Toasters are interesting inventions which have made our lives easier. While not everyone will agree with this, those of us who enjoy the delicious crunch of toasted bread slices are grateful for every bite we get.
But, have you ever stopped to think about toasters? Is it just a kitchen appliance you use daily without a second thought or would you like to learn some unique facts about them? Here are a few fun and random facts you probably have never heard before.
Toasty Fact 1: The first toaster was invented by Alan MacMasters.
In 1893, Scottish Alan MacMasters built the first functioning toaster. He called his invention the “Eclipse Toaster”, which was patented, produced, and sold in Britain. This toaster was able to toast one side of the bread slice, so the process lasted longer and it needed assistance to flip the slice.
More about this invention and the story behind toasters can be found in my full guide on the history of toasters.
Toasty Fact 2: Toasters used to be stupidly expensive.
When pop-up toasters became popular in the 1920s and 1930s, their cost was usually around $25. Taking inflation into account, that amount would be equivalent to approximately $400 in 2021. For a device that burns your beard, that’s just a bit too much.
However, today it’s a different story. You can find yourself a good toaster for under $20. We came a long way, didn’t we?
Toasty Fact 3: Toasters are an important part of history.
You will find a toaster in almost every American household. However, The Smithsonian National Museum of American History also houses a few. They have about 100 toasters on display in their exhibitions, from the 18th to 20th centuries.
Toasty Fact 4: A toaster’s best friend is sliced bread, which was invented in 1933.
Yes, sliced bread had to be invented. Store-bought loaves were not factory-sliced before 1933. To make things even more interesting, a jeweler is responsible for the invention. Otto Rohwedder, a Missouri resident, created the first bread slicing machine.
Toasty Fact 5: The process of toasting is actually called the Maillard reaction.
Toasters operate using the Maillard reaction to toast the bread slices. When the slices are exposed to 310 Fahrenheit, the sugars in the bread start to turn brown due to their reaction to the amino acids. They create a crunchy surface and darken the bread’s color to make the toast we all love.
Toasty Fact 6: The first electric toaster had a name: El Tosto.
El Tosto was manufactured by the Hotpoint company as part of their “El” line. This company had a habit of giving names like this to their products. Their coffee percolator was named “El Perco”, while the tabletop oven they were selling was called “El Bako”.
Toasty Fact 7: We spend a LOT of time toasting our bread.
The toasting process doesn’t necessarily take long. However, if you eat toast daily, the minutes do add up. In America, the average household spends approximately 35 hours making toast every year, with about 75 million members enjoying delicious toast daily.
Toasty Fact 8: Is French toast really toast?
Technically, French toast is not really toasted. It is not the bread itself that gets toasted, but rather the egg coating covering the slice. While you do have the crunch and the nice brown color, the bread is roasted in a pan and it is not put into a toaster.
Toasty Fact 9: All roads lead to Rome, even with toast.
The Latin phrases “torrere” and “tostum” are the origin of the word “toast”. They mean to toast, to burn, or to scorch, and it has given the toaster (the machine that does the toasting) and the toast (the toasted bread slice) their names.
Toasty Fact 10: Toast has been enjoyed for centuries.
While the toaster is a recent invention – the first electric toaster was patented in 1905 – toast has been enjoyed for centuries. Before this handy appliance, the toast was made by placing the bread on a stick and toasting it over an open fire.
Toasty Fact 11: There are only two types of toasters.
There are only two main toaster types, and all of the models are a variation of them. First, you have the toasters that function as a small oven, whether they are microwave shaped or are of the pop-up variety. The second type uses a mechanism similar to a conveyor belt, and it can toast hundreds of pieces in an hour.
Toasty Fact 12: Toasting is not reserved only for bread.
As our technology develops at an incredible pace, toasting was also taken to the next level. Modern appliances do not just toast bread. You can also toast waffles, hot dogs, and crumpets in some toasters.
Toasty Fact 13: The pop-up toaster was invented… out of frustration.
This type of toaster was invented in 1921 by Charles P. Strite. In the early 1900s, toasters were manual and could only toast one side of the bread. This meant someone had to monitor, flip and take out the toast before it was burnt, which commonly happened. Strite got fed up with diners serving burnt toast, so he decided to take things into his own hands.
If you’d like to know more about pop-up toasters make sure to read my article about Charles Strite and his invention.
Toasty Fact 14: The human brain has a “toast center”.
The “toast center” of the human brain was discovered by a Canadian neurosurgeon, Dr. Wilder Penfield. He was operating on epilepsy patients when he found the “toast center” which is devoted to noticing when toast is burning.
Toasty Fact 15: Even the Gods love it.
While this is technically not a toast or toaster fact, it is related to bread. In Ancient Greece, bread was a staple of everyday life. Not only did it become an essential part of Greece cuisine, but it was also used as an offering to the Gods.