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Otto Frederick Rohwedder
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    (July 7, 1880-November 8, 1960)
    Born in Des Moines, Iowa
    Former ophthalmologist and jeweler
    Invented the automatic bread-slicing machine (1927)
    First used commercially by the Chillicothe Baking Company of Missouri (1928)
    Sliced bread first sold nationally by Wonder (1930)
    It took him fifteen years to invent the machine (1912-27).
    The main problem was not slicing the bread as much as keeping it from going stale too fast.
    Early attempts at holding the sliced loaves together with pins or rubber bands failed.
    He had to sell his patent during the Depression, losing out on the future royalties.
    Turns out, calling something 'the greatest thing since sliced bread' means 'the greatest thing since 1928,' which does not sound nearly so impressive.
    Part of the reason it took fifteen years to invent the machine is that an early prototype and his blueprints were destroyed in a factory fire (1917).
    He eventually built a machine that not only sliced the bread but wrapped it as well.
    Within five years, pre-sliced bread had captured 80% of the market (1933).
    Sliced bread was so popular that when the government tried to ban it during World War II, the feds backed down after only two months (January-March, 1943).
    His second slicer is housed at the Smithsonian Institute.

Credit: C. Fishel

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