Think of all of the sandwiches you have made in your lifetime — for yourself, for your kids, for road trips and lunches and late night snacks. Have you ever once stopped to notice that the color of the twist tie on your sandwich bread bag varies — or why that is?
It turns out, bread bags aren’t just randomly wrapped up with whatever colored twist tie is available. Those little pieces of wire wrapped in paper (or the hard plastic U-shaped square tags) are, in fact, used as an indicator of just how fresh your bread will be.
It’s a hidden little behind-the-scenes secret at grocery stores. While you use the ‘expiration’ or ‘sell by’ date, employees restocking shelves can quickly look at a loaf and recognize the color code.
Here’s how to know when you’re bread was baked:
- Monday: Blue
- Tuesday: Green
- Thursday: Red
- Friday: White
- Saturday: Yellow
Wednesday and Sunday are left out because bakers traditionally get those two days off each week.
If you can’t remember what colors are coded which days, you can at least remember that the colors go in alphabetical order.
It’s a system that many bakeries and grocers use, but not all. Some use bread tags that are the same color regardless of baking date. If you find that’s the case, you can always revert back to using the expiration date printed on the tag or plastic bag. Just remember the sell-by date on the bag isn’t the same thing as the tag color. While the tag color tells you the day a loaf was baked, the date will tell you what day it should sell by.
If this color coded system sounds like too much to remember, for what it’s worth, it’s not actually for everyday customers anyway. It was originally designed to help store clerks quickly identify which loaves they needed to pull from the shelves.
Also, this info isn’t terribly necessary, since almost every store will restock commercial bread every two to three days at the most. This means, you’ll likely never really have to check the color coded twist ties or even the sell-by date, and you’ll still wind up with a fresh product.
But now you know this little industry secret, and anyway you slice it, you’re now a much more savvy sandwich shopper.
Also see, This is why bread comes in brown bags.