On S Street NW in Shaw, you can find a loft-style office building with “Wonder Bread” and “Hostess Cake” written on the outside. The building is the last remnant of D.C.’s once-large and cutthroat bread industry.
The building belonged to Dorsch’s Bakery, who along with Corby Baking and Holzbeierlein Bakery, ruled D.C.’s bread market throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries. The three bakeries viciously competed to rule D.C.’s baking scene, often placing savage attack ads in local papers.
Dorsch’s started out of a woodshed serving just a few loaves a day but quickly expanded. By the late 1920s, it had moved to the building in Shaw and was producing 100,000 loaves of bread a day.
However, none of them could compete with national brands that were able to better meet the demand for the newly invented sliced bread. Continental quickly became the D.C. bread king. It bought both Dorsch's and Corby’s and used their sites for national Wonder Bread production in the ‘40s.
Production ceased in the '80s, and the Shaw bakery sat vacant for 20 years before a development company converted it into an office space. It is one of the few bakery buildings left standing in D.C.