“That’s the greatest thing since sliced bread!”
Everyone says that phrase, but no one actually knows who came up with the genius invention.
Otto Frederick Rohwedder is one of the world’s most influential inventors that no one has ever heard of.
The Iowa native was originally a jeweler who owned three stores. In the early 1900s he came up with an idea to build a bread slicer. To fund his idea, he sold off his stores and built a prototype, but the prototypes and blueprints of his contraption burned in a 1912 fire, according to Mercury News.
It took 16 more years for Rohwedder to implement the idea. Finally in 1927, he unveiled his machine, which both wrapped and sliced loaves of bread, and he patented the invention.
Rohwedder began selling his machines to local bakeries, and customers began consuming more bread than ever before. His son said in a 2003 interview that one bakery sold 2,000% more bread within two weeks of launching sliced bread. Wonderbread became the first mass commercial brand of sliced bread in 1930.
When sliced bread was first unveiled, it was advertised as “the greatest forward step in the baking industry since bread was wrapped.”
That phrase morphed into today’s idiom, “the greatest thing since sliced bread.”
Rohwedder’s first bread slicer is showcased in The Smithsonian in Washington, D.C.
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