When Bread Was Against the Law

Here's your nightly math! Just 5 quick minutes of number fun for kids and parents at home. Read a cool fun fact, followed by math riddles at different levels so everyone can jump in. Your kids will love you for it.

When Bread Was Against the Law

October 1, 2014

It’s hard to believe, but at one point sliced bread was actually against the law in the United States. When the bread-slicing machine was invented in 1928, it sparked a lot of excitement. People actually started eating more bread because a) the machine-cut slices were thinner and nicer than people could cut by hand, and b) it became so much easier just to grab another piece. But sliced bread need heavier wax-paper wrap than unsliced bread to keep from drying out, and during World War II the US wanted to save that wax for wartime supplies. So in 1943 sliced bread was made illegal. People roared in outrage, and just 50 days later the ban ended. As one mother of 4 complained, “Without ready-sliced bread I must do the slicing for toast -2 pieces for each one-that’s 10. For their lunches I must cut by hand at least 20 slices, for 2 sandwiches apiece…” Only when something is taken away do we realize how much we miss it!

Wee ones: If each person in your family wants a slice of bread, what numbers do you say to count out the slices? Count as many of them as you can!

Little kids: If you make 1 sandwich apiece for yourself and 2 friends, using 2 slices of bread for each, how many slices do you need all together?  Bonus: If you started with a 20-slice loaf, how many slices do you have left?

Big kids: For how many years have we had pre-sliced bread?  Bonus: The ban began on January 18, 1943. If the ban lasted 50 days, including the first and last day, what was the last full day of the ban?




Wee ones: Different for everyone…start counting 1, 2, 3 and so on.

Little kids: 6 slices, since they’re for 3 sandwiches. Remember to feed yourself!  Bonus: 14 slices.

Big kids: For 86 years.  Bonus: March 8: it lasted for 14 days in January (31 days minus the first 17 days that it wasn’t in place), then 28 in February (1943 had no leap day), bringing the total to 42. So it ran another 8 days in March.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

About the Author

Laura Overdeck

Laura Overdeck

Laura Bilodeau Overdeck is founder and president of Bedtime Math Foundation. Her goal is to make math as playful for kids as it was for her when she was a child. Her mom had Laura baking before she could walk, and her dad had her using power tools at a very unsafe age, measuring lengths, widths and angles in the process. Armed with this early love of numbers, Laura went on to get a BA in astrophysics from Princeton University, and an MBA from the Wharton School of Business; she continues to star-gaze today. Laura’s other interests include her three lively children, chocolate, extreme vehicles, and Lego Mindstorms.

More posts from this author