Watch my life unravel...



Top Canadian Blogs - Top Blogs

Local Directory for Ottawa, ON


Can your toaster make toast?

I used to have a toaster that I’d had forever and couldn’t even remember where it came from. It sat on the counter and made toast. It was just a plain, ordinary toaster. I didn’t give it much thought at the time; I took it for granted.

I think about it a lot more now.

DeLonghi Toaster

DeLonghi Toaster

One day I saw a much more attractive DeLonghi toaster at a garage sale. It was so pretty. I bought it for $5 and got rid of my plain ordinary toaster.

A few days later I realized the new toaster wasn’t very good at making toast. One side didn’t work at all, and the other side only made barely toasted toast.

My friend Jane was in the process of furnishing her new apartment, and I’d been out shopping with her the week before. She had gone through much soul-searching because what she really wanted was this gorgeous, expensive red toaster, but she couldn’t justify the expense. She bought the $5.77 toaster at Zeller’s instead.

I called her up and asked her how the new toaster was working out. She said it was fine. So I went to Zeller’s and bought myself one of those cheapo toasters.

A couple of days later I realized it wasn’t very good at making toast. I had to keep sending the toast back down, three, four, five times, to get it adequately toasted.

I was at Jane’s place not long afterward and saw she now had the stunning new red toaster.

“Where’s your $5.77 Zeller’s toaster?” I asked.

“Oh,” she said, “It wasn’t very good at making toast, so I went back and got the one I really wanted in the first place.”

Hmph. Well there was no way I was buying an expensive red toaster, so I went to HomeSense and bought a Betty Crocker toaster for $12.99.

It wasn’t very good at making toast either.

I was a little mystified by all these toasters that weren’t very good at making toast. I mean, these are one-trick ponies, right? The only thing they do is make toast. Am I being unreasonable here?

A couple of months ago I was on Cheryl’s blog reading about roasted vegetables, and she strongly recommended using a toaster oven. Hmm. I could solve my toaster problem (which by now had dragged on for several years) and make roast veggies without heating up the oven.

The next time Loblaws had a tax-free day I went toaster oven shopping. I found a PC brand toaster oven that was usually $50, on sale for $35 and I got it for $25 because of a technicality. I was thrilled.

Until I tried to make toast.

It took forever to make toast and I had to set all these dials and manually turn the bread over when one side was done and watch it like a hawk so it wouldn’t burn. It was more trouble than making toast in a bent hanger over a campfire, and not nearly as much fun.

Then someone at Irene’s Pub told me that toaster ovens are huge energy drains, worse than regular ovens even, which actually isn’t true but I half-believed her at the time because she sounded so sure, and because someone else agreed with her. She suggested I got to Paradis, the commercial kitchen wares store on Bank Street, and buy a commercial grade toaster.

“You’ll probably have to pay a hundred bucks,” she said, “But it’ll be a good toaster.”

The Thousand-Dollar Toaster

The Thousand-Dollar Toaster

So off I went to Paradis. This is where I learned that you cannot get a commercial grade toaster for under a hundred bucks, but, if you’re so inclined, you can pay up to a thousand dollars for a four-slice toaster.

I left empty-handed.

Last weekend I bought a $36 four-slice Black & Decker toaster at Loblaws. It has a bagel setting and a frozen setting. GC toasted frozen bagels and was pleased. I haven’t made any toast yet. I’m still savoring the possibility that I might have a toaster that can actually make toast. I don’t want to burst my bubble just yet.

41 comments to Can your toaster make toast?

  • Papa Pan claims our toaster doesn’t make toast, but it does as long as the bread isn’t frozen when it goes in. It looks like that 1000.00 toaster but I think it was about 30.00 at costco. I like my toast just this side of burnt and it works just fine. I’ll go look and tell you the brand later.

  • Oma

    Have you added up the cost of time, gas and money spent on all these toasters? I suspect that you could have bought the bright red toaster. I have one of those. It makes great toast. (I sold my toaster oven when I discovered it didn’t make toast in time for breakfast.)

