The best thing before sliced bread was wrapped bread. The ads for Kleen Maid bread, first sold in 1928, ran: 'The greatest forward step in baking since bread was wrapped: sliced bread.' The phrase 'the best thing since sliced bread' was coined in 1933.
In fact, sliced bread was invented because of wrapped bread. In the US, the wrapper was characteristic of the government-controlled factory bread which had displaced baker’s bread because machine production was regarded as more hygienic. Because it was wrapped, it was impossible to assess its quality by looking at it or smelling it; all you could tell about a loaf before you bought it was how soft it was, so softness became a proxy for freshness. With loaves getting softer and softer, it became more and more difficult to slice them: hence pre-sliced bread.
From 1942-56 the British had to eat the anti-waste specification “National Loaf”, which contained all the wheat grain including the husks, resulting in a dirty beige colour and a gritty texture. It wasn’t popular, but was tolerated as part of a general campaign against food waste; as the posters said, 'A clear plate means a clear conscience'. During the war you could be fined for wasting bread. The National Loaf was seen as 'nasty, dirty, coarse, dark and indigestible', but patriotic.
It was illegal in Britain during WW2 to feed bread to wild birds.
What a strange machine man is! You fill him with bread, wine, fish and radishes, and out come sighs. laughter and dreams.
Thomas Allinson (1858-1918), whose eponymous bread is still sold today, was a doctor who was an early proponent of wholemeal grains and suggested that smoking caused cancer, an idea which was sufficiently unorthodox at the time to contribute to his being struck off the Medical Register.
Allinson wrote a book called The Book for Married Women which advocated equality of women and men, the right of a woman to choose the size of her family and birth control. For this he was prosecuted and convicted under the Obscene Publications Act in 1901.
I like reality. it tastes like bread
Focaccia dates back to medieval times, but ciabatta (which literally means 'slipper') was invented in 1982 by an Italian miller called Arnaldo Cavallari. It was a way of fighting back against the popularity of French baguettes.
Cavallari called his new invention, made with a very soft dough, Ciabatta Polesano (Polesine is a part of northern Italy). Some people claim a similar bread had been around since the 1940s, but there doesn't seem to be any proof of this – and the name doesn't appear before 1982.