A popular post circulated online claims that you can determine which bread on the shelf is freshest simply by looking at the color of the twist tie on the packaging.
Color codes do exist, but they are not universal, and are used primarily for the purpose of stocking, not to indicate freshness.
First, let’s take a look at the claim being circulated online:
Ever wonder what the colors of the tie tags on loaves of bread represent? They’re a code designating the day of the week on which a loaf was baked:
An easy way to remember it, though, is to simply recall the alphabet. The colors run in alphabetical order, so the earlier they appear in the alphabet, the earlier in the week the bread was baked. And it’s true. Even the ever-cynical Snopes backs it up.
Here is a variant of the claim as spotted on Facebook in 2013:
When you go to buy bread in the grocery store, have you ever wondered which is the freshest, so you ‘squeeze’ for freshness or softness? Did you know that bread is delivered fresh to the stores five days a week? Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Each day has a different color twist tie.
Monday = Blue,
Tuesday = Green,
Thursday = Red
Friday = White
Saturday = Yellow.
So if today was Thursday, you would want red twist tie; not white which is Fridays (almost a week old)! The colors go alphabetically by color Blue- Green – Red – White – Yellow, Monday through Saturday. Very easy to remember. I thought this was interesting. I looked in the grocery store and the bread wrappers DO have different twist ties, and even the ones with the plastic clips have different colors. You learn something new everyday! Enjoy fresh bread when you buy bread with the right color on the day you are shopping.
It appears that this common helpful internet hint has been circulating since at least the the early 1990’s, and gained traction in recent years from a 2011 article published by Wise Bread, entitled, “Breaking the Bread Code: How to Get the Freshest Loaf.” The article states:
Well, it turns out that there’s a simple visual code that can take you straight to the freshest loaf in seconds. And it’s all contained in the twist ties or plastic clips around the top of the bread bag.
The article re-states the decades-old claim that the color coding on bread tags indicate the freshest bread on the shelf.
Although this assertion has circulated for years, we decided to ask several bakeries to clear up the rumor.
Response from Bimbo Bakeries, USA
We contacted Bimbo Bakeries, USA, the largest bakery in the US and supplier for such brands as Orowheat, Entemann’s, and Sara Lee. We spoke with a representative named Carl on April 12, 2013 and asked him to clear up this issue. Carl explained to us that there is in fact a color coding system used on bread tags, but the coding is “for the benefit of the driver so he can determine when to deliver the bread.”
He provided the following codes:
- Monday – Yellow
- Tuesday – Green
- Wednesday – No Delivery
- Thursday – Red
- Friday – White
- Saturday – Blue
Carl cautioned that using tags to determine freshness may not yield the desired results and that the best way is still to look at the freshness date printed on the packaging.
As you can see, the coding system used by Bimbo Bakeries does not match the set popularly circulated online.
We checked with a large Canadian bakery – Westin Foods, Canada – to compare their response with that of Bimbo Bakeries, USA.
When asked about the color coding of bread tags, Joanne Sanchez, Coordinator Customer Service and Consumer Care Center at Weston Bakeries Limited responded:
The colored tags on the bread bags are to determine the day of the week that they were put on to the shelves, not the day that they were baked.
She also provided their color coding system:
No deliveries on Sunday and Monday.
Response from Flowers Foods (Nature’s Own)
We contacted the manufacturer’s of Nature’s Own bread products (Flower’s Foods) and posed the question regarding colors of twist ties with bread freshness. Here is the response we received from relations specialist Glenda Stringer:
Thank you for contacting us about the significance of the colors of our twist ties. They have meaning for our distributors just as the freshness date on the top of the package has meaning for our customers.
On the top of our products’ packaging is a freshness date which is lightly sprayed in black ink. This freshness date means that the product should stay fresh and mold free through that date. Always look for this date when you are shopping, and choose the product with the freshness date the most distant from the date you are shopping. This will insure that you are getting the freshest bread on the shelf. Our distributors start to work very early in the morning in order to have fresh products in the grocery stores early in the day, so we provide them with a system that they can quickly use to know which products need to be removed from the store shelves. This is where the different colored twist ties come into play. Each day our distributors pick up all the products which have certain colored twist ties. Following is the key:
Monday: Blue, black, or brown
As you can see, there appears to be no standard at all among various bakeries.
While color coded bread tags do exist, there is no universal system in place among different bakeries. The color code being circulated does not match those in use by of the largest bakery in the United States. Checking the date on the packaging is still the best way to determine a bread’s freshness.
Updated November 15, 2014
Originally published April 2013