  • I have a $7 dollar toaster from Walmart. It has a Poptart setting, but it most assuredly does not make toast! It doesn’t matter what setting you have it on, you always have to put the toast down twice.
    My mom has a good toaster, I’ll ask her where she got it
    The best toaster I ever used was the one my papa made. He called it an “East-coaster Toaster” and it was a small square cake rack that he put legs on so it could stand a safe distance from the stove burner – basically worked like a bent hanger, but was a little more stylish. It was perfect for toasting my Nanny’s homemade bread!

  • A grand for a TOASTER? Does it impregnate flakes of 24K gold in the? What goes into a thousand-dollar toaster that makes it worth A THOUSAND FRICKING DOLLARS?!

    Good grief.

  • Nancy

    Near the PC toaster oven would have been the 2-slice PC toaster, with frozen setting, etc…I think they’re $26. Your toaster oven should toast both sides of the bread…maybe you’re using the broil instead of the toast setting…dunno; but good luck, being able to make toast (hot, that is) is important to survival. The wood stove does it best; but if you daydream it burns…

  • Julia

    I was actually prompted to get up and go to the basement to see what our first toaster was (still is). It is a silver Silex (the name is on a round orange label on the end) and it cost about $8. One of us had it when we got married. I know I had it but he thinks he had it. Anyway, it toasted great for all the years we had it, from at least 1981 onwards. Then, several years ago, he was prompted to buy a new toaster that would fit bagels. So we put the Silex in the basement because I knew, from talking with other people, that new toasters just didn’t toast toast very well. I have been happy to be pleasantly surprised by our not-so-new-anymore, white Proctor-Silex toaster with the extra wide slots. It toasts great and until just now, I didn’t realize it was the same brand as our original toaster. I am afraid however, that I am not going to offer you the old Silex because I am keeping it for back-up, insurance purposes. It is one of the few kitchen gadgets that I would not part with, unlike the myriad of blenders and mixers and choppers that we currently have in the basement. I should just round them all up and send them off to the Sally Ann or some place.

  • Oh and it’s a cuisinart…and it toasts my toast just fine in all four slots.

    I think he difference between an 8 dollar toaster and a 1000 toaster is that you can get the 1000 toaster repaired if it isn’t workingf…remember when you could get appliances repaired? Gawd I miss that!

  • Methinks the garage sale toaster’s failings have more to do with the fact that it was at a garage sale for $5, than the fact that it looks like it’s supposed to do lots of things. I’m sure if it did all those things (and made toast), you wouldn’t have seen it at a garage sale.

    I’ve used toaster ovens since the early ’90s, and it has served me well. It’s great for cooking single-serving meals, and I’ve got the timing down for breakfast: bacon first, eggs next, toast last.

    The first one was a Black-and-Decker that lasted for a good 15 or so years; when it died, I got a new one (not sure of the brand) from Zeller’s… it has its flaws, but it can fit a square 8″ dish!

    – RG>

  • The toasters in the lunchroom at work don’t toast, either. I use a toaster oven at home – a Black & Decker – which I love to reheat pizza in. Do you know that if cheese melts onto the heating element, it catches fire?

  • I have a toaster that is on it’s way out. It was a $30 toaster 5 years ago, and is just now starting to get to the point that it’s not toasting reliably. I always forget how hard a good toaster is to find.

  • My toaster oven makes toast, toasts bagels, bakes salmon and brownies, roasts veggies, etc. I’m not buying that it uses more energy than a big oven. It’s a DeLonghi and was pretty spendy, like $100 or so.

    The one I had before it was close to 30-years-old before it gave up the ghost. I bought this one about 10 years ago and had it only about 3 years before the on-off switch stopped working. I couldn’t fix it so I plugged it into a power strip with an on-off switch and that works.

