up knowing and loving brown bread, but if you're from any other part of the country, it's a little shocking to learn that this Northeastern staple comes in a can — but just because it comes from a can doesn't mean it's not downright delicious. According to Today, the appearance of B&M brown bread (one popular brand of canned bread that makes the food in original and raisin flavors) is similar to a muffin, with a dense texture and a rye bread-like flavor. You can serve it however you want — some people like it alongside hot dogs and baked beans, toasted for breakfast, or with just a smear of butter.

According to Simple30, canned bread will last much longer than a regular loaf, so it's a good staple that some people stock for emergencies, or have on hand at a vacation home so there's always something to eat when they arrive. As Today reports, the product also started seeing a surge in popularity in March, April, and May, as people looked for canned goods to stock up on at the start of the pandemic.

Where did canned bread come from?

So how did bread even end up in a can, and why is it so popular in New England? Its exact origins are tough to pin down, but most sources agree that it was created by colonists in New England. According to the Chicago Tribune, the colonists started making canned brown bread with rye and wheat because they were cheap and easy to get. It was sometimes mixed with molasses to make it a little sweeter, and was steamed instead of baked, because they didn't have ovens and cooked over open fires. When molasses was added, it became like a version of steamed pudding.

Fast forward to the 1920s and 30s, and you'll see canned brown bread similar to what's on grocery store shelves today. According to Chowhound, that's when B&M started making and selling brown bread in a can alongside their baked beans. Taking a cue from the colonists who created it, the bread's main ingredients are whole wheat flour, molasses, and cornmeal, and it is steam-cooked in a can. In addition to being a nostalgic food that's popular around the holidays (especially Thanksgiving and Christmas), B&M's canned bread has a two-year shelf life, which makes it good for emergencies.

Even though you'll normally see canned bread in New England, you can still try it if you live in other parts of the country. According to Today, you can find it on Amazon, and if you're lucky you might spot it at your local grocery store outside the Northeast. This unusual food is still popular with native New Englanders, so it's worth a try!