Wonder Bread is a brand of bread which originated in the United States in 1921 and was one of the first to be sold pre-sliced nationwide in 1930. This led to the popular phrase "the greatest thing since sliced bread". The brand is currently owned by Flowers Foods in the United States.
The Taggart Baking Company of Indianapolis, Indiana, began producing Wonder Bread for a debut on May 21, 1921, following a blind promotion with ads that only stated a "Wonder" was coming on that date. The brand was named by vice president for merchandising development Elmer Cline, who was inspired by the International Balloon Race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Cline was filled with "wonder" by the scene of hundreds of balloons creating a kaleidoscope of color resulting in the iconic red, yellow and blue balloons featured on the Wonder Bread logo. The logo was designed by commercial artist Drew Miller while he was on staff at a Chicago ad agency.
Continental Baking Company purchased Taggart in 1925. This made Wonder Bread a national brand and added "It's Slo Baked" to the logo. In the 1930s, Continental Baking began marketing Wonder Bread in sliced form nationwide, one of the first companies to do so; this was a significant milestone for the industry and for American consumers, who, at first, needed reassurance that "wonder-cut" bread would not dry out. The W. E. Long Company of Chicago, which had formed a cooperative of bakeries to market Holsum Bread, had pioneered and promoted the packaging of sliced bread two years prior, in 1928. Unsliced bread returned for a period during World War II due to a steel shortage that led to an industry-wide slicing suspension in 1943. Bread slicers returned two years later.
During the 1940s, Continental Baking began adding vitamins and minerals to Wonder Bread as part of a government-sponsored program of enriching white bread, which was notoriously deficient in vitamin and mineral content, to combat certain diseases. Known as the "Quiet Miracle", this development is credited with greatly reducing the incidence of the diseases beriberi and pellagra. Wonder was also the first national bread brand to feature open dating as well as nutrition information on its packaging. In the 1950s, Wonder Bread further expanded advertising of its nutrient enrichments. The company sponsored Howdy Doody with host Buffalo Bob Smith telling the audience, "Wonder Bread builds strong bodies 8 ways. Look for the red, yellow and blue balloons printed on the wrapper." By the 1960s, Wonder Bread was advertised with the slogan "Helps build strong bodies 12 ways," referring to the number of added nutrients. In 1986, Continental introduced the lower-calorie Wonder Light bread.
Interstate Bakeries Corporation, later known as first Hostess Brands company (Old HB), purchased Continental Baking in 1995. In 2004, Interstate Bakeries declared bankruptcy, putting the future of Wonder Bread in some doubt. In February 2009 Interstate Bakeries emerged from bankruptcy marking a "new beginning" for the baking company.
In 2006, Wonder was one of the first bread brands to introduce whole grain white breads such as "Wonder Made with Whole Grain White" as a bread that appealed to consumers who loved the taste of white bread, but who were looking for more nutrition These breads were made with an albino wheat variety that doesn't have the more pronounced taste of whole red-wheat flour.
On August 28, 2007, Interstate Bakeries announced it would soon end production of Wonder Bread in the Southern California market, leading to a loss of 1,300 jobs. This was due to the judgment in a $121 million racial discrimination suit and a decline in sales, as Southern Californians in particular were partial to whole-grain breads and "premium" loaves. As of September 2009, Wonder Bread and other Hostess Brands breads, such as Home Pride, returned to Southern California supermarkets in response to significant consumer demand. In connection with the re-introduction, the company donated thousands of loaves of bread to the San Diego Food Bank and the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank.
In August 2009, Wonder reformulated its Wonder Classic and Wonder Classic Sandwich bread varieties to include more calcium and vitamin D. Two slices of Wonder Classic and Wonder Classic Sandwich bread then provided 30% of the daily recommended intake of calcium, the same amount as 8 fluid ounces of whole milk. Wonder 100% Whole Wheat (16 oz variety) qualified for the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program in most states. In March 2010, Wonder extended its line of bread products for families who preferred the taste of white bread, but wanted more nutrition, with the addition of Wonder Smartwhite a new bread with the taste and soft texture of white bread – but with the fiber of 100% whole wheat bread.
In 2011, Wonder bread launched its first national advertising campaign in years titled "Always Wonder".
On November 16, 2012, Hostess Brands (Old HB) filed a motion in United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York seeking permission to close its business and sell its assets under Chapter 11. On November 16, 2012, Hostess Brands (Old HB) closed its United States plants and began liquidation proceedings, temporarily ending production of Wonder Bread in the states. Flowers Foods, owner of the Mrs. Freshleys', Tastykake and Dave's Killer Bread brands, announced that it signed an agreement to acquire Hostess' bread brands, including Wonder Bread on January 11, 2013. On July 22, 2013, Flowers Foods completed its $355 million acquisition of several breads, bakeries and other assets from the company previously known as Hostess Brands (Old HB) including Wonder Bread. Flowers Foods announced on September 12, 2013, that Wonder Bread would return to U.S. store shelves, with delivery of Wonder Bread to stores resuming on September 23.
In other countries
Wonder Bread is manufactured in Canada by Weston Bakeries. This is not a license, since Weston owns the Wonder trademark in Canada, though the packaging is very similar to that used in the United States.
Wonder Bread began appearing on Canadian grocery shelves and home delivery routes as early as 1927. A product of Northern Bakeries Limited, the bread apparently made its debut in Montreal. In 1928, Northern Bakeries Limited registered the "Wonder" trademark with the Canadian Intellectual Property Office. Two years later, Wonder arrived in Toronto, baked by Nasmiths Limited. Newspaper ads proclaimed "Great news for the people of Toronto – it's here at last – the delicious Wonder Bread." Made from unbleached flour and "Slo-Baked," Wonder was said to produce "more slices and thinner slices" when cut, yet would not crumble. By 1934, "Sliced Wonder," an early version of sliced bread, was being promoted by the Ideal Bread Company Limited of Toronto, with no fewer "than 26 slices in a loaf."
By 1940, Wonder Bakeries Limited had become the maker of Wonder Bread in Canada, along with Hostess cakes and cookies, although local bakers continued to be the actual manufacturers. New products were introduced that included Wonder Melior, "a better white bread with natural wheat vitamins," as well as Wonder Peter Pan Bread, designed to appeal to children. Wonder Bakeries also became the maker of Hollywood Bread, marketed for those "counting calories" and trying to keep their "figure." During the 1960s, General Bakeries Limited became the maker of Wonder. Then, in July 1985, Weston Bakeries Limited, a subsidiary of George Weston Limited, acquired certain Ontario assets of General Bakeries, then owned by Dominion Stores Limited, that included not only bread and roll plants but also the trademark for Wonder in Canada.
Over the past decade, Weston Foods has added a number of new Wonder products to the brand's line-up, many of which are designed to appeal to parents and their concern for their children's nutritional needs. Among them is Wonder + Invisibles, a white bread with 18 whole grains and designed not to taste like whole grain bread. In 2011, Weston Bakeries Limited announced that its Wonder Bread brands will now be completely free of artificial preservatives, artificial colors or artificial flavors.
Wonder Bread is produced in Mexico by Grupo Bimbo, the largest baking company in the world. As with the Canadian Wonder Bread, this is not a license, since Bimbo bought the Wonder Bread brand and factories in Mexico; the package was the same as the one in the United States, but later changed.
Wonder Bread is present in Pakistan. It's not a part of the North American chain. The company was established in 1983 in Karachi. Today in addition to Karachi it is also present in Faisalabad, Islamabad, Lahore, Peshawar and Quetta.
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