OPHIRA EISENBERG, HOST:
So, Jonathan, did you know that every week on Facebook and Twitter we have people sending us random interesting facts of trivia?
JONATHAN COULTON, BYLINE: I think I'm aware of this, yes.
EISENBERG: Well, you tell me if you think this is true or false. Shoy (ph), that's his Twitter handle - this is the nugget, Betty White is older than sliced bread, commercially sold loaves of sliced bread.
COULTON: So she's - what? - she's 150, 160 years old, right?
EISENBERG: One-forty-three. She is 93.
COULTON: I'm going to say that this is a true thing.
COULTON: That nobody had thought to pre-slice bread because in those days, the powdered wig era of course, you would go out to your local baker monger, and you would say, my good man, here are two duckets.
COULTON: How about a nice loaf of delicious bread that I might tear apart with my hands while it is still warm? And if somebody said to you, no, no, no, no, don't do that, go into this store and buy some pre-sliced bread in a bag, you'd be like, that's disgusting. I'm not going to do that. So I'm going to say that tastes and attitudes did not allow for the concept of pre-sliced bread until after Betty White was born.
EISENBERG: You are correct.
EISENBERG: Betty White was born in 1922, so just a little after the powder wigs.
COULTON: Powdered wigs and then Betty White.
EISENBERG: And pre-sliced bread was first sold in 1928, six years later. But it was a sordid tale. There was a man who invented the machine to do it, named Otto Rohwedder. Anyways, he started working on it in 1916. And then he sent out a questionnaire - who knows how? How do you send out a questionnaire in 1916?
COULTON: You just throw it out the window, I think.
EISENBERG: Yeah, exactly - paper airplanes, balloons. So he said - but he got over 30,000 housewives to respond to his questionnaire. So he built the machine, but then there was a fire in his warehouse.
COULTON: Oh, my gosh.
EISENBERG: And it burnt down his prototype...
COULTON: My bread-slicing machine.
EISENBERG: ...Which was unfortunately made of paper. No, I don't know if it was.
EISENBERG: And it took him 10 years to get back on his feet.
EISENBERG: I know.
COULTON: That was a terrible story. What if you worked for him? (Laughter).
EISENBERG: Nine of them were just, like, shame and embarrassment.
COULTON: I know. You had to work for 10 years, and all you end up with is a lousy machine that slices bread? Good God.
EISENBERG: But then he made it happen. And the first baker to use his invention found his business increased by 2,000 percent in the first two weeks.
COULTON: See that? Stick to your dreams, everybody.
EISENBERG: Yeah. Betty White did.
COULTON: Betty White did. Look at her now.
EISENBERG: Yeah, older than sliced bread.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "EASE ON DOWN THE ROAD")
DIANA ROSS AND MICHAEL JACKSON: (Singing) Come on and ease on down, ease on down the road. Come on, ease on down, ease on down the road. Don't you carry nothing that might be a load. Come on ease on down, ease on down the road.
EISENBERG: Coming up, we'll pay tribute to fellow Canadian Alex Trebek, and we'll figure out what U.S. state ends with a sin, so stick around. I'm Ophira Eisenberg, and this is ASK ME ANOTHER from NPR.
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