Abandoned Wonder Bread Factory
When David and I were in Buffalo recently, we had great luck exploring two abandoned spots in one day—an abandoned church in the morning and the Wonder Bread factory in the afternoon. The 180,000-square-foot Wonder Bread factory opened in 1923 on Buffalo's Belt-line. In addition to bread, the factory also produced Hostess brand snacks.
Wonder Bread was one of the first breads to be factory sliced and the company guaranteed freshness in every slice or your money back. Hostess introduced the Twinkie in 1930, and since then they've only been absent from store shelves for ten months—from November of 2012 until July of 2013—when Hostess filed for bankruptcy. Despite their reputation as a post-apocalyptic snack, Twinkies actually only have an official shelf-life of 45 days.
The East Buffalo factory was shut down in 2004 and the building has been for sale for $800,000 since 2010. Abandoned factories aren't high on my list of places to explore because they're generally sort of boring and often heavily vandalized. I didn't expect much from such a well-known spot, but it's relatively secure and still has a lot of stuff left inside.
I think the fact that it was not just a bread factory but Wonder Bread specifically, is what made it such an interesting place to explore. There's just something so optimistic and American about Wonder Bread and there are enough remnants of the brand scattered around the factory that you can almost imagine the smell of baking bread.
The mostly-intact employee locker rooms add a human touch, with stickers and handwritten messages still decorating some of the lockers. Sometimes it's hard imagine these buildings when they were operational, but notes like "The torture is over!! I'm free!!" or "Prison life would have been easier," really give a sense of what the workers' lives were like (I'm guessing not great).
Visible from the roof is a smokestack with "Ward's Bakery" spelled out in contrasting brick—the Ward Bakery empire included three independent companies: General Baking, Ward Foods and Continental Baking, makers of Wonder Bread. But the crowning jewel of this factory is its rooftop sign, constructed of huge, red metal letters that once announced to everyone passing that Wonder Bread was produced within—a fact that surely their noses had already suspected.