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A toaster from 2008 Consumer Reports - Hamilton Beach Digital toaster.tiff
A toaster from 2008

A toaster is a small electric appliance that uses radiant heat to brown sliced bread into toast. It typically consists of one or more slots into which bread is inserted, and the toaster uses heating elements, often made of nichrome wire, to generate heat and toast the bread to the desired level of crispiness.



Untoasted slice of white bread
The same slice of bread, now toasted

Pop-up toaster

Glowing filaments of a modern 2-slice toaster Toaster Filaments.JPG
Glowing filaments of a modern 2-slice toaster
A toaster oven Zojirushi toaster oven ET-TB15 2.jpg
A toaster oven

In a pop-up or automatic toaster, a single vertical piece of bread is dropped into a slot on the top of the toaster. A lever on the side of the toaster is pressed down, lowering the bread into the toaster and activating the heating elements. The length of the toasting cycle (and therefore the degree of toasting) is adjustable via a lever, knob, or series of pushbuttons, and when an internal device determines that the toasting cycle is complete, the toaster turns off and the toast pops up out of the slots.

The completion of toasting may be determined by a timer (sometimes manually set) or by a thermal sensor, such as a bimetallic strip, located close to the toast.[ citation needed ]

Toasters may also be used to toast other foods such as teacakes, toaster pastries, potato waffles and crumpets, though the resultant accumulation of fat and sugar inside the toaster can contribute to its eventual failure.

Among pop-up toasters, those toasting two slices of bread are more purchased than those that can toast four. [1] Pop-up toasters can have a range of appearances beyond just a square box and may have an exterior finish of chrome, copper, brushed metal, or any color plastic. [1] The marketing and price of toasters may not be an indication of quality for producing good toast. [1] A typical modern two-slice pop-up toaster can draw from 600 to 1200 watts. [2]

Beyond the basic toasting function, some pop-up toasters offer additional features such as:

Toaster oven

A toaster oven Black & Decker toaster oven.jpg
A toaster oven

Toaster ovens are small electric ovens that provide toasting capability plus a limited amount of baking and broiling capability. Similarly to a conventional oven, toast or other items are placed on a small wire rack, but toaster ovens can heat foods faster than regular ovens due to their small volume. They are especially useful when the users do not also have a kitchen stove with an integral oven, such as in smaller apartments and recreational vehicles such as truck campers.

Conveyor toaster

A conveyor toaster Conveyor toaster.jpg
A conveyor toaster

A conveyor toaster is an appliance that caramelizes and carries bread products on a belt or chain into and through a heated chamber. [3] Conveyor toasters are designed to make many slices of toast and are generally used in the catering industry, restaurants, cafeterias, institutional cooking facilities, and other commercial food service situations where constant or high-volume toasting is required. Bread can be toasted at a rate of 250–1800+ slices an hour. [4] The total radiant heat a conveyor toaster applies to each slice can be controlled by adjusting the conveyor speed or the output strength of the heating elements. Conveyor toasters are generally available with either a vertical or horizontal conveyor orientation. Conveyor toasters have been produced for home use; in 1938, for example, the Toast-O-Lator went into limited production. [5]


Toaster before the use of electricity Brodrost - Hallwylska museet - 86976.tif
Toaster before the use of electricity
Toaster with an Edison screw fitting, c. 1909 D12cord.jpg
Toaster with an Edison screw fitting, c.1909
General Electric Model D-12 toaster, from 1910s General Electric Model D-12 toaster, 1910s.jpg
General Electric Model D-12 toaster, from 1910s

Before the development of the electric toaster, sliced bread was toasted by placing it in a metal frame or on a long-handled toasting fork [6] and holding it near a fire or over a kitchen grill.

From the 16th century onward, long-handled forks were used as toasters, "sometimes with fitment for resting on bars of grate or fender." [7]

Wrought-iron scroll-ornamented toasters appeared in Scotland in the 17th century. [8] Another wrought-iron toaster was documented to be from 18th-century England. [9]

Utensils for toasting bread over open flames appeared in America in the early 19th century, including decorative implements made from wrought iron. [10]

Development of the heating element

The primary technical problem in toaster development at the turn of the 20th century was the development of a heating element that would be able to sustain repeated heating to red-hot temperatures without breaking or becoming too brittle.[ citation needed ] A similar technical challenge had recently been surmounted with the invention of the first successful incandescent lightbulbs by Joseph Swan and Thomas Edison. However, the light bulb took advantage of the presence of a vacuum, something that could not be used for the toaster.

The first stand-alone electric toaster, the Eclipse, was made in 1893 by Crompton & Company of Chelmsford, Essex. Its bare wires toasted bread on one side at a time. [11] [12]

The problem of the heating element was solved in 1905 by a young engineer named Albert Marsh, who designed an alloy of nickel and chromium, which came to be known as Nichrome. [13] [14] [15] [16]

The first US patent application for an electric toaster was filed by George Schneider of the American Electrical Heater Company of Detroit in collaboration with Marsh. [14] [17] One of the first applications that the Hoskins company considered for its Chromel wire was for use in toasters, but the company eventually abandoned such efforts, to focus on making just the wire itself. [15]

The first commercially successful electric toaster was introduced by General Electric in 1909 for the GE model D-12. [14] [18] [19]

Dual-side toasting and automated pop-up technologies

United States patent #1,394,450. "Bread-Toaster", patented 18 October 1921 by Charles Strite. United States patent 1,394,450, "Bread-Toaster", 1921.pdf
United States patent #1,394,450. "Bread-Toaster", patented 18 October 1921 by Charles Strite.

