Ernest R. Braun
Baker - founder of the "Town Talk" bread label
In 1882 the Braun family emigrated from Germany to Ohio, The family eventually made their home in Allegheny where 20 year old Ernest and his brother, W. H. Braun, purchased a bakery in 1889.
From the beginning, Braun Bakery dedicated itself solely to the production of bread. W.H.’s job was to mix and knead the dough in a large wooden trough, while Ernest hand delivered unwrapped loaves from a horse drawn wagon. Despite this decidedly old-fashioned start, the Braun brothers were quick to enlarge their bakery and update any outmoded business practices. This was especially true in the area of advertising. With print, then radio and finally television, Braun kept its products in the public eye. A 1958 article in State Food Trade, said it best: “They have [spent] considerable funds to keep Mrs. Consumer informed of their famous Town Talk [bread].” The 50th anniversary of Braun Bakery found the brothers with a fleet of 118 trucks that distributed fresh bread from an expansive, modern facility on Island Avenue. Braun products such as Holsum Buttermilk Bread, Old Settler Rye and, of course, Town Talk, became local staples. And as Braun limited its distribution to the ten Pennsylvania counties surrounding Pittsburgh, their products and the customer loyalty they inspired were distinctly a Pittsburgh phenomena.
All operations at the bakery—from actual production to the advertising—were overseen by Ernest Braun, who was chairman of the company at the time of his death at age 89. A year after Ernest Braun’s death, The Braun Baking Co. was purchased by The Continental Baking Co. of New York, the largest maker of bread in the country at that time. Within ten years of that sale, Continental itself was sold, the first in a series of transactions that took The Braun Bakery further and further from its Pittsburgh roots. In 1989, Continental finally closed the Braun Baking plant, moving production of Town Talk to a facility in Philadelphia. Three years later, displaced Pittsburgh employees from Braun opened City Pride Bakery in Lawrenceville only to lose $4 million dollars in 11 months to a scam run by Michael Carlow and his Pittsburgh Food and Beverage Company. Throughout these tumultuous years, Town Talk Bread remained available in Pittsburgh and surrounding areas. It was not until 2005 that Interstate Bakeries officially phased it out of production, only to have it reintroduced to the same Pittsburgh area market by Hostess Bakeries in 2010. Town Talk Bread remains available in select stores to this day.