The Phrase: ‘Best Thing Since Sliced Bread’ Has Origins in Iowa
The saying hasn’t been around for a century – because sliced bread hasn’t been around for a century. This phrase is commonly used to describe an invention that is likely to improve people’s lives significantly. But where did the phrase originate from?
Otto Frederick Rohwedder (photo) was born in 1880 in Davenport. He attended Northern Illinois College of Ophthalmology and Otology in Chicago, from where he received a degree in optics in 1900. He pursued a career as a jeweler, opening and operating three jewelry stores of his own in Missouri. But then he had an idea that he thought was sure to change the world. So, he sold his jewelry stores and moved back to Davenport.
In 1927, Mr. Rohwedder successfully designed a machine that not only sliced bread ----but wrapped it. He applied for patents and sold the first machine where it was first installed at the Chillicothe Baking Company, in Chillicothe, Missouri, in 1928. The first loaf of sliced bread was sold commercially on July 7, 1928. Sales of the machine took off and sliced bread became available across the country.
Five years later, American bakeries were producing more sliced than unsliced bread loaves for the first time. That same year, Rohwedder he sold his patent rights to the Micro-Westco Co. of Bettendorf, Iowa, and joined the company. He became vice-president and sales manager of the Rohwedder Bakery Machine Division.
He retired in 1951 at the age of 71 and moved his family to Michigan, where he eventually died at the age of 80.
It even appeared in a 2012 episode of "Jeopardy!" A contestant answered correctly, "What is sliced bread?"
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