    Then, 5 years ago, the whole thing stopped working. No heating elements, nada. I took it apart and the little electrical connector that hooked the power cord onto the toaster had melted. That’s because it was the wrong gauge for the wattage in the appliance. So I went to the hardware store, got the right part and fixed it. This made me cranky because it was another example of how they really don’t make appliances as well as they used to. I still have my top-of-the-line Osterizer blender that my grandma bought for my first wedding in 1969. It would grind rocks into clay if I asked it to.

    p.s. I don’t eat a lot of toast.

  • You touch a very raw nerve, ma’am.

    I had a beautiful toaster. By that I mean that it was really pleasing to look at (we coyotes have stealth aesthetic tendencies…) as well as making damn good toast, consistently and perfectly every time. I loved my toaster. It made me happy to look at it.

    Alas, some electronic bit that made it all work fried up one day in a foul puff of smoke. I looked for an updated version of the same thing only to find the manufacturer had abandoned toasters for crappy DVDs or something.

    And all toasters – those in a coyote’s snack bracket, anyway – are butt-ugly.

    So I bought a toaster oven. On sale at ZellMart BaySears. Oh, sure, it’s the size of a Smart Car and it’ll handle a frozen pizza and bake small animals to a turn, but it has a manual twist-timer that one must guesstimate the setting for, each and every time one wishes to make toast. Perhaps because coyotes lack thumbs, but mostly because this skeezy timer lacks, shall we say, nuance, half the time the bread comes out just bread. The other half it’s burnt black.

    We coyotes don’t eat very much toast anymore, because the whole needlessly irritating exercise just pisses us off to no end.

    But thank you for listening….

  • Deb

    I remember a toaster that mom had that made great toast…you had to bounce the one slice in the slot in just the right way, in order to get it to go down. I find toasters today, take forever for the first batch and then speed up for the subsequent ones.

  • Our toaster is a Black & Decker. It toasts bread well but shoots it across the room when done. If you like wearing oven mitts and “going long” for a catch then I recommend this one…we got it on sale at Can tire on sale (cheap) about five years ago. Good luck.

  • Rachelle

    Uhh, TELL me about it! I haven’t had a decent toaster since . . . ever. I had a crappity one as a student, then when I’d paid off my loans I figured I could afford a Nice Toaster. One that matched the kitchen and could fit bagels. One that would pop the bread up when it was done cooking instead of incinerating it.

    Being an uptight academic type with a deep-seated fear of being ripped off, I did Research. I read about a gigabyte of toaster reviews, wrote down model numbers, prices, features. I finally settled on a couple of models that might be okay and spent way too long trying to find them in Canada. I finally brought home my Nice Toaster, $89 plus taxes. I think it was a Proctor Silex.

    It took up about a quarter of my available counter space, and never really worked on anything but bagels. I had to keep pushing it down, usually 3 times to get my crunchy-granola bread toasted properly. I’d have to rotate the bread in between, or else the corners would get burnt. It took forever.

    When my new boy moved in, I adopted his cheapo toaster that he’d had forever. It’s a white Proctor Silex that just makes toast. The settings are 1*2*3*4*5*6. Don’t touch the sides, you’ll get burned.

    In conclusion, the easiest way to obtain a good toaster is to find someone who owns one, and let them move in.

    Good luck.

  • XUP

    I have a red toaster and a toaster oven. I’ve never used the toaster oven to make toast. I’m not even sure how that would work. But I use the toaster oven for almost every oveny thing. My red toaster only toasts one side of the bread and then I have to turn it around. I’ve never had a toaster that did toast perfectly. I used to be sad about that, but reading Coyote’s sad story I think it’s better not to have toasted at all than to have toasted and lost.

  • Kelly

    We got a Cuisinart 4-slice (wide slots for bagels) over 9 years ago as a wedding present and it actually does toast toast. The dial gets changed regularly because I like lightly toasted bread/bagels and my husband prefers ceiling-tile grade toast/bagels. No complaints other than it’s size, so it sleeps in a cupboard when not in use. Sides do get hot as it’s stainless. Best of luck in your quest Zoom.

