Was Trader Joe's San Francisco Sourdough Discontinued?

There's sourdough, and there's San Francisco sourdough — and then there's Trader Joe's San Francisco sourdough. The unique ingredient that makes San Francisco sourdough different was once rumored to be a special strain of bacteria that only existed in the Bay Area, although that has been disproven. Local bakers have also linked the bread's uniqueness to the grains used, while others have linked it to the starters. Other people will just tell you it's just tradition. Whatever it is, it doesn't really matter. If you put "San Francisco" and "sourdough" together on a label, people are going to buy it. Trader Joe's knew it, too. Though its sourdough was equally as special as any other, reports are now circulating that it has been discontinued.

The grocer's San Fran Sourdough bread has long been a favorite but recently started dwindling from store shelves. In response, a Change.org petition calling for signatures in support of its return has been written. For some customers, hope doesn't seem to be lost entirely. Despite the reports of discontinuation, some people have been finding the bread at their local Trader Joe's stores in New York City and New Jersey. This suggests that the product might not be totally discontinued, but rather re-allocated into a regionally-specific store item. Much like the brands behind other Trader Joe's snacks, the grocer tends to partner with bakeries near its stores to supply its privately-labeled products. To clear up the conversation, I thought I'd ask an employee anyway, just to be sure.

Trader Joe's San Francisco sourdough: discontinued or displaced?

I called my closest Trader Joe's for some insight, and it seems the Reddit rumors are true. The San Francisco Sourdough has been discontinued and replaced with another round sourdough labeled as "Trader Joe's Sourdough" — although the specifics depend on what region you're in. As the employee explained over the phone, if the San Francisco sourdough is not at your local TJ's, then it's more than likely not going to be at any other TJ's in your region. My local Chicago store employee told me that "It's not going to be found at any other store in the Midwest, because we all get ours from the same supplier." In turn, what it's replaced by also depends on what's available locally.

The news is sad for some, but others are still finding healthy stocks of the bread in the northeast. The choices are to either settle for TJ's replacement, or go elsewhere. But, there are some the positives. Without this sourdough being available, you can choose to support one of your local bakeries, which will likely supply you with a sourdough loaf that's just as good (if not better). Grocery sourdough isn't out of the question, either. 

Given the connection between Trader Joe's and ALDI, many say the sourdough at Aldi is comparable. Wegmans, Iggy's, and San Luis are other brands that have been recommended  as TJ's San Fran Sourdough alternatives — although our taste testers say the best store-bought sourdough is Panera's.