Food Policy

This Day in History: Sliced Bread Made its Debut. Americans Loved It! The Government Banned It.

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On this day 86 years ago, the best thing since—well, since ever—hit store shelves: sliced bread.

The day before its official debut, Chillicothe Baking Company, the first company to produce and market this revolutionary new way to buy bread, put out a full-page ad in its local Missouri paper the Chillicothe Constitution Tribune.

Announcing: The Greatest Forward Step in the Baking Industry Since Bread was Wrapped—Sliced Kleen Maid Bread.

The ad slogan is possibly where the phrase "best thing since sliced bread" originated.

Two years later, another baking company brought sliced bread to a national market with the iconic brand Wonder Bread.

Housewives rejoiced, toaster sales boomed, and Americans ate more slices of bread than ever before.

Then, on January 18, 1943, the modern marvel disappeared from store shelves. The reason? Government officials had initiated the first-ever war on carbs—a ban on pre-sliced bread, deemed necessary to help conserve resources for World War II.

The sandwich-loving public was not happy. As one woman put it in a letter to The New York Times:

I should like to let you know how important sliced bread is to the morale and saneness of a household. My husband and four children are all in a rush during and after breakfast. Without ready-sliced bread I must do the slicing for toast—two pieces for each one—that's ten. For their lunches I must cut by hand at least twenty slices, for two sandwiches apiece. Afterward I make my own toast. Twenty-two slices of bread to be cut in a hurry!"

The head of the War Food Administration said the ban was to conserve the thicker wax paper that Federal Drug Administration regulations said bakeries had to use because sliced bread went stale faster than whole loaves. 

The ban did not last long though, probably due to its unpopularity. The government repealed it three months later with the head of the War Food Administration saying,

Our experience with the order, however, leads us to believe that the savings are not as much as we expected, and the War Production Board tells us that sufficient wax paper to wrap sliced bread for four months is in the hands of paper processor and the baking industry.

Sandwich-loving Americans haven't gone stale on the modern convenience since.

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  1. “The head of the War Food Administration said the ban was to conserve the thicker wax paper that Federal Drug Administration regulations said bakeries had to use because sliced bread went stale faster than whole loaves.”

    The regulation made it more expensive, and rather than correct the regulation, the gov’t banned it!
    I think you could see that coming from a mile off!

  2. Our experience with the order, however, leads us to believe that the savings are not as much as we expected

    Government: Revising figures downward since 1943 time immemorial.

  3. The head of the War Food Administration said the ban was to conserve the thicker wax paper that Federal Drug Administration regulations said bakeries had to use because sliced bread went stale faster than whole loaves.

    Wait, wonderbread goes stale?

  4. My husband and four children are all in a rush during and after breakfast.

    Your husband should have been over there fighting Jerry or Tojo OR BOTH. Your children, too.

    1. My Grandfather wanted his epitaph to be “Damned if he didn’t kill hisself some skogies.” My grandmother vetoed it. Grandpa was a Dan Jenkins fan.

    2. Wake up earlier then. Oh wait, the government set the clocks ahead an hour.

  5. Speaking of bakers, Morning Edition today trotted out the new high-brow Prog talking point about the recent SCOTUS decisions on the First Amendment:

    Almost all of the precedents from the Lochner era are now gone, viewed as wrongly decided. But some scholars suggest those decisions are being reborn in a new guise: the First Amendment.

    “It’s the new Lochner,” laments Yale Law School’s Akhil Amar, who comes from the moderate left of the legal spectrum. “The First Amendment is increasingly becoming everyone’s first resort for all kinds of claims that historically were not thought of as First Amendment claims.”

    By that, Amar means voiding a century of campaign finance understandings, 80 years of precedent on government mandates for profit-making corporations, and nearly overruling 40 years of precedent on fair-share union fees.

    The horror!

    1. The First Amendment is increasingly becoming everyone’s first resort for all kinds of claims that historically were not thought of as First Amendment claims.

      Except, of course, for unrestricted abortions. That’s a proper use of the First Amendment.

      1. But see, abortions are different, on account of they’re based on the penumbras of a whole passle of Amendments.

        /Prog-derp

    2. Lochner, at least as written, rejected the idea that the federal government has the duty or the power to protect people from their own “lack of knowledge.”

      Silly peasants and bourgeosie! Thinking they are free to make choices and such!

  6. moderate left

    What do those two words placed together even mean these days? They sure as fuck don’t mean what they did when I was a younger man. I wish they would just choose new labels rather than hijacking already defined, or at least loosely define terms. Or they could just go with “Fucking Fascists” if they’re not feeling creative.

