Appalachian Food

Light Bread or Loaf Bread?

light bread

light bread noun A loaf of bread made from wheat flour leavened with yeast, rather than from corn meal. Same as loaf bread, wheat bread.
1936 LAMSAS (Madison Co NC, Swain Co NC). 1949 Kurath Word Geog East US 39, 66. 1966-67 DARE (Burnsville NC, Gatlingburg TN, Maryville TN). 1972 Pederson et al. LAGS (Cocke Co TM; Jefferson Co TN). 1982 Maples Memories 52 [For a potato sandwich] I head for the kitchen, fry a potato golden brown, cut up country wise, spread a little mayonnaise on light bread, salt lightly. 1982 Parris Here’s How Store-bought loaf bread is called “light-bread.” 1982 Weals Cove Lumber [T]he flour milling did not prove profitable. Cornbread was the bread of that time and place, and there was not yet much demand for “lightbread.” 1990 Fisher Preacher Stories 25 In the economy of the mountains, most people ate cornbread at least twice a day. “Wheatbread,” as it was sometimes called, was usually reserved for breakfast and many times only for special occasions, especially if it had yeast in it, in which case it was called “light bread.” 1995 Williams Smoky Mts Folklife 92 Breads made from white flour, either homemade biscuits or store-purchases “light bread,” were more prestigious than cornbread.

Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English

We call it light bread. And although it may not be the healthiest of breads, plain old light bread is my favorite bread for sandwiches.

When I was growing up the two most popular brands of light bread were Sunbeam and Kerns. I still buy Sunbeam today.

Several years ago I had a series about eating make-do type of foods. As you might imagine light bread came up in many of the comments. Here’s a few:

  • Norma said: When I read your requests for ‘make do suppers’, many come to mind. I was born in 1947, so the 50’s were my “formative years”, as it were, so most of these are from the 50’s and 60’s. Here’s a few family favorites: My father loved to have cold cereal or hot oatmeal and buttered cheese toast on Sunday nights after church. It was a light repast, he called it, after the usual groaning board Sunday dinner.
  • Amy Phillips said: Spread butter on sliced bread sprinkle with garlic salt, broil for a min or so, garlic bread… CHEAP, CHEAP,CHEAP!!
  • Vicki Lane said: When I was in college,  one summer I rented a room from a young couple with four children. The husband was a real estate agent and the mom (not much older than I) stayed home. Things got very close around the end of the month  and when they couldn’t afford margarine, they spread their toast with Crisco and salted it.  It wasn’t too bad.
  • Don Casada said: Brother Jim and I are obviously going to have some of the same recollections.  Before I read any of the comments, I was already thinking hamburger meat (with some sausage mixed in) on top of either cornbread or just plain Sunbeam loaf bread.  In those days, Sunbeam bread came from Waldensian Bakeries in Valdese. It probably has something to do with a boy’s appetite, but white bread sure tasted better back then than it does now.
  • B. Ruth said: I ask my son when he’s on his way to pick up the kids at day care, “Whats’ for Supper?”…He replies with a laugh…”Looks like white bread and potted meat tonight!”….He’s kidding of course, meaning money’s tight! He’s heard my tales of potted meat n’ white bread sandwiches. LOL Many a time when I was growing up we had canned Deviled Ham (or potted meat) and scrambled egg sandwiches on white bread.. either for lunch or supper! LOL  No Mayonnaise either..if moistened it was always a salad dressing product…ewwww! Wieners sliced in half length ways…fried in a pan till dark. One half weiner was put on one slice of white bread with mustard. As a special splurge of happiness Mom would buy one large bottle 15 cents of soda. She gave us a small glass of Strawberry or Cherry soda filled with (aluminum tray) large ice cubes and on the side those little hot dog shaped cheese Tid-Bit crackers…what a treat of a meal in the summer…LOL I wonder if they still make those???
  • Tipper said: I can’t find the comment, but someone mentioned mayonnaise sandwiches. Until I read that comment I had forgotten about eating mayo sandwiches at Mamaw’s house. I remember standing in the kitchen with a cousin who was eating one and he fixed me one too. I don’t remember if we ate the sandwich because there was nothing else or because he liked it.

