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Fascinating facts about the invention of
Wonder® Bread
by Elmer Cline in 1921.

WONDER® BREAD
AT A GLANCE:
In 1921, the Taggert Baking Company of Indianapolis was planning to launch its 1.5 pound loaf of bread. Elmer Cline was charged with finding a name for the new bread. Inspiration struck while Elmer was visiting the International Balloon Race at the Indianapolis Speedway. He was awestruck by a sky filled with hundreds of colorful balloons. To Elmer, the image signified a sense of “wonder,” and Wonder® Bread was born.
THE STORY
RELATED INFO
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DID YOU KNOW?
Invention: Wonder® Bread
Wonder Bread photo courtesy www.wonderbread.com
Definition: noun / trademark
Function: Wonder Bread is a brand of extremely soft white bread.
Elmer Cline was awestruck by a sky filled with hundreds of colorful balloons. To him, the image signified a sense of “wonder,” and Wonder® Bread was born.
Inventor: Elmer Clime  
Criteria: First to invent.
Milestones:
1921 Taggart Baking Company of Indianapolis was planning to launch its 1.5 pound loaf of bread.
1921 Taggart Vice President Elmer Cline names the new bread Wonder® Bread
1925 Continental Baking Company bought the Taggert Baking Compan
1930 Wonder begins selling pre-packaged pre-sliced bread
1941 The war effort needs metal used in slicing blades, so Wonder is only sold by the loaf.
1941 Wonder introduced a revolutionary new way of baking that eliminated holes in bread.
1941 Wonder intorduces enriched white bread with vitamins and minerals to improve nutrition
1986 a new reduced-calorie Wonder Light was launched. Made with fibers from natural sources
1995 Interstate Brands Corporation acquired the Continental Baking Company
2001 In honor of its 80th birthday, the Wonder Bread hot air balloon begins touring the country
2004 Interstate Brands Corporation files for bankruptcy protection
bread, wonder bread, white bread, Elmer Cline, Taggart Baking Company, Continental Baking Company, Interstate Brands Corporation, invention, history, inventor of, history of, who invented, invention of, fascinating facts.
The Story:
In 1921, the Taggart Baking Company of Indianapolis was planning to launch its 1.5 pound loaf of bread. But first, the new product needed a name and identity. Vice President Elmer Cline was charged with merchandising development of the new bread loaf.

Inspiration struck while Elmer was visiting the International Balloon Race at the Indianapolis Speedway. He was awestruck by a sky filled with hundreds of colorful balloons. To Elmer, the image signified a sense of “wonder,” and Wonder® Bread was born. Since that time, the colorful red, blue and yellow balloons have been the cornerstone of Wonder Bread’s logo and package.


Following Wonder Bread’s debut, company trucks delivered helium-filled balloons to children, who were asked to take a letter to their mother. The letter, featuring a picture of the new Wonder loaf, invited the reader to try the new bread. It’s said that after the promotion, Wonder Bread sales outdistanced those of any other brand in the city.

In 1925, the Continental Baking Company bought the Indianapolis bakery and “Slo-baked” Wonder Bread soon became a national brand.

The Continental Baking Company altered the course of bread forever in the 1930s when it introduced sliced Wonder Bread. Sales were slow at first as suspicious consumers were slow to accept a pre-sliced bread, but convenience overruled apprehension and soon everyone wanted sliced Wonder Bread on their dinner table.

During the 40s, Americans were forced to tighten their belts and the Continental Baking Company did its part to support the war effort. Metals become so precious that the blades for the bread-slicing machines are no longer available. Unsliced bread is again sold on grocery store shelves.


Several advances in the nutrition and baking process were made during this decade. In 1941, Wonder Bread was involved in a government-supported move to enrich white bread with vitamins and minerals to improve nutrition. Known as the “quiet miracle,” bread enrichment nearly eliminated the diseases Beriberi and Pellagra and brought essential nutrients to people who previously could not afford nutritious foods. At the same time Wonder introduced a revolutionary new way of baking that eliminated holes in bread.

The 70s ushered in an era of providing the consumer with nutritional information. Wonder Bread adopted an open-dating system on bread products and introduced nutrition information labels, clearly informing consumers about freshness dates and product ingredients.


In 1986, a new reduced-calorie Wonder Bread was launched. Made with fibers from natural sources, Wonder Light is the company’s most successful new product in decades.

In 1995, Interstate Brands Corporation acquired the Continental Baking Company, and the “Remember the Wonder” ad campaign reminded consumers that Wonder Bread, one of the nation’s softest, freshest, most fun bread products, is also nutritious.

In honor of Wonder Bread’s 80th birthday, the Wonder Bread hot air balloon began touring the country in the summer of 2001. Flying at balloon festivals and spreading the story of how Wonder Bread earned its name, the balloon brings back childhood lunchbox memories to people from coast to coast and reminds everyone why Wonder Bread is their favorite.

