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Chris Amirault

The State of Toasters, 2011 -- or, Why Do They Suck So?

86 posts in this topic

We sprang for the Breville toaster oven about a year ago, and haven't regretted it once. It makes fast, evenly browned toast. A given darkness setting is consistent from batch to batch and for one slice up to six (the max that will fit on the rack, if using store-bought bread).

It is also a marvelous convection oven with a surprisingly large capacity. We use it as a second oven for big feasts and as the main oven in the summertime, since it is faster and much cooler than the oven in our range. Highly recommended.

Yes, that's what we've been using, after living with (and eventually selling) a smaller DeLonghi and a full-size Krups. I think it works wonderfully for everything except toasting sliced bread. The top of the slice usually is fine, but the bottom is striped (i.e., partially underdone) because of the thick bars of the grating. Does anyone have any ideas how to solve this annoyance?

If I were more mechanically inclined and had the tools (and the time), I'd develop and patent a grating just for toasting, with ultra-thin wires for bars. Anyone who's reading this post may have this idea for free, so long as you send me one or two of your final product.


Gene Weingarten, writing in the Washington Post about online news stories and their readers' comments: "I basically like 'comments,' though they can seem a little jarring: spit-flecked rants that are appended to a product that at least tries for a measure of objectivity and dignity. It's as though when you order a sirloin steak, it comes with a side of maggots."

 

"A vasectomy might cost as much as a year’s worth of ice cream, but that doesn’t mean it’s equally enjoyable." -Ezra Dyer, NY Times

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We've been pretty happy with the Kitchen Aid "Pro Line" 4 slot toaster. It was around $99 when Williams Sonoma discontinued handling it a few years ago.

Also, you might want to check out the www.toastercollectors.org web site. They had a national convention in Toledo several years ago. These dudes are serious! I picked up a Sunbeam No. 4.

DSC_5405-1.JPG


Carpe Carp: Seize that fish!

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A really nice pop-up toaster seems by nature to be a scaled-up, ruggedized, domestic toaster, unlike, say, a "prosumer" espresso machine, which is a scaled down version of the 2, 3, or 4 group cafe machine without the requirement for special plumbing (though that is always an option for people who like plumbed-in ice machines, pot-filling spigots over the range, and blenders built into the counter).

Where is the domestic conveyor toaster? Is there no innovation out there? When is Breville or DeLonghi coming out with the home version of something like this, for people who are serious about their toast:

http://www.zesco.com/Hatco-Toast-Qwick-Conveyor-Toaster-Up-to-1-800-Slices-Per-Hour-Commercial-Toasters-TQ-1800-pz476D023.htm


Edited by David A. Goldfarb (log)

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A really nice pop-up toaster seems by nature to be a scaled-up, ruggedized, domestic toaster, unlike, say, a "prosumer" espresso machine, which is a scaled down version of the 2, 3, or 4 group cafe machine without the requirement for special plumbing (though that is always an option for people who like plumbed-in ice machines, pot-filling spigots over the range, and blenders built into the counter).

Where is the domestic conveyor toaster? Is there no innovation out there? When is Breville or DeLonghi coming out with the home version of something like this, for people who are serious about their toast:

http://www.zesco.com/Hatco-Toast-Qwick-Conveyor-Toaster-Up-to-1-800-Slices-Per-Hour-Commercial-Toasters-TQ-1800-pz476D023.htm

Neighbors down the road have one of the Avantco conveyor toasters

They have 11 children, 7 of their own and 4 adopted, plus a mother, grandmother and great aunt living with them. For them it was not a luxury but a necessity!

She is a stay-at-home mom and bakes 6 loaves of bread every day. He is a CHP officer.


"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

My blog:Books,Cooks,Gadgets&Gardening

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Has anyone considered that the sad state of toasters is a possible result of the litigious nature of the American consumer?

Not to be a PITA, but in reading the comments (and yes, I have a toaster I loathe...) it seems everyone is going back to toasters they used in the past that *gasp* HEATED things and *gasp* got hot !

Why. You could burn yourself on them. Sure can't burn myself on my toaster, my bread barely gets hot enough to melt butter.

Isn't it sort of an ancillary to the Mickey D's coffee, and the tags that say "don't use the blow dryer in the bathtub" and "don't open the Cuisinart while it's running...."

Me thinks they've made products so safe, they can't possibly perform the job they were intended for.


