Greatest thing since sliced bread
Barry A. Popik
Bapopik at AOL.COM
Mon May 24 04:16:11 UTC 1999
"If you still don't think Jesse "The Body-Turned-Brain" Ventura is the
greatest thing since sliced bread, let him get in your face for two hours
Sunday and ram his mea-ness (sic) down your throat."
--Review of THE JESSE VENTURA STORY in the New York Post, 21 May 1999, pg.
120, col. 1.
(Yes, the word "meanness" was broken "mea-ness." See my prior postings
on word brea-ks.)
Why "the greatest thing since sliced bread"? Is sliced bread THAT good?
Why not update it--the greatest thing since Viagra. The greatest thing
since Windows. Whatever.
RHHDAS: _the greatest thing since sliced bread_ the greatest thing ever 1966
N.Y.C. high school student: This is the greatest thing since sliced bread.
Nigel Rees, DICTIONARY OF CATCHPHRASES: _greatest thing since sliced bread,
the_ a really hot property, brilliant idea or the most wonderful person.
Quite when the idea that pre-sliced bread was one of the landmark inventions
arose, is not clear. Sliced bread had first appeared on the market by the
RANDOM HOUSE DICTIONARY OF POPULAR PROVERBS AND SAYINGS: _It's the greatest
thing since sliced bread._ What a brilliant idea! What a fine thing! Said
of any innovation more important than a bread slicer. Often used
sarcastically. The expression originated in the mid-twentieth century.
_Chinese checkers_, _chopped liver_, _packaged bread_, _swinging doors_,
_chewing gum_, _the hula hoop_, or _the hamburger_ may replace _sliced
bread_. The word _best_ can substitute for _greatest_. Listed in the 1994
_Thesaurus of Alternatives to Worn-Out Words and Phrases_ by Robert Hartwell
Fiske. *** (Highly used on rating scale. A 1974 cite follows--ed.)
Christine Ammer's AHDOI: _greatest thing since sliced bread_ Also, _best
thing since sliced bread_. An excellent new invention, as in _Harry swears
that this new program is the greatest thing since sliced bread_. This
phrase, used either straightforwardly or sarcastically, alludes to the
convenience of buying bread that is already sliced. (Mid-1900s)
I ordered some "bread" and quite a few other things from the Peter
Tamony collection. This is another phrase that I'd like to search on the
Congressional Record, once that's available.
Don Robertson's novel THE GREATEST THING SINCE SLICED BREAD was
published in 1965; an audio book (read by Tony Barbour) came out in 1980.
Perhaps he coined or popularized the phrase?
SLICED BREAD: A SATIRICAL CAMPUS MAGAZINE was published at the
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1992-93.
THE NEXT BEST THING SINCE SLICED BREAD (1998) is a book published by the
North Dakota Wheat Commission (www.ndwheat.com).
The phrase probably originated no earlier than 1943. During World War
II, there were meatless days. The government at first held back sliced
bread, then encouraged people to buy it. Breads advertised their qualities
of vitamins for building healthy bodies.
The closest I could find so far is this advertisement for Bond Bread,
from the Brooklyn Eagle, 18 January 1943, pg. 5:
_Slice Test Proves_
_Bond Bread Best!_
New government ruling brings back home slicing...gives housewives first
chance in years to prove which bread is best!
_Bond NEVER does this!_ Your bread-knife will soon show you whether a loaf
is full-bodied, firm, close-knit...or whether it's puffy and lacking in
substance. When you cut into Bond Bread, slice after slice falls from the
blade clean-cut. There's proof that Bond Bread is your full money's
worth--packed with rich bread goodness.
_See BOND'S full-bodied, close-knit texture! In these days of food shortages
and high prices, it's more important than ever that you get good bread for
your money! Remember, too, the closer knit the loaf, the easier it is to
keep fresh. It's easy to see why Bond is the big favorite for lunchbox or
table. Try Bond today!
BOND'S EXTRA FULL-BODIED GOODNESS KEEPS IT FRESHER...MAKES IT SLICE BETTER!
RAM DOWN THROAT
"Ram down throat" was used in the Jesse Ventura review quote, cited above.
It's not in Stevenson's MACMILLAN BOOK OF PROVERBS, MAXIMS, AND FAMOUS
PHRASES, nor in THE OXFORD DICTIONARY OF PHRASE, SAYING, & QUOTATION. Again,
I don't know what the RHHDAS P-Z is gonna have.
Christine Ammer's AHDOI gives no date:
_ram down someone's throat_ Also, _shove down someone's throat_. Compel to
accept or consider, as in _That salesman tried to ram a life insurance policy
down my throat_, or _She has a way of shoving her political views down your
throat_. These terms transfer forcing one to swallow something to forcing
acceptance of an object or idea.
This is from the Brooklyn Eagle, 12 May 1943, pg. 14: "RAMMING IT DOWN
HIS THROAT." "U.S." (Uncle Sam) has a stick (reading "UNCONDITIONAL
SURRENDER") that's being forced down the throat of "NAZI GENERAL." The word
"TUNISIA" is in the background.
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