TO LEARN MORE

RELATED INFORMATION:
Invention of the Bread Slicer   from The Great Idea Finder
History of Food   from The Great Idea Finder

ON THE BOOKSHELF:
Loaves of Fun : A History of Bread with Activities and Recipes from Around the World (Paperback)
by Elizabeth M. Harbison, John Harbison (Ill.) / Paperback: 92 pages / Chicago Review Press; (1999)
According to Harbison's introduction, "The history of bread is also the history of civilization." In an informal, anecdotal style the author supports this premise by describing the conditions of life in various times and places and explaining how and why bread was made.
The Bread Baker's Apprentice: Mastering the Art of Extraordinary Bread
by Peter Reinhart, Ron Manville (Photg.) / Hardcover: 304 pages / Ten Speed Press (2001)
"Mastery comes with practice." As in many arts, you must know and understand the rules before you can break them. Reinhart encourages you to learn the science of bread making, but to never forget that vision and experimentation, not formulas, make transcendent loaves.
More From Magnolia : Recipes from the World Famous Bakery and Allysa Torey's Home Kitchen
by Allysa Torey / Hardcover: 160 pages / Simon & Schuster (September 28, 2004)
Located in Manhattan's Greenwich Village, the near-shoebox-size Magnolia Bakery has become a destination for lovers of all-things sweet. The reason? From the beginning its owner Allysa Torey and her staff have offered cakes (and particularly cupcakes), pies, and other pastries that are utterly unpretentious but deeply satisfying in a grandmother-would-have-made-it-if-she-could-have way.

Six Thousand Years of Bread: Its Holy and Unholy History
by H. E. Jacobs / Paperback: 416 pages / The Lyons Press; 1.00 edition (July 1, 1997)
In this remarkable and all-encompassing volume, H. E. Jacob takes us through six thousand dynamic years of bread's role in politics, religion, technology, and beyond. Follows the story from its beginning in ancient Egypt and continues through to modern times.

ON THE WEB:

Wonder Bread Official Web Site
It was originally produced by Taggart Baking Company of Indianapolis. After "blind" promotion with ads that only stated a "Wonder" was coming on May 21, 1921. It was named by Taggart Vice President Elmer Cline who was inspired by the International Balloon Race at the Indianapolis Speedway resulting in the red, yellow and blue logo.

(URL: www.wonderbread.com)
Wonder Bread Hot Air Balloon
Flying at balloon festivals and spreading the story of how Wonder Bread earned its name, the balloon brings back childhood lunchbox memories to people from coast to coast and reminds everyone why Wonder Bread is their favorite.
(URL: www.wonderbread.com/balloon.html)

IBC Official Site
Welcome to Interstate Bakeries Corporation, the largest wholesale bread and cake distributor in the United States and the home of two American icons: Hostess® Twinkies® and Wonder® Bread.
(URL: www.interstatebakeriescorp.com/index.html)
Wonder what's next? Whole-grain white bread
Wonder Bread, the nation's No. 1 bread brand, is going against the grain. Next month, it's coming out with a 100% whole-wheat loaf aimed at mothers who are worried about children's nutrition. New federal dietary guidelines recommend that at least half of a consumer's bread and cereal intake be from whole-grain products. Article
By Elizabeth Weise for USA TODAY.COOKIES and POP-UP ADS.
(URL: www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2005-06-29-wonderbread_x.htm?csp=34)

Topps Wacky Packages - Wonder Bread Premiums
Between 1973 and 1975 Topps issued three runs of stickers that were given away in bags of Wonder Bread. All stickers had plain tan backs.
(URL: www.wackypackages.org/stickers/wonderbread/)
The Wonder Bread Years - A Play
Look at yourself in the mirror. Can you see the similarities between you and a slice of white vitamin-enriched bread? Then this is the show you've been looking for.Review by Barry Pineo.
(URL: www.austinchronicle.com/issues/dispatch/2005-05-13/arts_review.html)
The Wonder Bread Song
I grew up on Wonder Bread. Peanut butter and jelly red. Asking why and how and when. Rain falls down again and again. Poetry by Jamie McKenzie.
(URL: www.fno.org/poetry/wonderbread.html)
Will Wonder Bread Survive?
A year after bankruptcy, the maker of Wonder Bread and Hostess Twinkies has taken steps to solve a host of internal problems but is still not out of trouble. Part of its recipe: new products to reach new customers, something that had been a blind spot for the 78-year-old company.
(URL: msnbc.msn.com/id/9579832/)

A Little Bread History
Although I craved it as a kid, Wonder Bread can hardly be seen as the pinnacle of the baker's art. To the contrary, it's more like the lowest of the low. Did you know you can squeeze a loaf of Wonder into a ball the size of your fist?
(URL: www.zingermans.com/Article.pasp?ArticleID=article43)

Wonder Bread Fitness Contest
Today, Wonder Bread is once again challenging Canadian kids and their families to incorporate the fun and easy activities of the Wonder Fresh Fitness Challenge into their daily routine and help Canada beat last year's exercise totals
(URL: torontosun.com/Lifestyle/2005/09/29/1240457-sun.html)

WORDS OF WISDOM:
“Builds Strong Bodies 8 Ways.” - Wonder Bread 1930's advertisement
“Build Strong Bodies 12 Ways” - Wonder Bread 1960's advertisement
“Remember the Wonder" - Wonder Bread 1990's advertisement

DID YOU KNOW?

  •  In 2004, Interstate Bakeries declared bankruptcy, putting the future of Wonder Bread in some doubt.
  • The Happy Wonder Bakers quartet had their own radio show on NBC.
  • In the 1930s, Wonder Bread was a major sponsor of the World's Fairs in both Chicago and New York and gave fairgoers an oven's eye view of how their loaves were baked.
  • In the 40s with America marching off to war, Taggart introduced another breakthrough, fortified bread.
  • Wonder is the best selling bread in America. Forty nine bakeries across the country wrap up more than 600,000 loaves a day.
  • Did you know you can squeeze a loaf of Wonder into a ball the size of your fist?
  • Thousands of loaves of fresh Wonder Bread are distributed to store shelves on more than 7,000 delivery routes from Continental's 40 bakeries across the country.
Designated trademarks and brands are the property of their respective owners.
Reference Sources in BOLD Type. This page revised October, 2005.
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