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Fact check: is Queen Elizabeth II older than sliced bread?

Queen Elizabeth II lived through World War Two and has met 13 American presidents—but is she older than sliced bread?

The Claim

Instagram account @Historyinmemes, which has 683,000 followers at time of writing, posted a photograph of Elizabeth next to a loaf of sliced white bread—along with the claim she was older than it.

Above the images, the text on the meme read: “Queen Elizabeth is literally older than sliced bread.”

It then went on to claim: “Otto Frederick Rohwedder invented the bread slicer in 1928, while Queen Elizabeth was born in 1926.”

The photo, which earned 260 comments and has been liked more than 37,000 times at time of writing, was accompanied by the caption: “Where’s the lie?”

A comment from another user below read: “Sliced bread! The greatest thing since queen Elizabeth.”

Another added: “Before sliced bread SHE was the greatest thing since…”

However, an Instagram user with the account chava_davada questioned the claim, stating: “Sliced bread existed before the bread slicer 😶‍🌫️.”

Historyinmemes describes itself as offering “daily history lessons” and “education through memes!”

The Facts

Otto Frederick Rohwedder invented the first bread slicing machine and the first sliced loaf was sold in July 1928, by Frank Bench’s Chillicothe Baking Company in Missouri.

The Constitution Tribune newspaper reported on the installation of the machine, and a clipping of this has report has been put online by the National Museum of American History.

The report, from July 6, 1928, reads: “The idea of sliced bread may be startling to some people. Certainly it represents a definite departure from the usual manner of supplying the consumer with baked loaves.”

The article described Chillicothe Baking Company as the “first in the world” to offer sliced bread and went on to describe the bread slicing machine.

Advertising at the time described the new invention as “the greatest forward step in the baking industry since bread was wrapped,” Time reported. It also reported that the first loaves of sliced bread were sold the day after the Constitution Tribune report, on July 7, 1928.

The invention is celebrated with “sliced bread day” in Missouri on July 7.

The Constitution Tribune reported on plans for this celebration in 2021 back in June. In that report, which was shared online, it stated: “On July 7, 1928, The Chillicothe Baking Company was the first commercial bakery in the United States to offer machine-sliced bread for sale, marking a milestone in the baking industry and American ingenuity. The machine used to cut the bread was the Rohwedder Bread Slicer, named after its inventor, Otto Rohwedder. At the time, many bakers believed slicing loaves prior to sale would cause them to lose freshness.”

Queen Elizabeth II was born on April 21, 1926, at a townhouse in Mayfair, London, where her parents lived at the time.

The 95-year-old head of state is therefore older than the first commercially sold loaf of sliced bread.

However, the situation is more complicated, since the bread slicer had been in development for some time.

Rohwedder had created an early prototype more than a decade before the first loaf of sliced bread was sold but it was destroyed in a fire in 1917, along with the blueprints, according to the History channel. A page from Lemelson-MIT Program website details that Rohwedder began working on his concept around the year 1912, adding: “He worked on several prototypes, including one that held a sliced loaf together with metal pins.”

Sliced loaves made by machine may have been created in some form earlier than when they were first sold. But they were not commercially available until 1928, which was when sliced bread was first sold and became something which was available to the public.

The Ruling

Mostly True.

FACT CHECK BY NEWSWEEK

Bread may have been automatically sliced during the development of the first slicing machine prior to the queen’s birth in 1926—but loaves of sliced bread were not available to buy until after she was born.

Sliced bread was first sold in America in 1928, meaning Elizabeth has been born before it was available to be purchased.

Queen Elizabeth II at Polo Cup
Queen Elizabeth II attends the Out-Sourcing Inc. Royal Windsor Cup polo match and a carriage driving display by the British Driving Society at Guards Polo Club, Smith’s Lawn on July 11, 2021 in Egham, England. An Instagram post described the queen as ‘older than sliced bread.’
Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images

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