  • lucy

    My roommate and I had a toaster which wouldn’t pop up the toast on its own. She must have inherited it from a previous roommate. So you had to watch or time the toast and pop it up before it got burnt. Occasionally one of us would forget and go off to have a shower or answer the phone and then be surprised by smoke and the sound of the fire alarm some minutes later.

    Years later I bought a cheap Toastmaster toaster from Zellers during Boxing day sales. It still works fine after about 10 years. The only problem is that I’ve been careless enough to allow plastic bread bags to melt onto it, so it doesn’t look that great anymore, and if I think if I scrape off the colourful melted plastic I’ll end up scraping off most of the white paint.

    I don’t see why you should need a special toaster to do bagels, unless you’re eating those awful fat bagels which are not bagels but just doughnut-shaped loaves of bread. I lived in Montreal long enough to realize that the only good bagels come from Fairmount and St-Viateur and they are quite skinny and can fit into a normal-sized toaster slot. And now I’m in Ottawa, Kettleman’s work as well in a normal toaster, but no supermarket bagels!

  • Lisa in Toronto

    I am a big fan of the toaster oven. I use it for toasted cheese sandwiches, reheating one piece of pizza, etc. and I think they have to use less power than my full-size electric oven for the same tasks. I also use it for toasting bread or bagels, and it works well for me.
    Mine is a Black and Decker, and it is about 15 years old now.
    I hope I don’t jinx myself and cause it to stop working …
    Lisa in Toronto

  • Tom Sawyer

    Toast? People still eat toast? Who’s got the goddammed time and patience to make toast in this day & age?

  • I sell toasters made in America that don’t take four cycles to make toast. It’s just that they were made fifty, sixty and seventy years ago. I take ’em apart, clean and fix ’em, and find new homes for them. They don’t have bagel size slots, but they sure do make toast.

  • Oma

    Loved Coyote’s post. Debbie was referring to my old original Sunbeam, a wedding present from you dad’s uncle. It worked for thirty years. When it died I bought the same kind. Alas, the quality was not the same. Sunbeam had used the same old fifties skeleton and filled it full of modern gadgetry that was designed to frustrate for a few months and then die so that they could sell me a new one. But I fooled them. I never bought another Sunbeam product I felt so betrayed. Of course now I’m also off anything with a Kenmore brand name, and I am sure from reading these posts that it won’t be long before we all have to rely on people like Toasters (and Washers and Dryers and …)-NYC if we want something to work and have a long happy relationship with us. I am of the opinion that a toaster should work as long as I did before retiring.

  • Mudmama, I like my toast dark too, which requires about six trips down into the average contemporary toaster.

    Oma, it sounds like you’re in the minority with a toaster that can make toast!

    Valerie, just what the average family needs – a pop-tart toaster!

    Bob, I know, I was blown away too by the concept of a thousand dollar toaster. Of course it does have four slots.

    Nancy, no, after my disappointment with the PC Toaster Oven, I’m avoiding PC appliances for the foreseeable future.

    Julia, a Silex, hmmm? I don’t think I’ve tried one of those. By the way, the women’s shelters are all open to receiving donations of small appliances, to help women set up their post-shelter apartments.

    Mudmama, I remember there were courses at Algonquin College called Small Appliance Repair. Now that you mention it, I don’t think I’ve seen those courses being offered for many years. Maybe they don’t make anything worth repairing anymore.

  • RG, I know, it’s buyer beware at garage sales. But who sells a broken toaster?

    Abby, I did not know that. How exciting!

    Soire, if you do find a replacement toaster that can make toast, please let me know. I finally made toast in my new toaster yesterday only to discover that it makes mediocre toast but fails to deliver the toast back into the outside world. You have to unplug it and go fishing with tongs.

    Cheryl, that’s great that you can repair them….though I suppose it’s not much help if the thing was never very good in the first place.

    Coyote, I empathize completely with your sad story. It seems people and coyotes have more in common than their love of cats. Your experience with the toaster oven mirrors mine perfectly, and I assure you the opposable thumbs didn’t help. If I ever succeed in my quest for the perfect toaster, first thing I’m going to do is invite you over for a toast feast.

