Sunday, July 7, 2013

Jul 7 (1928) Happy Bday Sliced Bread! Relief to those who "have risked thumbs and tempers slicing bread"

Slicing bread at bakery. San Angelo, Texas

On this day in 1928, the Chillicothe Baking Company of Chillicothe, Missouri was the first bakery to use a machine to slice bread. To advertise the new product, the Chillicothe Bakery used the tagline "the greatest forward step in the baking industry since bread was wrapped." This evolved into the idiom "the greatest thing since slice bread," a phrase used to describe an invention intended to improve lives.

The machine had indeed improved lives, and when it was briefly banned by the Federal Drug Administration during the second World War, some bakeries did not comply. John F. Conaboy, the New York Area Supervisor of the FDA, warned in the New York Times

"To protect the cooperating bakers against unfair advantage of those who continue to slice bread...we are prepared to take measures if necessary. Under provisions of the order willful violators may be fined, imprisoned, or even prohibited from accepting further orders for material under priority control and may even lose all rationing and priority assistance."

The unpopular ban was lifted two months later, citing no material cost savings. The New York Times reported "housewives who have risked thumbs and tempers slicing bread at home for nearly two months will find sliced loaves back on the grocery shelves tomorrow in most places." 

Further Reading
The Home of Sliced Bread Website
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Flannery O'Connor

You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you odd.