Do you know what the greatest thing since sliced bread is? Sliced bread.
The modern wonder of brown-bag lunches is celebrating its 85th birthday this week. And for all those wondering, sliced bread, as simple as it sounds, wasn't so simple to create.
A Missouri jeweler, Otto Frederick Rohwedder, created the first known prototype of a machine that sliced and wrapped in 1912. It was disastrously lost in a fire, but in 1927, he retooled his invention and applied for a patent for the first ever "machine for slicing an entire loaf of bread at a single location."
The Chillicothe Baking Company in Chillicothe, Missouri was the first to use the newly-perfected bread-slicing machine commercially, and two years later, in 1930, Taggart Baking Company of Indianapolis debuted the bread nationally, teasing in ads that a "wonder" was coming.
“The new brand was named by vice president for merchandising development Elmer Cline, who was inspired by the International Balloon Race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway," according to Wherefoodcomesfrom.com. “Cline was filled with 'wonder' by the scene of hundreds of balloons creating a kaleidoscope of color resulting in the iconic red, yellow and blue balloons featured on the Wonder Bread logo.”
Not only were the sliced and wrapped loaves popular, but the enriched bread helped thwart two diseases of the time, beriberi and pellagra, and became known as the "quiet miracle." Bread slicing came to an abrupt but temporary halt in World War II due to a steel shortage, but production resumed in 1945—and the rest is history.
Fast forward to 2012, when the iconic Wonder Bread brand fell to the pains of bankruptcy at Hostess, only to be later bought up and saved by Flower Foods. This week, the brand announced that it received regulatory approval to finalize the $360 million purchase, which includes the Wonder, Nature's Pride and Home Pride bread brands.
With Twinkies back on the shelf in a matter of days, and Wonder's cheerful packaging gracing store shelves again soon, all will be right in the world.