Mother’s Bread


This ghost sign (an old hand painted ad on a building ) is on my route to the Lili Cafe at 3138 Dobson Street in Polish Hill, one of my favorite coffee shops in Pittsburgh. (If you go, get a Mind Mender . oh yeah.)   I love old faded signs, because they remind me of  Mail Pouch ads on barns and thus of  the sweet smelling tobacco that my grandfathers used in their pipes.


But, imagine my excitement when, last year while reading a book  – NERD ALERT –  called White Bread:  A Social History of the Store Bought Loaf, by Aaron Bobrow-Strain, I found out that Pittsburgh was the home of one of the first white bread manufacturer’s in the country.  The Ward Baking company was  located between 31st and 32nd Street on Liberty Avenue and  made Mother’s Bread along with TipTop, the squishy white loaves that were all the rage in the early 1900s.   It was “the idea loaf, white, light , tasty palatable and nourishing.”    The Ward company, which was the largest bakery in the US in the early 1900s,  also made TipTop bread, which was the first nationally distributed enriched loaf .  As  the whiteness took over, the nutrients were stripped away.  Enriching the bread with vitamins and minerals was the way to go.    The Ward company eventually bought other companies, merged and this and that .. .. and eventually morphed into the baker and distributor of  items like Wonder bread and Hostess products.


Anyway, the sign at 3209 Dobson Street, which was visible again after a fire in 2008 burned the apartment building next door, makes me smile every time I drive past.  Go check it out!!