Little Bits of History

Greatest Thing Ever

Posted in History by patriciahysell on July 7, 2015
1930s style bread slicer

1930s style bread slicer

July 7, 1928: Otto Frederick Rohwedder demonstrates his machine. Born in 1880 in Iowa, the inventor and engineer created a prototype of his machine in 1912 but it was destroyed in a fire. It took many years to rebuild and then perfect his machine. On this day, in Chillicothe, Missouri, the Chillicothe Baking Company was able to sell the best thing ever – sliced bread. The first automatic bread slicing machine for commercial use made possible the new product “Kleen Maid Sliced Bread”. There is a claim that the machine was first put to use in Battle Creek, Michigan but it is unsubstantiated. There were still some issues with Rohwedder’s machine. St. Louis baker Gustav Papendick bought Rohwedder’s second machine and worked on improving it. Papendick’s goal was to keep the slices together long enough to get a loaf wrapped for sale.

Papendick tried using rubber bands and metal pins to hold the slices together. Both were unsuccessful. He finally used a cardboard tray to hold the sliced bread and it aligned the slices until a mechanical wrapping device could slip the loaf into a bag. WE Long (Holsum Bread) used various bakers around the country and they began promoting this new wonder later in the year. Wonder Bread, first made in 1925 finally came on board and began offering sliced bread in 1930. Since bread was now handier to eat, more slices were consumed even though the slices were invariably thinner than those hand cut. Along with selling more bread, the items put on bread such as butter, jams, and jellies also had an upturn in their market.

In 1943, there was a brief ban on sliced bread in the US. It was one of the austerity measures imposed during wartime. It was proposed by Claude Wickard and took effect on January 8. The reasoning was that the wrapper of sliced bread had to be thicker so the sliced bread didn’t dry out, something that was less likely with unsliced bread. There had also been a recent 10% increase in the price of flour making bread more expensive. By January 24, New York City Mayor LaGuardia made a radio broadcast stating bakeries with their own slicing machines should be permitted to use them. Two days later, John Conaboy, New York Area Supervisor of the Food Distribution Association warned private bakers to stop slicing bread even though most were accustomed to the convenience. The ban was rescinded on March 8, 1943.

In the US, we are used to a “regular” sized slice of bread that is thinner than Texas style slices which are typically twice as thick. In Britain, they have Thin, Medium, Thick, and Extra-Thick slices which vary in thickness from 5-20 mm thick. In Ireland, one buys a “sliced pan” and it is either 400 or 800 grams of sliced bread wrpped in wax paper. In Japan, the number of slices are labeled for the same amount of bread and can range from 4 to 10 slices. They also sell “sandwich bread” that is not only thin sliced, but crustless for the perfect sandwich.

Acorns were good till bread was found. – Francis Bacon

You can tell more about a country from its bread and soup than you can from its museums and concert halls. – Charles Eames

How can a nation be called great if its bread tastes like Kleenex? – Julia Child

The odds of going to the store for a loaf of bread and coming out with ONLY a loaf of bread are three billion to one. – Erma Bombeck

Also on this day: He Never Said “Elementary” – In 1930, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle died of a heart attack.
Peace Activist – In 1983, Samantha Smith visited Moscow.
Boulder Dam – In 1930, construction began at what is now called Hoover Dam.
All Gone – In 2006, the Western Black Rhino was declared extinct.
Foolish? – In 1907, the Ziefgeld Follies were first shown.

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