Back in the days before we all stared at our smartphones during mealtimes, there was the time-honored tradition of reading the packaging labels. For me, I got my start reading cereal boxes. In the restroom, I would find myself languishing in the narratives provided by the back of a tube of toothpaste. What is a dentifrice, anyway?

Well, yesterday, I found myself sitting at the kitchen table eating a sandwich and I became engrossed in reading the label on the packaging for a product called Dave's Killer Bread. It's really good bread if you like to switch up from your South Louisiana standard of Evangeline Maid every now and then.

Staff Photo
Staff Photo

On the bread's packaging was the story of the bread's founder, Dave Dahl. I found the story to be quite inspirational. As it told of how Dave had used the bread as a way of turning his life around from what was apparently heading down the wrong road.

That got me to thinking, exactly what did this maker of delicious bread do that was so heinous he had to be locked up. That's when I found there was more to this story than multi-grain goodness.

Dave came by his breadmaking skills honestly. His parents operated a bakery in Portland Oregon. As you might imagine, it wasn't a huge moneymaker but it kept the family fed.

According to an interview with Dave Dahl by The Ringer, Dave grew distant from his family during his formative years. There were bouts of drinking to excess, reported drug use, and just overall bad behavior. This landed Dave in jail the morning of his junior year finals.

From there Dave spiraled into more poor choices. In fact, he was jailed on four different occasions. One of which was for the theft of a telephone accessory that was valued at $12.99.

It was during Dave's last stint in prison that he had an epiphany. He was 38 years old, suicidal, and desperately looking for answers. That's when he decided he needed to make his life work. He reached out for help. And not to minimize his story, he found it.

Dahl was released from jail in 2004 and began working at his brother's bakery. It was during that time he relentlessly pursued what he thought could be a better bread. By 2005 Dave's Killer Bread was offering four varieties. By 2015 the company had been sold for $275 million.

Dave's take in the sale was about $33 million.

What's interesting is that long before Dave found himself in trouble with the law, his family's bakery had a policy of hiring ex-cons and those who had trouble finding work. Almost unwittingly Dave and his brother continued that practice until they realized that over 100 of their employees were ex-offenders.

The company makes it a practice to still hire people based on their ability to work now as opposed to what their past might say about them. We have only scratched the surface of all the trials and troubles the Dave Dahl brought upon himself. And we also only skimmed the parts about where he found redemption within himself and his family's business.

To me, it just goes to show that we all have something to offer. We all have our own "secret recipe" for something amazing. It might not be bread, it might not even be food, but it is something that is unique to us. I do hope that if you find yourself staring down "yourself" in a mirror contemplating something awful that you will stop, head to the store and buy a loaf of Dave's Killer Bread.

Eating it could help you stay healthy. Reading the packaging could change or even save your life.

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