The Balloon Race That Became The Inspiration For Wonder Bread

Wonder Bread is one of those go-to brands when shoppers need something easy and filling. It's got several basic types of bread, whether you're looking for wheat, Italian, Texas toast, or its iconic white bread. It's not just sliced bread, either. Wonder Bread also produces buns, rolls, and English muffins, too. Its products are simple, but many find them satisfying. "Wonder" isn't exactly the first word that comes to mind, though, when one thinks of these straightforward food items. Yet, the name certainly does put a positive spin on the brand.

Despite its simplicity, Wonder Bread has an exciting history. We often talk about "the greatest thing since sliced bread," and, according to History, Wonder Bread was one of the first of the major brands to actually sell the stuff. Wonder Bread also made a name for itself in various other ways: Giving up supplies to support the troops during World War II, improving public health by enriching bread, getting rid of holes in slices via a new baking method, educating consumers with open-dating plus listing out nutritional information on labels, and more, per History of Branding. Impressive societal contributions do seem to justify the wonder apparently associated with this bread brand. However, the true origin of the brand's name dates back further than all of those things.

Indianapolis Speedway's Balloon Race

In the early 1920s, the Taggart Baking Company was getting ready to unveil its new product: Bread (via History of Branding). The business, located in Indianapolis, already had the proverbial ovens preheated. Yet selling loaves takes more than baking; you also need marketing. Taggart needed a name for its wares. The task of coming up with one fell to Taggart Baking Company Vice President Elmer Cline. While brainstorming, he ended up attending the Indianapolis Speedway Balloon Race, an event that had been going on since 1909. It was there that an idea floated into his mind. As recalled by Wonder Bread, hot air balloons numbering in the hundreds took to the sky, and, thus, Cline was struck with (what else) a sense of wonder. Why not name his hopefully wonderful baked goods after that very feeling?

Those blue, red, and yellow circles on Wonder Bread's packaging aren't just for pops of color. They're an ode to the inspiration behind the brand's name. The homages don't stop there, either. For the 80th anniversary of Wonder Bread, the organization bought its very own hot air balloon to fly high in the sky, spreading even more wonder. So if you've ever wondered where Wonder Bread gets its name from, wonder no more.