Is There a Proper Name for the End of a Loaf of Bread?

Loaf of Sliced Bread
Photo: sinankocaslan/Getty Images

All due respect to anyone who is trying to give up carbs, but there is nothing like freshly baked bread. If you have the time and inclination to bake some sorghum-oat bread or a crusty, country loaf it is nearly impossible not to dive in right when you pull it out of the oven. But when you do slice into that still-warm potato loaf or cheddar-chive beer bread, what do you do with the end piece? And what on earth do you call it? That's an argument that has been raging across the internet over the last few weeks, as people in the South, the North, and even in the United Kingdom weigh in with their names for the end of the bread.

According to Today, it all started when British actor Stephen Mangan told his 360,000 Twitter followers about a heroic, yet unheralded deed. "I always use the end of the loaf when making toast," Mangan wrote on Twitter. "This quiet and selfless act of heroism goes completely unnoticed."

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While Mangan's family overlooked his act of selflessness, his Twitter followers were quick to weigh in. They weren't cheering on his culinary altruism, though, but commenting on his word choice. While Mangan originally claimed that he ate "the end of the loaf" of bread, he went on to specify that the "heel" is the only correct term for that first or last slice.

Not all of his followers agreed with his choice of word, however. Mangan helpfully rounded up some of the other terms people suggested, tweeting: "So the end slice of a loaf is (according to you weirdos) — the knobby, knobby end, knob end, nobbly, knobbler, norbert, doormat, topper, nut end, noggie, noggin, ender, crust, butt, outsider, tush, doorstep, bumper, healie, nub, bum, bum end, knocker [all wrong] or heel [correct]."

Some claim any browned bit of bread, no matter how big, is simply the "crust." Others preferred to simply call it the "end" or "the butt". Others swear it's the "freshness seal" that should be preserved as long as possible as a way of keeping the bread soft. Cookbook author Nigella Lawson weighed in, noting that on a baguette the end bit is called an "elbow." Some folks opt for the name "duck bread" or "bird bread" as they think that bit of bread is only fit for bird feed. Others commented that it's the best bet, especially for sopping up gravy or sauce. One favorite response was from a woman who tweeted that her mother calls that bit of a bread "the ‘suegra' which is Spanish for mother in law [because] in her words ‘no one likes them'."

Whatever you choose to call that piece of bread, when it comes on freshly-baked loaf of bread, it's probably going to be delicious—for you or the birds.

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