The US banned sliced bread in 1943, supposedly to help the war effort. The FDA was serious enough about this to issue the warning “to protect the cooperating bakeries against the unfair competition of those who continue to slice their own bread… we are prepared to take stern measures if necessary.” But after loud and public complaints, the ban was rescinded — after less than a month. (source)
THIS IS A REAL THING, not Wikipedia making things up. Highlights from a March 9, 1943 AP/NYT article headlined Sliced Bread Put Back on Sale; Housewives’ Thumbs Save Again:
“[The ban’s] unpopularity was particularly strong among those housewives who were unable to find a good bread knife to buy,”
The FDA’s statement: “‘The order prohibiting the slicing of bread was aimed at effecting economies in the manufacture of bread and in the use of paper,’ he said. ‘Our experience with the order, however, leads us to believe that the savings are not as much as we had expected and the War Production Board tells us that sufficient wax paper to wrap sliced bread for four months is in the hands of paper processors and the baking industry.’ The ready-sliced loaf, officials explained, must have a heavier wrapping than an unsliced one if it is not to dry out.”
The action was also meant to keep bread prices stable after the Office of Price Administration raised the price of flour by 10 percent.
And this final gem: “Today’s action came as many stores throughout the country were stocking up with aid-to-slicing devices. Most of these consisted of a three-sided wooden form to hold the bread, with notches to guide the knife.”
Ok, guys, maybe modern history is cool sometimes after all. This is wild.