Mothers love to send off their kids to school with a few slices of toast with a coating of peanut butter on them or sandwich made of toast. We all enjoy a rich brunch with creamy butter, fresh vegetables, a few slices of smoked ham and warm pieces of bread which pop out of the toaster. The toaster, the machine that makes this wonderful roasted bread, has been with us for longer that most people would believe.
The early history of the toaster
The electric toaster, in the form the common toaster exists today, was developed by Alan MacMasters from Edinburgh, Scotland. This happened in 1893, almost 125 years ago. Before electric toasters, people used to toast the sliced bread using metal frames and placing them on the end of a long handle or fork. Then they would hold it above or near a fire and wait until the toast gets the beautiful brown color.
The primary engineering problems which were difficult to overcome were the materials used to build the heating elements. These had to be durable enough to endure heating up to high temperatures but without breaking. All of the early appliances made out of iron wiring were only unsuccessful attempts because the wiring was inadequate, it melted very easily and was a real fire hazard. In 1905, an engineer by the name of Albert Marsh designed a nickel and chromium alloy, called Nichrome, which had the needed characteristics. Soon afterward, the first US patent was filed by George Schneider working in collaboration with Marsh. General Electric developed the first commercially successful toaster. This happened in 1909, and the history of mass-produced toaster began.
Modern toaster innovations
From the time the first pop-up toaster which could automatically eject the toaster after toasting it (1921) to today, people made many improvements and innovations to the toaster. Nowadays, people use toasters to release their creativity, in a way, and make all kinds of gadgets on modern toasters. For example, now you have toasters which can be controlled over the internet. An interesting innovation is a toaster which can toast the weather forecast graphic onto a piece of bread. Furthermore, there are toasters which can brown a piece of bread to a specific degree designated by the user.
Toasters in popular culture
Toasters have become a part of our way of life and can be found in practically every household in the western world. They have also become a part of our language, culture, and technology. For example, the word toast makes up many modern idioms, such as „we are toast.“ Toasters appeared on screen savers, video games, and snacks, too. We all remember the famous flying toasters screensavers for Mac and PC.
Unfortunately, accidents involving toasters cause about 800 deaths each year. Electrocution is a serious hazard toaster are not to be taken lightly. Today, there are many toaster manufacturers and the most famous brands are Black&Decker, General Electric, Toastmaster and much more.