Yay! Wilco has Sailor Boy pilot bread in their bulk bins

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Yay! Wilco has Sailor Boy pilot bread in their bulk bins

Post by Maast » Mon Jan 07, 2013 7:40 pm

Was just at Wilco in Tacoma on 72nd and happened to see Sailor Boy Pilot bread in the bulk bins for $2.84 a pound. So not only is it now easily available in the lower 48 (at least to me here in the Northwest) its cheap! One of my favorite snack foods is also a damn good food prep. I'd been missing them since I moved out of Alaska, there just about every store stocked them unlike in the lower 48.

You can get them out of the bin, but you can also order 8 pound boxes. I ordered two boxes - god only knows how many crackers that is. Looks like I'll be putting up a lot of pilot bread. BTW as a comparison the standard blue box is two pounds.

A pilot bread cracker is a 3 3/4" x 1/4" dense round cracker, its not exactly hardtack since it's got leavening in it - thus making it not so brick-like. They're kind of bland to somebody who's not used to them, but they make a great platform to put all kinds of things on, or to use as a spoon - and they last just about forever with out any special packaging. I've happily eaten crackers that had sat in my shelf for at least 5 years in just the box they came in.

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Re: Yay! Wilco has Sailor Boy pilot bread in their bulk bins

Post by TacAir » Mon Jan 07, 2013 8:53 pm

95%+ of the output of Sailor Boy pilot bread is sold in Alaska.

But, least you think all is well in Paradise...

By SETH KANTNER — Around Alaska

I'm allergic to a lot of things. So allergic, the FDA should hire me to test food additives. The last time my daughter bought sour cream I scratched all night -- something new they put in, I guess. I'm not alone; food allergies are on the rise in America. That's one of the reasons I'm a strong proponent of food from the land -- what people now are calling subsistence food.

Fortunately, I've never been allergic to salmon or moose, or picking blueberries, or skinning caribou or wolves, or anything like that. For decades now, there's been one store-bought food I never doubted -- Sailor Boy Pilot Bread crackers. Most people I know have been eating those crackers for so long we practically think of them as a subsistence food too.

The first wolf my friend Alvin Williams and I ever got was in the mountains north of the Redstone River. I spotted it, which was rare for me with Alvin around, and we both shot at the same instant. I've only shot one more wolf since, but Alvin has gone on to harvest many.

We skinned it in our tent that night, eating fried lynx and Pilot crackers with chunks of frozen butter and jam. Later, I dried and scraped and tanned the skin with sourdough, the way I like to tan skins. We both wanted ruffs from the wolf. I took the skin to Clara Lee in Ambler for advice on where to cut.

Clara measured the long silver guard hairs in her fingers. It was a beautiful hide. She started explaining, this part for sunshine ruff, this for men's ruff, the head for mittens, the leggings for mukluks -- if I had another matching wolf with four more leggings to accompany it, of course.

It was cool to watch her hands, amazing to think about all the things she saw in that wolf skin.

She flipped the hide fur-down, and poked in her clutter until she found a pattern. Lo! -- the pattern was the blue side of a Sailor Boy Pilot Bread box. It made sense; the box is pretty much four inches wide and the sides perfectly straight.

I wish now I could remember all Clara explained, and I wish I had that old Sailor Boy box to read the label.

This week my family was out of town, which means simple meals here for me -- mostly dried caribou and cooked caribou, muktuk and bear fat. I did have some jelly from a friend. It was fabulous jelly and I ate all the bread in the house.

I still had jelly left, so I went to the AC store and bought a box of Pilot Bread crackers.

That was all I bought. I didn't eat out.

That night hives showed up all over my body. I lay awake scratching, wondering, what could it be? I was positive I hadn't eaten anything out of the ordinary, nothing that I'm allergic to. I hadn't gone to anyone's house to eat.

In the morning on the counter, there was the ubiquitous blue box. Out of curiosity, I flipped it over, read the ingredients. Artificial Flavor! TBHQ! Since when is that in Pilot Bread? Since when is it NEEDED?

TBHQ is short for tertiary butylhydroquinone -- a form of butane, basically lighter fluid. Lighter fluid is one thing I haven't drunk before, so I wasn't aware I was allergic to it.

Last I knew TBHQ was against the law and food companies were spraying it on the inside of potato chip bags -- to get around it being considered an ingredient. I did know TBHQ was definitely not a subsistence food. Here are a couple of quotes I found about it:

"Ingesting a single gram of the chemical can cause nausea, vomiting, ringing in the ears, delirium, a sense of suffocation, and collapse. Ingesting five grams of TBHQ can kill you."

