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What Is a Bakery Bread Slicer?

By R. Stamm
Updated May 16, 2024
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A bakery bread slicer is a machine that cuts a single loaf of bread in perfectly equal slices, and then packages the loaf for convenience and sale. Prior to its invention in the late 1920s, fresh loaves of bread were usually baked at home, taking up a considerable amount of time. An American inventor living in Iowa had a dream to create a device that would mass produce prepackaged loaves of bread, freeing up that time. The bread slicer has come a long way from its more primitive ancestor, and there are now more sophisticated versions for use in the bakery or at home. Different slicer designs and attachments cut a variety of loaves such as sandwich bread or buns, and machines are available in industrial sized or counter top versions.

Otto Frederick Rohwedder conceived the idea for a bakery bread slicer in 1912. After several failed attempts, he sold the first model to the Chillicothe Baking Company in 1928. The bakery and Rohwedder soon discovered that it was difficult to keep the bread fresh; soon after, the bread slicer was modified to package the bread. Sliced bread became widely available throughout the United States in 1930 after Wonder® Bread began to distribute their prepackaged loaves commercially.

As with most other inventions, the bakery bread slicer of the 1920s looks nothing at all like the models of today. The first slicers held the cut bread together with thick paper to maintain freshness, and a foot pedal powered the machine among other differences. Today, bread slicers run on electricity with complicated feeds for the plastic wrapping to pass through, and they are much faster. Today’s inventions are designed for maximum freshness and efficiency in the manufacturing process.

Regardless of how complicated these machines may look, the modern day table top version is relatively easy to use depending on the model and with a little practice. For counter or table top models, the bread is loaded in a tray located on the top of the machine, the lid is closed, and the device is turned on. After a few seconds, the loaf of bread comes out perfectly sliced and wrapped for freshness. The industrial bakery bread slicer is a bit more complicated and requires training to understand the extra steps involved. The most difficult part of using either machine is figuring out how to set the bread correctly on the tray, preventing the loaf from clogging in the slicer.

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Discussion Comments
By SarahGen — On Jul 08, 2014

@bear78-- I completely agree with you. I read that since bread became a more convenient food because of the perfectly equal slices, people actually started eating more bread after the slicer was founded.

I bet the consumption of sandwiches increased after this as well, because sandwiches require equal bread slices.

By candyquilt — On Jul 07, 2014

I don't have a home bread slicer. I think the versions made for home are not as good as the large, commercial slicers. They are more difficult to use and easy to clog.

My bakery has a slicer though. They bake the bread fresh daily and slice it upon request. As far as I can see, it just involves putting the bread into the machine. It then comes out perfectly sliced. They put the sliced bread into bags, but they don't pre-slice them and bag them because not everyone wants their loaf sliced.

I prefer having mine sliced because I eat a lot of French and Italian bread with crispy crusts. And those are very difficult to slice at home.

By bear78 — On Jul 07, 2014

The introduction of sliced, packaged bread in the market was a huge thing. That's why there's a phrase: "best thing since sliced bread!"

Having bread sliced and ready to eat made life easier for everyone. It was a convenience that everyone was happy about.

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