I really intended yesterday's post to be about shopping, not about toasters. Toasters were intended to be just an example of an ordinary consumer household item.
But I spent yesterday getting educated about the, er, well, online toaster community.
And there are elite deluxe luxury upper-crusty (!) toasters. Our friend John Camp (he's the novelist John Sandford) recommended the Dualit. That initially shocked me—John thinks he paid $250 for his. Two hundred and fifty dollars for a toaster?! But then I went to an inflation calculator site. The classic postwar American Toastmaster that Mathew Hargreaves recommended cost $23.50 in 1951, near as I can figure out, and that would be $204.93 today. (No wonder they were popular wedding gifts.)
I now know that the toasters seen in the famous "flying toasters" screensaver most closely resemble a General Mills "Betty Crocker" Automatic Toaster introduced in 1949 or thereabouts.
One thing I can truly say is that in all eight years of putting TOP together, I truly learn something new every day.
It's just that not all of it I need to know. :-)
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(To see all the comments, click on the "Comments" link below.)
Featured Comments from:
Jack: "The General Mills Betty Crocker toaster was what motivated my family to move to Minneapolis in 1947. The food company started a small-appliance division to extend the Betty Crocker brand from food in the kitchen to appliances in the kitchen. My dad was hired to be in sales. I wish I had access to a Betty Crocker toaster today. The extension of the Betty Crocker name into small-appliances wasn't successful enough to extend the name outside the kitchen. Otherwise we might have seen a Betty Crocker camera. My dad however moved on to be involved with the marketing of Argus cameras, specifically the C3, which naturally was my first camera."
David Boyce: "Have a secondhand Dualit bought from a restaurant closing down about 20 years ago. Must be at least 30 years old now. Still going strong. Just worked out it has cost me about one cent a day in ownership costs."
lith: "Toasting indeed a heady mix of art and science which appears to be hard to get right. I like my toast crispy and golden brown on the outside, but still white and fluffy on the inside. Lordy, it's harder than you think.
"Most toasters, as Mike has pointed, take too long. I've noticed this, too, as I've grown up. Toast takes longer than it did in the Sunbeam my parents had as a kid growing up.
"The increased Toasting Time (TT) is a result of the decreased Available Toasting Heat (ATH), and thus ensures that the entire cross-section of the bread is dried thoroughly before the the surface even gets remotely browned. So you end with a mouth-desiccating shard of dried bread, with the consistency of that foam florists use to make flower arrangements.
"Even uber-expensive, Italian-designed, chrome-and-porcelain models with more knobs than a mixing desk have failed to produce adequate toast for me!
"The decreased ATH (and thus increase in TT) is possibly due to several factors (these are all based on my own musings):
- Cheaper elements, which radiate less heat, in order to cut down on perceive power usage. Probably, as mentioned, emanating from the same mythical monolithic Glorious Revolutionary Toaster Element Factory Number 12 in Shenzhen.
- Reduced heat in order to pander to our ridiculous OH&S notions of having 'cool touch' sides, so those of very little brain don't burn their poor widdle fingers on something that is designed to get hot.
- Wider slots, placing the elements further away from the bread. Heat, like camera flashes, is indeed subject to the inverse square law. This is due to the madness of designing toasters to accommodate all manner of silly bakery products like inch-thick 'Texas' toast, muffins, hunks of brioche, and slabs of Organic Macrobiotic Hydrodynamic Slow-Food Barn-Raised Bulgur, Spelt, and Wattleseed Turkish Sourdough.
"The best toaster I used was at boarding school, one of those big, stainless-steel mesh conveyor belt SOBs made by Hobart or Birko or something. Fierce heat, minimal TT. The only downside was that some idiot kid would adjust the speed while your toast was halfway through, and you'd end up with a slice looking like a Cokin graduate amber filter.
"Also, and I feel I can say this without hyperbole, this is most serious and important subject TOP has ever covered."
Mike replies: Really?! Even more important than which roadster is best-looking?!?