“The best thing since sliced bread”?

“The best thing since sliced bread”? February 11, 2020


Messier51 and NGC 5195
The classic spiral Whirlpool Galaxy (M51), with the smaller yellowish galaxy NGC 5195 drifting behind it in the upper right of this Hubble satellite image.
(Wikimedia Commons public domain image)


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The pizza company Little Caesars has been running an amusing commercial based on the common expressions that “x is the best thing since sliced bread”:


“Little Caesars Super Bowl Commercial 2020 Rainn Wilson Best Thing Since Sliced Bread”


May I, though, be permitted a gentle dissent?


To say that x is the best thing since does not, contrary to the humorous Little Caesars ad, mean that x is better than y.  Quite to the contrary, it clearly indicates that y remains the best.  The newer x is merely the best thing since y.


In other words, sliced bread has nothing to fear from Little Caesars pizza delivery.


Is that really the message that Little Caesars wanted to send with this commercial?  Of course, a lot of things have come along since sliced bread.  I’m not sure about the exact date when bread was first sliced, but I’m guessing that air travel, the Beatles, radio, Monopoly, personal computers, railroads, television, steamships, polio vaccine, the original Star Wars trilogy, cell phones, Fair Life chocolate milk, and quite a few other good things postdate the first slicing of bread.  Moreover, almost by definition, cheese fondue has to come after bread slicing.  So if Little Caesars pizza delivery really is the best thing since sliced bread, that’s pretty good indeed.


But the question still demands an answer:  Doesn’t anybody teach clear thinking or precise reading any more?




And, while we’re on the subject of clear thinking, let me address another pet peeve of mine:


When I was a young ‘un, I never heard the verb to advocate for s.th., as in “to advocate for the scientific eduction of women.”  Now it’s just about the only form in which I encounter the verb.


But the for isn’t necessary!


It’s enough to say that Betty “advocates the scientific education of women.”


There’s no need to say that somebody “advocates for better treatment of animals.”  It’s completely sufficient to say that Bob “advocates better treatment of animals.”


I don’t know where the verb to advocate picked up its redundant and unnecessary for.  My guess is that the culprit is the noun form of advocate, where it is actually proper to say that “he is an advocate for the better treatment of animals” or that “Betty is an advocate for the scientific education of women.”


But the verb doesn’t need for.  Come on, people!



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