I wish I could say that the search was exhaustive but honestly, it wasn’t. The truth is, there just aren’t many gluten free bread products available commercially. I tried a total of three. One of them sucked so bad I couldn’t get past the first bite. The next two were great, if not entirely different.
First, I’d like to congratulate Happy Campers Baking out of Tigard, OR, runners up in our search. Happy Campers Baking is run by a great young couple and they have awesome products. I’d wish them luck but I don’t have to because I firmly believe that what they make is superior to many gluten free bread products our there. Their buns have a good flavor, had a nice chew to them, were substantial and extremely healthy, their buns are packed with stuff that’s good for you and that was nice to see. Not only are Happy Camper buns gluten free but they’re also free of dairy and eggs AND vegan to boot! Now listen, coming up with a palatable bread product void of gluten is one thing but to do so without the benefit of dairy or eggs is extra challenging so kudos to Happy Campers for figuring out a way to overcome those enormous challenges! But ultimately we had to choose one and in the end we selected a bun also produced locally but by Jensen’s Bread and Bakeries.
Dave Jensen is a great guy who has many years of research behind him in his preparation for and production of gluten free baked goods. And while Jensen’s buns aren’t loaded with the same healthy ingredients as Happy Campers nor are they vegan, they do most closely mimic the buns we currently use and are quite tasty. All of us who sampled the Jensen buns thought they were tasty and soft without falling apart in your hands. We all agreed that theirs was a bun we could all enjoy regardless of whether or not we were trying or had to avoid gluten. An added bonus for us was the fact that Jensen’s also makes a hot dog bun, just in case we ever considered offering our hot dogs in a gluten free version as well.
I have to say, I learned a lot during the search for a gluten free bun. I learned that it would suck to be gluten free but there does exist far more food options now than even five years ago and those suffering from celiac disease are keenly aware and truly appreciative of this. I learned that gluten free is most probably not a mere food fad. Regardless of individual gluten tolerance we probably all consume far more gluten than our bodies were designed to ingest and we can thank modern processing methods for that which is a blessing and a curse all at the same time. Lastly, I learned that innovation is often the result of frustration, the frustration experienced by people who the rest of us fail to take seriously so they set out and create something we doubt they need…and then eventually find out that yes, they do in fact indeed need it.