Toasters of Yesteryear

My aunt Marilyn Karlsen has the neatest toaster! She and Uncle Marvin got it for a wedding present in 1955. Toasters back then were crazily expensive compared to now, a true luxury. This has a curved side door--when you open the door after the toast is done on one side, it slides down the door, and when you shut it, the other side toasts! Amazing ingenuity.

Way back (waaay back--the Romans got the idea of toast in 500 BC from the Egyptians) people started making toast as a way to keep bread from getting moldy. They placed bread near an open fire on a hot stone. Later on, toasting forks or toasting wire frames held slices of bread over an open flame. (Image below from the Future Museum.)

If you had a little extra cash, you might go for some brass toasting forks. (Image by Laurel Leaf Farm.)

The word toast comes from the Latin word "tostum" which means to burn or scorch. This hits home to me. We didn't have a toaster for a while when I was a kid, and we toasted bread under the oven broiler. Our method was "burn and scrape." To this day, burnt toast brings back good morning memories.

In 1893, a Scottish scientist named Alan MacMasters invented the first electric toaster.

In 1905, Albert Marsh invented a special wire made of nickel and chromium--nichrome wire--that could repeatedly heat without burning up. An electric toaster was invented by Frank Shailor for the General Electric company in 1909, with the patent # of D-12. Most homes had limited electric power even in the cities, so they were only used in restaurants. Below is an image of the D-12 toaster. (National Museum of American History, the Smithsonian.) This was a more expensive model, most of these toasters had a plain white base.

In 1919, a mechanic named Charles Strite, invented a the first pop-up toaster.

In 1926, his design was improved on by the Waters-Genter company and named the "Toastmaster." This was available to the public, a big success. (Photo below: Patrick Murfin blogspot.)

When in 1930, Wonder bread introduced pre-sliced bread, the sales of the Toastmaster soared!

Aunty Marilyn's toaster doesn't have any markings that I found, so I don't know what kind it is. But I love it!

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