The Art of Toasting: Tracing Toasters Back to Their Origin

The Art of Toasting: Tracing Toasters Back to Their Origin

Toasters are an appliance that has become a staple of almost any kitchen. They are utilized for any meal, at any time of day. Toasted bread can go with various dishes, or even be dressed in toppings that change its style completely. Whether you are topping your toast in jam or butter, it is most likely a result of using a toaster.

If we begin to trace the toaster’s history, it is not concrete when the very first toasting instrument was created, but the many versions of the toaster began to snowball into the convenient appliance we use today from the metal roasting poles of the past.

Early Beginnings

Thankfully for our ancestors, toast is not a very recent invention. Toast has been around as long as bread itself because it is as simple as cooking bread for a longer amount of time. The chemical change produced by toasting bread not only makes it crunchy and delicious but preserves the bread’s shelf life. This would prove important for nomadic communities, or even the lone traveller who could enjoy bread for their entire trip without deterioration.

In the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century; however, it had to be done by holding bread over an open flame with a long (and preferably metal) holding implement. This was a long and dull process to get your toast and without keeping a close eye on your breakfast it could easily be burned.

The First Toaster

Modern electric toasters have been around since the late nineteenth century. However, by looking at these ‘toasters,’ one would not recognize them as the same as those in our kitchen today. In 1893, the first working electric toaster was invented in Scotland by Alan MacMasters.

This device supported an uncovered design with electrically heated coils. Initially, the biggest problem was a safety because they did not include a protective cover and the exposed heating coils were a serious burning or fire hazard. Not to mention, the first coils used did not stand up to repeated heating and could be subject to breaking or even just melting.


It wasn’t until 1909 that General Electric was able to produce the first commercially successful toaster. This was partially due to the growth of homes at the time that were actually equipped with the electricity needed to operate a toaster.

Toasters had become a modern convenience, but there were still many kinks associated with its use. At first, toast had to be turned by hand, which was dangerous due to the exposed coils. Toasters that automatically flipped the bread to cook toast evenly were created but eventually abandoned for dual-sided heating devices.

In 1919, the first automatic pop up toaster was invented by Charles Strite. This revolution in toasting involved using a timer to stop the coils and remove the toast to prevent it from burning. There are thorough timelines of the toaster which tell of how the toaster has evolved into the small and sleek appliance we treat as common ware.

As the years went by, the popularity of toasters continued to grow, specialized models were produced to fit larger foods such as bagels, extra slots for larger servings, and foods were even created designed specifically for the toaster like frozen waffles and toaster pastries.

Sliced Bread

Most recognize the slogan ‘the best invention since sliced bread,’ but forget that sliced bread was invented (at least for sale) in 1930. This choice by Wonder Bread to have prepackaged sliced bread for the convenience of the modern world was revolutionary for toasters. Their popularity soared since it began to take very little effort to have toasted bread in your home.

Before Wonder Bread made the idea of selling sliced bread popular, Otto Frederick Rohwedder invented the bread slicer in 1912. It was common to slice your own bread, but bread knives had not been perfected, and its difficulty was hardly worth a clean cut. Whenever a revolution in bread occurred, the toaster has experienced inflamed popularity, which leads to advancements and modern adaptions.

Qualities to Look for in a Modern Toaster

While a heat safety cover is required on all toasters on the market today, not all include the key features of convenience and safety you may want to look for.

●     Cleaning Tray

As your bread toasts small crumbs naturally flake off and fall down inside. Make sure to find one that is easy to clean to extend the life of your toaster.

●     Number of Slots

Some toasters can hold up to eight slices of bread but may be more expensive. Think about how many people you will be toasting for on a regular basis and whether expanded slots will be useful or just a waste of space.

●     A Simple Timer or Specific Settings

Simple toasters usually just come with an adjustable timer so you can choose exactly how long to brown your toast. Other more complex models will let you adjust the time, but also the amount of heat or might even have special preset options specific to the food you’re toasting.

Toaster-Combination Machines

With all of the great modern devices available to be purchased for your kitchen, it can be hard to pick what the next big purchase will be. Many do not feel like their toaster needs upgrading, but will consider the advantages of machines that can toast in addition to their other function.

One of the hottest kitchen items is the oil-less air-fryer and some of them can easily toast your bread. Considering a device that combines a toaster and another appliance can save space and even become a stylish addition, like the TOA-60 toaster oven from Cuisinart. The best approach before making your purchase is to research the device yourself and look for a detailed review of the Cuisinart TOA-60 toaster oven.

Toaster’s Throughout Time

It is easy to use a toaster and not even consider the long history behind it. It has been through many different redesigns and was born out of the need of having yummy (and safe) crunchy bread at any time or even from the convenience of your own kitchen. Toaster date back hundreds of years, if you include basic non-electrical devices, but they are still evolving every day.