Last night I went to the Whole Foods on 3rd Street in Los Angeles, across from the Farmer's Market. My intention was to buy a new batch of new food for the new year. I wanted a fresh start. Not because of any resolution but because a certain sameness had infiltrated the meager single-man selection of foods in my refrigerator and pantry.
My first stop was the bread aisle. I recently had the idea that I needed more good bread and good cheese in my life. Good bread and good cheese have never let me down before. Good bread and good cheese provide a satisfying, economical, and healthy (in moderation) steady diet. I knew that I had an unopened, fresh triangle of brie at home. I was eager to find it a partner.
For the past seven years or so, my bread of choice at Whole Foods was the French Meadow "Men's Bread," a ridiculously named sesame-seeded, nut-rich loaf that I would normally find in the refrigerated or frozen bread sections. Men's Bread and its sister brand Women's Bread were first sold at the actual French Meadow Bakery in Minneapolis, a place where I've many relatively disappointing breakfasts and lunches. They decided to market the bread nationally and I remained loyal to my gender specific version. (Note: I've tasted Women's Bread. It's not nearly as good.) But, like I said, I wanted change and Men's Bread did not represent change. In fact, it was a staple of my former marriage. I think I kept buying it after the divorce to prove that those years weren't wasted. They weren't wasted, of course, but we do funny things in difficult times.
Then I saw something I had never seen before in the fresh bread aisle: A new line of breads packaged in loaves that were half the size of traditional loaves. As someone who throws away stale slices of unfinished bread far too often, the smaller loaf was a godsend. They had several versions of it, one of which sounded perfect. I grabbed the Organic Raisin and Walnut Bread, made by Oliver's Artisan's Breads, satisfied that the new year might just be a good one after all.
When I got home and unloaded my groceries, I saw it a little yellow circle just to the right of the word "Organic." In the circle were the following words: "The Bachelor Loaf."
Okay, I'm past 40. And I live alone. I'm a bachelor. A divorced bachelor. Why the fuck would Oliver's Artisan Breads want to remind me of this fact? This may be the single most misguided marketing move in high-end grocery history. "The Bachelor Loaf?" Why not the "I Live Alone and Thus Can Only Eat Half As Much Bread As a Happy Couple Loaf"? Or the "Eats His Bread Alone While Watching Kath and Kim Loaf?"
And get this! Next to the words "The Bachelor Loaf" was a little trademark (TM) symbol! Great, Oliver, you get to keep this marketing blunder all to yourself. Now, why don't you and your little artisans (who are likely dwarves) figure out a way for me to keep a girlfriend?
If I had seen those words before paying for the bread, I would have put it back on the shelf. Or maybe stomped on it, quietly, in the always unoccupied Bob's Red Mill aisle. But no I took that bachelor loaf home. And today when I got home from work I toasted two slices and put a healthy slab of brie on each. I ate that bachelor bread with a sense of purpose and dash of forced bitterness. You know what? Best bread I've ever had.