7 July 1928: sliced bread goes on sale for the first time

Taking “the greatest forward step in the baking industry since bread was wrapped”, the Chillicothe Baking Co of Chillicothe, Missouri, proudly put on sale its ‘Kleen Maid Sliced Bread’, on this day in 1928.

Marking the occasion, the Chillicothe Constitution Tribune declared that “The Chillicothe Baking Company has installed a power drive multi-bladed bread slicer which performs a feat which heretofore had been considered by bakers as being impossible – namely the slicing of fresh loaves”.

The bread slicer was invented by Otto Frederick Rohwedder, who had patented a “machine for slicing an entire loaf of bread at a single operation”.

But the slices produced by Rohwedder’s machine had to be held together with metal pins before being wrapped. It was not until Gustav Papendick of St Louis improved the machine that consumers could enjoy their bread free of iron spikes.

Before long, other bakeries were getting in on the act, and in 1930 the Continental Baking Company introduced ‘Wonder Bread’, and sold it across the US.

By 1933, 80% of the bread baked in American bakeries was sliced bread. Its success led to Americans eating more slices of bread than ever before. This led to a boom in toaster sales, and an increase in consumption of butter, jams, and spreads of all kinds.

Sliced bread first came to Britain in the 1930s. But we seem to be falling out of love with it. Consumption has been falling for decades, and on average, Britons now consume just two to three slices of bread a day, compared with seven slices a day 70 years ago.

Merryn

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