Is it bigger than a breadbox?

This standard question was coined by Steve Allen on the old game show, What’s My Line?

Younger readers are now asking, “Who is Steve Allen”, “What is What’s my Line?” and, “What is a bread box?”

Before we had plastic bags to keep bread fresh, boxes rested on everyone’s kitchen counter to preserve a loaf of bread. Typically the boxes were made from wood or metal. The limited airflow in the box prevented mold yet protected the bread from mice and insects. Rarely do you see these boxes today, although they are available online.

It’s hard to remember a day before  the use of plastic bags to store bread and other items. But the sandwich bag wasn’t invented until 1957 and bread wasn’t sold in bags until 1969. Prior to that, homemakers stored loaves in the boxes, wrapped sandwiches in waxed paper or cloth, and covered leftovers with a plate over a bowl.

A famous line in the 1967 movie, The Graduate, was a piece of advice given to the young Benjamin Broddock (Dustin Hoffman) to invest in plastics, a cutting edge idea at that time. Now we are re-assessing the convenience of plastics, especially when used in bags. The sturdy product takes decades to break down.

Which leaves us with one more question:  “Is the impact of plastics on our landfills and oceans bigger than a bread box?

©2013, Mary K. Doyle

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