The Greatest Thing Since Sliced Bread... Packaging! Close This Window (717 bytes)
Article For a Book About St. Louis Firsts
by Diane Rademacher, 3605 Holt Ave., St. Louis, MO 63116
First Draft 6/19/12

The greatest thing since sliced bread... packaging!

Convenience was the name of the game. Inventor O.F. Rohwedder, an Iowan, believed his bread slicer would be a hit, but found it to be a hard sell. In 1928, however, a Chillicothe, Missouri, baker decided to give it a try. More than just a slice of life, it updated the staff of life - pre-cut and packaged. Homemakers loved the uniform slices that were ready to eat and slipped easily into electric toasters that were becoming common kitchen appliances. Although Rowedder's "Land-made" machine efficiently sliced bread, preparing it for packaging needed improvement. One early but inferior method involved inserting two long metal staples (resembling large zig-zag hairpins) through the loaf to hold it together for wrapping. A better solution waited in the wings.

Enter Gustav C. Papendick, a St. Louis baker who saw the future in sliced bread. He purchased the second bread slicer that Rohwedder built and devised an improved packaging solution.

Like a good sandwich, the ideas of the two men converged. Although they did not work together, both men had a role in reinventing the way bread was prepared for sale - sliced and packaged. Papendick, an inventor in his own right, developed a cardboard tray (Patent No. 1,722,338 - July 30, 1929) to hold the bread slices together. The tray facilitated the packaging process and delivery to the consumer. According to a January 21 article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, "The bread tray was, perhaps, Papendick's most important invention because it made the bread-slicing machine possible." Papendick even modified the slicer to create a variety pack, combining white, rye and wheat slices into one wrapped loaf.

In November 1928, Papendick began using the slicer at his bakery plant on North Florissant and Destrehan. Skyrocketing consumer demand for the convenient slices quickly shot St. Louis bread sales up 80%. Bakers everywhere began purchasing slicers. Papendick even entered the manufacturing business.

Historians credit both Rohwedder and Papendick with the first successful invention and widespread commercial use of a bread slicer and packager.


St. Louis Post-Dispatch Magazine, (St. Louis, Missouri) January 21, 1990, The Greatest Thing Since... The Story of Sliced Bread and St. Louis by Suzann Ledbetter
In the decade following the invention of the toaster, toasters sparked a great deal of public interest, and a variety of toaster models were produced. During World War I, a master mechanic in a plant in Stillwater, Minnesota, decided to do something about the burnt toast served in the company cafeteria. To circumvent the need for continual human attention, Charles Strite incorporated springs and a variable timer and filed the patent for his pop-up toaster on May 29, 1919. He intended the device would be sold to the restaurant trade.

Charles P. Strite, born in Minneapolis, MN, received a patent on October 18, 1921 for the bread-toaster. That same year, Strite formed the Waters Genter Company to manufacture his toaster and market it to restaurants. Receiving financial backing from friends, Strite oversaw production of the first one hundred hand-assembled toasters, which were shipped to the Childs restaurant chain.

In 1926, using a redesigned version of Strite's toaster, the first automatic pop-up toaster was introduced by the Waters-Genter Company, which was eventually acquired into the Edison electric empire The amazing device was called the "Toastmaster," and bearing a triple-loop logo inspired by its heating elements, it heralded the modern age of kitchen appliances. The name and the logo endure in the 21st century, having survived many corporate transitions to itself become the name of the corporation. By the end of 1926 Charles Strite's Toastmaster was available to the public and was a huge success.
The Great Idea Finder, Toaster,

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