Posted by ESC on December 31, 2005
GREATEST THING SINCE SLICED BREAD -- "It's the greatest thing since sliced bread -- What a brilliant idea! What a fine thing! Said of any innovation more important than a bread slicer. Often used sarcastically. The expression originated in the mid-twentieth century. Chinese checkers, chopped liver, packaged bread, swinging doors, chewing gum, the hula hoop, or the hamburger may replace (the term) 'sliced bread' (in the expression)..." For example, "the greatest thing since the hula hoop." "Random House Dictionary of Popular Proverbs and Sayings" by Gregory Y. Titelman (Random House, New York, 1996).
Wonder Bread is the source of the phrase, according to an article in the January 2006 Reader's Digest, Page 155, "Ever Wonder Where the First Sliced Bread and Other Famous Foods got Their Names?" by Evan Morris, author of "From Altoids to Zima."
".Created in 1921 by the Taggart Baking Company of Indianapolis, Indiana, the new bread was almost ready for market when the question of a name arose. Vice president Elmer Cline happened to attend a balloon race one day. The sight of dozens of brightly colored hot-air balloons in the sky filled him with, as he later said, 'wonder.' Wonder Bread was born without further ado. Cline, in fact, was so impressed with the sight of those balloons that he covered his new product's wrapper with red, yellow and blue balloons (still the Wonder package design today). You might think that a product combining balloons, bread and a sense of wonder couldn't get any better. But in 1933 Wonder introduced the very first pre-sliced loaf of bread to America's consumers, the popularity of which is reflected in that phrase 'the best thing since sliced bread.'"
A history on the Wonder Bread site says: "In 1925, the Continental Baking Company bought the Indianapolis bakery and 'Slo-baked' Wonder Bread soon became a national brand. The Continental Baking Company altered the course of bread forever in the 1930s when it introduced sliced Wonder Bread. Sales were slow at first as suspicious consumers were slow to accept a pre-sliced bread, but convenience overruled apprehension and soon everyone wanted sliced Wonder Bread on their dinner table." http://www.wonderbread.com/history.html Accessed December 30, 2005.