October 12, 2020
The Most Popular Breads in the U.S.
As we all have been spending extra time at home, we’ve seen some unique trends surface, including DIY haircuts and seemingly everyone on social media becoming bakers- more specifically, bread experts. This got us interested in our old friend, bread. Since we already figured out that our diets were toast in quarantine, we took this as an opportunity to carb load up on some stats that led us to the ultimate list of the country’s most popular bread, AKA soup receptacles, dip divers and peanut butter holders.
In order to really understand the trends, we went back to the rise of bread in the U.S.
We’re not just talking about the loaves themselves, but the prices. What started as a sandwich staple, a loaf of bread cost $0.06 in 1913 and is now up to $2.07 in 2020. Bread has been a staple food across the globe for centuries, but it wasn’t until 1928 that we had the conveniently sliced style we’re used to today. Just a couple short years later, Wonder Bread became America’s first nationally distributed sliced bread.
To determine which breads were the most popular worldwide, we developed our very own “bread-and-butter” algorithm. Bread rankings took into account global search volume, recipe search volume, number of search results, number of articles, and even Food Network Kitchen review scores for each bread.
Whichever way you slice it, it’s safe to say bread lovers everywhere have their own personal favorite way to get in their grains. Let’s take a look at how these breads ranked.
In the not-so-lucky last spot on the top ten list, we have Irish soda bread. Now, we know what you may be thinking if you’re not familiar with this old recipe, and no, this bread isn’t soaked in your favorite soda pop. Baking soda is the special ingredient that gives this Celtic favorite its name and its texture. It is used in the recipe to leaven the dough, instead of yeast. Once the dough is ready, how you shape it may have something to do with geography. In Northern Ireland, people typically prefer the “farl” shape, while in Southern Ireland, the shape is typically that of a cake. Despite its low ranking on our list, Irish soda bread has the perk of being low in saturated fat. This mild bread is great to serve with stew or smothered with butter.
Squeaking past number 10 is Ezekiel bread in the number nine spot. This flourless bread is argued to be one of the healthiest options in the category and got its name from the bible. To be more specific, Ezekiel 4:9. The verse reads: “Take wheat and barley, beans and lentils, millet and spelt; put them in a storage jar and use them to make bread for yourself.” People who love this bread find it to be a little on the pricey side, but for some, the health benefits are worth the extra price. If you’re looking for a dense and flavorful bread filled to the crust with nutrients, Ezekiel bread may be perfect for you.
Coming in at number eight is none other than naan bread. While it’s similar in appearance and pocket feature to our pal pita, the two differ in texture due to the fact that your traditional naan recipe uses eggs and yogurt unlike the leaner pita ingredients. Naan first began its journey to fame in Asia and is now enjoyed by many Americans. It may be so popular because of its ability to be eaten in so many delicious ways, including the traditional method of tearing and dipping into a soupy or saucy main dish, stuffed with sweets, or more modern day takes like a naan flatbread pizza.
Now back to our pal, pita. Filling in the number seven spot, this thin round bread’s name is derived from the Greek translation of “flat” and has roots in the middle east. The yummy bread was so important to Egyptians, that at one point it was used as a currency. Similar to naan, pita bread features a convenient pocket for anything from your favorite salad recipe to hearty meats like steak, lamb or even PB&J. Maybe the increase in popularity of hummus in the U.S. put this delicious and stuffable starch on the list, but there’s no telling for sure.
Bonjour! Coming in at number six is French bread. While it may not be at the top of our list, in the late 1700s these baguettes, or “sticks” in French, were so popular among Frenchman that it’s reported that they each ate an average of three a day. (We like the sound of that diet plan!) French National law states that this bread is only truly considered French bread when it strictly contains these four ingredients: flour, yeast, salt, and water. The long thin loaves are tougher in texture due to the way their shape bakes in the oven. Like most breads, there’s no wrong time to grab a loaf. You can enjoy this bread at breakfast, dipped into your coffee, or alongside a cocktail and a delicious charcuterie board.
