Time for a little diversion again, courtesy of the New York Times online “Backstory” once more. Today they take us through the history of the sliced pan – or any other kind of loaf you like to mention.
Sliced bread is, of course, the benchmark for all good things. But it wouldn’t exist quite as we know it without Otto Frederick Rohwedder, a jeweler born on this day in 1880.
His bread slicer produced the first package of machine-cut and wrapped bread 48 years later, on his birthday in 1928.
Bakers didn’t love the first version of Mr. Rohwedder’s invention, which he started working on in 1912. They feared the individual slices would quickly go stale. Mr. Rohwedder tried to ward that off by holding the loaves together with sterilized hairpins, but the pins kept falling out.
Finally, he added a step that automatically wrapped the bread, too.
Eventually Wonder Bread bought a version of the machine.
Sliced bread was banned very briefly in 1943, to wide chagrin. The move was intended to control bread prices and save on wax paper during World War II. Headlines heralded the lifting of the two-month ban: “Housewives’ Thumbs Safe Again,” read one.
It wasn’t just housewives, though. In 1963, reporters noticed a Band-Aid on President John F. Kennedy’s finger and asked him what had happened.
Mr. Kennedy laughed and replied: “I cut my finger when I was cutting bread, unbelievable as it may sound.”
Amy Padnani contributed reporting.