Shannon Stacey

That brown bread in a can stuff

So last night on Twitter, Lime asked about brown bread in a can. Being a smartass, I tweeted a picture of the can I happened to have in my cupboard.

Imagine my surprise when I got a whole lot of “what the hell is that?” in return. I had no idea brown bread in a can was a New England thing. That led to the following conversation with my husband…

Me: “How would you describe brown bread in a can?”

Him: “Brown. Comes in a can.”

Me: “Thanks.”

Him: “No problem.”

Me: “You know, if Moxie was a bread, it would be brown bread in a can.”

Him: “If they’ve never seen brown bread in a can, they probably haven’t had Moxie.”

New Englanders believe Moxie (one of the first mass-produced soft drinks in American) to be either the Yankee equivalent of Odin’s mead or the most foul liquid ever concocted in a taste-test lab.There’s no “Sure, if you don’t have Coke” middle ground with Moxie. (And, ohmigod, it’s nasty.)

Anyway, back to brown bread in a can. It’s not really bread. Not really cake. Spongy, but more dense than spongecake. While I’m sure there are rogue New Englanders out there, it’s traditionally eaten with baked beans. It’s not sweet. It’s actually dark and a little bitter. It comes out of the can just like cranberry sauce (with the handy can markings to act as cutting guides and everything).

Then you either heat it, then butter it as you slice it. Or you can slice it, slap some butter on it and put it in the microwave or in the toaster oven.

Ingredients: Water, whole wheat flour, molasses, dextrose, rye flour, whey, degerminated yellow corn meal, baking soda, buttermilk, salt, and corn oil. I’ve never seen it not in a can, and I’m pretty sure if somebody tried it, it would just get dry and crumbly. Plus then it wouldn’t be, you know, brown bread in a can.

And since the baked beans come in a can and the brown bread comes in a can, both can be easily heated in campfire coals. So, when the apocalypse comes and the rest of the country’s eating a steady diet of Spam, New Englanders will be having baked beans and brown bread for dinner. But no Moxie. I’d throw myself to the zombies before I drank Moxie.

(Disclaimer: Brown bread in a can is as gross as Moxie, actually. My teen likes it and it’s handy for him to take to living history events for the potluck. A simmering cauldron of baked beans is beyond his current abilities, but he can bring the bread. But, really, it’s pretty gross. I recommend plain old bread and butter with your beans.)

26 comments to “That brown bread in a can stuff”

  1. Jennifer Wilck
      · November 9th, 2011 at 10:25 am · Link

    Never ever heard of this before, but, um, could be interesting. I’m not big on canned things though (although I do confess a fondness for the canned cranberry sauce). I think my big question would be why you’d can bread in the first place? Great post.

  2. Marie Dees
      · November 9th, 2011 at 10:26 am · Link

    I have wondered about this stuff for years. It’s on the grocery store shelves in some stores in Florida, but I have never seen anyone buy it. My father is from the New England area but never eats the bread in a can. My mother was from the South and made biscuits when we had baked beans.

  3. Phyl
      · November 9th, 2011 at 10:30 am · Link

    I was raised in eastern PA by a mom who grew up in MA. There were ALWAYS cans of B&M brown bread in the pantry. My mom remembers homemade versions of brown bread from her childhood. I loved this stuff as a kid. It’s so good with butter on it. Gosh, haven’t thought of it in ages. Not something you can buy in flyover country. Damn, now I have a serious craving…

  4. Jackie P
      · November 9th, 2011 at 10:31 am · Link

    Wow, you have just added to my education. Never heard of brown bread in a can.

  5. mary jo springer
      · November 9th, 2011 at 10:32 am · Link

    I love this stuff with cream cheese!

  6. tracykitn
      · November 9th, 2011 at 10:49 am · Link

    I have a recipe for it, somewhere, but not the right size can to cook it in. It’s steamed rather than baked, which is how it gets that dense texture. I have no desire eat it, but I really really want to make some sometime.

  7. Danielle West
      · November 9th, 2011 at 10:52 am · Link

    Never heard of either of those items (lived in IA all my life). Not so sure I would ever be interested in eating bread from a can and I would say no, thank you to eating such a thing with my baked beans. <- Those can be eaten alone or with chips. :)

  8. Nicki
      · November 9th, 2011 at 10:53 am · Link

    I loooooove jellied cranberry sauce. I’ll eat it by itself ^_^

    (But then, this is the same girl who will eat a frozen burrito.)

  9. Bet
      · November 9th, 2011 at 11:11 am · Link

    looks like dog food. *shudders*

  10. Carin
      · November 9th, 2011 at 11:32 am · Link

    I have NEVER heard of brown bread in a can or moxie. Well, actually, there’s a Moxie game I play on my iPad and love very much, but it’s not some sort of pop.

    And for the record… I eat my baked beans plain. I didn’t know they were supposed to have bread with them. Huh.

