When it comes to Greatest Things, the Gold Standard against which they are measured is the accomplishment of one Otto Frederick Rohwedder of Davenport, Iowa. Yes, that Otto Rohwedder, the guy whose invention we celebrate on
NATIONAL SLICED BREAD DAY!
Before July 7, 1928, great things may have happened, but not Greatest Things.
The phrase “the greatest thing since sliced bread” had to wait for jeweler-turned-inventor Otto to re-build his automatic bread slicing machine, which was lost in a fire at his factory in 1917, along with the blueprints.
It took him 11 years perfect the Whole Loaf Slicer And Wrapper Machine that he unveiled on this date in Chillicothe, Missouri, which not only sliced the bread, but wrapped it too. Bakers bought his machine by the thousands, some improved on it, and the Greatest Thing Ever was all the rage in the land (folks were easily impressed in 1928).
Next thing you know Wonder Bread got into the act with factory baking and pretty much ruined bread while selling more of it than anyone else, and much of America doesn’t know very much about real bread to this day, so The Greatest Thing Ever came with a price, especially when you consider that, by association, Chillicothe, Missouri must be the Greatest Place Ever (Their town logo is the un-toppable “Home of Sliced Bread”).
There’s still plenty of real bread to be had, sliced or unsliced, and we can’t blame Otto Rohwedder for where he chose to unveil Sliced Bread, or for Industrial Bread Abuse. Let’s just pop a slice in the toaster and celebrate.
•Suggested Activities: Comparing unraveling the human genome to sliced bread.