Has sliced bread been invented in Wildemount yet?

One thought on “Has sliced bread been invented in Wildemount yet?

  1. D. Walker says:

    All inventions require two things – the technical means to produce them, and the cultural desire to have them.

    Pre-slicing bread isn’t all that technically difficult – the ancients could have created loaf slicing devices of their own if they had wanted to. So clearly the reason the Romans didn’t have sliced bread is because they had no use for it.

    So why do we in the modern day have sliced bread? It’s hard to say for certain, but we can look to history to glean some clues as to what led to the demand for such a thing when it had never existed previously. Pre-slicing bread only really started in 1928, and there are some good reasons for that.

    Bread is a very short lived foodstuff – it dries out and goes stale rather quickly, particularly once you cut it into slices. Smaller pieces of bread mean more surface area in contact with the air, and that means the bread goes bad sooner.

    Historically, people either tried to only make as they needed it and ate it as quickly as possible, or they found various ways to wrap it up (waxed paper, various kinds of cloth, certain kinds of prepared leaves, etc) to keep it from being exposed to the air and help it stay fresh longer. But in both cases, they tended not to slice it until the last possible moment, because that helped it stay fresh.

    But by the early 1900s, we had a few things that most people in history didn’t – mass production, modern refrigeration, and plastic bags.

    Densely populated modern urban centers disincentivize people baking their own bread at home for a variety of reasons, but in particular because it’s a lot more efficient if all the bread is mass produced in a small number of places and then shipped to local stores where people can buy it.

    Now, when you mass produce food, you can’t be sure that all of it will get sold, and you sometimes end up with leftover food sitting around. That’s where having a means to keep that food fresh for longer becomes useful – and if you can put your bread in more or less airtight plastic bags, that’s a cheap and effective way to prolong the shelf life of your bread. Refrigeration also helps quite a lot.

    So now you’ve got everybody buying loaves of bread instead of making their own, and storing them in plastic bags and refrigerators to keep them fresh – which means people aren’t worried the bread spoiling, so they can instead start to think about other things, like convenience.

    Sure, you can cut your bread yourself at home… but why bother? That takes time out of your day, and it leaves crumbs everywhere, and if you’re clumsy you might cut yourself, and it’s not like you have to worry about your bread spoiling these days because it is sliced. So why not just have the breadmakers cut it for you? They can make machines that do it quickly and easily, so that instead of 10 million people in a city having to cut their own bread by hand every single day, a handful of machines can do all that work for them instead, much more efficiently.

    ~~~

    Anywho, what I’m getting at with all that rambling is that pre-sliced bread is only likely to be invented under certain conditions, so figure out which culture is most likely to meet those conditions if you want to add it to your game.

    To be honest, I’d think whichever society uses magic the most in the production and preservation of foodstuffs would be a likely contender over others.

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