The cleverest little kitchen gadget since – well, long before sliced bread surprisingly – celebrates its 100th anniversary this year.
When Frank Shailor, a technician with General Electric, dreamed up his D12 toaster in 1909, it was 20 years before there was such a thing as a sliced loaf.
He invented it so people could still eat bread that was going stale and it was an overnight success. Bits of bread were simply wedged inside the exposed “wire fence”.
Unfortunately, this would prove quite hazardous because the bread had to be turned by hand to make sure both sides were toasted.
After a decade of people getting their fingers burnt came the first covered, pop-up toaster in 1919.
This led to the world’s first automatic electric toaster, the Toastmaster, in 1926.
When Otto Frederick Rohwedder invented a machine to slice bread in 1928, no home could be without a toaster.
The gadget has been through so many incarnations, there is a museum in Kettwig, Germany, with almost every toaster ever made, including the willow-patterned Pan Electric Toastrite and the modernist 1930s Saluta revolving toaster in nickel-plated steel and red Bakelite.
A spokesman for breadmakers Kingsmill said: “Bread has been a staple part of our diet for 6,000 years, but toasting is relatively new and it’s interesting that the process hasn’t changed that much in 100 years.