--Roberta--

"Let's slip out of these wet clothes, and into a dry Martini" - Robert Benchley

Pierogi's eG Foodblog

My *outside* blog, "A Pound Of Yeast"

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My Sunbeam arrived. Not only does it look great, but it's just about the coolest thing in the world. I'll take a video and post it here soon.

Oh and the toast? It's fantastic.


Chris Amirault

camirault@eGstaff.org

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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My Sunbeam arrived. Not only does it look great, but it's just about the coolest thing in the world. I'll take a video and post it here soon.

Oh and the toast? It's fantastic.

Congratulations!

I'm looking forward to seeing the video.


"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

My blog:Books,Cooks,Gadgets&Gardening

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We're very happy with our 2-slice Dualit. Yes, it's crazy expensive, but we eat a lot of toast (3 yr & 2 yr old--toast w/ butter is one of their favs). I browns evenly, is simple to use, and seems rock solid reliable. It's not very fast, but that's okay.

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My experience with Dualits, 1 "classic", 1 "soft-touch" = 2 lemons.

I expected the classic, because of the price, to really produce near-perfect toast. It did a fair job for a couple of years and then the toasting became uneven - mostly untoasted near the bottom. It was packed up and dispatched to a service center, after 3 months returned but the problem persisted and it was immediately sent back. This time it was 4 1/2 months before it was returned and it did work fairly well for about six months and then one slot stopped toasting at all.

I gave up and retired it.


"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

My blog:Books,Cooks,Gadgets&Gardening

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I've gone for the toaster oven - watch it brown and flip it - technique. I've never had a toaster that worked well. If I preheat the toaster oven for a half minute on it's broil setting, it works pretty well. I set the shelf as close to the top heating elements as I can, and I watch, flip and extract at the right times. I once tried a Dualit owned by someone else who liked it, and to me it seemed an excellent bread drier.

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As promised, a video of my wicked cool new/old Sunbeam Radiant Control AT-W toaster, a marvel at all things toast. As beautiful as it is just sitting there --

DSC00010.JPG

-- check it out in action:

That orange-red glow is the color of morning joy.


Chris Amirault

camirault@eGstaff.org

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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It's gorgeous. Nice find Chris.


"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

My blog:Books,Cooks,Gadgets&Gardening

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Thanks to this topic, I've been thinking about how much I hate the toast I get from my modern toaster oven. I went "antiquing" today and found a Toastmaster toaster (this one was manufactured between Jan. '50 and April '51). I brought it home and have now had the best piece of toast I've had in years! :biggrin:

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Excellent toaster, Chris. My parents have one like it that they received as a wedding present and have been using several times a week for the past 43 years. I love how the toast sinks into the toaster and then rises slowly up when it's done. Meanwhile I've bought probably 10 crappy plastic toasters in my adult life. Maybe I'll just wait to inherit theirs.


"There is nothing like a good tomato sandwich now and then."

-Harriet M. Welsch

Visit my food blog! http://goodformeblog.blogspot.com/

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We have an Oster model 6309 made by Sunbeam. It was around $30 at Target. I bought it for my wife as a gift (at her request) because it has a copper body. It has perked along for several years and produces toast just the way we want it.


Porthos Potwatcher
The Once and Future Cook

 

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Another vote for the Breville Ikon 4-slice model. We've gone through a number of toasters, the last one being an execrable T-fal model we dubbed the toast launcher because it's top was slanted and would indeed launch a slice onto the counter top from time to time. It toasted so unevenly that I had to rotate the bread left-to-right and top-to-bottom. We bought the wide slot 4-slice model because even the high end manufacturers seem stuck on the square slice concept, leaving little-to-no room for wider breads like artisan loaves. The Breville has been the best performer so far, in along line of disappointments.

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Having not had much success with modern toasters, including purchasing and returning several different types, I was motivated to explore the use of a Toaster-Oven.

I did some research, and settled on this model which received good reviews.

Better still, I beat the retail outlet down from $300 to $230.

Here is a photo

Breville BOV800.jpg

Not sure what to try first - toast or obtaining a brulee on a lemon tart.

Luke

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I have a dualit 4-slice and am pretty happy with it. Much happier than it's predecessors from Krups & Kitchenaid although maybe I just have low expectations. There was a brief article in Washington Post home section a few weeks ago on toasters which reminded me of this topic:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/02/23/AR2011022304623.html

"Heating up. The first cycle of a toaster takes the longest. It's sort of like preheating your oven. The second and third cycles won't take as long."