In 1913, Lloyd Groff Copeman and his wife Hazel Berger Copeman applied for various toaster patents, and in that same year, the Copeman Electric Stove Company introduced a toaster with an automatic bread turner. [20] Before this, electric toasters cooked bread on one side, meaning the bread needed to be flipped by hand to cook both sides. Copeman's toaster turned the bread around without having to touch it. [21]

The automatic pop-up toaster, which ejects the toast after toasting it, was first patented by Charles Strite in 1921. [22] In 1925, using a redesigned version of Strite's toaster, the Waters Genter Company introduced the Model 1-A-1 Toastmaster, [23] the first automatic, pop-up, household toaster that could brown bread on both sides simultaneously, set the heating element on a timer, and eject the toast when finished.[ citation needed ]

Toasting technology after the 1940s

In the 1980s, some high-end U.S. toasters featured automatic toast lowering and raising without the need to operate levers – simply dropping the bread into one of these "elevator toasters," [24] such as the Sunbeam Radiant Control toaster models made from the late 1940s through the 1990s, began the toasting cycle. These toasters use the mechanically multiplied thermal expansion of the resistance wire in the center element assembly to lower the bread; the inserted slice of bread trips a lever switch to activate the heating elements and their thermal expansion is harnessed to lower the bread.

When the toast is done, as determined by a small bimetallic sensor actuated by the heat radiating off the toast, the heaters are shut off and the pull-down mechanism returns to its room-temperature position, slowly raising the finished toast. This sensing of the heat radiating off the toast means that regardless of the type of bread (white or whole grain) or its initial temperature (even frozen), the bread is always toasted to the same consistency. [25]


Several projects have added advanced technology to toasters. In 1990, Simon Hackett and John Romkey created "The Internet Toaster", a toaster that could be controlled by the Internet. [26] In 2001, Robin Southgate from Brunel University in England created a toaster that could toast a graphic of the weather prediction (limited to sunny or cloudy) onto a piece of bread. [27] The toaster dials a pre-coded phone number to get the weather forecast. [28]

In 2005, Technologic Systems, a vendor of embedded systems hardware, designed a toaster running the NetBSD Unix-like operating system as a sales demonstration system. [29] In 2012, Basheer Tome, a student at Georgia Tech, designed a toaster using color sensors to toast bread to the exact shade of brown specified by a user. [30]

A toaster that used Twitter was cited as an early example of an application of the Internet of Things. [31] [32] Toasters have been used as advertising devices for online marketing. [33]

With permanent modifications, a toaster oven can be used as a reflow oven to solder electronic components to circuit boards. [34] [35]

Similar inventions

A hot dog toaster Hot Dog Toaster.jpg
A hot dog toaster

A hot dog toaster is a variation on the toaster design; it can cook hot dogs without the use of microwaves or stoves. The appliance looks similar to a regular toaster, except that there are two slots in the middle for hot dogs and two slots on the outside for toasting the buns. Or there can be a set of skewers upon which hot dog are impaled.[ citation needed ]

See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Grilling</span> Form of cooking that involves dry heat

Grilling is a form of cooking that involves heat applied to the surface of food, commonly from above, below or from the side. Grilling usually involves a significant amount of direct, radiant heat, and tends to be used for cooking meat and vegetables quickly. Food to be grilled is cooked on a grill, using a cast iron/frying pan, or a grill pan.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Small appliance</span> Portable or semi-portable machine in use to accomplish household task

A small domestic appliance, also known as a small electric appliance or minor appliance or simply a small appliance, small domestic or small electric, is a portable or semi-portable machine, generally used on table-tops, counter-tops or other platforms, to accomplish a household task. Examples include microwave ovens, kettles, toasters, humidifiers, food processors and coffeemakers. They contrast with major appliances, such as the refrigerators and washing machines, which cannot be easily moved and are generally placed on the floor. Small appliances also contrast with consumer electronics which are for leisure and entertainment rather than purely practical tasks.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Thermostat</span> Component which maintains a setpoint temperature

A thermostat is a regulating device component which senses the temperature of a physical system and performs actions so that the system's temperature is maintained near a desired setpoint.

