Almanac: Sliced bread

Almanac: Sliced bread 02:05

(CBS News) And now a page from our "Sunday Morning" Almanac: July 7th, 1928, 85 years ago today . . . an historic day any way you slice it.

For that was the day the Chillicothe Baking Company of Chillicoth, Mo., sold America's very first pre-sliced bread, made possible by a slicing machine invented by the baker's friend, O.F. Rohwedder.

"The greatest step forward in the baking industry since bread was wrapped," in the words of the bakery advertisement.

The innovation quickly became the industry standard, as demonstrated in an instructional film for aspiring bakers:

"After cooling, the loaves go into a slicing and wrapping machine. Its razor-sharp blades slice about 40 loaves a minute. The machine does all the work!

Machine-sliced bread meant slices of uniform thickness . . . exactly the technological breakthrough required to launch the pop-up toaster.

Toaster sales soared. The toaster industry has seen many an innovative model over the years . . . some of the more exotic ones proudly displayed by toaster collectors (yes, they really exist!) at Octoasterfest, the convention our Bill Geist visited a few years back.

None of which would be possible without Otto Rohwedder, the man who laid down a challenge to every inventor who's ever followed . . . create, if you can, "the greatest thing since sliced bread."

For more info:

From the Chillicothe Constitution-Tribune, July 6, 1928: The article announcing the sale of sliced bread, in which the anonymous author exhibited a bright promise for a future career in marketing:

Chillicothe Baking Co. the First Bakers in the World to Sell This Product to the Public

Announcement by M.F. Bench of the Chillicothe Baking Company of a new sliced bread service is significant in that it gives the Chillicothe Baking Company the distinction of being the first bakers in the world to sell sliced bread to the public.

A July 6, 1928, newspaper report announcing the Chillicothe Baking Company's newest innovation: sliced bread. Chillicothe Constitution-Tribune

The idea of sliced bread may be startling to some people. Certainly it represents a definite departure from the usual manner of supplying the consumer with bakers loaves. As one considers this new service one cannot help but be won over to a realization of the fact that here indeed is a type of service which is sound, sensible and in every way a progressive refinement in Bakers bread service.

Briefly this new Sliced Bread Service may be described as follows:

The Chillicothe Baking Company has installed a power driven multi-bladed bread slicer which performs a feat which heretofore had been considered by bakers as being impossible - namely, the slicing of fresh loaves.

Shortly after the loaves leave the oven and prior to the time when they are sent through the wrapping machine they are sliced by the Rohwedder Bread Slicer. This machine gently but rapidly pushes the loaf through a series of alternating blades which slice the entire loaf simultaneously. There is no crumbing and no crushing of the loaf and the result is such that the housewife can well experience a thrill of pleasure when she first sees a loaf of this bread with each slice the exact counterpart of its fellows. So neat and precise are the slices, and so definitely better than anyone could possibly slice by hand with a bread knife that one realizes instantly that here is a refinement that will receive a hearty and permanent welcome.