Buying a loaf of sliced bread is something we all take for granted these days, but it has been available commercially for less than 100 years. It was first sold in 1928.
By the 1960s, sliced bread was how most kids in America survived. Not wheat bread or whole grain bread. I’m talking about light bread.
Now, people in different parts of the country call it different things, but in Ashdown, Arkansas, everyone called it, ‘light bread.’
If you’re unsure of what I’m referencing, light bread is also referred to as, ‘white bread.’ Think Holsum or Wonder Bread.
Light bread is light in color. Hence, the name.
And for those of us who didn’t grow up with 23 varieties of bread you could buy, the versatility of light bread is legendary.
In the hands of any resourceful Southern momma, light bread could be magically turned into just about any food delivery system.
Of course, you could use light bread as a delivery system for tuna fish salad (I’ve always wondered why we call it, ‘tuna fish.’ That’s redundant.), peanut butter and jelly, fried baloney, boiled wienies, SPAM, or deviled ham.
There’s not much else that’s better than two starched planes to hold your favorite food item.
Especially a fried baloney sandwich, with the baloney seared to blackened perfection and placed between two pieces of light bread that have been slathered with French’s Mustard or, if you prefer, Miracle Whip.
But the endless possibilities of light bread don’t end with tuna salad, PB&J, or a composite meat substance.
Today, people feel the need to have specially shaped bread for fine dining. A hot dog must have a hot dog bun. A hamburger, a hamburger bun, and so on.
But Southern mothers showed children how to make do with a good ol’ piece of light bread.
Have a package of wienies and a loaf of light bread handy? Then you have lunch for 10. There are 10 wienies in a package, but only eight hot dog buns. If you use light bread, you have two more mouths you can feed.
Why there are 10 hot dog franks and only eight hot dog buns in a package is a discussion for another column.
A loaf of light bread is also ready to be used as a hamburger bun. Why pay extra for hamburger buns when your mom could brown two pieces of light bread in butter in a cast iron skillet? I promise that a hamburger patty, wedged between two pieces of light bread is far more preferable.
Light bread can be covered in butter and garlic salt to make garlic bread to go with spaghetti and meatballs.
Let’s not forget breakfast. Moms can whip out the butter, cinnamon, and sugar to make cinnamon toast. In a pinch, you can pour syrup over it if you don’t have any pancake mix.
One of the best uses of light bread took place at Miss Mac’s Cafe, which is no longer there, but sat on Highway 71 in Ashdown.
The menu at Miss Mac’s consisted of many Southern favorites, including chicken fried steak with gravy, cheeseburgers, and omelets. But the generally accepted best was what she called, “The Hot Steak Sandwich.”
It was a tenderized piece of beef that was breaded and fried, and laid on top of a whole piece of toasted light bread. After being covered in gravy, the hot steak was covered by french fries and served with a small salad.
On either side of the hot steak was, you guessed it, more light bread. The triangle shaped pieces were used to mop up the remaining gravy.
We live in a new world today. A world that thinks we must have a special kind of bread for whatever is on the menu. The truth is we only need a loaf of Wonder, Holsum, or any other reputable bread. And a little bit of imagination.
The phrase, “The best thing since sliced bread,” is underrated. It’s also a redundant idiom, since sliced bread is still the best thing since sliced bread.
Sliced light bread, that is.