Toasters past and present: How Has Everyone´s Favourite Kitchen Appliance Changed Over the Years?



The kitchen is a space which has changed and evolved an incredible amount throughout history. Sociologically, it is a fascinating space through which we can learn a great deal about the way in which humans have lived in different periods in time. Today´s kitchen tells us a great deal about home living. The most recent development is the establishment of the kitchen as a central space within the home. No longer is it a tucked away space used solely for the preparation and storage of food – in many homes today, the kitchen has become a social space which is used not only for cooking but also for eating and general social entertainment.

The kitchen is a space which has changed and evolved an incredible amount throughout history. Sociologically, it is a fascinating space through which we can learn a great deal about the way in which humans have lived in different periods in time.

 

Today's kitchen tells us a great deal about home living. The most recent development is the establishment of the kitchen as a central space within the home. No longer is it a tucked away space used solely for the preparation and storage of food - in many homes today, the kitchen has become a social space which is used not only for cooking but also for eating and general social entertainment.

 

                                                    

Kenwood kMix OWTTM023A1 2-Slice Toaster - £49.99

 

One of the most significant consequences of this change in the way we use the kitchen is reflected in the relationships we now have with various items housed in the kitchen. No longer are kitchen appliances viewed as purely functional things. Instead, they are chosen with style in mind, fitting into the wider aesthetic of the room in which we spend most of our time at home.

 

As central to the kitchen aesthetic as any other appliance is the toaster. Here, we take a quick look at the history of the toaster, tracking its development through the years since its invention.

 

The beginning

 

Bread itself dates back thousands of years to Ancient Egypt but there's no record of toast being made until the rise of the Roman Empire. In fact, the word for toast is actually derived from a Latin word - tostum which referred to burning.

 

The Romans were not simply looking for a new form of comfort food, however. Instead, they discovered toast when looking for a method by which to preserve bread for a little longer. In the early days, toast would be made simply by holding bread over or close to a fire or hearthstone.

 

                                                         

Breville Aurora VTT502 4-Slice Toaster in black - £34.99

 

The toaster as we know it does not date back to the days of Pompey, Crassus and Caesar but it does date back a long way. The first electric toaster is recorded as appearing towards the end of the 19th century - around 1893.

 

The first recorded electric toaster was known as the 'Eclipse', and was created by a British business called Crompton & Company. While the invention itself obviously marks something quite spectacular, the item was not regarded very highly at the time.

 

Of course, electricity was not an integral part of the home in the 1890s, giving the Eclipse very little market potential. It wouldn't be until the early 20th century that the toaster was taken seriously.

 

The technology behind the toaster came a long way between the Eclipse and the first US patent, which appeared in the early 1900s. The use of Nichrome (an alloy of nickel and chromium) paved the way for General Electric to produce a product suitable for commercial success in 1909. These early toasters could work only on one side of the bread at a time. The invention of a toaster which turned toast automatically in 1913 was thus seen as somewhat revolutionary.

 

The next step: popping up

 

Today's toasters are fully automatic. Not only are they able to take care of both sides of the bread, but they will 'pop up' when the toast is ready. This popping up technology marks a big step in the development of the toaster.

 

It was 1925 when the Waters Genter Company produced the Model 1-A-1 Toastmaster. This household model could toast bread on both sides at the same time, working to a timer, and ejecting the toast when the allotted time had elapsed.

 

Indeed, once the demand for toasters was established, it did not take long time for them to take a form similar to those of today. Just a few years later, in 1928, sliced bread became available. Its popularity was undoubtedly linked to the availability of advanced toaster technology.

 

Nowadays, toasters come with everything from defrost functions to removable trays that make cleaning breadcrumbs far easier.

 

                                                    

Hotpoint F084101 2-Slice Toaster in red - £49.99

 

Modern toasters

 

As we mentioned earlier, today's kitchens see each individual appliance as an integral part. From the clear toaster to the iconic and stylish Dualit toaster shown below, there is a whole host of options available to today's consumer.

 

                                                       

Dualit 20402 2-Slice Toaster in Azure Blue - £108.75

 

Once the fully automatic toaster had been developed in the 1920s, there wasn't a great deal to be done in the world of toaster technology. Today, toasters are able to market themselves not only on their functionality but also their style - something exemplified in the following video for the Kenwood kMix range.

In conclusion, the toaster is a great example of how industry is able to perfect the functional design of a basic product and is something no home should be without.

 

Sources:

http://inventors.about.com/library/inventors/bltoaster.htm; http://www.ideafinder.com/history/inventions/toaster.htm