The expression Best thing since sliced bread is an idiomatic phrase that has been around for over a century. While it doesn’t have a defined meaning, it is used to imply that something is amazing, outstanding, and praiseworthy.
Given the impact of sliced bread on daily life, it’s easy to see how the phrase “Best thing since sliced bread” came about as an expression for something that has a similarly dramatic life-changing impact. Nowadays, this phrase is used in informal conversation all over the world to refer to any invention or development that is likely to improve people’s lives in a big way.
The origin of the expression can be traced back to the end of the 1920s, when in 1928 the Missouri-based Chillicothe Baking Company launched their pre-sliced bread, with a catchy advertisement slogan that goes:
“The greatest forward step in the baking industry since bread was wrapped.”
Over the following decades, the slogan needed some time to germinate, as it didn’t develop into an idiom until over 20 years later.
“Best thing since sliced bread” was first used by American journalist Dorothy Kilgallen, in a 1951 issue of The Northern Whig, published in Belfast, Ireland. By the 1960s, it began widely appearing in the slang of American youth.
Over the second half of the 20th century, the expression slowly spread across the whole of America, as well as other English-speaking countries, throughout the world.
“Best thing since sliced bread” could be encountered in a wide variety of sources, ranging from newspapers, to radio shows and even television, being featured especially in family sitcoms.
Although today it is regarded as outdated, it is still widely used, due to its idiomatic nature, and the general opinion that approves of the invention of sliced bread.
Online, “Best thing since sliced bread” has been reinterpreted humorously with a large amount of image macro memes.
In 2020, the idiom was capitalized upon by Little Caesars, running an advertisement campaing, calling their deliveries the “Best thing since sliced bread.”