In this edition I talk about the time when sliced bread was illegal in the United States. This episode was recorded in beautiful Shelby Montana.
XKCD Comic: https://www.xkcd.com/1885/
music by Dyalla Swain http://soundcloud.com/dyallas
[Music] hello and welcome to parking thought the channel where we sure our thoughts when we park sometimes in a chair oftentimes in a car you're gonna want to like and subscribe wherever you happen to find us our mission is to help make sure we highlight the everyday good we have in the world on this show we explore the contribution of systems and people we often take for granted curiosity meet gratitude my name is Jacob and I'm glad you're here today in this edition we're gonna be talking about something that's scary yes something that is slightly scary we're going to talk about the saga of a legally sliced bread I'm not sure if you're aware of this but it is actually a very true thing that at one point in the United States history the federal government not the state government but the federal government made sliced bread illegal and before we get into that story I want to talk about where I'm at right now because you may hear some background noise and some sounds out there that you're not used to I'm currently in Shelby Montana yes Shelby Montana a town so small I don't think it has a stoplight a beautiful town and a town with some rather amazing wonderful and kind people we're sitting outside of the Albertsons in this town and they are obviously not prone to thievery in this town because I'm looking outside and they have a good chunk of their inventory sitting outside with price tags associated with it that is the sign of a town that doesn't have a whole lot of thievery why because people could come up and just grab whatever they want into but instead obviously the people around here are honest enough friendly enough and kind enough to respect other people's property and it's a pretty neat thing so we're sitting in the Albertson's parking lot right outside of me is about four lanes of railroad tracks right because this is the BNSF which I'm not sure what that stands for I do know it is a rail company right but the BNSF rail Depot that is in this region Shelby's a small town but in the short time that we've been here just to stop off to run a couple of errands it's been a beautiful one now back to the saga of illegally sliced bread so most of the contribution most of the source material for this article actually comes from Wikipedia but I was first introduced to this topic of slice bread being illegal from a comic-strip I follow online xkcd calm it's a sarcastic very nerdy comic with nothing better than stick figures right it's done by a guy named Randall Munroe who's also a very famous author for those people who follow nerd topics he did one book called the thing explainer using taking complex subjects and breaking it down into only the , most popular words in English so he has full-on diagrams that were drawn by him you know explaining the Saturn rocket that took man to the moon using only the , most popular words in the English language so lunar orbiter right was obviously not making the list of , most popular words in the English language so uses other things to describe it anyway at one point he did a comic strip where he talked about how what would happen if illegal of bread being sliced so sliced bread being for sale remained illegal after it was you know after it's illegal date was ended right so this is one of those pieces of forgotten history that maybe you're not so quite aware of so the year is can I use my scary voice let's keep going on that see how I can do the year is the US is at war and rationing is happening all across the country previous to this the federal government was making efforts to try to solve the Great Depression by causing more harm and passed what was called the National Recovery Act to the NRA as it was known right this is pre National Rifle Association the NRA was the National Recovery Act which was declared in many ways and in many parts of it was declared unconstitutional because the federal government didn't have the authority to do that however with wartime powers the federal government had more authority than what they were normally used to and were able to control large swaths and parts of the economy as a means to encourage or to preserve some of the nation's resources right they decided to make a sliced bread illegal let me explain here reading from Wikipedia during US officials imposed a short-lived lynann stay on on sliced bread as a wartime conservation measure the ban was ordered by Claude our Wickard who helped who held the position of food administrator and took effect on January th according to the New York Times officials explained that the ready sliced loaf must have a heavier wrapping than an unsworn if it is not to dry out it was also intended to counteract a rise in the price of breasts caused by the office of Price Administration authorization of a % increase in flour prices and so here you have a couple of different parts of systems right going on at the same time you have an office of Price Administration right controlling the economy and what prices could be or what things could be sold for authorizing a % increase in flour prices and at the same time you know you wanted to offset the cost of bread or the overall cost of bread so one of the ways to do that is to reduce the prices but I find it interesting that the justification for this was to preserve the wrapping-paper right we often don't think about wrapping paper it's one of those things or or it's one of those items our food is pre made of pre wraps in a lot of ways and stored in containers and and and all of that we kind of take for granted but we need to remember in the s that wrapping paper was a relatively new thing in plastics to be able to wrap our food and preserve it longer and not been generally widespread or even introduced yet into the economy and a Sunday radio address on January th New York City mayor LaGuardia suggested that bakeries that had their own bread slicing machine should be allowed to continue to use them and on January a letter appeared in the New York Times from a distraught housewife the letter says I should like to let you know how important sliced bread is to the morale and sameness of a household my husband and four children are all in a rush during and after breakfast without ready sliced bread I must do this slicing for toast two pieces for each one that's ten for their lunches I must cut by hand at least slices for two sandwiches apiece afterward I make my own toast twenty two slices of bread to be cut in a hurry and now our bread slicing really doesn't sound like it takes a whole lot of time not all of us have done and lived through that era where we were expected to do it sliced bread is our norm On January however so just the same day that this appeared in The New York Times right obviously there's public outcry same day this appears in the New York Times John F Connor boy the New York area supervisor of a food distribution administration warned bakeries delicatessens and other stores that were continuing to to sell sliced bread to stop saying that to protect the cooperating breaker e's against unfair competition of those who continue to slice their own bread we are prepared to take stern measures if necessary and so I find that intriguing right unfair competition huh unfair competition so to me unfair competition would be somebody having an advantage over somebody else because of a government regulation and it seems to me that by banning those that had adopted sliced bread and we're selling sliced bread right they didn't have an unfair competition right by excuse me by banning those who had sliced bread you were actually creating an unfair competition for them in the marketplace by forcing them to revert back to what was the norm prior to the sliced bread machines being available and accessible on March the ban was rescinded hallelujah that people of while public outcry is generally cited for the reversal Wickard stated that our experience with the order however leads us to believe that the savings are not as much as we expected and the war production board tells us that we have sufficient wax paper to wrap sliced bread for four months and that it's already in the hands of the baking industry so they created this big kerfuffle and hoo-ha-ha over wrapping paper and then later rescinded it just months later so yes sliced bread was illegal in this country from January until March th of and how grateful we are that we don't live in a world where sliced bread is illegal how grateful I am that we don't live in a world where the government can tell us what type of bread is illegal what we should and shouldn't be allowed to put in our bodies you know I think it's absolutely wonderful that we live in narrower you can go and buy things that are safe because people want you to eat safe food and not because somebody has regulated their way into telling us how much the flour should be sold for and how much the bread should be so for and whether or not it should be sliced or not so this is the finishing of the tail of the illegally sliced bread saga and I want to thank you guys for joining us today you can go ahead and engage me on Twitter aiya we are at parking a thought on Twitter over on Instagram we are at parking underscore thought but otherwise you can find us pretty much on all the things at parking thought you can also search for us and get this podcast delivered directly to your favorite device by hitting the subscribe links over at parking thumb that's another place where you can go ahead and find us and at the end of every episode I challenge you even if I make mistakes about everything else I might say in a world where you can literally choose to be anything why not choose to be grateful and this episode reminds me to be grateful for sliced bread so it's totally appropriate I'm sitting outside of an Albertsons and Shelby Montana and talking to you guys about food and how awesome it is thank you guys for listening we'll catch you on the next episode fight [Music]