The humble, reliable toaster celebrates its 100th anniversary
By E. Shan Correa
Special to the Star-Bulletin
THE ELECTRIC TOASTER is celebrating its 100th anniversary. Although my own toaster seems unaware of this milestone, a piece saluting such a significant accomplishment deserves to begin with an epigraph, so here it is:
“Ode to the Toaster”
The toaster’s been toasting a century,
And for browning your bread, it’s essentury
You can bake, you can broil,
you can fry bread in oil,
but the toaster will triumph . . . eventury.
There. A dignified tone has been set for this tribute, and to the sole purpose for its existence, toast.
Historians agree that toast predated the toaster by about 5,000 years, and they credit the Egyptians with its invention. (Among treasures discovered in tombs near Al-Giza were videos with commercial messages asking, “Got toast?” )
The Romans spread the commercial message throughout Europe, which is astonishing since their toast commercials aired in Latin, and even 4,500 years ago, Latin was spoken only by oppressed schoolchildren and cloistered monks in Northern European countries.
However (and this is absolutely true), the Roman conquest prevailed, and etymologists tell us that our word — toast — was derived from the Latin tostum, which means to scorch or burn.
We’ve been subjecting bread slices to that procedure since.
Also true is that the electric toaster didn’t know how to pop bread up until the Toastmaster 1A1 was invented in 1926, and as Maria McCarthy from the Grain Foods Foundation so nicely puts it: “The toaster did not really take off until after 1933, when sliced bread was invented, which makes it official: Historically speaking, the toaster is the next best thing since sliced bread.”