8 Things I Learned From Working in a Bakery

A “breadily” accessible, half-baked guide

I have always loved the idea of a bakery. Cozy warmth emanating from the ovens, the smell of delicious things floating on the air. If I weren’t a writer, maybe I’d be a baker — a baker of sweets solely, since I love cake way more than bread. My bakery would specialize in fluffy frosting and buttery pastries and rich, fudgy cakes.

Also, donuts full of jelly.

Also, lots of things with whipped cream on top.

These days I have the privilege of working a few hours a week in a bakery which specializes in bread and sweets (hereinafter referred to as “my bakery,” since it’s the one I work at, and not because I own it). Since I started my stint there, I’ve learned the following things about bakeries:

1. There is something magical about the smell of bread fresh out of the oven. Not only does it smell divine, but it also, apparently, makes people nicer. For real. The University of Southern Britanny in France did a study a few years ago to test this out. They stuck people in front of bakeries and clothing stores and had them drop an item on the ground to see if people walking by would stop to help. 77% of people in front of the bakery stopped, as compared to 52% in front of the clothing store. Stick that in your jelly donut and eat it.

2. Bread puns. They’re a thing. If you’re a punny person, then you “knead” bread puns. I promise you’ll “loaf” them. Whatever you do, “doughn’t” miss out.

Okay, sorry. I’ll stop now.

3. As a cinnamon roll non-enthusiast, I had no idea the sweet confections were so popular. It’s the lifeblood of breakfast at my bakery. Bloomberg Businessweek notes that the popular cinnamon-roll-seller Cinnabon sells over 8,000 of them per hour on Thanksgiving. Holy cinnamon rolls, Batman.

4. Bakers are a strange lot, an otherworldly breed that exist in a different time sphere from the rest of the world. The middle of the night is their 10 a.m. They’re one part mole, one part prima donna, and one part gun-slinging movie hero. Like John Wayne, but with bread pans.

5. Little kids have no self-control in bakeries. They just can’t help themselves — they want to grab everything they shouldn’t. And when they see a bakery case full of cookies and bars and muffins and cupcakes and you say, “No sweets for you, Billy,” tantrums are going to happen. Don’t bring your kids to a bakery unless you’re prepared to teach them a tough life lesson — or to give in for the sake of your sanity. (No judgment here, I promise.)

6. Dish washing is a necessary evil. Who knew this was part of a bakery? I certainly didn’t. I guess I thought bakeries sent their dishes out to be washed, like laundry. They’re too busy baking awesome things to worry about irrelevant details like crusty pans. Sadly, this is not true, and I’ve washed enough sinks full of dishes to prove it with my dishpan hands.

7. 90% of bakery customers are cheerful, 9% are hangry, and 1% are determined to complain about everything. This means that most customers are in a good mood when they arrive, and even more are in a good mood when they leave. Those are pretty impressive stats.

8. Amazon sells a room spray called “Bread Fragrance.” For the baking impaired, you can have that magical fresh bread smell — and eat your store-bought bread too!

So in conclusion, if you, like me, have a fascination with baked goods, then find your nearest bakery. You’re guaranteed to be surrounded by nice people, corny jokes, and yummy food. And it doesn’t get much “breader” than that, does it?


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