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Sliced Bread Invented

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A picture of sliced bread.

A stack of sliced bread.

(Photo by David Bishop Inc./FoodPix / Getty Images)
In 1928, a man named Otto Frederick Rohwedder created the greatest invention -- pre-sliced bread. How did he keep it from going stale?

Bread Before Slicing

Before the invention of pre-sliced bread, people either baked their bread at home or bought full loaves of bread. For both home-baked and store-bought loaves of bread, the consumer had to personally cut off a slice of bread every time he wanted one, which meant rugged, irregular cuts.

This all changed when Otto Frederick Rohwedder, from Davenport, Iowa, invented the Rohwedder Bread Slicer. Rohwedder began working on inventing a bread slicer in 1912. Unfortunately, bakers scoffed at Rohwedder's early slicers; the bakers were sure that the bread would quickly go stale if pre-sliced. Determined in his belief that pre-sliced bread would be a major convenience for consumers, Rohwedder continued to work on his invention.

In one attempt to solve the staleness worry, Rohwedder used hat pins to keep the pieces of bread together in the hopes of keeping the loaf fresh. However, since the hat pins continually fell out, this did not work.

Rohwedder's Solution

In 1928, Rohwedder came up with a way to not only slice bread but to keep it fresh. Once the approximately five-foot long and three-foot high Rohwedder Bread Slicer sliced the bread, it would also wrap it in a wax paper to keep it from going stale.

Even with the sliced bread wrapped, many bakers remained dubious. In 1928, Rohwedder traveled to Chillicothe, Missouri where baker Frank Bench took a chance and used Rohwedder's invention. The very first loaf of pre-sliced bread went on shelves on July 7, 1928 as "Sliced Kleen Maid Bread." Bench's sales quickly skyrocketed and they knew the invention was a success.

In 1930, Wonder Bread began to commercially produce pre-sliced loaves of bread, popularizing sliced bread and making it a household staple.

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