Otto Frederick Rohwedder, born in 1880, was a jeweler by trade with a keen interest as an inventor. He began working on the first bread slicer in 1912. Unfortunately, a fire in 1917 destroyed the factory that housed the prototype machine and its blueprints. It wasn’t until 1927 that Rohwedder was able to recreate his invention, and on July 7, 1928 it was successfully installed for the first time in the Chillicothe Baking Company of Chillicothe, Missouri.
Traditional bakers quickly objected to the idea of sliced bread, complaining that it increased staling. Gustav Papendick, a St Louis Missouri baker, improved Rohwedder’s invention by adding a collapsible bread tray that permitted loaves to be wrapped in wax paper. Sales of its Kleen Maid Sliced Bread skyrocketed. In 1930 Wonder Bread begins selling pre-sliced bread and many national bakeries quickly followed.
Following the stock market crash and Great Depression Rohwedder sells his invention to Micro-Westco of Bettendorf Iowa in 1933 where he continues to served as vice president and sales manager of the Rohwedder Bakery Machine Division until his retirement in 1951.
Click on the images below to view .pdf files of the inductee’s biography and plaque.