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 (Image: Flickr member how can I recycle this licensed for use under Creative Commons)