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B&M Brown Bread in a Can | Classic New England Brands

B&M Brown Bread in a Can | Classic New England Brands
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In New England, one of the most popular varieties of brown bread is made by B&M in Portland, Maine, and it’s sold in a can. It might sound strange to the non-native Yankee to imagine buying bread in a can at the supermarket alongside the baked beans (which B&M also makes with pride), but if you’ve ever steamed a loaf yourself at home, you know it can take awhile, making the a can a handy alternative.

Brown Bread in a Can

Photo/Art by Aimee Seavey
B&M Brown Bread in a can — a New England classic.

It’s not clear when B&M (the letters stand for co-founders George Burnham and Charles Morrill) started selling their version of the classic New England bread (a sweet variety made from cornmeal, wheat and rye flours, and molasses), but like its Necco Wafer and Moxie kin, the bread has been around so long it’s hard to imagine a time when it wasn’t for sale. The company got its start back in 1867 canning meats, seafood, and corn, but by 1927 B&M’s brick oven baked beans hit the market, and business (if you’ll pardon the pun) boomed on a national scale.  The company was sold several times starting in 1965, but despite each new ownership, both the B&M name and the Portland plant have remained.

bm baked beans ad 1942

B&M advertisement from the August 1942 issue of Yankee Magazine.

When eating canned bread (B&M sells the bread in both original and “with raisins” for those that like things sweet), a handy can opener is necessary to first remove both the top and bottom lids, and then, with a gentle shake, the bread emerges and is ready for slicing.

Brown Bread in a Can

Photo/Art by Aimee Seavey
Just open both sides of the can and slide the bread out.

Dense, moist, and made from natural ingredients, B&M’s brown bread is a solid ready-to-eat representative of the classic New England dish. Some folks enjoy eating the bread sliced up as-is at room temperature, but you can also warm it in the microwave or toaster oven. It’s good topped with butter, cream cheese, or jam.

brown bread butter

Photo/Art by Aimee Seavey
Brown bread lightly toasted and topped with butter.

You can also make it a meal by serving the bread topped with a generous ladle of baked beans. Hot dogs on the plate are also not uncommon. In many households, hot dogs and baked beans with brown bread (canned or homemade) was a Saturday night tradition. For many, it still is.

brown bread baked beans

Photo/Art by Aimee Seavey
Brown bread with baked beans.

Are you a fan of B&M Brown Bread in a can? Do you like it with butter or beans? Hot dogs? All three? Share your brown bread memories with us!

Want to try your hand at a homemade version of steamed brown bread and baked beans? Try Granny’s Brown Bread with classic Baked Beans.

Please Note: This article was accurate at the time of publication. When planning a trip, please confirm details by directly contacting any company or establishment you intend to visit.

Aimee Seavey


Aimee Seavey


Assistant Editor Aimee Seavey is a staff writer for Yankee Magazine and assists in the development and promotion of content for through blogging and social media outlets.
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15 Responses to B&M Brown Bread in a Can | Classic New England Brands

  1. Teri August 14, 2014 at 8:30 am #

    Live in California. Where can I buy the can bread?

    • Aimee Seavey August 14, 2014 at 9:30 am #

      Hi Teri. Both Amazon and the Vermont Country Store website have B&M Brown Bread for sale. Enjoy!

  2. Betsy Mailloux August 14, 2014 at 9:33 am #

    We had the B&M Brown bread with raisins with our beans & hotdogs every Saturday when I was growing up. My mother opened both ends of the can with a can opener and pushed the bread out one end useinr the lid to push it through. She sliced it into eight slices (there were eight of us) and wrapped it in aluminium foil. She put it in the oven at 350 degrees for about 20 – 30 minutes. When it came out of the oven it was moist and ready to eat with butter melted on it. I did the same thing with my family as an adult, and my daughter is now doing it with her family. Hotdogs & beans are not the same without B&M Brown Bread!

    • Barb August 25, 2014 at 7:22 pm #

      We had beans and hot dogs and brown bread as kids, too! Sometimes we’d have Indian pudding for dessert! I liked mine warm with a scoop of ice dream. While everybody else chose vanilla, mine would be chocolate. Once, as a kid, I actually made the pudding myself because we couldn’t find it in cans! It was wonderful! I’ll have to do it again this winter?

  3. Stacy August 14, 2014 at 10:22 am #

    Oh yes! That famous brown bread in a can! I remember my mother , who is from New England, heating up and consuming this bread when I was a child! She was the only one in our family who ate it and I tried to like it but the molasses always threw me off. It boggled my mind the idea of bread coming from a can.

  4. Debra Harris August 14, 2014 at 11:24 am #

    as a transplanted Yankee (now in Fl) I haven’t had brown bread in a while. But, the memories from childhood…..beans, franks & brown bread are still near ‘n dear to my heart. As a young mother I introduced brown bread to my children, but they weren’t to crazy ’bout it.

    I used to be able to buy it in Fl, but it’s hard to find anymore….nice to know The Vt Country Store sells it…..just might have’ta order some and take a trip down memory lane ;)

  5. kim daigle August 16, 2014 at 4:49 am #

    I remember eating beans (homemade) and Schonland’s franks and B&M Brown bread every Saturday for supper when I was a kid. I now live in Hawaii and have to drive over 1/2 hour away to find it…IF they have it in stock. I always call first!!

  6. Judy August 16, 2014 at 6:33 am #

    I love brown bread even more when I slice it and put in my toaster then smother it in butter. Real butter.

    • Judy August 16, 2014 at 6:36 am #

      My husband loves it with his beans and hot dogs. We have loved this bread since we were kids and always consider it a treat when we got it. Please don’t change it.

  7. rick parker August 17, 2014 at 7:08 am #

    i still live in massachusetts , we use to have dogs and beans on every friday and brown bread steamed in the can , sliced and real butter . we still do this every now and then as a treat . now that i am older i have to watch what i eat .

  8. Joan Lally August 26, 2014 at 2:06 pm #

    My youngest son moved to Florida and when he got sick he came back to NE.. He had cancer but his requests when he was still able to eat, was brown bread, beans and hot dogs….It made him go back in time growing up on this treat Saturday nights. He was so happy to have it again..It’s a big memory of him before he passed..Brown Bread..yeah..

  9. Aline Kaplan August 31, 2014 at 11:18 am #

    We ate a lot of B&M Brownbread when I was a kid and I loved it. but they now use high-fructose corn syrup as a sweetener and i stopped buying it when that happened. It’s too bad that this New England tradition has been sacrificed to a cheap processed sugar product that’s bad for you.

  10. Don September 13, 2014 at 11:48 pm #

    I’m living in Michigan now but my local supermarkets do carry B&M Beans and Brown bread. However they don’t realize the bread goes with beans and have it in a completely different aisle.

    I can barely remember a saturday night in my youth that we did not have beans and brown bread for supper.

  11. Valia October 1, 2014 at 6:21 pm #

    Not only were the three a Saturday night supper, the beans and brown bread were served with bacon and eggs Sunday morning. I do agree toasted with butter is quick and easy.

    Tis the season to start the tradition again!

  12. Tina October 3, 2014 at 12:01 am #

    My mother made the bread with beans and hot dogs too. She buttered the slices and placed them in a frying pan to warm….. so good. I sometimes make it for my children, but they don’t love it like I did. (Gluten sensitivity so I can’t eat it anymore)

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