Well, There’s Actually Nothing Better Than Sliced Bread

Super chunky peanut butter is spread on one slice of bread.
Super chunky peanut butter is spread on one slice of bread. –WENDY MAEDA/ THE BOSTON GLOBE

Let’s all take a moment and think about how life would be different without sliced bread.

Whether you are making lunch for your family of six to take to the beach or throwing together a quick PB&J, you can’t beat not having to use a knife to cut your bread.

Today is the 86th birthday of slice bread, which first went on sale in Chillicothe, Missouri.

And the town where sliced bread was born is very aware of its special spot in the history of making life a little easier for everyone.

Scroll down to the bottom of the history page on the town’s website and you’ll find “Home of the Sliced Bread.’’

“You’ve heard of the “greatest thing since sliced bread,’’ of course. Well, we have the real thing – sliced bread! It was discovered that sliced bread was first offered for sale – ever – in Chillicothe, Missouri. A product of the Chillicothe Baking Company, it was sliced on a machine called the Rohwedder Bread Slicer. Invented by Iowa inventor, Otto Rohwedder, the bread slicer was put into practice in 1928 in beautiful downtown Chillicothe.’’


According to The Daily Mail, Otto Rohwedder came up with the idea for sliced bread when working as a jeweler in 1912.

“His first prototype held the bread slices together by metal hat pins, an unpopular idea among bakeries, since the pins regularly fell out,’’ they reported.

A fire destroyed his blueprints and prototype of his bread slicer, but in 1927 he designed another machine which sliced and wrapped loaves.

After first being sold in Chillicothe, the slicing of bread went viral, so to speak.

“Two years later, Wonder Bread and several other major companies began selling sliced bread with the help of Rohwedder’s invention. And by 1933, just five years after Rohwedder’s machine was introduced to the baking industry, 80 percent of the bread turned out by bakeries in America was pre-sliced with his machine.’’

KCPT, Kansas City, Missouri’s local PBS television station, recent debuted a 30-minute documentary about the Chillicothe connection to the history of sliced bread. You can watch “Slice of Life’’ online.

Chillicothe hosts a bread festival every year. This year’s event, the 2014 Sliced Bread Jam Bluegrass Festival, took place at the beginning of June.

Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History acquired one of Rohwedder’s original bread slicers, which was made of steel. The New York Times shows how it worked.

It’s not just the slicing of bread for which we have Chillicothe to thank. But for Rohwedder’s invention, we might have no easy way to refer to something truly, truly wonderful.

So today, eat a sandwich, and see if you can think of anything better than sliced bread.

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