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Why Am I So Obsessed with These Three Slices of Bread?

As I was preparing to make toast as part of my breakfast yesterday, I noticed that the slice of bread at the end of the loaf had a hole in the upper-left corner (No. 1). The next slice had an even bigger hole in the same spot (No. 2). And the slice after that had a little indentation (No. 3). I wish I still had the preceding slice — we could call that No. 0 — which presumably had an indentation as well.

There’s nothing mysterious about any of this. The holes were caused by an air bubble in the dough. We’ve all seen it countless times before.

And yet. I found something particularly pleasing about these holes. I think it’s the sense of progression, capped off by the gentle crater in slice No. 3. I find that progression very satisfying. Also, I like how holes remind us that the loaf was once a single hunk of bread before it was run through the automatic slicer.

Why does my mind work this way? I don’t know. But I’m pretty sure that the part of my brain that responds to this type of thing is the same part that obsesses over uniforms.

Anyone else feel similarly?

Comments (55)

    Before I read the explanation, I assumed it was either the holes or because they all look oddly cat-face shaped.

    This post reminded me of the short-lived “Gromm-It” feature on this blog.

    Seems like the bread is recognizing your farewell to Uni-Watch era!


    This reminds me, what was the project you did about the structures the name escapes me at the moment. I remembered it the other day and wanted to give it another read.

    I think about Gomm-It way more than is likely heathy. I loved that side gig of yours.

    I love uniform design, which is why I follow this site, but I’ve never the attention to precise details that Paul has (and many others here as well). That said, obsessing over weird things like these bread holes is right up my alley. Like Paul, I like to imagine, in examples like this one, how the holes fit together to make the original void.

    If the new Substack content is going to be anything like your deep dive into bread clips from a decade or so ago, I’m all in!

    That was a heavily reported piece. My new Substack may included *some* reporting, but will probably be more anecdotal/observational than fully reported. But we’ll see!

    As much as I enjoy Uni Watch, I actually think I’m looking forward to the post-Uni Watch era even more. Posts like these are my favorite part of the site.

    I visited my buddy in the Peace Corps in Tanzania for a month in 2006, and all the loaves of bread we got had a double-thick slice about 3/4s of the way through. My buddy said all the bread in the northern half of the country was like that, because the one bread slicer had a broken blade. In Dar es Salaam and south they didn’t have the double-think slice.

    That’s fascinating!! Sort of like during the pandemic, when America ran out of Similac because Abbott has a de facto monopoly on baby formula. The butterfly effect in the real world.

    I share your above average attention to detail in sports uniforms but being fascinated by air bubbles in bread is where we differ, even if the way of looking at them may come from the same part of the brain. I find these bubble holes always totally annoying (especially while preparing a jam sandwich).

    Hi Paul. A little off topic. If the Buck lose tonight, would this be the first series were both teams wore the same uniforms every game? I don’t recall that ever happening. Maybe before the advent of home and away uniforms?

    Enjoy your new adventures!

    I don’t really eat sliced bread anymore, but 100% on this. I’d always enjoy looking at the progression of the slices, changes in the overall shape, or features like holes. For a good while I’d eat two PB&J sandwiches for lunch pretty regularly, and would definitely make sure the sandwiches had the bread in the original order so all the features would line up in a pleasing manner.

    If this incremental change across sections fascinates you I highly suggest you start exploring the world of parametric architecture. It is basically this in 4 dimensions.

    I love history because I like the idea of understanding how things work and why they are the way they are. I think it’s the same part of the brain that get me locked into scientific cooking videos where they break down the science behind recipes and what variances in doughs and sauces cause the differences in the finished product.

    Lately when I see a big air hole in a loaf of bread I wonder how bubbly was that particular batch? Did it just pass inspection or is that something the company doesn’t really concern itself with?