    1. moderate left

      It’s a new kind of dog whistle. It means right thinking and socially acceptable to NPR listeners.

    2. Srsly. I think it means “someone who thinks it might make sense for the government to try to spend a little less money if it can do so without harming anybody.”

    3. I think it is a convoluted reaction to libertarians, like myself, trying to get the word “liberal” back from their bloody grime covered hands.

      The response by the left is to say they are modern liberals (Obamacare, New deal, large scale state economic intervention, ect) and the old liberals are classical liberals.

      So someone only somewhat versed in the debate gets confused. Not wanting to call the left liberals but only knowing the argument from the left’s point of view they blurt out weird phrases like “modern left”

      1. In this case “moderate”, not “modern”, but I have seen what you’re talking about with modern, maybe a bit more frequently paired with “progressive” and especially when people start talking about how historical Progressives were Prohibition boosting, eugenicist fuckwits.

        1. Actually my favorite was a professor referred to them as “Big P Progressives” and “Little P progressives” for the historical and contemporary ones respectively. I tend to use that just because I’ve used the word “modern” in an art or architecture sense incorrectly so many times that I just avoid it.

          The tribulations of not taking Art History in HS.

        2. when people start talking about how historical Progressives were Prohibition boosting, eugenicist fuckwits.

          And when looking at policy toward the inner-city, modern Progressives are different from their fore-bearers how exactly?

          1. Better marketers?

          2. Stated intentions are more palatable than when they just come right out and say they want ‘those niggers to be voting democrat for 200 years’, or otherwise keeping them on the government plantation.

        3. historical Progressives were Prohibition boosting, eugenicist fuckwits.

          You forgot to mention Jim Crow KKK racists.

          Wilson was a huge fan of “Birth of a Nation”.

          1. That too. I have no fucking clue why contemporary liberals decided that dusting off the progressive moniker was a good idea.

            1. We shouldn’t even call them contemporary ‘liberals’ if we’re trying to be precise. The ideology is the bastard child of fascism and old fashioned ‘pro-business’ cronyism.

    4. “What do those two words placed together even mean these days?”

      I’m reminded of an op ed I read in the NY Times last year. I forget who wrote it, but I’ll NEVER forget the phrase he used to describe Obama: “left of center.”

    5. What do those two words placed together even mean these days?

      “Moderate left” means: conservative about everything except their genitals and your money.

  7. OT:

    Looks like this year’s predicted super El Nino is a dud.

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/201…..ke-a-bust/

    Atlantic is cooling pacific is not warming Antarctica has record sea ice…We might be in for some 70s style global cooling.

    Which begs the question, if 17 years of flat global temps don’t kill the climate alarmists movement will actual global cooling do it?

    1. Dammit. Super El Nino would’ve meant epic snowfall in the Rockies.

      1. Colder temps means the snow keeps longer and more powder vs wet snow.

      2. I think the West coast was hoping a super El Nino would bring an end to the drought.

    2. Which begs the question, if 17 years of flat global temps don’t kill the climate alarmists movement will actual global cooling do it?

      No, because they covered that scenario back in the 90s. Global Warming brings on global cooling.

    3. Those high temps do exist, they just teleported past the entire atmosphere while nobody was watching, nimbly avoided all the land masses, and are now lurking deep underwater. Waiting to pounce.

      1. Waiting to pounce.

        Waiting undetected to pounce.

  8. Obscure trivia:

    The best thing before sliced bread was wrapped bread

    1. Whoops, that will teach me to read more than the headline before commenting.

      1. Nothing is more obscure than the contents of an online article to the people who are commenting on it.

  9. Michael Bloomberg: The best thing since a ban on sliced bread.

  10. My favorite banned-for-WWII story. Shortly after Pearl Harbor, Washington decreed that various civilian products would no longer be manufactured because of the war effort. One was typewriters. Shortly thereafter, the military began begging for thousands of typewriters, and the bureaucrats quickly reclassified them as essential war items.

  11. sufficient wax paper to wrap sliced bread for four months is in the hands of paper processor and the baking industry.

    Oh, pshaw?it’ll be stale & moldy long before then.

  12. Sandwich-loving Americans haven’t gone stale on the mondern convience since.

    Looks like someone got tired of proofreading, right at the end.
    ‘mondern’?
    ‘convience’?

    1. She’s an intern, a little slack should be cut.

  13. The notable thing about this story is that the government actually promptly reversed a stupid decision. How often does that happen these days?

    1. It would happen again frequently if the country went on a total war footing, because there’d be that many more rash decisions to reverse.

  14. Obamacare, the worst law since the ban on sliced bread.

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