Wonder Bread & Other Perils

Wonder Bread

When I was a kid, Wonder Bread seemed like a major food group. We used it for toast to dip in our egg yolks…sandwiches for our school lunches…and French toast as a treat on the weekends. Wonder Bread was so soft you could squeeze a slice into a tiny ball the size of a nickel.

But what I remember most about Wonder Bread was its marketing blurb: “Builds Strong Bodies 12 Ways.”

Although I didn’t realize it at the time, the Wonder Bread slogan was false advertising, to say the least. The company first stripped flour of all its fiber and nutrients, then added some synthetic vitamins so the flour could be called “enriched.” Their heavily processed bread was full of questionable chemicals, and I’m not sure it should even have qualified as “food.”

Yet the company boasted that their product was helping Americans build strong bodies 12 ways.

You’re probably wondering what this has to do with you. Here are a few takeaways from the Wonder Bread phenomenon:

  1. Be careful what you remove or add to your life. For the sake of cost or convenience, we’re all tempted to remove “nutritious” elements of our life in favor of easier alternatives that have no real benefit or value. For example, we’ll spend time watching mindless entertainment on TV rather than going to the gym or prioritizing quality time with our spouse, children, or friends.
  1. Don’t fall for empty slogans. Over the course of my childhood, I must have heard the Wonder Bread “builds strong bodies” sales pitch thousands of times. In today’s world we’re surrounded by slick marketing blurbs that often have no basis in reality. It probably would be more accurate to say that Wonder Bread destroys healthy bodies 12 ways!
  1. Pay the price for healthier options. Wonder Bread is cheap, convenient, and relatively tasty. Prior to the launch of Wonder Bread in 1921, most bread was sold unsliced, so it took convenience to a whole new level. In contrast, bread that hasn’t been stripped of nutrients will cost much more, and you may even have to slice it yourself.
  1. Make your decisions on the basis of long-term outcomes. Wonder Bread won’t kill you—at least not right away. Neither will smoking, eating Big Macs, or drinking Coca-Cola every meal. The problem is the cumulative effect, the long-term outcome. If you’re wise, you’ll realize that the small decisions you make each day are contributing either to positive or negative outcomes in your future.  

Perhaps I’ll write a blog someday about how these Wonder Bread lessons apply to the church. Have we stripped away the power of God and vital disciplines such as prayer and fasting? Have we opted instead of an easier, cheaper, more convenient form of Christianity that is palatable but powerless? (2 Timothy 3:5)

I encourage you to take a hard look at your life today. Not just the food you eat, but the spiritual and emotional nutrients you’re consuming or omitting. You don’t have to settle for Wonder Bread!

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