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Museum to Keep Sliced Bread Machine for Three More Years
By Angie Talken CT 06 21 19

The sliced bread machine on loan to the Grand River Historical Society and Museum will remain in Chillicothe for at least another three years, Pam Clingerman, curator of the Grand River Historical Society and Museum, said on Wednesday. The 1,000 pound bread slicing machine is the second ever used, as the first fell apart after six months of use at Bench's bakery, which was located in the Sliced Bread Welcome Center on the corner of First and Elm Streets. The Oliver 777 machine is on display in a temperature and humidity controlled display at the museum located at 1401 Forest Drive and and has been since 2013.

In the latest application to extend the stay of the machine, Clingerman said she wrote of the exhibit's popularity in town and appearances on television shows like the "Mysteries of the Museum" in 2017 and "Fireball Run" in 2014. "We are fulfilling the requirements of the agreement and also bringing the history to the general public," Clingerman said. "I am very excited to get to keep the machine for at least another three years." The application process is lengthy and takes about six months from start to finish and requires proof that the specifications for the exhibit, as set by the Smithsonian, are being followed.

The commercial bread-slicing machine was designed and manufactured in 1928 by Otto Frederick Rohwedder (1880-1960). The model the museum has was used to slice loaves of fresh bakery bread at Korn's Bakery in Rohwedder's home town of Davenport, Iowa, beginning in late 1928. "After Frank Bench (owner of Bench's Bakery in Chillicothe) used it for the first time, his bread sales went up 2000 percent in two weeks," Clingerman said. "Bakers from Kansas City, St. Joseph, and Marceline - they were coming from everywhere with trucks of bread to have it sliced. If you think about it, slicing bread was a very intensive chore back then."

PHOTO: Pam Clingerman demonstrates slicing bread on a 1936 bread slicer. While this is not the machine on loan from the Smithsonian, the process and idea are the same. The museum uses this model for demonstrations during tours since regulations state the exhibit featuring the other model cannot be used. [Angie Talken / CT PHOTO]

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