The lamentable advent of Bud Select 55 got us thinking about the history of nutritional science—or, rather, the ways in which dodgy scientific claims have been used to peddle all manner of food products. We’re of a mind that such science-y pitches do an excellent job of reflecting cultural neuroses. So just as today we’re all about shedding pounds, back in the waning months of the Roaring 20s, the concern was that America’s food supplies wouldn’t be adequate to fuel its growth. The admen behind Wonder Bread had no problems taking advantage of that anxiety:
As the new-day bread for toast, Wonder Bread has won women by the millions. But in considering this, please do not overlook the wonderful things it does in fostering a healthy, happy family.
In the matter of caloric value it is most remarkable. Each loaf you buy contains more than 1100 calories.
Hence if eaten daily Wonder Bread replaces as much as 30% of all energy your children burn up in play. Thus it promotes active minds and bodies; and brings a new glow to pallid faces.
It provides in addition much necessary protein. The food element, as you may know, that replaces worn-out body tissues and hence helps build sturdy muscles.
It contains also calcium and phosphate, now judged by dietetic authorities essential for growing children, in the strengthening of teeth and bones.
Thus “Wonder Bread three times daily” is the advice of present-day dietitians.
For the record, we grew up on Wonder Bread, and were always a little freaked out by how your fingers made permanent dents in the stuff. We are thus unlikely to be the target audience for this thoroughly American dish.
Also, check out what’s become of the abandoned Wonder Bread factory in Seattle. As always, we heartily approve of the artistic appropriation of industrial ruins.