And: "Although TBHQ might be safe in small doses, that doesn't mean it's healthy for you. And since it's used to preserve processed foods that are naturally oily or fatty, avoiding these foods would certainly be a healthy choice."

Hmm. I'm pretty sure Interbake Foods, LLC -- the manufacturer of Sailor Boy Pilot Bread -- doesn't want us to make that particular healthy choice. Unfortunately, avoidance is exactly what I've been doing -- the box hasn't moved on the counter. It's sad, and unsettling, but I'm uneasy about eating another one of those big round tasty crackers. I don't want the hives.

Here's the good part, though. That blue box is still perfect for a ruff pattern. Also, upriver in my cache I have a couple of boxes of vintage pilot bread -- pre-artificial flavor and TBHQ. Alvin's dad, Don, split a case of Sailor Boy crackers with me a dozen years or more ago. I've been eating on them ever since. They are still good, of course.

The curious thing is I've never had a bad pilot cracker in my life -- until last week. Somehow for all those years, no fridge and living in tents and sod houses, not one rancid cracker, ever.

That's part of the reason pilot bread has always been so great. Somehow for the past century or more, Alaskans have enjoyed the heck out of millions and millions of those big round crackers, keeping fine and good without toxic preservatives and fake flavors.

Seth Kantner is the author of "Shopping for Porcupine" and the bestselling novel "Ordinary Wolves." He lives with his wife and daughter in Northwest Alaska and can be reached at sethkantner.com. His column runs on the second Sunday of each month in the Daily News' Arts and Life section.

EDITOR'S NOTE: April Dore, a spokesperson for Interbake Foods, said THBQ was added to the ingredients of Pilot Bread in 2011 when the company contracted to produce food items for Kraft Foods, which uses the preservative in the oil of all of its cracker products.

Research to which Interbake has access thus far indicated "nothing that would show any kind of allergic reaction," Dore said.

"The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved TBHQ for use in a variety of oils at very low levels" said Susan Davison, director of corporate affairs for Kraft.

"Consumers do not actually ingest the preservative. The process of baking destroys any residual levels of TBHQ."

She added, "When TBHQ is used as a preservative in an oil ingredient and is not functioning or present after the manufacturing process, the FDA does not require it to be listed in the ingredient line."

Which is why you don't see it listed among the ingredients of Ritz, Oreos or several other popular Kraft snacks.

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Re: Yay! Wilco has Sailor Boy pilot bread in their bulk bins

Post by Deenie7 » Mon Jan 07, 2013 9:04 pm

Allergies are weird things, though. Plenty of people are allergic to, and could die from eating, seafood, but that doesn't mean everyone should avoid it.

Me, I developed an allergy a few years back to a random, particular plant extract that's contained in lots of "healthy" foods these days. Those foods are great for everyone else, though.

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Re: Yay! Wilco has Sailor Boy pilot bread in their bulk bins

Post by TacAir » Mon Jan 07, 2013 9:30 pm

Yup.

I had noticed a change in the biscuit this last summer as well. Couldn't put my finger on it - but they just don't seem like the classic I so love.
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Re: Yay! Wilco has Sailor Boy pilot bread in their bulk bins

Post by Confucius » Mon Jan 07, 2013 9:31 pm

TacAir wrote: TBHQ is short for tertiary butylhydroquinone -- a form of butane, basically lighter fluid. Lighter fluid is one thing I haven't drunk before, so I wasn't aware I was allergic to it.
I've heard this bit a few times before (not just in this story, in a great many little "what's lurking in your food?" sort of articles), and it kind of annoys me, a butyl group does not make something "a form of butane"

Seriously, people, stop saying that...


Totally not directed at you TacAir, just a general pet peeve about people looking at chemical names and making wildly inaccurate assumptions based on a little bit of it. It's like seeing that salt is Sodium Chloride and saying that it's a form of metal, or looking at H2O and saying that it's an extremely flammable gas...

Just... wrong...

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Re: Yay! Wilco has Sailor Boy pilot bread in their bulk bins

Post by Deenie7 » Mon Jan 07, 2013 10:06 pm

Confucius wrote:
TacAir wrote: TBHQ is short for tertiary butylhydroquinone -- a form of butane, basically lighter fluid. Lighter fluid is one thing I haven't drunk before, so I wasn't aware I was allergic to it.
I've heard this bit a few times before (not just in this story, in a great many little "what's lurking in your food?" sort of articles), and it kind of annoys me, a butyl group does not make something "a form of butane"

Seriously, people, stop saying that...

