Toto Slice

As my son went about cutting a mega bread slice, I told him that was called a “Toto slice”. And then immediately went onto explaining what is the origin of that phrase and why the heck nobody uses it except me.

Well, story starts ages ago when I got my first dog. It was a black terrier and a spitting image of Toto from Wizard of Oz. And Toto slice wasn’t named after him because he didn’t like bread. He liked chickens. Our chickens.

So, within a month, Toto was pronounced incompatible with our yard and gone. Where? I am not sure as some secrets run deep in my family but official version is that he was sold to somebody else. Whether it was an upstate farm or a backyard, the end result was the same – I was dogless.

Some time after, a replacement arrived. It was a mix of a female Scottish shepherd and a male white terrier. Rumors are that conceiving happened due to the bet between owners of each in regards to the capabilities of terrier. If they are true, terrier was skilled enough and thus a few puppies became available soon after.

In any case, the new dog was completely white and would quickly grow close to the size of a (smaller) Scottish shepherd. And his name was Toto too. It was shame to throw away a good name despite this dog being as far as possible from the Wizard of Oz namesake being both white and large.

Life wasn’t always easy and, while my family never went hungry, there was no extra money for dog food. Toto ate what we ate – more precisely, he ate leftovers. When leftovers were sparse, he would get a huge thick slice of bread dipped in the melted lard. That became known in the family as a Toto slice (or “totovska šnita” in my native language).

And Toto slice wasn’t just for a dog. Whenever my sister or I wanted a large piece of (ideally warm) bread, we would use the same phrase. And that’s the phrase I kept using for years and well into my current 40’s.

This phrase might live on with my children along with a story. Or it might die off with me. Regardless, I find it really interesting how sometime words we personally take for granted might not be known even to those closest to us. And how private the language can be even in these global times.

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