Forget the artisanal sourdough movement for a second and put your mail order boule on hold. When we need that lowbrow fix of fourth-grade nostalgia, it's the squishy, presliced sandwich bread of our youth we turn to over a crusty baguette. We're talking mom-approved, plastic-bagged loaves that go best with processed cheese squares or a slathering of Skippy.
But nowadays the bread aisle is composed of more than just Wonder Bread, which is why we set out to find the best grocery store sandwich breads—both white and whole wheat—worthy of your brown-bag lunch.
Regardless if you prefer classic white or hearty wheat, our ideal sliced bread needs to be thick enough to contain the contents of a BLT without overwhelming the goods. Our perfect sandwich bread should also have a slightly sweet flavor and be moist enough to stand up to a toaster cycle or two before turning full crouton.
Our blind tasting was thus made up of four brands of white bread and three brands of whole wheat. Tasters tried each brand both straight from the bag, as well as toasted, giving points on the appearance, flavor and texture of each sample before determining an overall score. We then averaged the totals to figure out which of these breads is the best thing since—well, you know how the saying goes.
(Note: Before you start raising your Internet pitchforks, unfortunately, Wonder Bread wasn't available at the time of our taste test.)
Our Top Pick: White
It was clear upon first bite that Arnold's classic was everything we wanted white bread to be—desirably chewy yet soft at the same time, with a fresh, yeasty sweetness, it swept the floor across all categories. It also made our favorite toast, which many tasters confessed they would gladly eat by itself without (gasp) the help of butter.
Martin's Old-Fashioned Real Butter Bread
If Martin's famous potato roll is the only bun you'll allow your burger to rest on, then you'll also be a fan of the company's old-fashioned butter bread. It's sweeter and squishier than most sandwich breads, but has a richer flavor that, once toasted, gives the illusion of "already-buttered toast," one taster noticed.
Bimbo Soft White Sandwich Bread
Some of us weren't fans of Bimbo's thicker crust, and although it's not as characteristically sugary as Arnold's or Martin's, we don't consider that a bad thing: As one editor pointed out, this bread just happens to be made more for a turkey sandwich than a PB&J.
Pepperidge Farm White Sandwich Bread
Pepperidge Farm's thinner slices meant what came out of the toaster was something more cracker like, which might be right up your alley when you're in the mood for a satisfyingly crunchy piece of toast.
Our Top Pick: Wheat
Notable hints of molasses and dark honey helped this bread pull away from the pack, to the point we didn't mind eating slices straight from the bag. It became even better once toasted, with a crispy outside that yielded to a steaming, chewy interior—this is the Platonic ideal of toast if there was ever such a thing.
Arnold Whole Wheat Bread
Substantial enough to hold up to even the heftiest egg salad, Arnold's whole wheat would have a tendency to overshadow a more minimalist grilled cheese if you're not careful; the whole wheat flour also has a more robust, slightly bitter aftertaste.
Pepperidge Farm Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread
We enjoyed the sweet honey notes of Pepperidge Farm, but like its white bread, the extra-thin slices have a possibility of falling apart by the time you unwrap your ambitiously stacked club sando come lunchtime.
Do you agree with our choices? Let us know in the comments below.
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