The Greatest Thing

Posted: December 12, 2011 in Sliced Bread
Sliced bread

Image via Wikipedia

Sliced bread is the standard by which all other inventions are based. The phrase “the greatest thing since sliced bread” was referred to by the Kansas City Star as the “ultimate depiction of innovative achievement and American know-how”.    How did such a wonderful invention come to be?  I refer you to their article for the full history, but here’s a short overview.    The machine was invented and sold by Otto Frederick Rohwedder in 1928.    It was initially used by local bakeries, which touted it as “The Greatest Forward Step in the Baking Industry Since Bread was Wrapped”.    In the 1930’s a sliced version of “Wonder Bread” was sold nationally for the first time.   The same Continental Baking company was responsible for the Twinkie and eventually became Hostess Brands.

Consumers were initially skeptical of the advantages of buying pre-sliced bread due to concerns over the ability of the bread to remain fresh.   Advertising campaigns, small amounts of convenience and probably eventually preservatives seemed to overcome these fears.   The bread was sliced much more perfectly than anyone could manage by hand.     Interestingly enough, the invention of the pop-up toaster actually predated that of pre-sliced bread.    It seems anyone could understand the appeal of the toaster even if they didn’t have perfectly sliced bread.

Otto Rohwedder doesn’t appear in a lot of history books, but small smart inventions like his do impact a lot of peoples’ lives.    I plan to give tribute to some of these inventions and their inventors through a series of “Sliced Bread” posts.

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