The Anchorage Daily News reports that rumors of the end of pilot bread are false. And there was much rejoicing! (among Alaskans, anyway)
Pilot bread, which is qaqqulaaq in Iñupiaq, is an Alaskan staple. Sometimes it’s just called Sailor Boy, which is the only brand of pilot bread I’ve ever seen anywhere in Alaska. When I moved Outside, I knew Alaskans must eat it more than other Americans because it’s hard – no wait, impossible – to find in stores. According to ADN’s article, 98% of Sailor Boy pilot bread sales are in Alaska. Most of us Alaskans just assume this hardy food will always be there, so when rumors started going around that the bakery producing Sailor Boy pilot bread was going to stop, mild panic ensued.
As far as I know, the Iñupiaq name qaqqulaaq comes from the verb qaqquqtuq ‘he/she is cracking/crunching’ (stem qaqquq). That makes sense, because pilot bread isn’t known for being soft. It’s damn near indestructible, actually, which is why it’s perfect for hiking, camping, and generally living out in the Bush where imported food is expensive and hard to keep fresh during transit. So thank you, Interbake Foods, for continuing to produce this apparently very Alaska-specific food!