Picture this: it’s a lazy, sweltering summer day outside and you are unable to withstand this sticky, sweaty mess by hiding out in your humble abode, that of which has been obliterated by excessive A/C use and subsequent maintenance issues. You realize you can’t hide away from it any longer. Next stop, hitting the pool! You grab your sunscreen, towel, sunglasses, and your brand new swim-suit and pool floaty that you’re eager to flash at your community pool. Except one thing, your swim-suit is actually a soup-suit and your pool floaty is actually an inflatable bread bowl.

And no, this is not a joke. Shout out to you, climate crisis and capitalism.

Earlier this month, Panera Bread — the American fast-casual food chain home to iconic soups, sandwiches, and mac & cheese — released its Swim Soup collection. This consists of five pieces: two one-pieces, two swim trunks, and one bread bowl pool float. All the swimwear retail for $25, and the bread bowl floaty for $20, plus additional taxes.

While the food-corporation-to-fashion pipeline is by no means new, something about Panera’s Swim Soup line just gets to me. I mean, is it the oxymoron between soup and summer that the swimwear so eloquently reveals, or is it some social commentary about — okay, I think I’m getting a little carried away.

I decided to look into each piece more and decide whether or not the Swim Soup collection deserves some more praise. Behold, my rankings of each piece:

5. The Mother Bread Swim Trunks

Courtesy of Panera Bread.

It pains me to say this, but Mother Bread takes the last place. Although this piece is objectively the most “normal” item in the collection, as well as seemingly versatile, it’s just BORING. The logo in the bottom corner gives it a nice simplicity and sleekness, but the understated look is just too understated for me to understand why someone would purchase this swim trunk when they could very well get other swimwear in a more appealing color than swampy-green.

4. The Bread Bowl Pool Float

Courtesy of Panera Bread.

Ranking fourth is the Bread Bowl Float because, honestly, it just looks like some weird brown circle with dots. Also, I think the great appeal about food floaties is their comprehensibility and nostalgic/cute-ness factor. In regards to food-corporation pool float merchandise, In-N-Out and Taco Bell got Panera beat.

3. The Broc Ched One-Piece

Courtesy of Panera Bread.Courtesy of Panera Bread.

Third is the Broc Ched One-Piece. This is definitely not my favorite because it is quite busy and sightly at the eyes, however, I commend it for stepping it up from the previous two and giving me a little more craze. I mean, duh, doesn’t everyone want cheesy cruciferous veggies plastered all over their bod?

2. The Broc Ched Swim Trunks

Courtesy of Panera Bread.

Next up is the Broc Ched Swim Trunks. While these are oddly reminiscent of those graphic swim trunks 11-year-old obnoxious boys would wear at the pool (rainbow, taco cat, space, pizza trunks, you get the vibe), I have to say I quite vibe with it. It’s fun and flashy (telling people that you shop at Panera, but not like other girls), but not as soring on the eyes as the one-piece, due to less full-body coverage.

1. The Swim SOUP One-Piece

Courtesy of Panera Bread.

Ranking first is certainly the Swim Soup, the soup-erior fashion item in this collection. It offers so much, from the iconic play-on-word moment to its directness and blatant pride in mere soup. I love how this piece appears as a clean and innocently seeming design, but on double-take, just “SOUP.” Graphic one-pieces are not a new thing, but the common phrases or words we see, such as “Babe” or “Beach Please,” are just all so uninteresting and basic compared to “SOUP.”

Overall impressions: I calculate a 7/10 for Panera Bread. It is truly entertaining, so I’ll give it a +5 for the LOL factor and +5 for marketing strategy/soup-provoking thoughts. However, I’ll dock it -1 for its lost potential to become more camp, a.k.a. although the concept is fun and there, this line straight up looks like a carbon copy of some Hollister line in 2016 where graphics were all the rage. And, I’ll dock it another -2 because quite frankly, I’m a bit scared of what power Panera Bread holds in catalyzing the food-fashion industry. I’m not trying to reshift this entire conversation to my thoughts on the dangers of capitalism (we’ll get into that another time), but I’m genuinely nervous that the boundaries between food corporations and fashion are going to be non-existent and there’s going to be Olive Garden breadstick pants and Chili’s lingerie that can only ensue in absolute chaos and destruction.

If my ranking list somewhat convinced you to get your very own swim-soup, I have unfortunate news that it sold out in less than a week since its release. There was limited stock of 1,100 pieces, and honestly, I’m a bit relieved that the stock was low because it just adds to the excitement if we ever see Panera-fashion-foodies rocking the look, knowing that they’re one of the few. Also, I just don’t know if I can handle an army of broccoli cheddar anytime soon.

With all that to say, I still don’t have a swim-soup, and I can’t tell if I’m happy or sad about that fact. For now, I’ll just be perfectly content sticking to the food at Panera. Hot soup on a hot summer day, anyone?  

All photos courtesy of Panera Bread.