Toasting of bread to get that crunchy texture has been commonly done. During the early days, bread was toasted over fire. This was a tedious process. With the invention of the electric toaster, toasting of bread became easy. However a close watch had to kept on the bread otherwise it would burn. Also, the bread needed to be turned manually to toast it from both sides.
Charles Strite was a factory worker in a manufacturing plant in Stillwater, Minnesota. Strite was irked by the fact that sometimes only burnt toast was available for breakfast in the factory cafeteria. This motivated Strite to make improvements in the electric toaster to prevent the bread from getting burnt and minimize human attention.
The electric toaster which was invented in 1893 was in itself a great innovation. The toaster had coils made of nichrome (an alloy of nickel and chromium). When electricity was passed through these coils, heat was generated. This heat was used to toast bread.Strite added a timer and a spring mechanism to the electric toaster so that the bread would automatically pop-up after a specific amount of time, thereby preventing the toast from receiving excess heat and burning. He received a patent for his pop-up toaster in 1921. He formed Waters Genter Company to manufacture and market his toaster which was originally intended for restaurants. Strite redesigned the toaster to suit households and marketed it under the name ‘Toastmaster’ in 1926. It soon became very popular and could be seen in many houses.
Since the pop-up toaster automatically switched off when the toast was done and toasted both sides of the bread simultaneously, it made the process time efficient and now there was no need to keep a watch on the bread.
- 1001 Inventions That Changed The World – Pop-up Toaster, Pg. 576
- Waters-Genter Company – Industrial design history
- Toaster – ideafinder.com
See also: Bread slicer