The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

Origins of "Italian Bread" (supermarket loaf)

Bronze's picture

Origins of "Italian Bread" (supermarket loaf)

If any old-timers (oppure italiani, supponendo che sia possibible che ci si troveva italiani sul questo sito) can help me out here, I'm on a quest for the origins of what many Americans call "Italian bread" - think Wonderbread. Like the cappuccino, it must have started out as a genuine Italian drink, then been changed bit by bit until it became a much fluffier, less healthy version of what it was. And if you go back in time only a few decades to what I guess you could say were "old-school bakeries", there were still pretty high-quality breads in this style that weren't pullman (sandwich) loaves. The original bread they were based on is eluding me. There seems to be only one distinct universal feature to clue us in; a single slit all the way down the loaf, creating the "grin" or bloom. Can anyone think of an Italian loaf with this slit, or imagine what the first "Italian" loaves sold in America would have been based off of?

Abe's picture

Why not just look for traditional Italian breads still baked in Italy? 

  • Pane di Altamura
  • Focaccia
  • Ciabatta (trad?)
  • Pane Toscano
  • Pane Pugliese
  • Filone

and many more...

mariana's picture

Judging from this timeline, "Italian bread" as we know it today, presliced and plastic packaged, appeared in 1960, at least, in that particular bakery, and it evolved from "long Vienna bread".



BrianShaw's picture

Back in the 1960's I don't recall grocery store "Italian bread" like we have today. Although we sometimes eat it, it is really dreadful and barely worthy of being called "Italian".

There were two kinds of crusty bread we would buy in the local bakery: Italian bread, a rustic loaf with sesame seeds, and Vienna bread, a similar rustic loaf with no seeds. Today, there are many varieties of very good "Italian breads" in our markets, some with the La Brea Bakery name and others that are store baked.