Here at the Blind Pig house we use light bread for:

  • scrambled egg sandwiches
  • in place of hamburger buns
  • cheese toast
  • like Amy we use it for garlic bread
  • buttered toast for breakfast
  • sugar toast or cinnamon toast (when I’m sick I always want cinnamon toast and chocolate milk because that’s what Granny fixed for me when I was sick as a child)
  • to sop up pork-n-beans
  • sandwiches
  • The Deer Hunter recently made some dandy croutons from light bread
  • in meatloaf…and to make meatloaf sandwhiches


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  • Reply
    Kathy Ottinger Kitrel
    June 9, 2021 at 1:01 am

    My mom, who grew up picking cotton in NE Arkansas and SE Missouri, called in light bread. She said that her mom made cornbread and biscuits every day so when they had light bread it was a treat. She would make us “Jelly bread sandwiches” which was a piece of light bread and jelly/preserves folded in half.

  • Reply
    Donna Allison
    June 8, 2021 at 9:29 pm

    I remember eating mayonaise sandwiches as child in fact I get to wanten one ever once in a while even now.

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    November 17, 2020 at 12:12 pm

    I grew up calling loaf bread “white’ bread for the most part….I think for years I have called it “light bread”…’cause that is what my husband calls loaf bread…When I make a list for him for the grocery store, I just put down, bread, buns, hot dog buns, etc. If I just tell him on the phone for instance I might say get a loaf of bread…(light bread) Sometimes, we switch it up and buy some whole grain bread…However, we are “spoilt” on light bread…A Peanut
    butter n’ jelly sandwich or a egg, tuna, chicken or pimento salad sandwich just don’t taste the same on any other flavor or texture of bread…
    Thanks for this post…

  • Reply
    November 15, 2020 at 7:44 pm

    Growing up in southeast MO, the old folks called it light bread or white bread. The brand down there was Bunny Bread, “that’s what I said, Bunny Bread!”. we had cornbread or biscuits for most meals, but used store bought white bread for sandwiches. Grandma and Mama would bake rolls for holidays and big family gatherings. Mama would also bake white bread and my dad loved it. As for sandwiches, a snack for me and my older brother and sister was a ketchup sandwich… ketchup on white bread, or a Miracle Whip sandwich, mustard and a slice of onion was very tasty too!

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    November 2, 2020 at 4:46 pm

    My daddy’s family moved the the Charlotte area when he was a young man. He worked for the Marita bakery there and learned to make yeast bread. When he had had enough he hightailed it back to the mountains and brought that knowledge back with him. He also brought a recipe for doughnuts. Real doughnuts made with yeast and cooked in oil. He bought a huge skillet that took up half the top of our old wood stove. He would fill that thing half full of lard and let them gems swim around until the bottom was a dark chestnut color then flip them over and do the same to the other side. He would take them out, let them drip a little then sprinkle them with sugar. They weren’t greasy at all and not overly sweet but good just ain’t the word for them. I rarely eat doughnuts today because none of them can hold a candle to those Daddy made those many years ago.

  • Reply
    November 2, 2020 at 12:07 pm

    My sisters and I loved mayo sandwiches, and we were taught to clean our plates. Nobody threw anything away, so we had an old radio that did not work. Mom found the back stuffed with half eaten mayo sandwiches my baby sis had hidden there. She never did learn that basic Appalachian rule of “cleaning your plate.”

    I well remember your “make do” posts back then, and I found them very interesting to read. Much of it was like many of my Mother’s meals growing up. These meals have remained my favorites through the years, and the only reason there have been changes is due to health concerns. To this day I absolutely love cooked greens, and it was not uncommon for greens and cornbread to be a meal. If one did not want the greens could just have cornbread and milk. This would make an excellent topic on your YouTube channel. Many have become concerned about the shortages, and they are learning to “make do” since stores still have limits and are out of many items. Canned milk, pumpkin, coconut, and whipped cream not to be found at Aldi’s yesterday. I don’t have to worry too much , because we were taught to stay stocked up also.

