First, a general comment about bread. I have always loved bread, any kind of bread, but for one main criteria—it must be fresh and soft. My paranoia about such things runs deep, and my kids still make fun of me for cautioning store check-put people from “smashing the bread.”
The paradox here is a rather self-centered idiosyncrasy which I nurture and perpetuate, having progressed from being a picky kid, to a picky great-grandmother. As much as I like bread, I have refused to eat it unless it was fresh enough for my particular palate. However, in recent months I have found store-bought white bread to be nearly inedible.
Even the “better” brands of bread, like Schwebel’s (my personal favorite,) have lost their appeal because they are TOO soft. Imagine that…too soft for me.
Not only is the new bread soft, it is spongy, and will wad up into a Play-Doh-like ball. It is not chewy, like a really great thick slice of really-really-good Italian bread…but chewy as in gummy and difficult to swallow. It’s hard to handle when eating it, too, as it tends to smash together rather than having the old springy texture that would pop back into shape.
And even worse is the smell! Not the good old yeasty bread-smell, that managed to last even after the bread had become stale. Having a soft-feeling loaf of bread around can be misleading, and give a false sense of freshness…but upon holding the wrapper open and inhaling what should be a…well, bread-smell… actually rewards the sniffer with an acrid, chemical smell.
This phenomenon has been apparent to me especially lately, in very recent years…even I might say 2017. Sure, I could blame it on the current political situation, but who would suspect bread-tampering? To be fair, I remember once when we bought a loaf of the famous Wonder bread, and it stayed soft so long that (this is true…) it went from “fresh-as-new” to black-n-blue-mold” color…overnight.
Here’s a link that is a wealth of information on the subject of bread: http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/34889/how-do-commercial-bakers-get-white-fluffy-bread