    Deb, I remember that one too, from back in the days when I took toasters for granted.

    Laura, my newest toaster is a Black and Decker, but far from shooting the completed toast across the room, it keeps it way down in the bowels of the toaster, forcing me to unplug it and go in after it.

    Rachelle, I love your advice: find someone with a good toaster and let him move in. GC assures me he has a good toaster. (It’s a toaster oven though. I’m holding out for a good toaster.)

    XUP, I know, I used to have a toaster that made decent toast, but at least it didn’t have any aesthetic appeal and I felt no attachment. At least not until after I so callously tossed it aside in favour of that hot little DeLonghi number. I feel bad for Coyote too, having found, and lost, his toaster soulmate.

    Kelly, you keep your toaster in the cupboard? How big is it??

    Lucy, I don’t eat supermarket bagels, but I find most toaster slots aren’t wide enough for Kettleman’s bagels. But more importantly, you 10-year-old Toastmaster works fine? This makes me wonder at what point in our history did toasters stop making toast? And why??

    Lisa, my toaster oven made crappy toast, because it didn’t actually have a toast setting. I had to fiddle with three separate dials every single time, and it was always a crap shoot.

    Tom! Welcome back. I missed you.

    Toasters_NYC, thanks for stopping by and giving me hope. I think I see a road trip in my future! Maybe you can tell us when (and why) toasters stopped making decent toast?

    Oma, I’m all nostalgic for that Sunbeam toaster now.

  • Carmen

    I have a five-year old Cuisinart two-slice toaster and I love it…It defrosts bagels, has a wide slot, and most importantly, toasts the way I want…there is a dial on the side that one turns to choose the level of “doneness”…I like my toast dark!!!

  • Carmen

    …forgot to add that I dumped the toaster over…

  • Joanna

    Professor Deugo, my favourite at School of Computer Science at Carleton, tries to instill in us the concept of producing a quality software. His favourite metaphor is a toaster. “There is no reset button on a toaster”, he likes to say. “Your program should work like a toaster, over and over again, producing the same predictable result.”
    He must have one of those old Silex ones…

  • Cathy Robinson

    I had the EXACT same problem!! But then I realized that toast slots are now wider than they were back in the day of good toast, and that makes the bread DRY OUT before it gets toasted! I guess its to accomodate bagels and such, but it makes for disappointing toast.

    I went on eBay and got a 50 year old Toastmaster, and have been in HEAVEN ever since! I’ve had to go back on eBay and buy one for work as well, AND one for my cousin, because after she tried my toast, she couldn’t go back!

  • kitch

    I have T-Fal toaster from WalMart, paid 50$. No complaints.

  • red fraggle

    I have a Westinghouse from Zeller’s and it works great on all settings – just a simple dial. I’ve never had problems with a toaster. I think this one was 12 bucks.

  • lucy

    Yes, my 10 year old toastmaster still makes decent toast and can also handle Kettleman’s bagels. Maybe I just lucked out and it just happened that they had a good batch of 15 dollar toasters on sale at Zellers at that time. I didn’t realize until I read this that good toasters were so hard to come by!

  • what a timely post. I need a new toaster. I haven’t had one since my 1950s number gave up the ghost. I’ve been toasting in my oven and it’s a pain in the a**. I guess I have my work cut out for me…

  • retropc

    My sister has been trying to sell me on a Dualit toaster (website here). Ridiculously expensive, but very solid – and apparently they make excellent toast. No automatic pop-up, no electronic timer, and the timer and heating elements can be replaced if they break. Oh, and it can be used to make toasted sandwiches as well!

    Expensive in the UK, but they seem to be at least twice as much over here – they wanted $550 for the 4-slot model at Paradis, and $650 for the same toaster at Grace (or was that the other way round?); Costco seems to have them for a slightly better price.

