How did sliced bread become the greatest thing since, well, itself? A new book White Bread: A Social History of the Store-Bought Loaf
by Aaron Bobrow-Strain dives into the history of store-bought white bread, starting with the shift to factory, mass-produced breads.
Food & Think's recent post on the new book detail the circumstances surrounding sliced bread. By 1930 factories had taken the place of home bakers, as hand-kneading was viewed as a source of contamination. Mass-produced factory breads seemed safer, in part because "the bread companies were able to feed on consumer fear." But there was one problem:
But factory breads were also incredibly soft. Buying pre-wrapped bread, consumers were forced to evaluate a product under sensory deprivation--it's next to impossible to effectively see, touch and smell bread through a wrapper. "Softness," Borrow-Strain writes, "had become customers' proxy for freshness, and savvy bakery scientists turned their minds to engineering even more squeezable loaves. As a result of the drive toward softer bread, industry observers noted that modern loaves had become almost impossible to slice neatly at home." The solution had to be mechanical slicing.
Read More: Why We Have Sliced Bread from Food & Think at TheSmithsonian.com
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