Charles Perkins Strite was an American inventor known for inventing the pop-up toaster. He received U.S. patent #1,394,450 on October 18, 1921 for the pop-up bread toaster. Strite then formed the Waters Genter Company and made the pop-up toaster publicly available in 1926.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Oven</span> Enclosed chamber for heating objects

An oven is a tool which is used to expose materials to a hot environment. Ovens contain a hollow chamber and provide a means of heating the chamber in a controlled way. In use since antiquity, they have been used to accomplish a wide variety of tasks requiring controlled heating. Because they are used for a variety of purposes, there are many different types of ovens. These types differ depending on their intended purpose and based upon how they generate heat.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Kitchen stove</span> Kitchen appliance designed for the purpose of cooking food

A kitchen stove, often called simply a stove or a cooker, is a kitchen appliance designed for the purpose of cooking food. Kitchen stoves rely on the application of direct heat for the cooking process and may also contain an oven, used for baking. "Cookstoves" are heated by burning wood or charcoal; "gas stoves" are heated by gas; and "electric stoves" by electricity. A stove with a built-in cooktop is also called a range.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Convection oven</span> Appliance that heats food

A convection oven is an oven that has fans to circulate air around food to create an evenly heated environment. The increased air circulation causes a fan-assisted oven to cook food faster than a conventional non-fan oven, which relies only on natural convection to circulate the hot air. Fan-assisted convection ovens are commonly used for baking as well as non-food, industrial applications. Small countertop convection ovens for household use are often marketed as air fryers.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Heating element</span> Device that converts electricity into heat

A heating element is a device used for conversion of electric energy into heat, consisting of a heating resistor and accessories. Heat is generated by the passage of electric current through a resistor through a process known as Joule Heating. Heating elements are used in household appliances, industrial equipment, and scientific instruments enabling them to perform tasks such as cooking, warming, or maintaining specific temperatures higher than the ambient.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Electric stove</span> Stove with an integrated electrical heating device to cook and bake

An electric stove, electric cooker or electric range is a stove with an integrated electrical heating device to cook and bake. Electric stoves became popular as replacements for solid-fuel stoves which required more labor to operate and maintain. Some modern stoves come in a unit with built-in extractor hoods.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Pie iron</span> Appliance

A pie iron—also called pudgy pie iron, sandwich toaster, snackwicher, toastie maker—is a cooking appliance that consists of two hinged concave, round or square, cast iron or aluminium plates on long handles. Its "clamshell" design resembles that of a waffle iron, but without that appliance's honeycomb pattern. Pie irons are used to heat, toast and seal the sandwich.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Pilot light</span> Small gas flame used to light larger gas burner

A pilot light is a small gas flame, usually natural gas or liquefied petroleum gas, which serves as an ignition source for a more powerful gas burner. Originally a pilot light was kept permanently alight, but this wastes gas. Now it is more common to light a burner electrically, but gas pilot lights are still used when a high energy ignition source is necessary, as in when lighting a large burner.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Toastmaster (appliances)</span> Brand of home appliances

Toastmaster is a brand name for home appliances. It was originally (1921) the name of one of the world's first automatic electric pop-up toasters for home use, the Toastmaster Model 1-A-1. Since then the Toastmaster brand has been used on a wide range of small kitchen appliances, such as coffeemakers, waffle irons, toasters, and blenders.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Dualit</span> British kitchen appliance manufacturer

Dualit is a British manufacturer of kitchen and catering equipment, coffee, tea capsules. It is known for its range of heavy-duty toasters. It was primarily designed for the commercial catering market, its domestic usage increased during the 1990s

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Infrared heater</span> Device designed to create radiative heat

An infrared heater or heat lamp is a heating appliance containing a high-temperature emitter that transfers energy to a cooler object through electromagnetic radiation. Depending on the temperature of the emitter, the wavelength of the peak of the infrared radiation ranges from 750 nm to 1 mm. No contact or medium between the emitter and cool object is needed for the energy transfer. Infrared heaters can be operated in vacuum or atmosphere.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Lloyd Groff Copeman</span> American inventor

Lloyd Groff Copeman was an American inventor who devised the first electric stove and the flexible rubber ice cube tray, among other products. He had nearly 700 patents to his name, and he claimed that he could walk into any store and find one of his inventions.

Russell Hobbs is a British manufacturer of household appliances. Formed in 1952 by William Russell and Peter Hobbs, it became the primary kettle maker in the United Kingdom marketplace in the 1960s. Subjected to many corporate acquisitions through its history, its head office is currently sited in Failsworth, England, having moved its manufacturing operation to East Asia.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Toast (food)</span> Bread that has been exposed to dry heat

Toast is sliced bread that has been browned by radiant heat. The browning is the result of a Maillard reaction altering the flavor of the bread and making it firmer. The firm surface is easier to spread toppings on and the warmth can help butter reach its melting point. Toasting is a common method of making stale bread more palatable. Bread is toasted using a toaster or a toaster oven. Toast may contain acrylamide caused by the browning process, which is suspected to be a carcinogen. However, claims that acrylamide in burnt toast causes cancer have not been proven.

Metal Ware Corporation is a company located in Two Rivers, Wisconsin and manufactures small kitchen appliances primarily marketing them under the NESCO and American Harvest brand names.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Toasting fork</span> Utensil

A toasting fork is a long-handled fork used to brown and toast food such as bread, cheese, and apples by holding the pronged end in front of an open fire or other heat source. It can also be used to toast marshmallows, broil hot dogs, and heat hot dog buns over campfires.


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