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History of the Toaster

by Lindsay Wilcox

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Stainless-steel toaster with bread and jam

Have you ever wondered about the history of the toaster, the simple appliance that quickly heats your bread, waffles and pastries for breakfast? You have probably used this tool frequently in your life, whether you have a retro toaster in your kitchen or a new stainless steel 6-slice toaster to prepare meals for your family. Learn a bit more about the toaster and its history in this guide.

Toaster Timeline:

  1. 1919: The pop-up toaster is invented. While General Electric built the first electric toaster for the home in 1909, it was 10 years later when Minnesota mechanic Charles Strite created an easy-to-use toaster designed for restaurants. He received his patent for the slice toaster in 1921 and formed the Waters-Genter Company to manufacture his product.

  2. 1926: The Toastmaster is manufactured. Charles Strite's company released his redesigned automatic pop-up slice toaster and called it the Toastmaster, a brand still famous today.

  3. 1930: Pre-sliced bread is introduced. The Continental Baking Company began selling sliced Wonder Bread instead of solid loaves. Previously, sales of Charles Strite's best toaster were slow, but the uniformly sliced bread became popular, and toaster sales soared.

  4. 1960s: Toasters become common and affordable. During the 1930s, toasters were luxuries; some cost up to $25 (the equivalent of $393 in 2010). Thirty years later, however, the toaster price had dropped, and most families were able to afford one. Toasters were also designed to be more compact during this time period to free up counter space.

  5. 1970s: Toasters can be customized. Along with other appliances, toasters were available in painted or wood-grain finishes in addition to popular colors. While today you might choose a red toaster or a black toaster to complement your kitchen's decor, harvest gold and avocado were popular colors for the 2-slice toaster in the 1970s.

  6. 1980s: Toasters have wider slots. In order to accommodate bagels and thicker slices of bread, the 2-slice toaster was manufactured with wider slots; heat-resistant plastic was also used to make toasters more economical. The cheaper construction methods made even a 4-slice toaster or 6-slice toaster more affordable for families.

  7. Today: Toasters are available in all shapes, colors and sizes. Whether you want a simple white toaster for your apartment or a 4-slice toaster you can pull out for hectic mornings, the toaster price has dropped enough that you can buy one even on the tightest budget. You can be sleek with a black toaster or give your kitchen a vintage vibe with a retro toaster; a red toaster is a great way to add a pop of color, too.

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