What we now know as Wonder Bread was first made by the Taggert Baking Company of Indianapolis. In 1921 the company was about to introduce its latest bread and there had been blind advertisements in advance of the bread simply stating “Wonder” or “Wonder Coming Soon.” The only information about the original loaf refers to its size (1.5 lbs) but one would assume that the original bread was an early form of the light white bread we associate with the name today.
Company vice president Elmer Cline was assigned to come up with a name and a logo for the new product. Cline happened to attend the International Balloon Race at the Indianapolis Speedway while he was thinking about the project. The site of the clustered colorful balloons filled him with wonder. He decided the perfect name for the bread was Wonder Bread with a design logo reminiscent of the hot air balloons he watched floating high above him that day.
Wonder Bread Company Sold
In 1925 the Continental Baking Company bought Taggert and the bread recipe. They began selling the pre-sliced, pre-packaged bread in 1930, and in 1941 the company announced they had come up with a new way to produce the bread. Articles mentioned the lightness of the bread the fact that the bread had no holes.
But in the 1940s nutritionists were beginning to spread the word that the process of creating white flour removed many of the nutritional benefits of eating a wheat product. The government took on the cause and sponsored an effort to return some of the nutrients to the bread (that’s where we got “enriched” bread).
That eventually led to the Wonder Bread commercial featuring “8 Ways to Build Strong Bodies.” By the 1960s, food scientists had come up with additional elements and touted “12 ways to Build Strong Bodies.”
In 1995 Interstate Baking acquired the company but by 2004 they filed for bankruptcy. Today Wonder Bread is owned by Flower Foods, and in 2013 the company re-introduced the bread to store shelves with an ad that was reminiscent of the original ad: “The Wonder is back.”
To read about the inventor of the first bread-slicing machine, click here.