The idiom “the greatest thing since sliced bread” is used to describe something that is very good, useful, or innovative. It is a hyperbole, suggesting that something is the best thing ever invented, even better than sliced bread, which is widely considered to be a major convenience.
Origin of “The greatest thing since sliced bread”
The idiom is thought to have originated in the United States in the 1920s, after the invention of the automatic bread slicer. Sliced bread was a major innovation at the time, and it quickly became popular with consumers. The idiom was first recorded in print in 1927, in an advertisement for Wonder Bread, one of the first brands of pre-sliced bread.
The advertisement for Wonder Bread read: “The greatest forward step in the baking industry since bread was wrapped.” This was a clear reference to the convenience of sliced bread. Sliced bread eliminated the need for consumers to slice their own bread, which could be time-consuming and messy. Sliced bread also made it easier to store and transport bread.
The idiom “the greatest thing since sliced bread” quickly caught on, and it soon began to be used to describe other products and inventions that were seen as being very good or useful. For example, in the 1930s, the idiom was used to describe the television, the automobile, and the refrigerator. In the 1940s, the idiom was used to describe penicillin and the atomic bomb.
In the 1950s and 1960s, the idiom “the greatest thing since sliced bread” began to be used more figuratively, to describe things that were not necessarily new inventions but that were still seen as being very good or useful. For example, the idiom might be used to describe a new social program or a new way of doing things.
Today, the idiom “the greatest thing since sliced bread” is still widely used, both in the literal and figurative senses. It is a versatile idiom that can be used to describe a wide range of things, from new technologies to new ideas.
The invention of sliced bread
- The first automatic bread slicer was invented by Otto Frederick Rohwedder in 1928. Rohwedder’s bread slicer was a major innovation, but it was not without its problems. The early bread slicers were often unreliable and produced uneven slices of bread.
- In 1930, the Chillicothe Baking Company in Chillicothe, Missouri, became the first bakery to sell sliced bread. The Chillicothe Baking Company’s sliced bread was an instant success.
- In 1932, Wonder Bread began selling sliced bread. Wonder Bread was one of the first brands of pre-sliced bread to be marketed to a national audience.
- By the end of the 1930s, sliced bread was the dominant form of bread in the United States.
Examples of how the idiom can be used in everyday speech
The idiom “the greatest thing since sliced bread” can be used in a variety of ways in everyday speech. For example, you might say that someone has invented the greatest thing since sliced bread if they have come up with a new product or invention that is very useful or innovative. You might also use the idiom to describe something that is very good or enjoyable, such as a new restaurant or a new movie.
Here are some examples of how the idiom “the greatest thing since sliced bread” can be used in everyday speech:
- “This new app is the greatest thing since sliced bread. It makes it so easy to do my shopping.”
- “My new car is the greatest thing since sliced bread. It’s so comfortable and fuel-efficient.”
- “This new restaurant is the greatest thing since sliced bread. The food is amazing and the service is impeccable.”
- “This new movie is the greatest thing since sliced bread. It’s funny, heartwarming, and thought-provoking.”
The idiom “the greatest thing since sliced bread” is a testament to the popularity and convenience of sliced bread. It is also a reminder of how quickly language can change and evolve. The idiom was originally used to describe a specific product, but it is now used to describe a wide range of things. This is because the idiom is not just about sliced bread; it is about the idea of innovation and progress.