    Funny. I HATE air bubble holes in my bread! I eat a lot of PB&J sandwiches in the car while I drive, and the holes…yes…give the PB&J a chance to leak all over myself! But I definitely get your thought process!!

    A fellow hater of bread air bubbles because of PB&J, hooray!

    Bread hole haters unite! Who’s got time to spread the PB&J around the hole?! Whoa, that doesn’t sound right, lol. Sometimes I have to go through quite a few pieces to find un-holy ones…argh

    Funny, my brain immediately went to the holes and indentation being some sort of result of an automated process in making/slicing/packaging the bread vs air bubbles. Apparently, that’s how MY mind works.

    Bread has holes.
    More bread = more holes.
    More holes = less bread.
    More bread = less bread.

    Actually, quite a few people care. Just look at the comments.

    If *you* don’t care, that’s fine. But don’t presume to speak for everyone.

    I clicked on this just after finishing 2 pb&j sandwiches where I shuffled the bread slices out of order so no jelly would leak through the holes. When I saw the picture at the top I just laughed. I’ve been having a lot of odd coincidences the last few days, so this fit right in.

    I don’t know if there’s a word for this, but what you’re describing reminds me a lot of why I like raw denim and duck canvas. I’m not one of those people who tries to get their jeans to fade as much and as fast as possible–instead I really enjoy watching my clothes age in and change over time. What used to be really dark indigo has turned into an electric blue.

    I have an obsession with symmetrical slices of sandwich bread. My college roommate once flipped one side of the bread over just to watch me get annoyed.

    “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure”

    I bake my own bread (bread machine… not by hand) and I get more than my fair share of air bubbles. Some quite big.

    They really annoy me as it makes it difficult to cut, so I’m glad someone finds some pleasure in them!

    Try taking the dough out of the machine before you bake it…
    Knead it lightly and place it in loaf pans and bake it in your oven…
    Results are amazing for texture and taste…no air bubble promises : -}

    It’s obvious that the left and middle slices were made by the Fanatics Bakery using their new bread template. ;D

    This is the kind of thing that catches my attention and makes say “Hmm” as well. I think my wife thinks I’m just a little crazy every time I point out one of these to her, but that’s OK.

    I’ll repeat it though several already mentioned it: the new Substack is going to be so awesome. This minutiae (I hope that’s the right term and isn’t offensive) is scratching me right where I itch.

    If this kind of reflection/observation is at all indicative of where you’re planning to focus your energies post-Uni Watch, then consider me THRILLED to be keeping up with your work! Thanks for always finding a way to put words to the odd things that pop up in life! Hope the home stretch of this project is treating you well, congrats and best of luck with whatever comes next.

    If you like sliced bread, you’re gonn love the sliced-away claymation animation in this classic…

    Hey, I see a new meaning to BFBS: Bread for Bread’s Sake. That is when you are given bread in a restaurant without asking for it and it does not add anything to the meal.

    Paul, I’ve found this phenomena absolutely fascinating since I was a little kid getting PB&J sandwiches served to me by mom.
    I’m now 49 years old and I still enjoy seeing the bubbles appear as indentations on one slice and work their way through all the phases to the last slice with a small indentation as I make my lunch for work each day. Sometimes that’s a quick two sandwich turn-around with mass produced whole wheat. But other times it’s a 4-5 sandwich odyssey with small batch rye. And if I accidentally mismatch the holes I feel like my whole day is off.
    So yes, at least for this, there are other like-brained people out there!

    I too pay attention to this type of thing with bread, but for a different reason. I often use sourdough or the larger more “rustic” types of bread. The rounded non-uniform shaped loaves lead to mismatch pieces, size and shape are very different from end to middle. Even with adjacent pieces orientation is often important when making sandwiches.

    is this the kind of stuff you’ll be writing about when you leave Uni watch


    Looks like they have handles. My mind works this way when I see VERY SPECIFIC parking indications like “Purple Heart Recipient Parking Only” or “Families with Small Children Parking Only”.

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