Totally not directed at you TacAir, just a general pet peeve about people looking at chemical names and making wildly inaccurate assumptions based on a little bit of it. It's like seeing that salt is Sodium Chloride and saying that it's a form of metal, or looking at H2O and saying that it's an extremely flammable gas...

Just... wrong...
Yup. I mean... they aren't even close. Butane is just a chain of four carbon atoms with hydrogen attached in the appropriate places. Tertiary butylhydroquinone is way, way different in structure and chemical reactivity, and is an antioxidant. The writer of that article is either just parroting something that he read somewhere without bothering to do any research, or is (possibly) intentionally misleading people and claiming that a potentially poisonous product is being made by a Big Corporation OMG.

Confucius, I think you are underplaying the risks of dihydrogen monoxide.

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Re: Yay! Wilco has Sailor Boy pilot bread in their bulk bins

Post by quazi » Mon Jan 07, 2013 10:58 pm

I love Sailor Boy pilot bread. I used to eat tons of it.

I haven't eaten any in a couple years though. The price has kept going up and every time I'm about to buy some I think "it shouldn't be hard to make these myself!" I still haven't made any though and I just end up crying into my crackerless tomato soup.

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Re: Yay! Wilco has Sailor Boy pilot bread in their bulk bins

Post by Maast » Tue Jan 08, 2013 12:20 am

When I lived in Anchorage I ate pilot bread at least 4 times a week; with peanut butter, or some cheese, or jelly, or smoked salmon (yum!), or of course spam, etc etc etc. If it could be dipped or cut up on small pieces it went on the pilot bread. Perfect snack.

As a prep food its ideal; relatively inexpensive, filling, versatile, and with a crunchy texture. It naturally has a very long shelf life in its retail packaging and is immortal in a mylar bag w/ O2 absorbers and dessicant. It can be baked, fried, soaked, or crumbled in a million different ways. Or if you need flour for something else you can just grind it up.

As a bread subsitute it makes a great accompanyment to any meal. I cant say about anybody else - but I just dont see us baking much bread in a long term emergency especially when you consider all the equipment, fuel, time, and ingredients that go into bread. The occasional skillet corn bread yes, skillet biscuits yes, tortillas yes, wheat bread loaves not so much.

IMO the only other ready-made open-and-eat thing that beats pilot bread as a prep food is refried beans. Or maybe canned hams.

Nutritionally sailor boy pilot bread per cracker has 100 calories, 17grams of carbs, 3 grams of fat, 2 grams of protein, and 120mg of sodium.

I've already put away something like a case's worth years ago, I'll be putting up a whole lot more. There's a reason sea crews and soldiers in the field ate hardtack instead of lugging everything along to make bread.
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Re: Yay! Wilco has Sailor Boy pilot bread in their bulk bins

Post by quazi » Tue Jan 08, 2013 1:38 am

One summer for the better part of three weeks my diet was 2-3 Sailor Boy pilot crackers for breakfast, a can of tomato soup and ~10 pilot crackers for lunch and another 2-3 crackers for dinner. I actually felt pretty darn good. (I think I also had peanut butter and crackers a couple times and a few apples, but most days it was just Sailor Boy pilot bread and tomato soup.)

Spam and cheese microwaved on pilot bread was one of my favorite dorm treats.

I really like Dinty Moore beef stew, but only with loads of black pepper and enough pilot bread to make it a paste.

Canned corned beef on pilot bread is delicious.

For a dessert Nutella on pilot bread is of course complete win but if the Nutella is running low you can sprinkle a hot cocoa packet over a couple pilot bread crackers with peanut butter on them.

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Re: Yay! Wilco has Sailor Boy pilot bread in their bulk bins

Post by TacAir » Tue Jan 08, 2013 1:44 am

Maast wrote:When I lived in Anchorage I ate pilot bread at least 4 times a week; with peanut butter, or some cheese, or jelly, or smoked salmon (yum!), or of course spam, etc etc etc. If it could be dipped or cut up on small pieces it went on the pilot bread. Perfect snack.

As a prep food its ideal; relatively inexpensive, filling, versatile, and with a crunchy texture. It naturally has a very long shelf life in its retail packaging and is immortal in a mylar bag w/ O2 absorbers and dessicant. It can be baked, fried, soaked, or crumbled in a million different ways. Or if you need flour for something else you can just grind it up.

