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Happy birthday sliced bread - and other great inventions

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A mural in Chillicothe, MO, commemorates the first loaves of sliced bread that were sold to the public on July 7, 1928. (Source: Constitution-Tribune) A mural in Chillicothe, MO, commemorates the first loaves of sliced bread that were sold to the public on July 7, 1928. (Source: Constitution-Tribune)

(RNN) - The greatest thing ever celebrates its 84th birthday Saturday.

On July 7, 1928, a baker in Chillocothe, MO, who was so broke he had nothing left to lose took a leap of faith on a crazy idea - sliced bread.

Frank Bench, whose Chillocothe Bakery was teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, bought a multi-bladed, medieval-looking, bread-slicing gizmo invented by Otto Rohwedder, of nearby Saint Joseph, MO, and introduced the world to the great idea to which all future great ideas would be compared.

Opponents said sliced bread would never go over because Americans were not lazy and would be glad to slice their own bread. Also, the naysayers chided, there was no way to slice bread without crushing and crumbling. And furthermore, sliced bread with all those exposed surfaces would go stale in no time.

But the notoriously skeptical citizens of the Show Me State snapped up loaves of Kleen Maid Sliced Bread as fast as Otto and Frank could crank them out, and a great product as well as an ageless idiom were born.

On the anniversary of humanity's best idea, we present a few other things that might not be as great as sliced bread, but are still pretty great.

May 25, 1935 - The Cincinnati Reds beat Philadelphia 2-1 in the first Major League baseball game played under artificial light.

Clark Griffith, owner of the Washington Senators, proved to be something less than visionary regarding the biggest innovation in the history of his sport: "There is no chance of night baseball ever being popular in the bigger cities. People there are educated to see the best there is and will stand for only the best. High-class baseball cannot be played under artificial light."  

1938 – Teflon, discovered by Roy Plunkett of Kinetic Chemicals. Anybody who has ever burned an egg will tell you this stuff is wonderful.

1947 – The microwave oven, invented by Percy Spencer. The first one was almost 6' tall and weighed 750 pounds. It took until 1984 to invent microwaveable popcorn.

1947 – Kitty Litter, invented in 1947 and marketed by Ed Lowe. It's hard to understand why cats weren't hunted to extinction before this innovation.

1950 – TV remote control, invented by Eugene J. Polley. Without it, we would have to get off the couch to change the channel, just like the cavemen.

1951 – The Pill, whose invention is attributed to Gregory Pincus, Min Chuch Chang, John Rock and Carl Djerassi. It made the cover of Time magazine in 1967, Loretta Lynn wrote a song about it and millions of women have used the method of oral contraception with an efficiency rate well above 99 percent. There are a lot of pills, but there is only one known as The Pill.

1969 – The internet was developed by the U.S. Military, which combined with the 1989 invention of the World Wide Web, made it possible to send LOL Cats instantaneously to people all over the world.

1976 – The personal computer, invented by Steve Wozniak, made it possible for you to read this.

1980 – Post-it notes, invented by Art Fry of 3M, are little squares of colored paper - usually yellow - with a low-tack adhesive on the back so you can stick it to stuff.  Dr. Spence Silver, also of 3M, invented the glue and nobody saw much use for it until Fry used it to attach his bookmark to his hymnal. He saw the potential for a mega-product. Let us now sing his praises.

1998 – First implemented by ESPN, the virtual, yellow first-down line on TV broadcasts of football games is ... well, if you're a football fan, it's actually much better than sliced bread.

2001 – The iPod, invented by Apple. You could store and listen to 8,000 songs on a single device the size of a matchbook and lose every single one of them if you spilled orange juice on it.

2019 – Time travel. You just don't know it yet.

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