The good people of Chillicothe, Missouri, would like the world to know their town is the greatest thing since sliced bread.
(Apologies to NASCAR driver Joey Logano, whose nickname actually is “Sliced Bread.”)
Missouri lawmakers are considering a proposal from Rep. Rusty Black (R-Chillicothe) to designate July 7 Missouri Sliced Bread Day.
The day would highlight Chillicothe’s claim to bread fame: The first commercially sliced bread was sold there on July 7, 1928.
So far the proposal has been well-received by his legislative colleagues, Black told ChillicotheNews.com.
“Things like this make a difference,” he said. “This recognition highlights Highway 36 and tourism opportunities provided along this highway. It may be 15 or 20 miles between historic highlights, but there is great, rich history in this part of the world.”
The first sliced bread, made by the Chillicothe Baking Company, was cut using the Rohwedder Bread Slicer, a machine created by Iowa inventor Otto Rohwedder, according to HomeOfSlicedBread.com, sort of the town’s gluten glossary.
The building where those historic slices were commercially cleaved from a loaf still stands at the corner of First and Elm Streets in Chillicothe.
It was purchased with help from local foundations by the Sliced Bread Corp., formed in 2003 when the town first learned of its connection to bread history thanks to research by the local newspaper.
Since then, Chillicothe and it’s 9,700 or so residents have done some serious carbo-loading.
The town baked up a new slogan —“Home of Sliced Bread” — a new logo and a website.
Bread-themed events have arisen, including Sliced Bread Saturday, the Sliced Bread Jam bluegrass festival and a bread baking contest.
And whatever happened to those candles that smelled like freshly baked bread?
“People all over the world understand this story,” Ed Douglas, president of the Sliced Bread Corp., has said.
Black reportedly visited Grand River Historical Society Museum in Chillicothe last summer, where he saw a Rohwedder bread-slicing machine on loan from the Smithsonian Institution.
That’s when museum curator Pam Clingerman and Marvin Holcer from the Livingston County Historical Society hit him up and asked him to sponsor Sliced Bread Day legislation, according to the Chillicothe newspaper.
“I told them I would be happy to file the bill,” Black told the newspaper. “I have visited the museum a few times but it has been a few years and I found it very interesting to see the exhibits and changes to the museum.”
In January, Black helped announced the town’s plans to build a Home of Sliced Bread Visitors Center and to use more than $264,000 in Neighborhood Assistance Program tax credits to renovate the original Home of Sliced Bread building.
The overall project will cost a chunk of dough — nearly $500,000. It’s expected to be open by summer 2019.
In the meantime, proponents of Missouri Sliced Bread Day hope the idea isn’t toast.
Black’s bill has made its way to a final vote in the House, expected to come in the next week.