Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Toasters: A Primer.

It occurred to me this morning that I don't really know how toasters work.  I was wondering specifically if they use a timer or simply go until they get just so hot and then shut off.  So I looked them up and learned:

-- In primitive times (1892 and prior) people toasted bread over open flames using grids or forks made for that purpose, but all that changed in 1893 when the first electric toaster was made by Alan Macmasters of Scotland. Even then, it took 17 years for toasters to be commercially successful, in part because of the difficulty in making heating elements and in part because electricity was mostly available only at night.

-- Early toasters cooked only one side of the bread at a time, and the half-toast had to then be hand-flipped to cook both sides.  People's lives became easier when in 1913 an automatic bread-turning toaster was created.

-- It's amazing to me that it seemed easier to rotate the bread than to cook it on both sides simultaneously.

-- Also, why was electricity mostly available only at night?

-- In 1925, the first dual-side toaster became available.

-- The next major innovation in toaster technology (USA USA USA) was automatic lowering-and-raising toasters that required no pushing of levers. Put the toast in, the machine does the rest!

-- That toaster sensed the heat in the center of the bread to determine if the toast was done, so regardless of what temperature the bread was when you started, it always toasted the exact same.  This is WAY better than my toaster, which is never re-set from its current position, that position being the exact one that Mr Bunches wants when cooking his Blueberry Breakfast Treats to the proper ("not too browny!)") texture, but despite us never moving the lever the toaster, which we bought for $10 at a drugstore, cooks everything to a different degree, sometimes barely toasting it, sometimes turning it to charcoal.  My toaster is far less advanced than a toaster a housewife would have used in 1942.

-- Actual sentence from the Wikipedia article I read to compile this list: " For home use, consumers typically choose a toaster type based on their intended use."

-- You can buy a toaster for as much as $399 at some stores but if you do that  you're an awful person.

-- Nowadays, most toasters use heat sensors, apparently, but I believe that mine uses a timer, because in mine the first toast is usually underdone, and that is a mark of a toaster that times things, as the heat elements are not as hot on the first round of toasting, with repeated uses meaning that later toast starts off hotter but cooks the same length of time.

-- Toasters in pop culture include the "flying toasters" screen saver on AfterDark for early computers, as well as a Jefferson Airplane album cover:

And "The Brave Little Toaster,"

which originally was not published as a kids' story because publishers thought the idea of talking appliances was too 'far fetched.'

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