Sliced bread was first available for sale in Chillicothe, Missouri in 1928 and by the 1930s Wonder Bread was selling it nationwide. While it was initially viewed as suspect, customers soon realized many conveniences of pre-sliced bread. Mothers across the U.S. could prepare sandwiches and toast each morning for their children and husbands without having to laboriously slice up each loaf of bread.
However, much to the dismay of harried housewives, on January 18 1943, the U.S. Food Administrator, Claude R. Wickard, imposed a ban on sliced bread. At a time of other wartime rationing, the rising cost of bread and sufficient wax paper supplies were cited as reasons to halt the sale of pre-sliced bread.
This was more than just a mere inconvenience as one mother is quoted as saying in the January 26, 1943 issue of the New York Times:
"I should like to let you know how important sliced bread is to the morale and saneness of a household. My husband and four children are all in a rush during and after breakfast. Without ready-sliced bread I must do the slicing for toast—two pieces for each one—that's ten. For their lunches I must cut by hand at least twenty slices, for two sandwiches apiece. Afterward I make my own toast. Twenty-two slices of bread to be cut in a hurry! "
Due to the large public outcry and ample supplies of wax paper, the ban was short lived and sliced bread was again available for sale on March 8, 1943.
(Courtesy of the San Jose Public Library)
Here is a commercial announcement for Graven-Inglis Bread (later Sunbeam) recorded in the mid 40's by Cecil Lynch. The spot was recorded to an ET (electrical transcription) at KTRB and recovered from a copy ET made by Cecil with the assistance of the Modesto Radio Museum. The spot mentions the lifting of the ban on sliced bread.