The Illegal Sliced Bread Saga 🍞 | 35

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.

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music by Dyalla Swain

automated transcript


hello and welcome to parking thought the

channel where we sure our thoughts when

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our mission is to help make sure we

highlight the everyday good we have in

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on this show we explore the contribution

of systems and people we often take for


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


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


so this is the finishing of the tail of

the illegally sliced bread saga and I

want to thank you guys for joining us


you can go ahead and engage me on

Twitter aiya we are at parking a thought

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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


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