We’ve all heard the phrase, “it’s better than sliced bread,” but have we ever thought about the gravity of that assumption? To qualify a miraculous, stunning invention as being “better” than sliced bread, we must act under the presumption that sliced bread is tough competition for World’s Greatest Thing. Something we dub “better than sliced bread” is undeniably awesome and is easily worth throwing our money at. Sliced bread itself was originally marketed as “the greatest forward step in the baking industry since bread was wrapped,” seemingly creating a neverending matrix of ground-breaking bread products. However, dear reader, I implore you to see past this ubiquitous propaganda, and look all the way through to the truth. This truth is that sliced bread is an economic disaster and an embarrassment of an invention.
The loaf-wide bread-slicing machine was invented in 1928 by Otto Frederick Rohwedder, an Iowan man of German descent (of course). According to extensive research done by author Don Voorhees, the original prototype was destroyed in a fire in 1912, which the wiser of Davenport, Iowa residents would have seen as an omen of the disasters that would follow. However, similar to the subprime mortgage crisis of 2008, no one bothered to open their eyes and another avoidable catastrophe was permitted to happen. The revised and “improved” machine went on to be utilized by the Chillicothe Baking Company, Holsum Bread, and eventually made its name as a part of the Wonder Bread manufacturing process (it’s no wonder they were concerned with their capitalist profits rather than their ethical values). You see, lovely, faithful readers, this bread-slicing mechanism became an essential tool in the arsenal of food industrialists. Copy after copy of this machine was produced and countless energy was wasted not only in the formulation of the machine itself but in its slicing of loaf after loaf. Millions of innocent bread loaves found themselves under the knife and and were heartlessly slaughtered to thin, evenly sliced bits. As these young breads passed through, energy, likely drawn from a nonrenewable resource from the coal or oil industries that were booming at this time, was being drained at a constant rate from our fragile and precious earth. A single bread-slicing machine likely sucked up an entire Tyrannosaurus rex worth of fossil fuels. Because of sliced bread, we have depleted resources beyond imagination -- our world is most certainly for the worse.
Kind, devoted readers, further justification for my lack of respect for sliced bread lies in its detrimental effects on the American body and mind. The rapidly growing consumerism in the first quarter of the 20th century greatly contributed to the overproduction and overconsumption of sliced bread. As industrialism began to flourish, Americans became less than people -- they became consumers. The purpose and concern of these automatons shifted from strength to comfort, from drudgery to leisure. As a result, Americans became lazier in many aspects, not excluding their bread cutting. They became pampered, too busy with monotonously working their white collar jobs and secretly loathing their middle-class families. Thus, when lunchtime came, they had neither the energy nor the care to slice a simple piece of bread for themselves. They found it much more appealing to pull an already-sliced piece out of their perfectly packaged bread bag. Creative uses for bread also declined. The market became stuffed with artificial white bread as opposed to healthful whole wheat bread, simply because it was easier for the machines to slice, since they didn’t have to worry about cutting any nutrients or fiber. Bread became a staple in sandwiches and toast, but neglected being used as any side dish or meal complement. The beautiful, heavy baguettes that once were dipped in caviar or wine sauce were thrown out in favor of weak, thin slices of emptiness. In addition, loving, enthusiastic readers, this travesty contributed to the declining of Americans’ health. The aforementioned wheat and grains were all but extinguished from the table. This tragedy perpetuated the American philosophy of justifying one’s eating of bread because it is traditionally seen as a healthy snack, without acknowledging (or even understanding) that all components of health had been meticulously removed. The people became mindless, entirely unconcerned for their health of body or mind. The bread-slicing industry deteriorated the American spirit.
Wonderful, conservative reader, I leave you with this lamentation of the state of our nation today. The bread industry has been destroyed and adulterated by mechanization. What happened to the days of bread as a versatile, nutritious staple food, in ciabatta and focaccia? I am embarrassed at the ease with which bread has succumbed to the environmentally, consciously, and ethically disastrous ways of industrialization. It is clear that, for anything to be “better than sliced bread,” it must merely be competent and moderately satisfactory. If we are to truly be a great nation constantly seeking innovation, we must force the sliced bread empire to crumble.