Fascinating Facts about Sliced Bread

We all love our sliced bread. Buy in a bag and it’s ready to go for sandwiches or sides for dinner. For most of us, it’s what our moms used to make our lunches as kids growing up and probably what we still use making our own kids lunches now. We even have a term that compares things’ greatness to the wonder of sliced bread.

Sliced Bread – Fascinating Facts

Sliced bread has become a staple in American food. It would be a pretty strange world without it. You have to admit, it is much easier to just grab a slice of bread out of the bag that it is to slice the bread yourself and get crumbs everywhere.

But there was a time when sliced bread was not such a normal thing. There was a time when people weren’t even allowed to make it. Sound weird? It’s because it is really weird.

Where it Began

Back in 1928, a jeweler of all things made the first bread slicing machine. His name was Otto Rohwedder and he spent a decade building this slicer. Once he was finally sure of his machine, he put it at his friends bakery to try it out.

It was a pretty cool invention, but definitely freaked people out. Not needing to slice your own bread was new, and newness always scares many. But following it’s praising piece in the local newspaper, sliced bread was better received. After all, you couldn’t beat a machine that sliced your bread totally evenly for you.

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A Change in Recipe

Once people around the states realized how amazing having pre-sliced bread was, bread slicers were in high demand around the country. Some critics were not convinced, but many Americans started eating the commercially made bread more often than not.

Because machines had taken over baking, bread loaves were made with a different kind of recipe to make them extra soft. Due to this softness, people loved it.

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War Ruins Things

Then just as things were going great for sliced bread, World War II happened. And as war seems to ruin many things, World War II brought down sliced bread. During the war, many food items, including bread, had to be rationed.

The argument behind the ration was that pre-sliced bread was taking away resources that should have been used elsewhere. Bread machines needed metal and metal was also needed to fight in the war.

Commercial bread also needed wheat and wax paper, both of which were being monitored. The deal with the wax paper and the sliced bread was that wax paper was the only thing keeping the pre-sliced bread soft. The wax paper needed to be even thicker for the sliced bread otherwise the bread could stale much faster than traditional bread.

Illogical Reasons

The officials said that the reason for banning the pre-sliced bread was that they were wasting the wax paper. And of course without wax paper, the bread would become gross and stale and no one would want to eat it anyway.

The kicker, however, is that there wasn’t actually a wax paper shortage. They told bread companies that they couldn’t make the bread anymore, even though the companies had wax paper on hand that they weren’t even using.

So the War Production Board’s reason makes absolutely no sense.

There was another theory that was the government was trying to watch how much wheat was being used. The amount of bread consumed in the states had gone up substantially when sliced bread became a thing, so maybe if they banned slice bread, lettuce bread would be eaten again, which would kill off any demand for wheat.

But, even that idea didn’t make any sense. The United States had over a billion bushels of wheat on hand, which was plenty to handle the bread demand.

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Release the Angry Mobs

Placing a ban on sliced bread was a really bad idea. Sliced bread had become such a popular thing, that they even had the term “the best thing since sliced bread.” People got mad. They even wrote a letter to the New York Times about how the ban was ruining many families.

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Back peddling

After a large public outcry, the ban only survived three months. The War Production Board came under a lot of pressure that they had to lift the ban. They tried to say that the advantage was not really there as they had expected.

And the result of lifting the ban? Americans were happier. But as far as wheat, metal, and wax went? There was no shortage.

How It’s Actually Made – Bread

Bread is one of the most common foods on earth, and ends up in everything from main courses to desserts. Here’s how it’s made – some fascinating video of a large production line

Ode to Wonder Bread

One of the most common kinds of sliced bread is Wonder Bread. With the invention of the commercial bread slicer, Wonder’s popularity only increased. Wonder Bread almost became a relic of the past when Hostess filed for bankruptcy back in 2012.

Following this, many people went bananas emptying stores in fear that they would never taste the sweet goodness again. Due to this huge public outcry, Wonder Bread as well as its cousins Twinkies and Ding Dongs made it back to the shelves in 2013.

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Sliced Bread – Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

When was Sliced Bread Invented?

Sliced bread was invented by Otto Frederick Rohwedder in 1928. Otto was an engineer and inventor. His idea for an automatic bread slicing machine was met with skepticism by the bakers of the time. Mr. Rohwedder was determined to make his vision happened and actually sold his jewelry store to fun his passion project.

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What is the Origin of the phrase “Best Thing Since Sliced Bread?”

The phrase “The best thing since sliced bread” is commonly used as a way to hype a new product or invention. It points to how unique and innovative the sliced bread machine was in the 1930’s.

It is speculated that it may have come into use based on its use as an advertising slogan for Wonder Bread who was the first company to commercially manufacture bread that was pre-wrapped and pre-sliced!

How Old is Sliced Bread?

Sliced bread was first sold in 1928. At the time it was advertised as “the greatest forward step in the baking industry since bread was wrapped.”

Video: The Invention of Sliced Bread

Sliced break is less than 100 years old which seems hard to believe. Check out the history of its invention in this fun and entertaining video!