The Quick 7: The Best Thing Since Sliced Bread
Sliced bread is the best thing since... umm... wow, I really don't know how to finish that sentence. Because sliced bread was first sold in 1928, a vast majority of us probably have no idea what it's like to go to a store and not be able to buy pre-sliced bread. I mean, it sounds like such a silly thing, but if you're anything like me, you mangle the crap out of a lovely, freshly-baked loaf of bread when you try to slice it. And whereas a loaf is typically 12 or more slices, my hack job will garner you about six slices of asymmetrical bread weeping crumbs like it's Sally Field at the Oscars.
Um. I digress. Today we say Happy 81st Birthday to a simple yet life-changing invention by sharing a few facts about it.
1. We have Iowan Otto Frederick Rohwedder of Davenport to thank for the convenience of reaching into a bag and pulling out a single slice of bread. It took him 13 years to perfect the contraption, which sliced the bread and then wrapped it in waxed paper and held the slices together with pins. One of his machines was sold to the Chillicothe Baking Company in Chillicothe, Missouri, which is where the first sliced loaf was sold on July 7, 1928. That's not him in the picture, by the way, it's just his slicer.
2. Not as many people seem to recognize Gustav Papendick, who invented the thing that keeps the sliced bread in form long enough to get it neatly into a bread wrapper. And I suppose "Best Thing Since The Tray that Used to Go in the Bottom of Bread Wrappers a Long Time Ago" is sort of a handful to say, and not really as catchy. Papendick improved upon Rohwedder's wrapping method, which left the slices in a sloppy pile. Papendick's design kept the slices neat and orderly by using a tray in the bottom of the bread wrapper.
3. "The Greatest Thing Since Sliced Bread" was actually an ad campaign by Wonder Bread from the 1930s. You have to admit that it's an impressive slogan that has wormed its way into vernacular not even remotely related to bread even three quarters of a century later.
4. Or did those two invent sliced bread as we know it today? The Battle Creek, Michigan, Visitor and Convention Bureau claim that they sold the first loaf of sliced bread. C'mon, guys, you have cereal - let Missouri have bread. There are enough grains for everyone. Anyway, if you think Chillicothe, Missouri, is taking Battle Creek's claim lying down, you're wrong. "When pressed recently, Battle Creek's Historians were unable to produce proof," the town's website smirks.
5. Maybe some of you do remember buying a loaf of unsliced bread at the grocery store (without any other option): during WWII, a ban was placed on sliced bread in order to preserve plastic. What? Well, because pre-slicing the bread exposed the soft inside to the air, the Food Administrator decreed that the plastic wrapping of sliced bread must be thicker than the wrapping of unsliced bread in order to keep the slices from prematurely drying out. So to save on plastic, no pre-sliced bread was sold for about three months in 1943. The public raised such a stink about how much time they were wasting slicing bread, the ban was lifted almost as soon as it was put into effect.
6. When sliced bread was first sold, an ad ran in the Chillicothe newspaper explained how to use the newfangled product in four easy steps. First you had to open - not tear - the package, then remove the pins holding the slices together, then remove the slices of bread, and finally, fold the package back down just so in order to preserve freshness. Who knew it could be so complicated?
7. At least one other town can legitimately claim to be the home of "Sliced Bread" - Middletown, Connecticut. That's where NASCAR driver Joey "Sliced Bread" Logano is from. He got his nickname because, obviously, he's the greatest thing since. How else would you get a nickname like "Sliced Bread"?
So, what do you think is the greatest thing since sliced bread? Share in the comments!