[Ads-l] greatest thing since sliced bread (1951)

Peter Reitan pjreitan at HOTMAIL.COM
Thu May 4 11:59:35 EDT 2017


During the 1940s, the expression, "The Greatest Thing Since . . . ." was apparently a common joke or silly construction.  It may have been inspired, ultimately, by "the greatest thing since sliced bread" and similar ads that ran from as early as 1933.


In 1948,  Mel Heimer's My New York syndicated column described a dinner at a swanky restaurant with Milton Berle and some other comedy/entertainment figures.  They bandied about expressions like, "greatest thing since rubber gloves" and "greatest thing since 7up."  Mel Heimer held his tongue at one point because he was uncertain whether the moment called for another "greatest thing since" comment.


In 1949, an automatic dishwasher was advertised as "the greatest thing since the invention of water," Ingrid Bergman's performance in Joan of Arc proved that she was "not the greatest thing since strawberry shortcake" and a roller derby promoter praised television as "the greatest thing since the invention of fire."


The bigger question is why did "sliced bread" survive when the general trend ended.

________________________________
From: American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU> on behalf of Baker, John <JBAKER at STRADLEY.COM>
Sent: Thursday, May 4, 2017 7:58:24 AM
To: ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU
Subject: Re: greatest thing since sliced bread (1951)

---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
Poster:       "Baker, John" <JBAKER at STRADLEY.COM>
Subject:      Re: greatest thing since sliced bread (1951)
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