Built on a Bread Legacy
The history of Dave's Killer Bread begins in 1955, when Jim Dahl purchased a small neighborhood bakery in Southeast Portland called Midway Bakery. A "pioneer" in sprouted wheat bread-baking, Jim soon found a following for his delicious breads made with whole grains and no animal fats (a rarity at that time). His most successful and well-known product was Surviva Bread, which he developed in the 60's and was still baked up until December 2012. James and wife Wanene's first child, Glenn, began to work in the bakery when he was nine years old. Glenn was later joined in the bakery by his sister Linda and brothers Al and Dave.
Although Dave worked at the family bakery through his teenage years, he admittedly had no passion for his family business and no appreciation for his father's eccentric style. Dave struggled with severe depression and turned to drugs as a coping mechanism. Methamphetamines led him down a road of crime and incarceration. He was sentenced to state prison four times for a total of 15 years. With Dave serving time, elder brother Glenn ran the family business, changing the name to NatureBake in 1984 and purchasing it from his father in 1988. Shobi Dahl, Glenn's son, was born in 1983. Like his father (and Uncle Dave), Shobi also began to work in the bakery at a very young age.
For Dave, the turning point came in 2001, about 3.5 years into his last sentence, when he found help for his depression via prescription medication and subsequent vocational training for computer-aided drafting/machining. He spent the next two years as a drafting tutor and project drafter, helping design furniture, modular housing, and machine parts for the Construction Tech program at Snake River Correctional Institution in Eastern Oregon. He had planned to continue on this course until his expected release in 2007, but was accepted into a drug treatment program at Powder River Correctional Facility in 2003 that resulted in his early release on December 27, 2004.
Upon release, Glenn welcomed Dave back to the family bakery. With a newfound desire to turn his life around, coupled with the hard-won humility born of prolonged adversity, Dave quickly established himself as a creative force at NatureBake. After reformulating their cookie line to contain neither trans fats nor animal products, he set his sights on a much more complex task: to create the ultimate healthy bread using the best organic ingredients available on the market. Around this time, Shobi graduated from Willamette University with a degree in Economics, and like Dave, was eager to join the family business of making bread. The three Dahls wasted no time getting the first four Dave's Killer Bread varieties (Blues, Nuts & Grains, Good Seed, and Rockin' Rye) into people's mouths, launching at the Portland Farmers Market "Summer Loaf" artisan bread festival August 4-6, 2005.
The response was nothing short of amazing. Rave reviews from customers led the Portland Farmers Market to ask the new brand to permanently join the market mid-season. This great opportunity to introduce the bread was vital to the rise of Dave's Killer Bread. By the fall (with the help of their loyal fan base), Dave’s Killer Bread products appeared on the shelves of Portland retailers like New Seasons, Whole Foods, and Fred Meyer. At this time, the company had about 35 employees baking NatureBake and Dave’s Killer Bread alike. Since then, Dave's Killer Bread has grown to more than 300 employees (about 30% of whom, like Dave, have criminal backgrounds) and Dave’s Killer Bread has become the main brand. The brand has now grown to 17 varieties, all of which are 100% USDA Organic and Non-GMO Project Verified. Dave’s Killer Bread is currently available in most major retail stores across all 50 U.S. states and Canada, and has a loyal following of nearly 400,000 BreadHeads around the world.