Most of us have heard the saying, “That’s the best thing since sliced bread!” What do you think is actually the best thing since sliced bread?
If you think that sliced bread was the be all and end all of improvement, I definitely do not. It seems that the first slicing machine which could be applied on a tasty loaf of bread was first used in 1928 and came from America. Note, before the slicing machine was invented, bread came fresh from the oven with a nice tasty crust. The invention was developed and the result was that I did not really know what a good tasty loaf of bread was until I arrived in Switzerland.
Over the years the sliced loaf was processed and eventually the only bread I knew was wrapped in plastic and more or less arrived in square slices. Just open the packet, take out the bread and spread whatever you want to spread on it. The actual delight of eating bread with no accompaniment had disappeared over the years. Bread had become a substance similar to blotting paper, soft with tasteless crusts, if you could call it a crust. Most of us were happy with this baked, leavened substance that was still known as bread, as we knew no different. Perhaps if I had grown up in a farmers family, where making your own bread was still the daily practice, I would have recognised the value of a good loaf. As it was I just spread the butter on it and swallowed it. A lot of chewing was not necessary, sliced bread had become soft and tasteless, but we knew no different. Some even decided that the old fashioned uncut bread was just too much on the hard side, so it was kept in a plastic bag to keep it nice and soft. Was it a wonder that I eventually developed diabetes and my dental situation was not so perfect? So what was so good about sliced bread?
Arriving in Switzerland I discovered that real crusty bread still existed and was sold in all variations. Wholemeal flour, perhaps containing wheat grains, half white and white flour were used. The only cut bread I found in Switzerland was known as toast bread, to be used in a toasting machine. I found that bread could even be crusty. Something to sink your teeth into and actually chew. So to sum it up, everything is probably better than sliced bread from my experience.
In my sixty-six years I have seen many improvements and good inventions. The refridgerator for example. As a child we did not have one, but by the time I became a teenager a fridge was to be found in every household. You could buy food and not worry about it decomposing. You next step, at a later stage, was a freezer in every household: another improvement. I know someone that buys sliced bread, freezes it straight away and just pops it in the toaster when she needs bread, although not to be recommended. Another reason for disregarding the benefits of sliced bread. Who does not own a dishwasher – we nearly all have one. I remember my mum washing up after a meal. My dad even did the drying up. Even I helped as I got older, although not willingly. This is a thing of the past.
The electronic inventions have chased each other through the passing years. What began as a monster machine somewhere in the states that need hours to solve a simple mathematic addition called ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator And Computer), is now perhaps sitting on our table, shrunk into a small pad, or even integrated into a telephone all with an “i” as a prefix. Digital has arrived, improved radio and television reception. We have transport, whether your own car or public. It did not all start with sliced bread, and the sliced bread could have been left out as an unnecesary invention.
It is not possible to say what the best invention is since the bread cutting machine. It depends on what you want from life. I am happy with my vacuum cleaner, my computer, my iPhone, my iPad and my digital camera(s). I am also very happy with the many sorts of uncut bread I can buy, freshly baked, tasty and healthy.