Kitchen Facts: When Was the Toaster Invented?

when was the toaster invented

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A toaster is a common appliance in any home or kitchen, but most of us don’t know where it came from. So when was the toaster invented? The original toaster – a device that’s far removed from the automatic pop-up toaster we have in our kitchens today, arrived sometime in the Roman age. Then, people used all kinds of devices for toasting bread over a flame, including skewers and rotatable systems.

Who Invested the first Electric Toaster?

We’ve been toasting bread for centuries, long before any electrical devices existed to make the toasting of products simple. Of course, electric toasters haven’t been around for nearly as long as their manual counterparts, but they may have been around for longer than you’d think.

Alan MacMasters

The first “official” electric toaster, similar to the pop-up toaster mechanisms we use today, was created by Alan MacMasters in Scotland in 1893. It was otherwise known as the eclipse toaster and was the first toaster that didn’t require accessory tools like a toasting fork.

Eclipse Toaster

This toaster moved beyond the days of toasting forks and holding sliced bread over a heating element to get a toasted result. Instead, Alan Macmasters created his toaster using iron wiring to toast one slice of bread on one side gradually. Then, of course, you would have to flip the bread over mid-way through the toasting to expose the heating element to both sides.

Obviously, the first electric toasters weren’t as convenient as the automatic toaster products we have today. However, Alan Macmaster’s toaster was one of the first steps that the industry took towards the household toaster as we know it today.

The Evolution of the Electric Toaster

Macmasters’ Toaster

The Macmasters eclipse toaster was far from the best way to toast bread. Although it offered a convenient electric option for toasting pre-sliced bread, the main issue was that there was no proper heating element available that was heat-resistant enough to withstand high temperatures regularly. Unfortunately, this means you couldn’t use your toaster repeatedly.

Marsh’s Nichrome Filament

In 1905, Albert Marsh rectified this problem by creating the Nichrome filament – a technology still used in electric toasters and toaster oven products. The Nichrome element used a combination of chromium alloy and nickel in a filament wire to make it more durable and safer as a heating element. This new element was quickly developed to become a standard part of general electric toasters.

Schneider’s US Patent

In 1906, George Schneider made history as the first person to file for a US patent for an electric toaster long after the initial toaster was invented. George filed the patent on behalf of the American Electrical Heater Company, located in Detroit. The new toaster design submitted by the company helped to pave the way for the toaster of the future.

Who Invented the First Commercially Successful Toaster?

The first commercially successful electric toaster came a few years after George Schneider in America filed the patent.

Shailor’s D-12

In 1909, Frank Shailor, also from the General Electric company, created a product to create toasted bread called the D-12. The bread toaster used the newer heating technology to create a more convenient product, closer to modern toasters.

Copeman’s Toaster with Automatic Bread Turner

In 1913, a man called Lloyd Copeman entered the scene, ready to build on the successful heating elements and toaster properties of the General Electric brand. Copeman designed the first automatic toasters for the modern market. This toaster came with an automatic bread turner, so you didn’t have to change the side of the slice you were heating manually.

Strite’s Pop-Up Toaster

Next, Charles Strite invented a new, more modern version of the toaster by adding new features. This solution could do a lot more than turn bread slices for you. Strite introduced the world to pop-up toasters which didn’t require bread slices to be turned over. Instead, the automatic toasters came with a timer to help you perfectly toast thick slices of bread.

Before the pop-up toasters became the most common household appliance, it was commonly found in restaurants and cafes, where it was much easier to use than early toasters.

How Much Did a Toaster Cost in the 1920s?

Although the old-fashioned toasters available in the 1920s might not seem as advanced as the smart toasters, we have today. But, unfortunately, they were just as expensive. These products were largely seen as a luxury for some time, costing between $5 and $25. The same amount of money would be equivalent to over $300 in the current economy.

It wasn’t until 1926 that the Waters Genter company used the automatic pop-up design and the heating elements that had been previously created to make a more affordable toaster for home use. Heat-resistant plastics offered greater peace of mind too.

The company started selling the first home toaster, known as the Toastmaster, in 1926. This was an alternative to Strite’s toaster, and the toaster quickly became the most common household appliance.

How Have Toasters Changed Today?

Modern toaster and some bread

From an open fire toasting process hundreds of years ago to automatic toasters with multiple toasting settings, the toaster has come a long way. The redesigned version of the toaster in your kitchen today comes from years of innovation and experimentation. These days, you can toast bread in up to six slots at once, experiment with baked goods as well as toast, and explore advanced technology.

Some of the most intelligent tools for making toast today come with different settings for things like frozen pastries and raisin bread. You can even find intelligent solutions that give you different toasting settings for brown bread. It’s definitely a world away from when the toaster was invented more than 100 years ago.

The automatic toaster options on the market today can toast bread like never before. However, it wasn’t so long ago that we relied on the Wonder bread toaster and simple metallic products to toast bread. If it weren’t for innovators like Frank Shailor and Charles Strite, we never would have had the toasting experience we know today.

Celebrating the History of the Toaster

It’s hard to imagine a world where you can’t toast bread in a matter of seconds. Bread and toast are two of the most common things in a lot of our breakfast routines. However, we haven’t always put pre-sliced bread into a simple pop-up toaster as we can today.

When was the toaster invented? From the first pop up toaster to the intelligent tools we have for making toast today, we’ve seen countless innovations, and we can say that the new electric toaster may well be the best invention since sliced bread. So who knows where the future of toasting bread might be heading next?

How do you like your toast? Tell us all about it in the comments below.

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