Do most toasters compensate for this? Do you find subsequent toasting to perform better? Thankfully (uh, to my knowledge) I have never experienced the cat/toaster issue?!


"The main thing to remember about Italian food is that when you put your groceries in the car, the quality of your dinner has already been decided." – Mario Batali

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Having not had much success with modern toasters, including purchasing and returning several different types, I was motivated to explore the use of a Toaster-Oven.

I did some research, and settled on this model which received good reviews.

Better still, I beat the retail outlet down from $300 to $230.

Here is a photo

Breville BOV800.jpg

Not sure what to try first - toast or obtaining a brulee on a lemon tart.

Luke

Here's my post about this Breville. I'm curious to hear how the toasting works out for you.

P.S. Wouldn't a Dalek-shaped toaster be beyond cool?


Edited by Alex (log)

Gene Weingarten, writing in the Washington Post about online news stories and their readers' comments: "I basically like 'comments,' though they can seem a little jarring: spit-flecked rants that are appended to a product that at least tries for a measure of objectivity and dignity. It's as though when you order a sirloin steak, it comes with a side of maggots."

 

"A vasectomy might cost as much as a year’s worth of ice cream, but that doesn’t mean it’s equally enjoyable." -Ezra Dyer, NY Times

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Hi Alex,

Yes - I found the same issue with bars on the underneath side of the toast. Although, I'm not sure I would describe it as "partially cooked", but rather, uneven in browning.

As for solving it, I'm having a think about that one. I can't see it being too difficult, but nor do I find the result annoying. The toast was great, cooked just the way I like it (apart from the bars...)

I have to admit, I am really getting to like this little oven. I made some single serve lemon tarts in it tonight, slowly baked in a water bath. My recipe had not been adjusted for a convection oven, and I really like the full control you have over the settings, like turning the fan off.

You can see the grill with toast waiting

BOV800-1.jpg

You select your desired toast level and number of slices.

BOV800-2.jpg

You hit start, and the display changes colour to indicate it is cooking. 4 minutes is how long it takes, and it switches off automatically (with appropriate warning beeps)

BOV800-3.jpg

There are two elements on the bottom, and three on the top. In the "toast" mode, only two elements on the top and two on the bottom are in action.

BOV800-4.jpg

Toast finished. A very even toast on the top, not that great on the bottom.

BOV800-5.jpg

However, despite the look of the bottom, the actual toast was the best I have had in a long time, far better than anything achieved with my previous two dedicated purchases.

If you want perfect toast, buy a 1960 Sunbeam as suggested (I just watched one of these sell on eBay for $97....ouch!). However, the Breville BOV800 Smart Oven appears to be pretty good for a whole range stuff. I'll put it through it's paces over the next few weeks.

Luke

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I'd be curious to know if preheating the toaster/toaster oven solves some of the uniformity and slowness problems. I also wonder how some of them compare in toasting Lender's Bagels, real bagels, grocery store bread (i.e., bread with additives to lengthen shelf life), and homemade bread. Maybe some toasters are better at some of these, and this will give some insight into what QC test they presumably passed in the design process.

Looks like Cooks Illustrated investigated almost what you asked, unfortunately I don't have a subscription so can't find out what the results were.

http://www.cooksillustrated.com/equipment/overview.asp?docid=17906

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Looks like Cooks Illustrated investigated almost what you asked, unfortunately I don't have a subscription so can't find out what the results were.

http://www.cooksillustrated.com/equipment/overview.asp?docid=17906

The ones they liked: a Kenmore, an Oster, a Cuisinart, and a Black and Decker. The ones they didn't like: a Sunbeam, a Farberware, and a Toastmaster.

MelissaH


MelissaH

Oswego, NY

Chemist, writer, hired gun

Say this five times fast: "A big blue bucket of blue blueberries."

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Just a note to say that Kenmore was the favorite of the bunch.

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Here is the toaster we use at home right now.. its a Tefal, not as nice looking as some others ive seen, but the good thing is it has a little removable plastic cover on top which i really like!

toaster1.jpg

toaster2.jpg

So far its about 1 year old and no problems, except maybe when we put in pieces of toast that are too thick and get stuck :D


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My Love of Kitchen Gear is a love of Kitchen Tools :)

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