The Secret Meaning Behind the Color of Your Bread Bag’s Twist Tie

Follow along as we decipher the grocery store's secret code.

Even if you love bread, you’ve probably found yourself wandering down the bakery aisle in an attempt to find the freshest, fluffiest loaf. Oh, the choices! Most supermarkets boast shelf after shelf of bread ranging from rustic sourdough to bubbling brioche. In an effort to find the best bread, I used to consider their golden-brown color, aroma and, of course, give ’em a gentle squeeze to evaluate freshness. I had no idea the twist ties were telling a story. By the way, here’s how long milk really lasts.

The twist tie, or plastic tag, on your bread can tell you how fresh your loaf is. The color indicates the day of the week the bread was baked. Typically, commercial bread is baked and delivered to grocery stores five days a week. This gives bakeries two days off–Wednesdays and Sundays. The color system helps the store staff as they rotate in the freshest bread and remove the older loaves. Or as we say in the culinary world, FIFO, meaning “first in, first out.” At most, you should see only two colors of twist ties in the bread aisle on any given day. Also, if there’s a date on the colored tag, it’s the “sell by” date, not the date it was baked. Here’s how long you can keep food past its expiration date.

Bread Tie Color Guide 1200x1200SYDNEY WATSON/RD.COM

Check out the (not so secret) color codes:

  • Monday – blue
  • Tuesday – green
  • Thursday – red
  • Friday– white
  • Saturday – yellow

There’s an easy way to remember this at the grocery store: The colors are in alphabetical order by day of the week. We bet you didn’t know these foods had an expiration date.

This certainly isn’t a foolproof system. Your local bakery may have its own method of determining freshness. But the colorful code is widely used in many commercial bread bakeries across the country.

Rashanda Cobbins
Rashanda is a former food editor for Taste of Home. While studying for her bachelor’s degree in culinary arts, Rashanda interned in Southern Living’s test kitchen and later spent nearly a decade developing recipes and food content at ConAgra Brands. In her spare time, she loves scoping out local farmers markets and having picnics in the park.