Who Invented the Toaster?

This morning, as I waited for my toast to be perfectly made by my recently acquired toaster, I thought about how much less toast I would eat if I had to put them on the stove. I didn’t know who I had to thank for that low-effort breakfast I was preparing half-awake, so I did some research (after finishing eating my toast, of course).

Who Created the Toaster?

Obviously, people were eating toasted bread before the invention of the toaster. They had to! Especially when they didn’t have electricity. However, the toaster was not invented yesterday, but more than a century ago.

One of the earliest pioneers to harness the power of electricity for toasting was Alan MacMasters. In 1893, this Scottish inventor introduced the world to the concept of the electric toaster. However, his invention was quite different from the modern toasters. MacMasters’s toaster used heating coils to toast bread slices. While it was a revolutionary idea for its time, the results were often inconsistent and could even be quite hazardous.

In 1905, American metallurgist Albert Leroy Marsh invented the nichrome, an alloy composed of nickel, chromium, zinc, and a touch of iron, that possessed remarkable heat resistance and durability. It was a turning point for electric heating and cooking.

Influenced by the innovation of nichrome, Frank Shailor of General Electric introduced in 1909 the D-12 model, which is considered to be the first commercially successful electric toaster—others tried before, but failed to launch. It featured a single heating element enclosed in a cage-like structure. While it could only toast one side of the bread at a time, it marked a significant step forward in the evolution of electric toasters.

GE model D-12 Toaster (1909, source)

More Than One-Sided Toast

The Copeman Electric Stove Company unveiled a toaster with an automated bread turner in 1913, the same year that Lloyd Groff Copeman and his wife Hazel Berger Copeman submitted many toaster patent applications. It was only the first evolution of the toaster!

One day, a Minnesota mechanic named Charles Strite became frustrated with his burnt cafeteria lunches. He decided to do something to solve this problem. The result was patented almost two years later, in 1921: the automatic pop-up toaster. Not only it introduced a timer-controlled mechanism that toasted both sides of the bread simultaneously, but it also ejected the toast when done.

The Invention of Sliced Bread

The other revolution in the toaster industry came from Otto Frederick Rohwedder. In 1928, the American inventor and engineer introduced the commercial bread-slicing machine, a contraption that transformed the way we consume bread.

This innovation dovetailed seamlessly with the growing popularity of toasters. With the rise of brands like “Kleen Maid” and “Wonder Bread,” consumers now had the convenience of pre-sliced bread that fit perfectly into their newly beloved toasters.

Do you know what you can put on your toast? Nutella! Just sayin’.

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