In the 1920s, one bold baker dared to try a new machine that promised perfect pre-sliced loaves of bread. Ever since, Chillicothe has been known as the Home of Sliced Bread. This two-day festival honors this proud history of innovation.

By Natalie-Elizabeth Tan

What’s the next best thing since sliced bread? How about a sliced-bread festival? Chillicothe, also known as the Home of Sliced Bread, will be celebrating this humble baked good with a two-day festival on June 28 and 29. This is all in commemoration of Sliced Bread Day, an official designation passed by the Missouri General Assembly in 2019.

The city of Chillicothe embraces its reputation as the Home of Sliced Bread.

On July 7, 1928, the Chillicothe Baking Company introduced Kleen Maid Bread, the first commercially sliced bread, using a machine invented by Otto Rohwedder. Frank Bench, owner of Chillicothe Baking Company and a friend of Rohwedder, was the only baker who would take a gamble on the new invention.

The innovation was an immediate success, boosting Bench’s bakery sales by a whopping 2,000 percent within two weeks. The availability of sliced bread made it more convenient for families to buy bread instead of baking their own, revolutionizing bread as we know it today.

“No one says it’s the greatest thing since the iPhone, they say ‘that’s the greatest thing since sliced bread,’” says Amy Supple, director of the Chillicothe Convention & Visitors Bureau. “It’s the standard of innovation—past, present and future—and we are very proud of our slice of history.”

The weekend’s festivities kick off with a concert on Friday, June 28, featuring food and drink and a performance by Branded Souls. The next day, start your morning with a visit to the Farmers Market or the YMCA 5K run/walk. Then, make your way to various venues with food trucks, a bounce house, games, live entertainment, caricature drawing, shopping, arts demonstrations, a flea market, and more. 

New this year is the Chillicothe Trolley, which loops through town throughout the day to shuttle people between the museum, downtown and the welcome center, which are all festival venues.

Sliced bread is baked into the history of Chillicothe, with reminders scattered like crumbs around town to remind you of it. For example, the century-old Chillicothe Baking Company now doubles as the Home of Sliced Bread Welcome Center.

Home bakers are invited to enter their best work in a bread competition.

At the Grand River Museum, you can see one of the original bread-slicing machines from 1928. Downtown on Washington Street, there’s a larger-than-life mural—and popular selfie spot—depicting the area in which sliced bread was invented. (Fun fact: The city also is known as the Town of Murals, with more than 25 located in the downtown area.)

Think your own bread recipe is the best? Rise to the occasion in the Bread Contest. Or if you just want to sample a variety of breads, make your way to the contest anyway, where you can sample competitors’ products.

The festival ends on a high note with the Slice of Home Concert, with local Chillicothe musicians taking the stage.

So, the last weekend of June, visit the Home of Sliced Bread to honor a slice of culinary history. “We hope that all attendees learn a little something and sample some bread,” says Supple. “But most of all, we hope that everyone has the greatest day since sliced bread.”

All photos courtesy of the Chillicothe Convention & Visitors Bureau.

For hundreds more events, visit Missouri Life’s Event Calendar.