As a bread subsitute it makes a great accompanyment to any meal. I cant say about anybody else - but I just dont see us baking much bread in a long term emergency especially when you consider all the equipment, fuel, time, and ingredients that go into bread. The occasional skillet corn bread yes, skillet biscuits yes, tortillas yes, wheat bread loaves not so much.

IMO the only other ready-made open-and-eat thing that beats pilot bread as a prep food is refried beans. Or maybe canned hams.

Nutritionally sailor boy pilot bread per cracker has 100 calories, 17grams of carbs, 3 grams of fat, 2 grams of protein, and 120mg of sodium.

I've already put away something like a case's worth years ago, I'll be putting up a whole lot more. There's a reason sea crews and soldiers in the field ate hardtack instead of lugging everything along to make bread.
The Army had field bakeries - some cool old-school photos.

http://www.seabeecook.com/cookery/army_bread_1916.htm" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

My Grand-dad was with the 20th Forestry Engineers, which along with providing dimensional lumber also cut and shipped firewood for use in the bread ovens.
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Re: Yay! Wilco has Sailor Boy pilot bread in their bulk bins

Post by Maast » Wed Jan 09, 2013 7:47 pm

I picked up my two 8 pound boxes today, each box was $21.70 which works out to $2.70 a pound. There are 143 crackers (I counted them) in a box so that works out to .15 a cracker. Not too bad but its not exactly giveaway cheap.

Heh, I'd also picked up a bunch of cans of the big 12.5oz snows chicken breast chunks because they were on sale. While I was checking out the clerk said "It looks like you're getting ready for the end of the world" I just smiled and thought to myself "Dude, you have no idea..." and said something about not going shopping very often.
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Re: Yay! Wilco has Sailor Boy pilot bread in their bulk bins

Post by uncleben03 » Wed Jan 09, 2013 8:29 pm

I see Sam's Club also has these available, but when looking at them on Samsclub.com, they say you have to find them in a store and none near me (Iowa) have them. Would think they'd ship them to you like everything else on the side, but oh well.

I see that http://www.spanalaskasales.com" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; has them available for shipping along with a crap-ton of other snacks and food. Not sure what it would cost to ship to the lower 48 though.
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Re: Yay! Wilco has Sailor Boy pilot bread in their bulk bins

Post by TacAir » Wed Jan 09, 2013 9:18 pm

uncleben03 wrote:I see Sam's Club also has these available, but when looking at them on Samsclub.com, they say you have to find them in a store and none near me (Iowa) have them. Would think they'd ship them to you like everything else on the side, but oh well.

I see that http://www.spanalaskasales.com" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; has them available for shipping along with a crap-ton of other snacks and food. Not sure what it would cost to ship to the lower 48 though.
Span Alaska is divided into two different customer service divisions. The first division, Parcel Post, is made up of the rural Interior State of Alaska. The second division is the Southeast Aleutian chain and Continental U.S. We have developed two different forms of ordering and catalog information, to facilitate sales and customer service in each division.
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Re: Yay! Wilco has Sailor Boy pilot bread in their bulk bins

Post by mckbrew » Wed Jan 09, 2013 9:29 pm

Need to find some of this. Great for camping and to keep in the vehicle with a jar of peanut butter.

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Re: Yay! Wilco has Sailor Boy pilot bread in their bulk bins

Post by Ableto » Wed Jan 09, 2013 10:41 pm

Out of the 5 or so grocery stores around my house. I shop at that Tacoma Winco on 72nd street for all the interesting finds. Cheap food to.
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Re: Yay! Wilco has Sailor Boy pilot bread in their bulk bins

Post by Maast » Thu Jan 10, 2013 5:45 pm

Ableto wrote:Out of the 5 or so grocery stores around my house. I shop at that Tacoma Winco on 72nd street for all the interesting finds. Cheap food to.
That store is where I've been buying all my bulk grains. Its almost as cheap as feed prices. And it doesnt hurt at all that is on the way home from work and open 24 hours. The other good cheap food stores are Grocery outlet and Cash-and-Carry (which takes cards BTW). Cash and carry is oriented towards food services and has perfect prepping portion sizes (big).

I figure if SHTF eventually we'll be at the "endless kettle of stew" stage of rations so lately I've been prepping with an eye towards that.
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Re: Yay! Wilco has Sailor Boy pilot bread in their bulk bins

Post by roOism » Sun Jan 13, 2013 8:00 pm

Picked up a few of these from the local Winco to try out. Quite tasty with some PBJ, as well as some cheese, spam, and a little sweet baby ray. Will definitely be stocking up on these once I'm moved in the next few weeks.

They were $2.85/lb
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