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Did You Know the Elgin Watch Company Used Bread to Clean Watches?

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Did you know the Elgin National Watch Company used more than 40 loaves of fresh bread each day?

Bread to Clean Watches (At the Elgin National Watch Co.)
The Baltimore Sun
Baltimore, Maryland
19 Jan 1908, Sun  •  Page 13

From the January 19, 1908 issue of The Baltimore Sun:

“Bread to Clean Watches.

A Novel Use For the Staff of Life.

Perhaps the most novel use to which bread is put, says the American Food Journal, may be seen in the great factories of the Elgin National Watch Company, Elgin, Ill., where more than 40 loaves of fresh bread are required each day. Superintendent George E. Hunter, of the watch factory, is quoted as saying:

‘There is no secret regarding the use of bread in this factory, and I am willing to tell all I can concerning it. From the earliest times in the history of watchmaking it has been the custom of watchmakers to reduce fresh bread to the form of dough. This is done by steaming and kneading. They then use this dough for removing oil and chips that naturally adhere in course of manufacture to pieces as small as the parts of a watches. There are many parts of a watch, by the way, that are so small as to be barely visible to the naked eye. The oil is absorbed by this dough, and the chips stick to it, and there is no other known substance which can be used as a wiper without leaving some of its particles attached to the thing wiped. This accounts for the continued use of bread dough in the watchmaking industry. The Elgin National Watch Case Company used something more than 42 pound loaves a day, or about 24,000 pounds a year.'”The Baltimore Sun
Baltimore, Maryland
19 Jan 1908, Sun

3 Comments

  1. Very interesting article. Never knew bread was used for cleaning parts, but it makes sense considering how sticky gluten is.

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