Bimbo: Mexico’s breadmaker mafia

If you were reading this blog a few months ago, you’ll know about the fun I had trying to escape the tentacles of the Franz breadmaker mafia. Luckily Franz is a regional player, albeit with a lot more reach than I bargained for.

However, for bread in Mexico there’s just no getting away from Bimbo (pronounced Beem-bo). I can’t fathom the reasons for the name, but obviously it’s not the same in Spanish. The cuddly bear mascot reminded me of Mr Stay-Puft from Ghostbusters, and it’s an appropriate comparison given the size of the Bimbo company. Occasionally when I feel like a change from tortillas I check out the Bimbo offerings.

A breadmaker mafia this size clearly has far-reaching tentacles and Bimbo are huge. Grupo Bimbo turns out to be one of the biggest food manufacturers in the world (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grupo_Bimbo). They’re only the 4th largest food company in the world behind Unilever, Kraft and Nestle and were the world’s largest bread manufacturer in 2010. Stick that up your pipe and smoke it, Franz! So there’s no getting away from them (except in San Cristobal where I found a number of great independent bakeries).

I really know nothing more about Bimbo’s ethics – though I guess it operates in much the same way as any other huge multinational – but the bread I’ve found so far is vegan friendly. No random milk ingredients or sneaky dairy has been added (though plenty of other ‘un-natural’ ingredients are thrown in there), but I do get to ingest a wide range of interesting-sounding chemicals that are typical within modern bread that never goes stale.

The other fun thing is seeing all the Bimbo bread vans careering around the towns and villages. I think this is where Postman Pat came after the Royal Mail gave him his P45 all those years ago.

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Mexico’s magic roads

I’ve travelled a long way in Mexico and one thing I really appreciate are the km markers that I see along the way. Each main road shows distances between major road junctions. It always feels good to see them counting down to each day’s destination.

One other thing along the road are the signs with distances to towns and cities. Sometimes there are lots and sometimes just a few. And in Mexico the roads must have had some magic dust sprinkled on them.

For example, take my day’s ride from Cintalapa to Tuxtla Gutierrez in Chiapas earlier in October. Tuxtla Gutierrez is a major city, so you’d think someone had a pretty good idea of the correct distance, but that must have been when Merlin showed up and pointed his magic hat at all the distance signs. Google measured the total distance at around 80km.

Here’s what I saw along the route, starting in Cintalapa. Distance to Tuxtla Gutierrez in km, as I rode through the morning:

79, 75, 74, 56, 63, 44, 42, 45, 26,16, 26…

As well as some signs showing I was getting further away, most of the distances between markers were completely wrong as well. Trying to fit 10km into 2km is stretching things a little…I know there is an official ‘Magic Road’ in South Korea, but Mexico is the draw if you want to get the experience every day…