  11. Limecello
      · November 9th, 2011 at 11:58 am · Link

    Hee! I’m so tickled by this post! Xoxo thanks for sacrificing your can of brown bread for my curiosity. I thought it might be sweet- interesting that it’s not. Yay for Chopped introducing me to “hidden American cuisine/Americana.”

  12. Erin
      · November 9th, 2011 at 1:21 pm · Link

    I have NEVER even heard of bread in a can. I have to say that I laughed when I read this post.

  13. Lee Laughlin
      · November 9th, 2011 at 1:54 pm · Link

    What is wrong with you?????? Brown bread toasted with butter is just yummy!!! <3 it with beans and hot dogs. You did however get the tast of Moxie right. The Tilt 'N Diner has homemade brown bread that is out of this world.

  14. Bev Stephans
      · November 9th, 2011 at 2:41 pm · Link

    I love Brown Bread in a Can! I ate it quite often as a child. I’m not sure it’s available in this area (Washington, DC). I grew up in Michigan and all the stores carried it. When my mother and dad would go out to dinner, we kids would always have hot dogs and beans and Brown Bread in a Can.

  15. Lynda the Guppy
      · November 9th, 2011 at 3:33 pm · Link

    I had never heard of Brown Bread in a Can until this past spring. I’m curious as to what it tastes like, but not curious enough to order it online and pay for shipping.

    But for those who want it, The Vermont Country Store carries it. You can order online. Great store. I’ve actually been there.

  16. Carin
      · November 9th, 2011 at 4:59 pm · Link

    Interesting – Bev grew up in Michigan and ate it. I grew up in Wisconsin and never heard of it. Maybe that’s the borderline for Brown Bread Country?

  17. Aja
      · November 9th, 2011 at 7:49 pm · Link

    Brown bread and MOXIE!!!!!!!!!!! rock my socks! Moxie is the best drink ever invented. :D Everyone should try it at least once. When I was in college, I gave some to my roommate and told her it was coke. The look on her face was hilarious to say the least. Man, now I want Moxie. You suck….. ;)

  18. Aja
      · November 9th, 2011 at 7:50 pm · Link

    Oh, and baked beans are gross. :)

  19. Mo
      · November 9th, 2011 at 9:37 pm · Link

    My son is a Moxie addict with NH roots who now lives in VA. He can’t find Moxie down there so I ship him a case every few months. I can’t stand the stuff. My grandmother always served bread in a can with baked beans, I ahdn’t thought about it in ages. Thanks for the reminder.

  20. Shannon
      · November 9th, 2011 at 10:47 pm · Link

    Brown bread and MOXIE!!!!!!!!!!! rock my socks! Moxie is the best drink ever invented. <-- From my very own sister. Obviously Moxie-love is NOT genetic. It’s on the grocery store shelves in some stores in Florida, but I have never seen anyone buy it. <-- It's for the snowbirds! I love this stuff with cream cheese! <-- I told you there were rogues eating it without baked beans! :lol:

    Maybe I should do a contest and give away a bottle of Moxie and a can of brown bread, LOL!

  21. Jewell
      · November 10th, 2011 at 4:49 pm · Link

    Oh! Jellied cranberry sauce with a bit of turkey gravy on the top is so YUMMO!

    Tried SPAM once. Once!

    But bread in a can? I can’t even wrap my mind around that.

  22. Sharon Cullen
      · November 10th, 2011 at 11:24 pm · Link

    My brother-in-law is from England and he thinks it’s horrible that we Americans eat bread out of a can. Of course he was referring to Grands Biscuits. I don’t even know what he’d say about brown bread in a can. LOL

  23. Brian Q
      · November 12th, 2011 at 9:18 pm · Link

    Brown Bread is asteamed bread. Originally made using a coffee can for a mold. Canned BB is OK but make it from scratch, yes using a 1 lb coffee can. Many recipes online.
    Lookup New England Brown Bread.
    Rye Flour, whole wheat flour, corn meal, molasses, and raisins.
    Butter and fry in a skillet to toast. Absolutely delicious.

  24. Jess Mann
      · August 7th, 2013 at 6:36 pm · Link

    I use to eat brown bread in a can growing up. I remember it as being really good with cream cheese as an after school snack. As an adult, I am not sure if I will still like it. Its been 20 years since I had it. I live and was born and raised up near San Francisco, but my dad grew up in Mass. He said its a New England thing, but many New Englanders don’t know about it.

  25. Shannon
      · August 11th, 2013 at 7:33 pm · Link

    I think brown bread in a can fell out of favor at some point. I rarely find people who like it anymore, except for my son.

  26. Carrye
      · November 9th, 2013 at 1:49 pm · Link

    My sisters and I love brown bread in a can. We can still find it in Kroger Stores in the Cincinnati, OH area. Good just sliced and served as is or spread cream cheese on it…add sliced olives if you like. I never heard of it with baked beans…may have to try that sometime. PS: sisters and I are in our 70’s

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