At the middle of the list and number five is the original leavened bread, sourdough. While many Americans may associate the flavorful bread with the Golden Gate Bridge or something you grab on your way out of San Francisco International Airport to take home to your friends and family, it’s believed that sourdough’s story actually began in Egypt. Creating the sour taste and smell of this bread is a meticulous process of a perfectly concocted starter and just the right amount of time resting. It is believed that it was first created on accident, when the ingredients were left out too long and took on the tangy flavor. While you can pair this savory bread with just about anything from sandwich ingredients to soup, carving a large loaf into a bowl and filling it with a hearty clam chowder or lobster bisque is the way to the hearts of many people.
The further we head to the top of our Most Popular Breads in the U.S. list, the more we start to recognize more relevant trends, including health and wellness. The diet that was originally created decades ago to treat epilepsy, keto was found to be a great weight loss tool and recently reemerged with quite a following. As a low-carb, high-fat diet, keto doesn't usually include bread in the guidelines, but like the diet, Keto bread recipes are increasing in popularity and are being kneaded in kitchens across America. Most recipes do a fine job of mocking the texture of bread, but they actually use almond or coconut flour instead of wheat flour. These low-carb loaves are typically enjoyed the same way your whole wheat options would be, but they do come with some cons like being easily crumbled. The prep and texture downfalls may be worth it depending on just how strong your mid-diet bread craving is.
We’ve all heard of pumpkin spice season, but when the gourd comes in bread form, it’s popular year-round! Pumpkin bread landed at the number three spot on our list, and we can only guess that its ability to disguise itself as a dessert (when dressed with cream cheese frosting of course) helped it get here. While this sweet recipe doesn’t have clear origins, it’s thought that the round orange gourd that it is made from can be traced back to Mexico. There are many ways to eat this treat, like with a cup of coffee or a pumpkin spice latte if you’re truly committed. Unlike the contenders falling behind it, you won’t typically find fans smearing it with mayo, topping it with pickles or making it into a tuna fish sandwich. But, to each their own.
Even if you’re not a fan of the fruit, don’t be turned off by its name. This bread is another sweet treat! Zucchini bread came in at the number two spot on our Most Popular Breads in the U.S. list, and, once again, we can only guess that the sugar has something to do with it. It’s thought that this moist bread was introduced in America during the 19th century and was concocted in kitchens across the country by housewives. Interestingly enough, if you take a look at a number of recipes on the internet today, you might find that some even mention its ability to disguise the fruit’s flavor with ingredients like apple sauce or cinnamon. Hard to believe you’d screenshot this recipe if you weren’t a fan of the main ingredient, but zucchini has proved its haters wrong.
At last, we’ve risen to the top of this lengthy and yeasty list where we find the most popular bread in the U.S., banana bread. But why is it so popular?
While COVID-19 has us all going a little bananas, who would’ve guessed that it would drive so many Americans to bake their emotions into a bread form? Google Trends data showed a spike in banana bread search volume that coincides directly with the rise of COVID-19.
Most would agree that banana bread has always been delicious, but it actually didn’t even become an American staple until the 1930s when it was regularly featured in cookbooks all over the nation amidst the Great Depression. Makes you wonder if this is the recipe we all turn to during a mass crisis? We do know one thing for sure, pandemic or not, bananas are the most commonly sold fruit in America, and as it turns out we all have a tendency to let them go bad. Good to know we aren’t the only ones. Luckily, those brown bananas can at least lead to something warm and wonderful! Oh, and don’t forget to top with chocolate chips.
The year 2020 has definitely been an eventful one so far, but also the perfect recipe for everyone’s favorite comfort food, bread. Recipes that don’t require ancient recipes and inherited starters tend to be America’s favorites, and there’s no arguing that the sweeter the bread, the higher it ranked!
If you happen to be looking to open a bakery or please the mass population, it may be safe to say that the more sugar, the better.
Price of bread:
Began in Egypt:
First created on accident:
Created to treat epilepsy:
Bananas are the most popular fruit:
Irish soda bread-
Low in saturated fats: