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New Toasters Offer a Cool Touch, Look

Times Staff Writer

As technology improves, so does function and design in electric housewares. The toaster, for instance, has come a long way from its early primitive designs.

In ancient times, toasting came about as a form of preservation when ancient Egyptians started parching their bread to remove moisture and prevent spoiling. One of the first toasters developed was a simple wrought-iron holder that was placed over a fireplace. Then in the late 1800s, a tin and wire device was developed; designed to fit over a coal stove opening or gas burner, it toasted four slices of bread at a time.

The first electric toaster, introduced around 1909, forms an easy picture in one’s mind--it consisted of an inner metal frame similar to that of an ordinary toaster with no shell. And one needed to keep an eye on the toast as it browned. The problem of burning toast slices in electric toasters brought about the invention of the automatic pop-up toaster with its spring mechanism about 15 years later.

Influenced by European Designs

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Contemporary automatic toasters have changed tremendously in style since their early beginnings. Influenced by popular European designs, the new toasters in the marketplace create a presence that is clean and refined.

Just about a year ago Rowenta from Germany introduced its toaster to America. Today the slender, sleek European import deserves a toast for getting favorable endorsement from ID, the Magazine of International Design. Cited for offering new convenience features, the Rowenta was one of the two kitchen products recognized under the consumer products category in the magazine’s annual design review for 1986.

“Increasing the versatility of small toasters has been a problem since day one,” according to Nancy Perkins, one of the four jurors in the consumer products category. Aside from a wide slot opening, the Rowenta toaster was cited for its unique optional accessories: a roll/bun warming device that sits on top of the toaster (two inches above the heat) and a sandwich grill basket that fits neatly into the toast slot.

Perkins also praised the product for solving the “too-hot-to-touch” problem. Getting away from the hot steel box, the European company offered--for the first time in the United States--a slim toaster with insulated thermoplast shell that stays relatively cool to the touch when the unit is in use.

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A Light, Clean Image

The Cool Touch Toasters offer a choice of three exterior designs, all exhibiting the light, clean image: the Nap Pattern, an ivory base with a subtle pattern of raised dots, the Sunray Pattern, also ivory with a sunburst pattern and Villeroy & Boch Trio Pattern, consisting of line and colored geometric designs. (The Villeroy & Boch Trio Pattern is also available in Rowenta’s drip coffee maker with thermal carafe.)

A grid in the bread slot centralizes the slices of bread--thick or thin--so they are held at equal distance from the heat to ensure even toasting on both sides. However, like most toaster products there are a few limitations to the Rowenta appliance. Although there is a crumb tray in the bottom of the unit, the toaster has to be inverted and tapped gently to shake off the crumbs. Also, there is a brief waiting period before the next bread slice can be toasted properly. The good news is that the toasters are all backed by a three-year guarantee.

The Rowenta Cool Touch Toaster (Model TO-39) Villeroy & Boch Trio Pattern has a suggested retail price of $45; the Nap Pattern (Model TO-38) and the Sunray Pattern (TO-36) have a suggested retail price of $40 each. The Rowenta bun warmer accessory has a suggested retail price of $10 while the sandwich toaster accessory is $15.

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Rowenta products are available at Bullock’s.


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