Take Five: Let's toast the toaster

I don't know anyone famous to quote here, other than my mother, who insisted that my sister and I eat something before we left for school.

“At least have a piece of toast,” she said. “You can't think in class if your stomach is empty.”

I remember dashing out of our home, pushing my bike's kickstand up, the toast wedged in my mouth, and then pedaling to school munching on this toasted mess.

I bring this subject to you because an informal and incomplete survey of relatives, friends, and La Cañada breakfast establishments proves that while the toast itself is universal, the toasting suffers from inconsistency. Home toasters, which is what most of us face every morning, are obstinate and tend to fight back when engaged.

I offer this evidence: Narrow slots that can't accommodate sliced bagels. Oh yes, we can stuff the bagels down the chutes because we're desperate, but the results are disastrous when the heating elements have done their work — if they have. These same slots can't handle thick-sliced bread, or thin-sliced French rolls.

Toaster control knobs should be tried in court for false advertising. Consider this — the temperature settings run from 1 through 9. My non-scientific survey indicated that 4 is selected most of the time. What degree of difference exists in the last five numbers? And why is it, then, that smoke spews out of the toaster, followed by a blackened, crunchy unidentifiable mass? If you're not eligible for the witness protection program, using your fingers to root out burned toast is a hard way to lose your fingerprints.

Perhaps I should fault the bread people. It seems to me that bakers, who toil all through the night manufacturing who knows how many varieties of loaves, should include pre-approved toasters for sale next to their bread displays in supermarkets. I offer this brilliant marketing idea free to mergers and acquisition experts.

Then we have flickering coils that tease the hungry crowd waiting patiently for perfectly-done toast that never arrives. How about toasters that shoot toast out as if launched from a trampoline? Or the plunger that breaks as your family of eight sits down at the table? But my favorite experience is trying to mine thick-sliced toast that is stuck inside the slots. There are any number of solutions, none of them any good. Be sure the toaster is unplugged when searching for what's left of your toast, or your curly hair could end up straight, not to mention the toaster, which may be damaged as it travels from countertop to the nearest hard surface.

I know there are new models on the market these days. These sleekly-designed beauties come with sophisticated instruction booklets written in “text dialects” so dense that even your teen-age techie kid runs out your front door with an empty stomach. We do not need 14-page toaster booklets.

Researching the Internet for safe and practical toasters introduced me to many users who are frustrated with faulty toasters. If nothing else, I found an unhappy community of consumers. We are united, it seems, in enjoying evenly-toasted bread. This goal is not too much to ask for as we scramble in these early mornings.

Oh yes, there will be naysayers who will show up in droves shouting out, “You are talking about perfect toast and toasters while the world is imploding? Are you serious?”

I say to this unruly mob, “Are you having a bad toast day?”

GENE PEPPER is a published author and writer. Contact him by email at gpep@aol.com or phone (818) 790-1990.

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