The Origin of “Best Thing Since Sliced Bread”: Exploring Its Fascinating History

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Have you ever heard someone say, “It’s the best thing since sliced bread”? This catchy phrase has become a part of our everyday language, used to describe something exceptional or groundbreaking. But have you ever wondered where it originated? In this article, we will delve into the fascinating history of the phrase “best thing since sliced bread” and explore its cultural significance.

The Origin of the Phrase

The saying “best thing since sliced bread” can be traced back to the early 20th century. Although the exact origin is still debated, there are a few popular theories and anecdotes surrounding its creation. One theory suggests that the phrase emerged during the 1920s when pre-sliced bread became commercially available. People were amazed by the convenience and time-saving nature of this innovation, leading to the comparison of new inventions to the marvel of sliced bread.

Another theory suggests that the phrase was popularized during World War Soldiers often received sliced bread in their rations, and they would compare any positive developments or new inventions to the joy of having access to pre-sliced bread in such challenging times. Regardless of its exact beginnings, the phrase quickly caught on and became a part of everyday language.

Historical Context: The Invention of Sliced Bread

To truly understand the significance of the phrase, we must delve into the invention of sliced bread itself. Before commercially sliced bread became available, people had to manually slice their loaves at home, which was time-consuming and often resulted in uneven slices. In 1928, however, Otto Frederick Rohwedder, an inventor from Iowa, introduced the world’s first automatic bread-slicing machine.

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The invention revolutionized the way people consumed bread. It not only saved time but also made sandwiches more accessible and convenient. The uniform slices allowed for easier spreading of toppings, leading to the rise in popularity of sandwiches as a quick and satisfying meal option. The introduction of sliced bread was truly a game-changer in the culinary world.

Evolution of the Phrase: From Bread to Symbolism

Over time, the phrase “best thing since sliced bread” has evolved beyond its literal meaning. It has become a metaphor for any innovative or groundbreaking invention. From technological advancements to new gadgets, people often use the phrase to express their enthusiasm for something that brings significant improvements to their lives.

The popularity of the saying has also extended to various industries. In marketing, for example, businesses often highlight their products as the “best thing since sliced bread” to emphasize their uniqueness and superiority. This catchy phrase has become a powerful tool for capturing attention and creating a positive association with a particular product or service.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: What does the phrase “best thing since sliced bread” mean?

A: The phrase “best thing since sliced bread” is an idiomatic expression used to describe something that is considered exceptional, innovative, or groundbreaking. It implies that the referenced item or concept is a significant improvement or advancement.

Q: Who first popularized the phrase?

A: While the exact origin is uncertain, the phrase gained popularity during the early 20th century. It is believed to have emerged either during the introduction of commercially sliced bread in the 1920s or during World War II when soldiers received pre-sliced bread in their rations.

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Q: Are there any other similar idioms in different languages?

A: Yes, many languages have their own idiomatic expressions similar to “best thing since sliced bread.” For example, in French, they say “la huitième merveille du monde” (the eighth wonder of the world), and in Spanish, it’s “lo mejor desde la invención del pan rallado” (the best thing since the invention of breadcrumbs).

Q: How has the phrase evolved in modern times?

A: In the digital age, the phrase has expanded its reach. It is now commonly used in advertising, marketing campaigns, and everyday conversations to emphasize the superiority of a product or service. It has become a symbol of positive innovation and progress.


In conclusion, the phrase “best thing since sliced bread” has a rich history and cultural significance. Originating from the convenience and innovation of pre-sliced bread, it has evolved into a metaphor for any exceptional invention or advancement. This catchy expression continues to captivate our imagination and serves as a testament to humanity’s constant pursuit of progress. So, the next time you come across an impressive innovation, remember to appreciate it as the best thing since sliced bread!

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