Wonder Bread

My father recalls visiting his family — the Rooney’s — in the 1960s and to buy store bought bread was still an event. I image it was difficult to control homemade bread. It is difficult now when even homemade bread is manufactured with a machine, so that what you are getting isn’t homemade by their standards but instead a freshly made machine made bread.

To make bread then required mixing the dough as carefully as possible, but in a day packed full of other chores, I imagine the care required to make sure the bread didn’t turn out gluttonous was difficult, and then they would bake the bread in an oven — wood and kindling — would they be able to keep the temperature modulated. I have read how households like this could keep the oven at a very specific temperature, feeding the fire with calibrated sticks. Even so the bread would come out cooked a little odd, lumpy, still good and bread-like while fresh but as it sat on the counter it would turn hard and stale. This hard stale bread is pretty much what they ate. To buy them Wonder Bread, which is what they bought, was a symbol then of everything this poor, Irish family was not. And getting the stuff like Wonder Break was a wonder.

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