    • Reply
      Ed Ammons
      November 2, 2020 at 4:53 pm

      I like just mayonnaise on bread too. But usually if I put mayo on anything I get too much out of the jar so I can lick what’s left off the spoon. Same with mustard. And peanut butter! Who needs bread anyway?

  • Reply
    Sue McIntyre
    November 2, 2020 at 11:48 am

    Mama would toast “white bread” and dip it in hot coffee. She called it soaky. She would also split and butter cold biscuits, put them under the broiler till toasted and dip them in coffee. I was floored one morning when my 3 year old grandson asked for soaky breakfast. Moma had passed years before he was born. How he knew what it was, is still a mystery. His favorite snack is a mayonnaise sandwich (on “white bread”) . The other grandchildren do not like mayonnaise at all. LOL

  • Reply
    Terry L. Price
    November 2, 2020 at 10:52 am

    I grew up in Madison County. “Light bread” was the sandwich bread you bought from the store while wheat bread was bread made at home with wheat flower and leavening. Love these stories and posts; they take me back to a wonderful childhood – albeit sometimes marked by economic difficulties and hardship.

  • Reply
    Wanda Devers
    November 2, 2020 at 10:52 am

    Light bread was a treat during my childhood. It was bought when we needed a sandwich for a school picnic–otherwise it was cornbread or biscuits. Mama never made yeast bread.

    An old friend said he’s make a “bare and Jam sandwich”. Took two bare slices of bread & jammed them together! I have been known to do the same thing.

    I love sweet onion and mayo on white bread–my son thinks it’s awful!

    We try to stick with whole grain products for health sake but I still love (and crave) light bread!

  • Reply
    November 2, 2020 at 10:39 am

    I know I have already posted but I thought about something that has nothing to do with bread. What do you call saltine crackers? Do you call them saltine or soda crackers. We call them soda crackers and the bread loaf bread.

  • Reply
    Ann Applegarth
    November 2, 2020 at 10:22 am

    We called it light bread, but wheat bread is what we called whole-wheat bread, which was rare during my childhood. And Miss Cindy nailed it: there is nothing as delicious as the first home-grown tomato of the summer with thick mayo on light bread!

  • Reply
    Gene Smith
    November 2, 2020 at 10:14 am

    I remember sandwiches made with light bread, mayo and bananas sliced lengthwise. Add a glass of cold milk to make one of my favorite light meals as a boy. We would sometimes spread peanut butter on the bread instead of mayo. Bananas mate well with pb too. Haven’t had a banana sandwich in years.

    • Reply
      November 2, 2020 at 4:22 pm

      Bless your heart. I ate banana sandwiches for dinner (lunch) today along with bbq potato chips. I also love the tomato sandwich. Where I live there is only one mayonnaise and that is Dukes

      • Reply
        Ed Ammons
        November 2, 2020 at 7:15 pm

        I’m a Duke’s fan too. I don’t think they sold it in Swain County when I was a youngin so we ate JFG. The first time I tasted Dukes I thought it tasted too salty but it made everything you put it on taste better. I am still careful of the salt when I use Dukes but I won’t use anything else. Might as well not have mayonnaise if it can’t be Dukes.
        I am a Blue Devils fan too but that’s a different Duke.

      • Reply
        November 7, 2020 at 3:36 pm

        Try some Fritos next time instead of the chips. That’s the bomb for me

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    November 2, 2020 at 9:41 am

    Always “light bread” to us but the expression is fading out I think. I wonder if the “light” part was about color or ‘rise’ or both. Or simply a re-use of the Israelites calling manna “light bread”. Maybe it was all three.

    We did not routinely have light bread when I was growing up. I wish I could remember the brands. There was Bunny and Raindow as I recall. Not sure if there were others. I think the bakeries have gone the way of the small time pop bottlers, got gobbled up by the big companies or squeezed out.

