Picking Up a Loaf of Bread Soon? Be Sure to Pay Attention to the Colored Tags

published May 26, 2022
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plastic tags on bread bag use to tell you which day of the week bread was baked on.
Credit: Shutterstock/amonphan comphanyo

Editor’s note: Since the original publication of this article it has come to our attention that the reality behind the colored bread tags is a little more complicated than we realized. According to a Snopes article, “Does the Color of a Bread Tag Indicate When the Loaf Was Baked? (which cites three print sources not available online), bread manufacturers do use different colored tags for different days; however, they all have different color systems. A blue tag doesn’t necessarily mean the bread was baked on Monday. Some tags have dates for when the bread should be removed from shelves (not the baked date). Furthermore, retailers remove older loaves before stocking with fresh deliveries, so you’re unlikely to encounter bread that’s been on the shelf for more than a day or two.

They say man cannot live on bread alone, which is probably why we love sandwiches so much. Whether you like keeping yours simple or get complex with piles of toppings, all of these mix-and-match meals have one thing in common: it’s the bread that literally holds it all together. 

A trip to your grocery store’s bakery can make or break a sandwich. Most of the time, the loaves for sale have been baked within a day or two of hitting the shelves. And if you don’t want to ask the baker behind the counter, luckily, there’s a little cheat sheet to let you know if that’s actually true.

We were today years old when we learned that the colored plastic tag or tie that closes the bread bag is the key to how fresh the loaf is. Called “bread clips” (or “bread buckles,” in some cases), the tag’s color indicates the day the loaf was baked, packaged, and stocked. Not only does this make it easier for the baker to know when to rotate out older loaves, it gives you the opportunity to grab the freshest ones. Most grocers follow this schedule (with Wednesday and Sunday usually taken off from baking):

  • Monday – Blue
  • Tuesday – Green
  • Thursday – Red
  • Friday – White
  • Saturday – Yellow

With all the other things you have to remember (hello, passwords, trash day schedules, etc.), they made it easy for you to keep these in mind. The colors correspond to weekdays in alphabetical order of their first letter. For instance, Monday is the first day of the week, and b(lue) is the first to come in the A-Z string. 

Have some bread (or croissants) a day past its prime? Turn it into this delicious breakfast strata.