Sunday, July 7, 2013


July 7, 2013


Chillicothe, Missouri (JFK+50) Most of us are familiar with the phrase "the greatest thing since sliced bread," but most of us have never given much thought to when sliced bread was first produced.

The answer is:  July 7, 1928 by the Chillicothe* Baking Company in Missouri.  That was 85 years ago today.

               Birthplace of Sliced Bread
                   Chillicothe, Missouri
          Photo by Americasroof (2010)

Otto Frederick Rohwedder** of Davenport, Iowa invented the 1st bread slicing machine and it was this machine that was used by Chillicothe* Bakery to produce sliced bread.

*Chillicothe, Missouri, located in Livingston County, has a population of 9515.

                 Chillicothe, Missouri
       Photo by Americasroof (2010)

The first sliced bread was sold under the brand name "Kleen Maid Sliced Bread."

Frank Bench, who was 20 years old and going bankrupt, purchased Rohwedder's bread slicing machine and the rest is history.

Gustav Papendick bought Rohwedder's 2nd model and improved on it "by devising a way to keep the slices allow the loaves to be wrapped."

In 1974, Rohwedder's daughter, Margaret R. Steinhauer of Albion, Michigan donated her father's 2nd bread slicer to the Smithsonian Institution.  It was used at Korn's Bakery in Davenport, Iowa.

The Smithsonian has loaned the slicer to the Grand River Historical Society Museum and it will be unveiled today on the 85th anniversary of sliced bread.

**Otto Frederick Rohwedder (1880-1960) was born in Des Moines, Iowa to parents of German descent.  He grew up in Davenport where he earned a degree in optics in 1900.

Rohwedder owned 3 jewelry stores in St. Joseph but sold them to work on his bread slicing machine.

OFR, the father of the bread slicing machine, died on the day John F. Kennedy was elected president of the United States, November 8, 1960.

      Bread Slicing Machine Demonstration
                  St. Louis, Missouri (1930)

W.E. Long of Holsum Bread pioneered and promoted the packaging of sliced bread and in 1930 Wonder Bread began to sell packaged sliced bread nationwide.

The W.E. Long Company of Chicago had acquired national rights to the Holsum brand in 1908.

                  Holsum Bread Truck
                         Puerto Rico
            Photo by Ezrawolfe (2008)

Sliced bread became a temporary thing of the past, however, on January 18, 1943, when the US FOOD ADMINISTRATION imposed a ban on sliced bread as a wartime conservation measure.

Soon, however, it was decided the ban was not such a great idea and it was lifted on March 8, 1943.  I guess you could say that the lifting of the ban on the production and sale of sliced bread was the greatest thing since sliced bread.


Lemels N-Mit, "Invention of the Week,"