#Merica Tour, Stories from the Road, Segment 4
(Click here for Segment 3, Segment 2, Segment 1)

Sliced BreadWe’re heading toward sliced bread. We have no idea how cool this trip is about to get. It starts with: Magnets. Yeah, magnets!

Brent collects magnets, and we realize that we will arrive in Chillicothe, Missouri an hour after the gift shop closes. I call the gift shop to see if the hours posted online are correct, and a pleasant man answers and tells me he’s happy to hang around past closing if we’d like. (How awesome is that?!? How many people would be willing to stick around at work after the shift ends just to wait for some crazy tourists? That’s job love, and few people have it.)

I ask Brent how far out we are, and he does some mental math—a feat this writer brain will not do—and he says we’re at least an hour away. I thank the man on the phone for his gesture but tell him he’s fine to head home after work.

“Well, you’ll miss the gift shop,” the voice on the phone says. “But there’s a mural in town that’s worth it.” Cool. Sliced Bread

We hang up and I dig around on the gift shop website and find a way to order a magnet and have it shipped if Brent wants. I tell him. He does. I shop all the magnets and keep making him look at “another one” and “another one” on my phone.

After what feels like days through fields and trees and winding hills and lots of wondering if this drive East is a bad idea when we should be heading West after all, we find our way to civilization: the town of Chillicothe, Missouri.

Sliced BreadWe drive around the Midwest town and easily find the Sliced Bread mural before heading toward the original bakery building for more pictures and when we get there, we stare at the place in awe. It’s a nondescript brick warehouse of a building, but this bakery, in 1928, took a chance on an Iowa inventor’s machine for slicing bread.

The story goes that inventor and engineer Otto Rohwedder created this machine that not only sliced bread but wrapped it, and the first person to purchase it was his friend, Missouri baker Frank Bench. Put to use, the bakery’s sales increased 2000 percent in two weeks. According to the plaque Brent is Vanna White-ing, “Until this invention, which has long since been synonymous with invention, bread had to be sliced by hand in home kitchens.” Sliced Bread

(That “long since been synonymous with invention” part gives me goose bumps. What great writing!)

The trip to Chillicothe has taken us hours out of our way, but when we get back in the car we look at each other and declare, “Totally worth it!”

Invention. Taking chances. Changing life as we know it. Chillicothe, Missouri is what America is all about.

~
Jody Brown is the author of Upside Down Kingdom, and is a blogger, poet, and traveler.

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