At the invitation of Joanna "Random Acts of Cupcake" Milner, I got to take a tour of the Franz Bakery factory.
It took a lot of doing on her part, as the factory mostly tours school groups. Since we were just a giddy assemblage of carbohydrate enthusiasts (including Oregonian sports writer Rachel Bachman) Joanna named us the "Yeast Affection."
In addition to the stylish headgear, we had to either remove or cover all jewelry with masking tape, lest it land in the dough, which resulted in this fashion statement from Floyd:
All of us totally geeked out on the various conveyors, mixers and mechanisms that even tie the bread bag closed. As I watched the equipment in awe, all I could think of was the Looney Tunes assembly line music. From the time the ingredients are mixed in a truly hilarious Rube Goldberg machine, a loaf of bread travels 1 & 3/4 miles before it's put into the truck. "It's on-the-go dough," said our tour guide, who turned out to be Becky Cartier, an old friend of Floyd's with whom he'd lost touch.
Becky kept the fun facts coming--like how the Portland factory alone goes through five million pounds (that's 2,500 tons) of flour a week, producing 1.3 million buns (mostly for fast-food restaurants) and 88,000 loaves of bread. They do so by keeping the factory operating 24/7, baking in an 38-tray oven 100 feet long.
I found the experience oddly inspiring, marveling at the round-the-clock effort. "This is what it takes," I thought, "to accomplish something big."