When old Hostess Brands fell, it left a gap on bread shelves — a gap other bakeries eagerly raced to fill.

 “Everybody was scrambling to pick up all that business as fast and as effectively as possible before the return of the Wonder, Home Pride and Beefsteak brands,” said J. Bohn Popp, vice-president of marketing, Aunt Millie’s Bakeries. “Thirty-three cars going for the first turn at 230 miles per hour. They’re trying to get there as fast as they can. They’re all trying to get the best position they can and survive. Then it all sorts itself out.”

However, as the nation’s leading baking companies that snatched up these iconic brands now ready their return to the market, competition in the bread aisle has gotten stiffer once again, and it’s partly because of a lack of new product innovation, said John Tucker, chief executive officer, Dave’s Killer Bread, Milwaukie, Ore.

“There will be a lot of similarity in products from brand to brand under these larger organizations because that is a way to bring simplicity and efficiency and drive out costs to their operations,” he said.

All of this consolidation and homogenization leaves fewer choices for consumers to get excited about. That’s the bad news. The good news? This vacuum of diversity can work to the advantage of smaller, more nimble players like Dave’s Killer Bread that can swoop in with innovative products to refresh the bread aisle.