Buffalonians know what to do with bread bags during the winter

By Steve Cichon

Wonder Bread bags used to come with ideas for reuse of the bag printed on them. There must not have been any Buffalonians working at Wonder Bread’s headquarters, because no where is there a mention of using them as a winter boot liner. (Buffalo Stories archives)

In Buffalo we seem to start thinking of winter the moment the Erie County Fair ends. A generation or two ago, winter was something that needed a bit more preparation than it does in 2015—especially if, back then,  you were getting your brother or sister’s leaky hand-me-down boots to wear every day from November to March.

Putting on socks, then bread bags, then boots was a routine of chilly Western New York winters for decades.

In my neighborhood, we looked to tell something about kids from their bread bags. Colorful polka dots on a white background meant you were wearing Wonder Bread bags on your feet. This was basically the Lacoste alligator emblem of dry feet.

Yellow, orange and brown bags sticking out of the tops of your boots meant that your parents drove an extra couple of blocks to shop at Bells.

You can’t have a snow storm without having plenty of milk and bread at home. Add toilet paper and beer to that list, and a Buffalonian can last a week without venturing out. From a 1979 Bells ad.(Buffalo Stories archives)

But most kids—including my brother, sister, and me—always had the red, white and blue of the Tops bags shown below, on sale this week 40 years ago for 39¢ a loaf.

From a 1975 Tops Markets ad. Buffalo Stories archives.

Even with the jamming of every spent bread bag in that special drawer in the kitchen for the whole year-round, there never seemed to be enough bags for all of our playing and walking to school all winter.

Not that they really kept our feet dry, anyway.


The late, great B-kwik Food Stores

By Steve Cichon | steve@buffalostories.com | @stevebuffalo

BUFFALO, NY – In the 1950s, grocery shopping was done primarily at what we’d now consider small-to-medium-sized grocery stores like A&P, Park Edge, Mohican, Red & White– along with small neighborhood corner stores, many of which had been in operation for decades.

As the suburb helped create the supermarket to replace the smaller stores, many of the more successful smaller scale operators became players in the Buffalo supermarket business. The owners of Super Duper, Bells, and Tops all had years of grocery experience before opening the larger stores.   The same is true of Wegmans, which didn’t come to Buffalo until the late ’70s.

The only Buffalo name to last is Tops. Tops Friendly Markets grew into a Western New York institution by expanding through franchising, first with Tops Markets, then with B-kwik markets, then with Wilson Farms stores, bringing three different levels of grocery service to Western New York.

Tops had only been on the scene for 6 years early in 1969, when Niagara Frontier Services took out a full page ad in the Courier-Express, looking for new franchisees, and bragging about the new stores that had been built in the previous few months.
These are the photos of the Tops, B-kwik, and Hy-Top Pharmacy stores which were built in the second half of 1968, along with the brief franchising pitch.
B-kwik Delavan Ave at Humber

B-kwik Main St, Delavan NY

B-kwik Delevan Ave
B-kwik Delavan Ave at Humber



B-kwik, Ensminger Rd, Tonawanda


B-kwik, Seneca St. This store was on the corner of Kingston Street. It moved to the current Tops location several years later when B-kwik took over several area “Food Arena” stores.


B-kwik, Walden Avenue, Buffalo


B-kwik William St, Buffalo


Hy-Top Pharmacy, Main Place Mall


Hy-Top Pharmacy, Maple at North Forest


Tops, Chalmers Ave, Buffalo. Across the street from the Central Plaza


Tops, Clinton Street, Cheektowaga. Current site of Consumers’ Beverage


Tops, Lockport-Olcott Rd. Currently Family Dollar, across the street from current Tops.


Tops, Maple at North Forest. Was VIX, now vacant.


Tops, Medina, NY

NFS nfsgrowing pitch
This post originally appeared at TrendingBuffalo.com