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Toasters are the best things to have ever happened to the sliced bread introduced by Chillicothe Baking Company. Today, toasters are considered a must-have appliance for both homes and offices. However, despite it being a common household appliance, where did it come from?
In this article, we are focusing on the invention and innovation of the toaster. There are four main toaster categories – the toaster oven, convection toaster, conveyor toaster, and pop up toaster.
Here is a brief history of when was the toaster invented.
The bread toasting process has been happening for years now, long before it was known as toasting. According to history, toasting bread began 6000 years ago in ancient Egypt. Toasting was used to preserve bread allowing it to last longer and make it palatable.
Egyptians used open fire to toast their bread. Toasting bread on open fires is a practice that is still done to date, but many people consider it a camping hack and not for everyday use. In 1893, a Scottish man disrupted the toasting practice.
Alan Macmaster is recorded as the first to invent the first electric bread toaster. This toaster is known as the Eclipse Toaster. It was the first toaster in history that did not need accessories to function. This toaster was sold and marketed under Crompton Company.
All early toasters before the Eclipse Toaster needed an extra accessory to function properly, including the first electric toaster. Some of these accessories included a toasting fork that was used to flip the bread and remove it once it was ready.
Alan Macmaster’s toaster was made of iron wiring and a metal frame that would toast bread one side at a time. Once one side was done, all you had to do was flip the slice of bread. This would expose the untoasted side of the bread to the heating element to toast that side, too.
While the Eclipse Toaster was better than everything there in the past, it was not convenient. But it did get the ball rolling.
Evolution Of Toaster
The Macmaster’s Toaster
When Alan Macmaster introduced the world to the first electric toaster in 1893, it was nowhere near perfect. But it served its purpose of toasting sliced bread. One of the main flaws of the Macmaster toaster was that it did not have a proper heating element.
This bread toaster used an element that was not heat-resistant. This meant that you could not use the toaster over again without replacing the heating element.
The Marsh Nichrome Filament
The problems with the heating elements were resolved in 1905. This was after Albert Marsh invented the Nichrome filament. The Nichrome filament technology is still in use in modern toasters. This filament is a combination of nickel and chromium alloy.
The Nichrome filament wire is durable and safe compared to copper wires. It functions as an element that can withstand heat and electricity over a long period.
The Schneider US Patent
While Alan Macmaster may have invented the electric toaster, he did not patent it. It was not until 1906 that George Schneider filed a patent for the electric toaster in the United States.
This patent was filed on behalf of the American Electrical Heater Company based in Detroit. After this patent, progress was made in the evolution of the electric toaster.
The Frank Shailor D-12
After George filed the patent for the electric toaster in 1906, others started experimenting with it. In 1909, Frank Shailor, who worked at the General Electric Company, built the first commercial electric toaster.
This was called the Shailor D-12. This was the closest thing to what the modern toaster is today. It was the first commercially successful electric toaster.
The Copeman Automatic Bread Turner
With the hype of electric toasters at its all-time high, different companies tried their best to keep up with demand and competition. In 1913, Lloyd Copeman from the Copeman Electric Stove Company joined the bandwagon. He was determined to build on the electric heating element.
Copeman was the first to make an automatic toaster. This went on to be named the Copeman Automatic Bread Tuner. This automatic toaster had everyone excited. Because, unlike other toasters before it, you did not have to flip the bread.
The Strite Automatic Pop Toaster
With competition at its peak, innovators rushed to see who would improve on the already existing automatic toasters. It was not until early 1920 that Charles Strite came up with the pop toaster. This was the first pop up toaster, and it was called the Strite Automatic Toaster.
Pop-up toasters had a timer, unlike other toasters that needed you to man the toast as it cooked. This meant you could leave your bread cooking as you got other things done. Strite’s toaster was the first automatic pop-up toaster.
This pop-up toaster was a restaurant and café favourite for brown bread before it found its way into people’s homes as a household toaster.
Today, toasters come in all shapes and sizes, and they can be used for other foods apart from bread. You can now use your toaster for other baked goods like raisin bread, an English muffin, and frozen pastries. Today, toasters have evolved into amazing technical appliances that are among the most common household devices.
Aside from touch screen properties and crumb trays, these smart toasters can also be operated using smartphones.
No longer are they just basic appliances but intelligent machines. Unlike earlier toasters where you did not have control over how the toast turned out, today, you can regulate your toast’s browning and even crispiness.
To Golden Brown Perfection
Toasting bread has evolved from a necessity of keeping bread fresh to more or less of a luxury. Today, toasting bread is done in seconds and has been intertwined with daily breakfast routines.
So, if you get asked, “when was the toaster invented?” the right answer was 6,000 years ago. However, the modern toaster is credited to Alan Macmaster, who invented the first electric toaster in 1893. And like with many things today, it is guaranteed that we have not seen the last when it comes to innovation of the toaster.