Saturday, April 25, 2009

A Showery Midday in Portland: Passing By the Franz Bakery

"They say bread is life. And I bake bread, bread, bread. And I sweat and shovel this stinkin' dough in and out of this hot hole in the wall, and I should be so happy! Huh, sweetie?" Ronny Cammareri in Moonstruck

Nancy and I stumbled on the Franz Bakery today. It's been in business since 1906. In fact, it's the largest family-owned bakery in the United States of America! They have a number of bakeries, but this is the original location and some buildings date from 1912. They seem quite proud of their history and the window on the corner of the building features some historical photos. Signs in the windows on NE 12th feature interesting facts like the one shown on the sign to the left.

The rotating sign drew our attention to the bakery. I stopped to take a photo which turned into our adventure for the day.

Little did I know that the sign rotated 2,628,000 times per year. That's 5 RPM, Twenty-four/seven. We saw breads moving in the window so decided to have a looksee.

Sure enough, the mouth of the 100 foot long oven was disgorging anywhere from 4 or 5 pans of, shall we say, non-artisan bread to maybe 15 or so every 15 or 20 seconds. It looked like it must have been going flat out making some sort of white loaf, but not a standard sandwich loaf. Maybe a deli white. In fact, I'm pretty sure it was the Deli Sourdough French Loaf.

We followed the parade of bread as best we could. Through the window you could see a few bakers--I think they are called bakers--a couple slicing machines where the loaves were backed up awaiting their fate like steers at a cattle chute, and a conveyor of dough in pans headed for the oven. Unfortunately, the windows had a reflective layer that my eyes could pierce, but my camera couldn't.

We stopped by the factory outlet where outstanding deals were offered on various Franz products if you were in the market for Franz products. The shopkeeper asked why I was taking pictures and said "You're not from Oroweat, are you?" I assured her that I wasn't and that I just liked to take pictures of common things and write little stories about them. She seemed fine with that. By the way, did you know Oroweat is owned by Bimbo Bakeries? I'm not kidding.

We bought some rolls for sausages and some cookies--yes, they bake them too, although not at this bakery.

So, next time you see a trademark bright yellow Franz triple-trailer truck, think about the family-owned bakery at NE 11th and Flanders, right here in Stumptown, and all the delicious, non-artisan bread, hamburger buns, and chocolate mini doughnuts that are crammed in there, making their way to your table. Or not.

1 comment:

Ronna said...

In Canada we don't have Franz bread but I just love the revolving loaf. Next time I'm in Stumptown, can we take a lookie?