Wonder Bread

Wonder Bread

One of the staples of childhood cuisine is the sandwich, a lunch that requires no culinary skills to make. Any kid can slap a few slices of meat and cheese together or spread a layer of peanut butter and jelly and be on their way to school in no time. For millions of parents, the bread of choice was Wonder. Enriched with vitamins and minerals, it gave every sandwich a nutritional helping hand.

Wonder Bread was introduced in the early 1920s, a product of the Taggart Baking Company and featuring the same red, yellow and blue balloons that still appear on the packaging. Continental Baking acquired the brand in 1925 and became one of the first bakeries to sell their product in sliced form.

In the 40s, and with some governmental encouragement, they began enriching their product with a number of vitamins and minerals, to help combat a number of diseases that resulted from certain vitamin deficiencies. With a little help from Howdy Doody in the 50s, the company began advertising the healthy aspects of their product with slogans such as “Wonder Bread builds strong bodies 8 ways.” Parents took notice and reached for the Wonder Bread at the supermarket.

In the decades that followed, Wonder Bread became a familiar site in family kitchens. Kids regularly demonstrated its remarkable softness with their ability to squish an entire fluffy slice into a dough-like ball about the size of a marble. They toasted it, then sprinkled generous helpings of sugar and cinnamon, they grilled it with cheese to accompany a bowl of hot tomato soup on a cold winter’s day. They filled it with bologna and cheese, peanut butter and jelly, canned tuna, or simply ate the slices as a snack. Wonder bread was perfect for their pint-sized palettes.

In recent years, the bread-eating public began turning its back on the white variety, preferring whole grains. Realizing that whole wheat isn’t quite as tasty to kids, Wonder responded by creating a whole-grain white bread, which offers the health benefits, without the wheaty flavor. And that’s pretty much been Wonder Bread’s story since day one, offering a bread that’s healthy enough for adult approval and tasty enough to win a kid’s affection.

If Wonder Bread was a regular part of your diet growing up, we welcome all of your thoughts and recollections in our comments section, as we tip our hats to this staple of kid’s lunchboxes everywhere, for close to a century and counting.

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