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July 14th 2011 4:34 pm

What is a good toaster?

When does an appliance become a gadget? With things like refrigerators and washing machines coming with more screens and features than some MP3 players, buying an appliance now is a lot like shopping for a gadget.

Which brings me to my current predicament- I don't have a toaster.

I like toast. I really like toast. Those $10 toasters from Walmart just don't cut it. For a while I had one with a motorized tray that raised and lowered the bread- it was fun but it didn't toast adequately.

I'm hoping someone out there knows a good toaster.
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I also have not been able to find a toaster that has wowed me. And I'm not ashamed saying that there is a possibility to be wowed by a toaster. In this bi-toastal world of pop up toasters and toaster ovens, I find that neither one has really been able to provide the benefits of the other.

I find that toaster ovens are extremely handy to warm up that slice of leftover pizza (rather than doing it in the microwave for an ugly mess), but that comes at the expense of having a toaster that takes longer to toast since it has to heat up such a larger space to bring the environment to a correct toasting temperature. Because the toast is in the oven for longer, it tends to give an overall crisper toast.

A pop up toaster will heat up fast and toast the outside of the toast, but also, depending on how long the toast is in there, can also leave a nice soft center, which is, in general, my overall toastiness preference, but something that is harder to do with a toaster oven.

The middle ground in the past for me has been a smaller toaster oven... but it's more of a solution of buying a sedan because you can't decide between a sports car and an SUV. It will generally toast within a decent amount of time, but can barely fit two slices of toast in side by side.

I'm also annoyed by the clicking timers that they put on toasters. Annoys the heck out of me, but they seem to be putting them on *ALL* toasters now.

All in all, it comes down to personal preference. In the past, I've had good luck with the Black and Decker smaller toaster ovens. I"m currently using an overly expensive stainless steel pop up toaster with a digital timer that, thankfully, doesn't click. I don't think it's worth the price I paid for it though, and, alas, if I can find something that meets all of my requirements, I'd probably upgrade.

This post is entirely long for the subject at hand. *sigh* :)
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We use a combination toaster over and toaster in my house hold. The toaster was the cheapest thing you could imagine, I think it came with a box of pop tarts, it has a poptart setting. We use the toaster mainly for bread and bagels. The toaster oven is where the magic happens.

Our toaster is probably about 7 years old , and with it simplicity is the key. It has a trap door that allows you to easily clean crumbs, a lever to lower the bread, and a burntness indicator. With toasters I find consistency to be the key. You want a toaster that has a consistent burntness indicator. With mine no matter how tired I am I'm able to find that sweet spot, the one where your toaster is just perfect. Also since it doesn't have a timer I generally dont have to fuss with the burntness indicator.

Toaster ovens are a whole thing entirely. First you have to figure out if it's convection or not. Then you remember that nothing comes with instructions on how to cook with convection oven, so you can completely ignore that setting. Now comes the trouble some part, how evenly does it cook. Does your toaster oven stay at a consistent 300 degrees or does it pogo stick from 250 to 350? Our toaster oven does make that annoying clicking sound as well, and the worst part is it continues the clicking sound once the timer has ended. If you're done timing why the hell are you still clicking?

But to truly appreciate toasters you should watch:­/talks­/thomas­_thwaites­_how­_i­_built­_a­_to...
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In my experience, toaster ovens suck at actually making toast. Because the heating elements are further away and at uneven distances from the bread, it takes longer for it to toast and does so unevenly. I've had a much better experience with slot loading toasters for both bread and bagels over the years.

As an aside, I just have to mention that toast is awesome and is easily one of my favorite foods. A slice of freshly baked whole grain bread, butter, and some fresh fruit preserves is hard to beat.
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The kitchen typically, is the room with the most tech in it. Crockpots are essentially robots where you input raw ingredients and just go to work. Then, when you get home, you come back to the output, which is a nice, warm (cheap) meal. You can buy some pretty awesome soda machines and bread makers too nowadays. Not much of this stuff is web connected, but it doesn't mean there aren't gdgt-worthy kitchen elements.

Toasters? I really like my Black & Decker TRO480BS. It's not HUGE and ungainly like some of the hardcore ovens out there, but it's got great controls and can handle four slices at a time, which translates to you making breakfast for your sweety and both of you getting two piping hot, evenly-cooked waffles simultaneously, rather than having to wait for two slices to be finished before toasting two more. Also does a great job with mini-pizzas for those nights you're too lazy to cook.

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Great question! My toaster sucks as well. Hope someone has a great answer.
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