  • Reply
    November 2, 2020 at 9:02 am

    I’ve eaten light bread sandwiches all the ways you have and I especially loved fresh sliced tomatoes and mayo too. We called it loaf bread. I remember one time I stopped at a girlfriends house and she was fixing sliced pineapple and mayo sandwich so she fixed one for me. It was pretty good. Never had thought of that type and haven’t had one since.

  • Reply
    November 2, 2020 at 8:55 am

    I can’t find Kern’s or Sunbeam Bread anywhere. Those were the brands of light bread I grew up eating. We always loved to come home from school and find a cold kitchen stove and no big cooker of soup beans simmering while the cornbread baked. We knew we were in for a bologna sandwich treat for supper. A big green onion and fresh tomato on the side was a meal to die for. We only got treats like that once or twice a year and only when mom was sick or had to make a trip away from home during the day and had no time for cooking. If any light bread was leftover, it was used to sop up fresh honey or molasses.

  • Reply
    November 2, 2020 at 8:13 am

    I grew up in NJ with Wonder white bread. The logo is red, blue, and yellow balloons. In 1930 it was the first company to sell sliced white bread nationwide, hence the expression “the best thing since sliced bread”. When there was nothing to put between two slices, we spread butter on and sprinkled with sugar. Didn’t even wait to toast it first!

    • Reply
      November 5, 2020 at 4:23 pm

      Kerns is carried by the local chain Food City. They bought the rights and recipes for Kern’s products as well as Lay’s meats and Terry’s potato chips….they have Kerns bread, buns, pies etc..

  • Reply
    November 2, 2020 at 7:49 am

    We use the bread for a some of the same things as Tipper. I like to fry wieners or boloney and make sandwiches with mustard. Last week I ate some sandwiches made with Treat. It had been many years since I had ate a Treat sandwich. I use to carry them to work for my dinner. We also toast left over hamburger buns with butter spread on them. Down around Greenville, SC , it seems hard at times to buy a real good fresh loaf, they seem to be dry even the more expensive brands with a good date By the way those Treat not Spam sandwiches sure tasted good to me. As for cornbread, my wife and I had cornbread and milk for supper last night.

  • Reply
    aw griff
    November 2, 2020 at 7:43 am

    I reckon we have used all of the ways you listed for light bread including croutons my wife makes for salads. She only uses butter and garlic powder. One of my favorite sandwiches through the summer is a tomato sandwich with mayo, salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper. While growing up we didn’t have snack foods like chips, candy, or soft drinks so you ate what you could find. I sometimes ate onion sandwiches but usually it was left over cornbread and onions.

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    November 2, 2020 at 7:36 am

    Wh always called it lite bread. My favorite was lite bread spread with mayo and sliced tomatoes. But I have eaten mayo sandwiches when out of tomatoes

  • Reply
    Vann Helms
    November 2, 2020 at 7:24 am

    As a boy in Charlotte, it was always “light bread”. Merita Bread sponsored “The Lone Ranger”, and other popular shows. Mama always bought Merita Bread. We also heard “loaf bread”, but not as much. Thanks for the memory.

    • Reply
      Rooney Floyd
      November 2, 2020 at 9:49 am

      I’m with Vann–Merita, the Lone Ranger and loaf bread

  • Reply
    Sharon Schuster
    November 2, 2020 at 7:17 am

    When the contents of the frigerator were spare, Daddy would say, “I’ll just eat a ol’ cold tater.”
    As far as bread, he preferred corn bread (not sweet).
    His opinion of light bread- “white bread, you’re dead.”

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    November 2, 2020 at 6:56 am

    M & M, Tipper, one of the very best meals ever, that’s ‘mater and mayo on light bread! One of my favorite meals in the hot summer when the tomato is fresh off the vine! Makes me hungry just thinking about it. I ate these all my life, they are best with fresh picked, home grown tomatoes! Mighty fine!

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