"The best thing since sliced bread"

You’ve heard it. You’ve said it. But do you know where the phrase comes from?!

Idioms are funny things, and they often don’t translate well across multiple languages and cultures. For example, in English we talk about “buttering someone up”, whilst in German, the equivalent sentiment translates to “smearing honey around someone’s mouth”!

The way we see it… both butter and honey can be enjoyed on bread… and the notion of something being the best since sliced bread is one of the few expressions that is universally understood! So what is the origin of the phrase?

The Facts

When: 1928

Where: USA

Who: Otto Frederick Rohwedder from Davenport, Iowa

What: Rohwedder produced the first commercially viable bread slicing machine. First put into use by the Chillicothe Baking Company in Missouri who advertised the product as “the greatest forward step in the baking industry since bread was wrapped”. It is believed that this slogan in turn provided the basis of the phrase “greatest thing since sliced bread” – which entered popular vernacular around the middle of the 20th century.

Why: Because life is too short to slice your own loaf!

Time For an Update?

Rohwedder’s innovation certainly transformed the market (does anyone even buy unsliced loaves anymore?!), but we think it’s fair to say that almost 100 years after the introduction of the first commercial bread slicer, there have been a number of other bread-related innovations of equal value. Not least of which includes the advancements in bread bag sealing…

Our resealable, recyclable seals have been a game changer in the UK for over 30 years. They use 1/5 of the plastic found in a hard plastic clip, help to reduce food waste by keeping loaves fresher for longer, and they’re also safe if accidentally swallowed.

Learn more about our seals here.

Surely it’s only a matter of time before the saying evolves further, and people will be heard proclaiming far and wide that *insert next best thing here* is:

“The best thing since sliced bread that has been sealed by a resealable, recyclable, safe seal which perpetuates bread freshness and ultimately prevents avoidable food waste!”

We can dream.  

Bread Trivia (You never know when it might come in yeastful!)

  • Queen Elizabeth II was born in 1926… making her officially older than sliced bread.

  • According to the United States Department of Agriculture, fillings between slices of bread such as a cheese, or peanut butter & jam are in fact not classified as sandwiches. A sandwich is officially defined as “a meat or poultry filling between two slices of bread, a bun, or a biscuit.”

  • Before rubber erasers were invented, a rolled up piece of white bread was used to erase graphite.

  • The sandwich was named after Lord Sandwich – a gambler who didn’t have time to eat during a play so he would ask his servants to bring him slices of meat in between slices of bread.

  • The world record for the longest loaf of bread is 1,211.6 metres (3,975 ft 0.69 in) and was achieved by bakers in Vagos, Portugal in 2005.

Still got an appetite for more bread-related fun?!

Take this BBC quiz to see how much you know about inventions, books, films and so on that came before/after sliced bread!

Take the Quiz

A group from We Seal volunteering with the Make it Wild organisation in North Yorkshire. The group are standing in a wild meadow surrounded by trees

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