The Toaster- A Simple Machine With An Interesting History

Any true breakfast connoisseur understands the easy elegance of the toaster. Simple in form and function, it has been a mainstay in kitchens all over the world. Whether a pop-up style, conveyor toaster, or hybrid toaster, these machines suit a range of needs. When considering their ever-expanding functions, one may find interest in discovering how toasters evolved to today.

How Did The Toaster Come Into Existence?

The idea for an appliance to use radiant heat to brown slices of bread originated in Scotland in 1893. However, toast was not a new concept. One early method involved a simple metal cage, for the bread, with a long enough handle that the bread could be held over fire or other heat source. This was not an electricity-dependent toaster, which reflected a time when electricity was not reliable or readily available.

Read Next: How to fix a broken toaster.

What Key Innovations Led To Today’s Toaster?

The 1893 toaster and its followers brought a level of convenience and ease, however they were not without problems. The biggest issue was the composition of the heating element. Many models failed to find a heating element that could withstand high-temperatures regularly. Internal wiring, similarly, was unable to maintain its integrity when exposed to high heat, resulting in fire risk. As earlier manual toasters thrived when there was no electricity, these newer models were limited by their need to use electricity during an unreliable supply.

Albert Marsh developed an alloy of nickel and chromium in 1905. This material was far more suitable for the toaster. In 1909, General Electric manufactured and sold the GE model D-12, a commercial success for the company. Several inventors offered patented revisions. For example, the Copeman Electric Stove Company introduced a toaster that required no manual flipping. Previous versions toasted one side and then the other after a user turned the bread by hand. In 1921, a mechanism was developed to automatically stop toasting and pop toast out of the heating slot. Expanding on these efforts, the Waters Genter Company featured a machine that had automatic pop-up, simultaneous browning on both sides, and a timed toasting feature.

Improvements on the toaster involved automatic lowering and raising among other things. The heating action was synchronized with the insertion of the bread. An installed sensor measured the heat present in the slice of bread. When it reached the desired level, the heat ceased and the same mechanism that caused lowering was able to expel the bread upward. This resulted in even, dependable toasting.

How Did Toasters Become So Common?

In the 1930’s bread became readily available in sliced form. This was a departure from the solid loaves sold earlier. This change caused a significant uptick in the sales of toasters. With time, the price of a toaster dropped to a level where they were accessible for most families. Further, companies began to offer a variety of colors and designs in order to attract buyers.

What’s New In The World Of Toasters?

Today, we see the advent of wider slots to accommodate larger items like bagels, options for intensity, and usability for a wider range of foods. New devices even allow images to be created on the surface of toast by varying localized heat. Many foods have been developed to coexist with toasters, making meal-preparation altogether more convenient. Conveyor belt toasters expand the use of toasters for large-scale preparation. A restaurant may utilize this type to quickly and evenly prepare toast for a large number of people. Toaster ovens offer versatile options. They are small appliances that can conveniently tackle jobs that were once only possible in an oven. Many enthusiasts even endorse cooking whole meals in a toaster oven.

How Do You Find The Right Toaster?

Looking at these developments through its history, we understand how improvements to the toaster reflected changing needs and demands of consumers. For that reason, we have come to consider these machines a vital part of our kitchens. Still, there are a myriad of choices.