I was in Sam’s Club the other night right at closing. While I was standing near the baked goods area, I watched an employee culling the shelves of product that was hitting its expiration date. I thought to myself, if I had shopped there 10 minutes ago, the baked goods would have been considered fine; now it’s considered stale.
That got me to thinking about the old Bunny Bread facility at William and Christine St.
Toast from the “Used Bread Store”
My brothers and I were raised on cinnamon sugar peanut butter toast. If we were lucky, we got it made out of raisin bread. It didn’t matter if it was plain white bread or raisin break, it was almost always from the “Used Bread Store,” as we called it. My folks said the bread was perfectly good, just past the sell-by date. They assured us that we were going to eat it up so fast that it wouldn’t have a chance to get stale for real.
Bunny Bread Comes to Southeast Missouri
When Raymond Lewis died, his Sept. 25, 2001, obituary in The Southeast Missourian had information I didn’t know about Bunny Bread (previously known as Bamby Bread).
In 1925 Raymond Lewis and his two brothers, A.C. and Arnold, launched Lewis Bakeries in Anna, Il., with $300 they borrowed from their mother. Mr. Lewis took over the bakery in 1944 and grew the company into a major regional bakery.
In 1950 he originated and copyrighted the name “Bunny” and in 1951 he built a new bakery in Anna. Soon “That’s What I Said, Bunny Bread” and “Get the Rabbit Habit” were heard all over the Heartland.
The company is now comprised of seven bakeries selling fresh bread products in 14 states from Michigan to Alabama and from Ohio to Arkansas, and frozen products nationwide.
He became known for many original aphorisms including, “Grow or go,” “You don’t have to be big to be good,” When you get through changing, you are through,” “Keep your business as modern as your car,” “Just look in the mirror if you want to see your bad competitor”, and “The right time is when you make it.”
His marketing magic must have worked. Son Matt remembered having a Bunny Bread T-shirt when he was a kid, so he insisted that his grandmother send him one for Grandson Malcolm (for the record, he isn’t up to his normal cuteness standard in this photo. The sun must have been shining in his eyes. Malcolm, I mean.)
Bunny Bread Teen Age Club fundraiser
These three girls were going door to door trying to sell Bunny Bread to raise funds for the Teen Age Club. The negative sleeve said it was taken Aug. 24, 1967.
Ad shows Bunny Bread storefront
This ad showing the history of Cape businesses probably ran at Bunny Bread’s high point.
A May 29, 1956, Missourian story announced the start of construction of the building shown above. “The structure, declared cost of which is $21,000, will be 130 feet long by 50 feet wide. Three sides will be concrete block and the front brick. The bakery, 533 Good Hope St., will continue to be used by the firm while the new structure will be used as a loading point for trucks which distribute the products. ” The new building was needed to quarter the company’s fleet of 15 trucks.
The end was near
On Dec. 3, 1992, the other shoe dropped. Bunny Bread Bakeries, which was founded in a log cabin in Anna in 1925, announced it was closing its Anna baking operations. The Cape Girardeau bakery closed in 1988. Loss of population from the area was given as the reason for the restructuring.
I’m not sure when the “Used Bread Store” morphed into C.A.P Supplies.