Hot Debate: What Do You Call the End of a Loaf of Bread?

published Dec 14, 2018
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Everybody knows that feeling of dread — when you pick up the loaf of bread and the only thing left are the ends. Those pieces, which have the crust all over one side, rather than just on the edges, are the ugly stepchild of the bread industry. Long after most of us have outgrown wanting the crusts cut off our peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, we still don’t want to touch those end pieces — the balance of crust to insides is simply off, we can all agree on that. What we can’t all agree on, Twitter discovered recently, is what we call those pieces.

The whole hullabaloo began a few days ago, when English actor Stephen Mangan tweeted that he always uses the end of the loaf when making toast. “This quiet and selfless act of heroism goes completely unnoticed,” he says.

But his tweet went anything but, spurning 219 replies. He really dug his heels in after that (pun intended), insisting that the heel is the only proper name for that part of the bread. A subsequent tweet earned hundreds more, even thousands of replies. “You’re a big slice of wrong,” the actor responded to folks who fought him on the matter.

But he also rounded up the names people offered: “So the end slice of a loaf is (according to you weirdos) — the knobby, knobby end, knob end, nobbly, knobbler, norbert, doormat, topper, nut end, noggie, noggin, ender, crust, butt, outsider, tush, doorstep, bumper, healie, nub, bum, bum end, knocker [all wrong] or heel [correct].” Nigella Lawson even weighed in, suggesting that on a baguette it’s called an “elbow.”

While I’ll admit I now use heel — the correct, as he says, phrase — for much of my childhood, I’d misheard “end” and thought that piece of bread was called the “em” slice. What do you call it?