Sunday, February 13, 2011

Today's history lesson.

Otto Frederick Rohwedder of Davenport, Iowa invented the first loaf-at-a-time bread-slicing machine. A prototype he built in 1912 was destroyed in a fire and it was not until 1928 that Rohwedder had a fully working machine ready. The first commercial use of the machine was by the Chillicothe Baking Company of Chillicothe, Missouri, which produced their first slices on July 6, 1928.
Their product, "Kleen Maid Sliced Bread", proved a success. Battle Creek, Michigan has a competing claim as the first city to sell bread pre-sliced by Rohwedder's machine; however, historians have produced no documentation backing up Battle Creek's claim. The bread was advertised as "the greatest forward step in the baking industry since bread was wrapped."

Even now, 83 years after the Chillicothe Baking Company introduced sliced bread, we still use the phrase, "It's the best thing since sliced bread." Some things have staying power, even though there is no reason for them staying around - like Andy Rooney and "American Idol."

Perhaps it's time to abandon the sliced bread reference and update it ... say, about 70 years ... by using something that mankind has developed that might be both a more recent innovation and something just as impressive as taking a knife to a loaf of baked bread.

So, here is my modest request: The next time you get the urge to say "it's the best thing since sliced bread," instead substitute radial tires, the electric typewriter or FM radio for sliced bread, since they are all something that has been innovated recently enough to be a formidable substitute for something we have been buying and enjoying since the Hoover administration.

I don't ask for much.

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