    I think I may be getting one for my Christmas and birthday presents…

  • Get a small convection toaster oven. I have one from Delonghi. Fast, even, good for toast, pizza, brushetta, bagels, open-face cheese/… sandwiches, any size/shape of roll or slice, dehydrating herbs (on low), etc., etc.

    The big toaster ovens take forever to work, and the main oven is overkill, slow, and you have to stoop.

    Use aluminum foil top and bottom to maximise reflection and minimise cleanup.


  • […] I wrote a novel! GC and I adopted two lovebirds – Billie and Lester – from the Humane Society. I bought another new toaster. […]

  • Chris

    I have investigated this problem of toasters that don’t toast but only dry bread… And you know what I found out?

    I was told by an old timer electrician that it was all because of the underwriter’s laboratories, that high power toasters were banned in the consumer market in Canada!

    from now on, look closely at the output power of any toaster sold in stores in Canada, and compare that to those old toasters of your mother or grandmother… That’s right: the new toasters have to make do with 750 to 850 watts for two slices, whereas the great old toasters would have 1200 watts and more to toast the same amount of slices! No wonder they would brown while the inside would stay nice and moist!

    I know, it sounds like a conspiracy – but the fact is, the lawyers and insurance agents have made it so we can’t get good toast in the home anymore because good toasters are a fire hazard!!!

    Your only alternative is quite simple really: rewire a new toaster with new heating element to boost its output from 750 to at least 1200 watts, or get a hold of a good old commercial toaster!

  • Mark

    I loved the post and the commentary. I came here as the product of a google search for “toaster hack”. There MUST be some way to modify today’s non-toasting toasters to have them go darker. They have a control for darkness, and some sort of sensor for degree of doneness (or is it just time?). Either way, there is a huge opportunity for an enterprising hacker to figure out how we can make our toasters go from “a little toasted” to “truly dark”, rather than from raw to a little brown.

  • Mark

    Hey, just while I have your attention, may i divert it to another product of that google search, a whole eHow video devoted to how to make toast from bread!?!?!

    As unlikely as it sounds, have a look at

    The video shows “Sue Walker”, who “owns her own freelance cooking business. She worked as a pastry chef and a full-time head cook for more than 10 years before deciding to start her own company.”

    She does use a snazzy red toaster that cost more than mine, but still. (Sadly, she sticks to the basics of pushing the lever down and waiting, and doesn’t reveal any toaster-hacking secrets. Sigh.)

  • Chris

    Mark, you got to be kidding!

    Then again, since it’s impossible to make crisp but moist toast in the house anymore, how desperate can one get to find the perfect toast 😉

    I recently acquired a vintage Sunbeam toaster from the 60s, it’s better than my modern toaster, but the best is got to be the flip side manual toaster from WW1… 1000W for two toast surfaces! Compare that to 850W for 4 which is the norm nowadays…

    I’ve taken apart a few old toasters and no go. Only the really old ones are sturdy and simple enough to be modified. New ones are full of cheap stampings and electronics which make it basically impossible to “boost” so as to make “crisp and moist” toast…

    BTW, Cathy Robinson, have you tried covering the slots with aluminum foil? That does help with the drying out problem. But the real solution is to toast fast enough to roast the outside while keeping as much moisture inside as possible. Which requires a very high power toaster, currently only available in commercial (read: very expensive) grade.

  • I don’t know Mark. Obviously there’s a demand for a contemporary toaster that can actually make toast. I’m thinking maybe we should organize a field trip and go visit Toasters NYC.

  • Chris

    Other good places to visit for toaster aficionados are and (for the famous Sunbeam Radiant Control Toaster, one of the longest lasting toaster models ever made, with little change, from the 40s all the way to the late 90s).

    From my dismantling experiences, the Sunbeam radiant Control is probably one of the best candidates for overhaul, as it is very sturdily made out of nichrome wire and wire coils that can apparently be fairly easily rebuilt!

    If you decide to acquire one like I did, make sure the Bakelite base is not cracked… The only think that cannot be repaired on these toasters!