Invented The Toaster?
Crisp, warm toasted slices of
bread with butter or your favorite spread on it for
breakfast. Feels lovely to bite into them right? Ever
spared a thought as to who conjured up the toaster that
gives you the crisp slices, and when?
The electric toaster's journey to its ultimate
achievement - the crisp 'just right' slice
The first electric toaster made its appearance in 1909.
Being a first of its kind, it's abilities were a bit
limited when compared to the toasters that we now use. The
first toaster toasted one side at a time, required
monitoring all the time and when the toast was done the
appliance would be turned off by pulling the plug! Manual
toasters gave way to semi automatic toasters and then came
the automatic toasters that we now use.
The electric toaster
The automatic toaster was invented by Charles Strite in
1919. One of the main motivating factors for his invention
was the burnt toast served in the cafeteria at his place
of work. Strite incorporated springs and a timer into the
toaster. He filed for a patent for his popular invention
on May 29, 1919. Strite's friends offered financial
backing and the first batch of one hundred toasters of
this design were hand assembled under his personal
supervision. A restaurant chain lapped up the whole
consignment. In 1921 a company was formed for mass
manufacture of toasters. Changes like a pneumatic shock
absorber, crumb tray and the like were incorporated to
make more efficient toasters. To make the toaster even
more attractive, sliced bread followed on its heels. And
the combination is a winner even today.
It was only in 1926 that the first pop up toaster for home
use arrived on the scene. It had a timing adjustment that
allowed one to choose how much to 'brown' his toast, and
once done it ejected the slice. The danger of burning the
toast had been removed. The public received it so well
that in the US, the month of March 1927 was declared as
the National Toaster Month!
How do toasters cook bread?
Toasters are fitted with heating elements. Switching the
toaster on causes electric current to flow through the
appliance. And as this electric current passes through the
heating elements they radiate heat. A wire rack between
two heating elements is meant for the bread slices. User
friendly thermostat controls control the level to which
the bread slices are browned. And a pop up mechanism
ensures that the bread slices are removed from contact
with the heating element.
A toast to history
6000 years ago the Egyptians gave man a great gift -
bread. Egypt's warm climate gave them puffed up dough. And
when baked in an enclosed oven it retained its fluffiness.
Bread was born. They were the first known civilization to
have baked bread. Maybe others before them did it, but no
evidence of the fact has been found. It was only in the
17th century that the role played by yeast in this process
was understood with the aid of microscopes.
The word 'toast' has its origin in the Latin Torrere,
Tostum - to scorch or burn. And when do you think bread
was first toasted? It has been estimated to have been
first toasted about 2000 years ago by the Romans. The
method they used was to hold the bread over an open fire.
This was probably done for soldiers to carry, so that the
bread would last a bit longer having been deprived of its
moisture by the exposure to fire.
Before the advent of the electric toaster the many methods
used for toasting bread were using the hot hearthstone,
using multi- purpose forks to hold bread over flame and
hinged holders made for the purpose of holding bread over